*spoiler alert: formatting is f**ked up in this post, but you don’t care, and neither do I.
My favourites from the list include:
“Next year, you’ll wish you had started today.” – so true! And in five years time, you’ll wish you started ten years ago.
“You are not required to set yourself on fire to keep other people warm”. – yes, especially when those people probably need more fire than you can ever provide and you’ll just end up burning out. I think this one applies equally well in toxic workplaces AND relationships.
“We judge others by their actions and ourselves on our intentions.” I need to repeat this like a mantra. EG: I often get really annoyed at people for being late, but I am repeatedly accidentally late for people myself. Unfortunately, all the planning and preparation I did to make the meeting, is negated by the fact that I then decided to change my outfit five minutes before leaving and forgot to step out the door on time. To the other person…I’m just late and that’s all there is to it, no matter what I intended to do, and I should just apologise and do better, instead of making excuses. This is also a good one to remember in crowded public places. (That person probably didn’t intend to jump the coffee queue; any more than you intended to, that time when you only realised you’d done it afterwards, on your way out the door with your latte. So give them a break with the evil stares. Everyone does stupid stuff, but it’s rare that someone intentionally did it to piss you off).
Lastly this one: “Everyone you meet knows something you don’t.” So worth remembering. I’ve noticed that the people who command the most respect in life are those who don’t claim to know everything, and who don’t make assumptions about others’ life experiences – who listen more than they talk. It’s way more rewarding to be like that, and I’m trying to shut the hell up more often than I talk these days. (Failing mostly.)
Adding to the list, I can think of a few pieces of advice that have personally helped me get more out of life.
1. Make others’ lives easier, not harder, and you’ll get what you want as a byproduct
A good tip for how to get what you want at work: when planning to ask someone for their time or assistance, instead of putting your needs up front, consider what their professional goals might be (including how they might want to appear to their own boss), and try and come across like the person who can help them either do better, or even just appear to do better, to the person they need to impress. Especially, try and make it seem that meeting with you will be an opportunity to reduce their workload, not add to it. Whenever I remember that advice, it works. Obviously, it’s hard not to think about your needs first- we’re kind of hard-wired to do that- and that’s why this takes conscious effort. Unfortunately, I think this advice can also be traced back to the dickhead manual How to Win Friends and Influence People, but at least I don’t repeatedly say people’s names while shaking their hands and looking them in the eyes/giving them the creeps. (The person who told me the advice: Yes, a dickhead, but on twice my salary, although he’s two years younger than me. Nuff said.)
Second: Caitlin Moran in her book ‘How to be a Woman’, with the brilliant point:
2. “You can always tell when a woman is with the wrong man, because she has so much to say about the fact that nothing’s happening.”
SO TRUE. If you’re about to text your friend and ask ‘what do you think he meant when he said this/did this? He hasn’t replied to my text, do you think it’s because of this or that?’ Stop and think. Why can’t you ask the guy directly? It’s because 1) you aren’t able to communicate well, and/or 2) he doesn’t like you that much or respect you terribly, and isn’t that concerned about telling you how he feels upfront. In either case: Not worth your time. When you find the right person, you won’t need your friends to interpret any of the stuff he says and make it sound as if he likes you, because he’ll probably just say ‘I like you.’ Simple.
Thinking about this piece of advice hard helped me reevaluate my approach to dating. I started to focus more on how the other person made me feel on a scale of ‘Shit/ confused/worried I’m not good enough’ to ‘Awesome’, and ditching anyone who didn’t help me reach the correct end of the scale. Also, I decided to put ‘good communication’ on the list of essential attributes for potential partners. Turns out that was a good move, since the guy who won on those two fronts also happens to be the only person I’ve ever been with who likes watching Midsomer Murders while getting sloshed on red wine AND is now the co-inventor of my new favourite game, ‘Secret Gay Midsomer’: re-enacting the dialogue as if Troy and Barnaby are boiling with repressed manly lust for each other as they investigate murders in the countryside, hiding their confusing feelings from themselves, as well as from Joyce and Cully.
The last one is something my Thai colleague told me when I left my whole rucksack on a bus, full of favourite clothes, Ipod, jewelry etc and was desperately upset about it. “Mai ben rai [don’t worry about it] she said.
“They are only things. They are not necessary for you to be happy.”
She was totally right. After I replaced my underpants, I never seriously missed any of those things I’d lost ever again.
I guess what I’m basically telling you is, watch more Midsomer Murders, give other people a break, and don’t accumulate pointless crap and attach unnecessary importance to it (plus, travel way, way lighter).
Feel free to leave your life-changing bits of advice in the comments. Or leave me some spam about Viagra, if you like. I’m easy.