At different times in my life, I would give very different advice to people in very similar situations. As I went through different life experiences and grew or regressed, was happy or sad, my perspective changed. So my advice changed.
Understand this when you seek advice. You are asking someone at a point in their lives. Their perspective. Their views. Their opinions. All stuck, in a single moment in time. They could be riding high from a great year or month or week or day. Or slinging low from a bad stretch. And the advice you get, goes through that filter. Before it comes to you.
It is equally as important, to know that same thing, when you give advice. You are giving advice from a single moment in time. Your time. Be sure to highlight that fact.
So here I go again. Giving advice. And as I ebb and flow, my views shift. Sometimes growing. Sometimes growing…in the wrong direction. Or a totally different place from which you sit. Sometimes that different perspective is helpful. Sometimes it’s definitely not.
So take this for what it is. Advice on life, from this here, a single moment in my time…
I was with my kids on vacation a couple of weeks ago, and we were walking back to the hotel to meet a babysitter. My kids need some coaxing when it comes to sitters. And I was prepping them for it. When my daughter, who is 5 1/2 years old, asked, ‘Does the babysitter have dark skin?
I took my full seven breaths. Then explained to both my kids, how skin color doesn’t matter. Why we are not racists in our family. And why it’s not right or fair to be racist.
I knew what to say and how to say it, so that my kids would understand. So that they would agree with me. It is only logic and I am fortunate enough to have kids who understand logic.
I was happy that I was there to hear it. Happy to get the opportunity to talk about racism with them. I know this won’t be the last time in their lives that this comes up.
It made me think though…what if I’m not there next time? The samurai Way is found in death, and I am constantly preparing for death. So what if I’m not here anymore at all? What would I need my kids to know?
If I died today, there are still many lessons that I haven’t taught them. Or haven’t taught my kids enough times to really sink in…not yet.
So I wrote them down.
If I do die today, or some day in the near future, someone please ensure my kids read this when they reach the age of 15. And 20. And 25. And 30. I will be eternally grateful.
1. Smile. A lot. Gravitate towards things, and jobs, and people, and anything that is going to make you smile. It makes choices in life so much more simple.
2. Judge People. Yes, you read that right. Everyone you come in contact with should be judged. This does not mean you should be a racist. Really, really, really don’t be racist. It’s one of the ugliest qualities in a human being. Do not judge people by the color of their skin. And also don’t be a sexist. Don’t be an agist. Don’t discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation. Or their religion. Or the country they are from, or the state they are from, or the city they are from, or the part of the city they are from. Don’t judge anyone by anything that has to do with labels or external attributes.
Judge people though…but judge them by their character. That’s it. See them act. Get to know them. Understand who they are as people. And judge them accordingly. Then spend the majority of your time with the good people in this world. And not with the bad people. This will help more than anything else, with my 1st point.
3. Die Every Day. Live your life as if it is going to end…every single day. Make your last day on earth, this day, today, one that you would be proud to be remembered by. One that you would feel proud to call your last day. Spend great time with great people, doing what you want to do. What you were born to do. That should guide you where you want to go in life, overall.
And really embodying the fact that you are dying today, is the key to fearlessness. Fearlessness is the key to a rich and full life. A rich and full life is a happy one.
4. Greatness is Your Ticket. Be the best at whatever it is that you do. And that is your ticket to the life you want. Greatness will take you anywhere. It can take you everywhere.
If something is worth doing, it’s worth being great at it. So be great at a lot of things. And be great at them for a long time. Sustained greatness, in multiple aspects of life will open an infinite amount of doors for you.
This is not just talking about your professional life. Being a great mother or father will benefit you immensely. So will being a great friend. Constantly opening up new doors for you personally. But be great at work too. This is not that difficult to do. Most of us aren’t working at a career in rocket science.
Greatness at work or otherwise, is a choice. A choice you should really make. What is the alternative?
5. Find the Balance Between Short-term and Long-term Happiness. You need to serve both. If you do too many things for short term happiness, your life will be hollow. And shallow. And you won’t weather storms you should weather, for things that will be better for you in the future. You might not stick with an entry level job that will grow your career in the right way. You might not ride out the ‘bad times’ in a relationship that will eventually lead to many more ‘good times.’
But…if you do everything for long term happiness, you will have lived a life void of fun. A life void of life.
Find the balance.
As a side note, when you have to choose, err on the side of short-term happiness. (See Lesson #1.) Just keep an eye on the future. It’s out there and despite what some people say about the present, the future is coming.
6. Don’t Be Nice to Everyone All the Time. You can and should be nice to everyone at first. Then when someone wrongs you. Or hurts you. And some people will. Stand up for yourself. Put the wrath on people who deserve the wrath. Do this for you. There is some level of self respect that you need to have. A high level of self love is healthy. For progress in life. Standing up for yourself in the face of wrong helps strengthen that level of self-respect. It proves self love. Two things you absolutely need to feel good in this world.
7. Build Strength. For all these things listed above, and the many more twists and turns and mountains to climb, that life puts in front of you…you are going to need real strength. You constantly need to build it. Both mental and physical. Always consider this. Keep building up. Keep getting stronger. At the end of your days, all of your strength will be used up. The more strength you had built over the course of your life will be in a direct relationship with how full a life you have lived.
8. Always Give Thanks. Show gratitude for everything you get, positive and negative. From a great job, to a warm sun, to delicious food, to a good friend, to the lessons learned in your hardest times. The more thankful you are, the more aware of all the gifts that life brings to you. There are so many.
Oh…and while you’re giving thanks, thank your mother. If you just thanked her, thank her again. And repeatedly. She somehow has managed to raise you two to be the incredible people that you are still growing up to be, while crushing it in a career. A near impossible thing to do, as you will come to find out.
And while fathers can have infinite love for their children, and I do, there is something inside mothers which cannot be matched. And your mom loves you that way. And has raised you that way, with that love.
That is all, from my moment in this time.