Things I’ve Learned#
I don’t consider myself a source of wisdom. But, one can’t help but pick up a few useful nuggets across the decades. Here are some of mine.
- Your ego is bigger than you realize. It keeps you from trying new things and tackling challenges rather than avoiding them. It’s ok to fail. It’s ok for others to see you fail. Life will go on, and you will grow. Playing chess is a recent growth area where I often fail horribly. I’m marclafountain on chess.com if you’d like to view my many lost games. Maybe we can play!
- Meditation is wonderful, but it’s about being more present in the current moment rather than reaching a profound Aha Ha Moment. You need to have that realistic expectation for it. If meditation hasn’t worked for you, try different teachers, apps, prompts, koans, etc. You will find something that clicks eventually. This prompt was a game-changer for me: “What would it feel like if there was no problem to solve?"
- As a child and young adult, you’re forced to try a lot of new things—foods, activities, learning topics, etc. You use this experience to figure out what you like and don’t like. With age, you gain more agency in making choices and often stick with known likes. But, the you of today is somewhat different from the younger you. Maybe you’re assuming you wouldn’t like something now when you’d actually love it. Don’t be afraid to question your assumptions and experiment at any age. (That said, the me of today still thinks eggplant is weird.)
- You would like yourself better if you became a vegetarian. Think about a dog or cat that you’ve loved. Think about their intelligence, personality, and emotional range. If a dog or cat is that complex, aren’t cows, pigs, and lambs likely complex beings too? Do you owe those other animals less respect than a pet? The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by going vegetarian is also profound. And, you may be surprised at how much easier it is to go vegetarian now versus times past. The veggie options at restaurants and grocery stores are vastly better than they were even a few years ago.
- Yoga is awesome both physically and mentally. It’s not just awesome for women, young people, or the mythical “naturally flexible.” It’s awesome for anyone at any age who can safely do it. As with meditation, try different teachers, classes, apps, styles, etc. You will find something that clicks eventually. For me, Yin Yoga is what clicked. It focuses less on balance, strength, and flow and more on holding stretches for longer to increase range of motion.
- There’s lots of research that people are made happier by having experiences than by owning objects. I feel that deeply. Time spent with family, friends, and pets. Travel to beautiful and interesting places. Great food and drink. Great TV shows, movies, and books. Those experiences make me happy, and reflecting back on them does too. Owning objects rarely makes me happy for very long. Granted, the line between experience and object can be blurry. When considering a significant purchase, ask yourself if it will create or enhance experiences for you. If not, it may just be an object that will bring you little pleasure in the long run.
- Speaking of buying things, never start out subscribing to the one-year or lifetime version of anything new. Your enthusiasm for a shiny new thing in the first days, weeks, and even months will often wane with time. And, your life circumstances may change and reduce the appeal of the new thing. If you’ve used a thing for more than a year, you can better evaluate a longer-term subscription to it.
- As we age, many of our early human relationships wither. You may have old friends and extended family with whom haven’t meaningfully interacted in many years, even decades. At some point, it can feel like too much time has passed to ever reconnect. I’ve found that’s not true. When I make the effort to reconnect with people from my past, it’s always rewarding. We tend to pick up right where we left off and enjoy each other’s company again. Don’t hesitate to reach out to people that you care about.
That feels like enough pearls of wisdom for today. Hope you found something in there useful.