Wednesday, December 28, 2011


"Life is not fair. Get used to it."

I'm 46 years old, and like most people I look back on my life and think of a few things I'd have done differently. I don't have a lot of regrets, unlike many, because I tend to be more philosophical about the past: I can't change it. Still, there are things I wish I'd known.

So for those who are younger or looking for a bit of advice from someone not terribly old, but who has seen a few miles, here's a few thoughts.

  • A pretty face don't make a pretty heart. That's a line from "Doctor, Doctor" by Robert Palmer, and its good advice. Just remember: she may look cute but she might be a horrible person, and that's what's going to matter most. Even a short relationship will be long enough their looks won't make up for being mean, selfish, catty, and so on. Find out what her heart is like.
  • Its better by far to be alone than be with the wrong person.
  • Hit the head. This is some advice I got from a military guy, and while it seems frivolous, its good practical advice. Never miss a chance to go to the bathroom, as it were. Don't wait, if you gotta go, then go.
  • Don't use a credit card unless you absolutely have to. Just avoid going into debt in the first place, and only do so in an emergency.
  • Life moves fast. I know, this is impossible to really understand when you're young but keep this in mind: every year that goes by you will never get back. Consider the years of your life like health points in a game that never ever come back.

  • You're going to get fired from a job at least once. Nearly everyone on earth who has worked for someone else has had that happen. Sometimes its unfair, sometimes you have it coming. Its not the end of the world.
  • Work hard, show up early, and listen to your boss. They pay your bills, treat them with respect. If your boss isn't worth respect, then move to another job.
  • Girls: don't send nakey pictures to a boyfriend no matter how much you love them and believe he'll always be yours. Don't do it, because chances are he'll share them with all his friends even before you break up and you'll end up on the internet.
  • Almost no one even notices you, let alone cares. If you feel self conscious, that's you, not anyone else. Nobody cares about your self esteem except your teachers, and they're paid to. If someone is mean to you, they probably have something else on their mind, not you.
  • Some mistakes haunt you for the rest of your life.
  • Those older people who keep telling you stuff that sounds dumb, sometimes - even often - they know what they're talking about. Don't ignore them.
  • Your first instinct is often right. The better trained, raised, and more ethical you are, the more often they are right.
  • Inform yourself not just with data, but truth; who you are spiritually matters more than what you do and know.
  • Generally, when men have a problem and they tell you about it, they want to know a solution. When women have a problem and they tell you about it, they want an audience and sympathy. Remember this when dealing with the opposite sex.
  • Regular maintenance saves money and helps build discipline. This applies to yourself, your clothes, your car, and everything you own. Fix and maintain rather than trash and replace, and you'll save a lot of money.
  • You can eat crap and never sleep now and get away with it but the time when you won't be able to is fast approaching. Take care of yourself now and learn good habits early so you won't have to later when you're miserable.
  • "In a moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing to do. The second best is to do the wrong thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing."
  • -Theodore Roosevelt
  • Stay on a schedule, and make that a habit. Its healthier, teaches discipline, and results in a more efficient, effective life.
  • Be willing to break that schedule and be spontaneous when the situation calls for it.
  • Stop worrying about who you will be, what your future will be, or what you'll end up as. Do the best you can at whatever you are doing and you'll find out in time.
  • Learn to serve and obey and you will learn to lead. The more power you have, the greater servant you become to others under your power.
  • Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Love your neighbor as yourself, and love God above all. By being outwardly focused, you will find you stop worrying about yourself and begin to act and do rather than worry and guess.
The truth is, most of these I'm still trying to learn. But they're things I wish I'd learned a long time ago. And perhaps by learning them I could have been a better man. We all have a lot of growing to do, no matter how old we are, and we all make stupid mistakes and fail. Failure is a hallmark of the most successful, in truth, yet success is utterly empty and vain without a purpose beyond this world, as The Preacher notes in Ecclesiastes.

So the most important advice is to get right with God, because life is short, but eternity is forever.


Alex VanderWoude said...

Personally, I prefer the negative formulation of the Golden Rule: "Don't do unto other what you don't want done unto you." This avoids uncomfortable encounters with, for example, masochists.

Eric said...

Great list, C_T. Lots of good stuff there. The only one I take issue with is the Teddy Roosevelt quote... in my experience sometimes it is better to do nothing if you're not sure which decision is the right one. Often if you just wait, even when the moment is demanding that you make a decision, the correct choice will become more clear as the situation unfolds. Most of the time you'll find the only reason you felt pressured into making a decision so quickly in the first place is to help fulfill someone elses agenda... and more often than not that person could care less about what the best outcome for you is.

Of course, I realize I am arguing with Teddy effing Roosevelt here, so I am probably wrong about that.

I especially agree with the part about not being self-conscious because most likely no one noticed you.

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