“When I was 38 I contemplated beginning a two year Associates Degree in Radiography. I was talking to a friend and had almost talked myself out of doing it. I said ‘I’m too old to start that. I’ll be 40 when I get my degree.’ My friend said ‘If you don’t do it, you’ll still be 40, but without the degree.’ I’m nearly 60 now, and that degree has been the difference between making a decent living, and struggling to get by.”
“When I was young and having what I thought was a serious relationship talk with my first real SO, I told her that I just wanted to find the right person.
Without missing a beat she said, ‘Everybody is looking for the right person, and nobody is trying to be the right person.’
That stopped me in my tracks.”
“My mom was dying. A friend told me ‘you have your whole life to freak out about this– don’t do it in front of her.’
It really helped me to understand that my feelings are not always what’s important. It IS possible to delay a freakout, and that skill has served me innumerable times.”
“I was 13 years old, trying to teach my 6 year old sister how to dive into a swimming pool from the side of the pool. It was taking quite a while as my sister was really nervous about it. We were at a big, public pool, and nearby there was a woman, about 75 years old, slowly swimming laps. Occasionally she would stop and watch us. Finally she swam over to us just when I was really putting the pressure on, trying to get my sister to try the dive, and my sister was shouting, ‘but I’m afraid!! I’m so afraid!!’ The old woman looked at my sister, raised her fist defiantly in the air and said, ‘So be afraid! And then do it anyway!’
That was 35 years ago and I have never forgotten it. It was a revelation — it’s not about being unafraid. It’s about being afraid and doing it anyway.”
“‘It’s only embarrassing if you’re embarrassed.’
Changed my life forever.”
“I met a person who was in a wheelchair. He related a story about how a person once asked if it was difficult to be confined to a wheelchair.
He responded, ‘I’m not confined to my wheelchair – I am liberated by it. If it wasn’t for my wheelchair, I would be bed-bound and never able to leave my room or house.’”
“The person that you will spend the most time with in your life is yourself, so try to make yourself as interesting as possible.”
“I’m the oldest of three kids. I’m older than my little brother by 2.5 years and my little sister by 9.5. When I was about fourteen or so, arguing with my dad in private about something I don’t remember, he, being the second-oldest of eight kids, told me:
Any decision you make in this household, you make three times. Once when you make it, once when your brother makes the same decision after watching you do it, and once when your sister makes the same decision after watching you and your brother do it. How you treat your brother will tell him how he can treat your sister; and how you treat your sister tells her how she will expect to be treated for the rest of her life, even as far as her future boyfriends.
That kinda shook me up and made me rethink my role as the oldest child; I started taking my responsibilities as the role model a lot more seriously after that. Even when you aren’t trying to actively influence those around you, those who look up to and respect you will still base their decisions, in part, on how they’ve seen you handle similar situations. If you break down and get stressed and angry when something inconvenient happens, they’ll feel better doing the same when something similarly small happens to them. But if you keep your cool in a dire situation and under a lot of stress, it can inspire them to believe they can do the same.”
“Don’t be a dick to your dog. He’s a few years of your life, but you are all of his.”
“‘Everyone you meet knows something you don’t.’
My grandfather told me this, and it’s been a good reminder that I am surrounded by teachers.”
“‘Think of a time you were embarrassed, easy right? Now think of a time someone else was embarrassed. It’s a lot harder to do isn’t it?’”
I don’t really worry about being embarrassed anymore if no one but I will remember it!”
“Not sure who said this to me, but I heard this in my late teens and it completely changed the way I think forever:
‘If you think you know something, find someone who disagrees and listen to them.’
It has taken years for that to fully sink in, but it’s a never-ending process. The last part, the part about actually listening, is the tricky part, and it took me many years to get it right.
But it’s the best advice I’ve ever heard, and it changed my life more than any other single piece of advice. I also think it’s the advice that most people need in their lives.”
“‘We judge others by their actions and ourselves on our intentions.’
Really made me think about people and I try telling myself that when the f**king idiot in front on me doesn’t indicate when merging.”
“My old boss, the CEO of a small hospital, told me a story from back when he was a lab technician (for simplicity, let’s call him Dan). Dan had forgotten to check some sort of mechanism on a piece of equipment he used, it malfunctioned and broke the equipment which ended up having around a $250,000 repair bill. The next day Dan’s boss called him in to talk about it, and he was sure he was going to be fired. His boss asked him why he didn’t do a proper check, made sure he understood what happened and sent him back to work. Dan asked him “Am I not getting fired? I was almost sure that’s what this was about.” His boss said ‘No way, I just spent $250,000 teaching you a lesson you’ll never forget. Why would I fire you now?’
It seems silly, but that attitude always resonated with me. Don’t make professional decisions based on emotional responses. Always know what your goal is when dealing with someone, and what exact problem you are trying to solve. Everyone makes mistakes, and yelling at them just makes them resent you and become defensive. Being calm and understanding will make people look up to you.”
“People won’t remember the words you say but how it made them feel.”
“‘Depression presents itself in the guise of rational thought.’ Said by my uncle.”
“If it was easy, everyone would do it.”
“My dad was/is a deacon of a church, and one part of his duties was to visit with people in retirement homes and bring them communion. He couldn’t go one day, and he asked me (I was in high school at the time) to go in his place.
Perhaps obviously, with me being young and the people in the homes being elderly, age was a frequent topic of conversation. One old man told me, ‘the hardest thing about getting old is running out of people who understand you.’ That is, each generation has a unique way of looking at the world and what it means to be alive in it, and as new generations come and redefine what the world is, one’s world gets smaller and smaller as there are fewer people around who understand your world in the same way.
We are all marching toward obsolescence. I think I became much more of a realist that day.”
“‘You have an attitude.’
It was said to me by a friend when I was about 25. I’m almost 40 now. He elaborated by saying that my personality carries a huge lack of humility. The things I would say or do, in most cases, was very off-putting to a majority of people. I always had a better story after someone finished theirs. I was full of knowledge on any subject, or whatever opinion I had on the matter was always superior and correct. My way of doing things was the best way. I appeared ungrateful, selfish, and pompous. And I had no clue whatsoever.
I’ll never forget that conversation and the paradigm shift my brain experienced that day. Once I was aware of this attitude I started thinking about my relationships and the environment I created because of my general assholery and douchebaggedness. I actually sunk into depression for a short time, realizing the way I had treated people and taken them for granted.
Over a few years I slowly learned so many things about myself and others. I learned how to listen. To enjoy myself in groups and not need to be the focus of the group. To be compassionate and empathetic. To give advice only when asked, or out of heartfelt concern or genuine worry. To put others first when it counts. To show up. To be a friend instead of a competitor. I’ve learned many other things from that statement, too many to list.
It’s incredible to me how I’m still learning. I think we all are and no one really has it figured out. I know I don’t. But I’ll never forget how that one small statement had/has a long term effect on me.”
“Lost my girlfriend, took it really hard. Close friend said: ‘I know you’re sad, but don’t let this ruin the things that are still good in your life.’
Was a real eye-opener. Things can go bad, a lot can go bad, but there’s always good in your life. Be sure that the things that are still good in your life aren’t ruined, just because something went wrong along the way.”
“Next year, you’ll wish you had started today.”
“I had just opened up to a good friend of mine about how, after 10+ years of intractable treatment-resistant depression, I was completely exhausted and really did not want to be alive anymore. At the time, I had kind of accepted that things would eventually get better, but I thought that it would be years until my life was what I wanted/needed it to be, and I just felt incredibly frustrated at everyone telling me to ‘wait it out’.
Instead of giving lame advice, he asked me more about my plans, and it came out that the only thing that’s ever kept me going is a drive to contribute something meaningful to humanity, and I just couldn’t stand the idea of giving up and essentially leaving the world a little worse off. That’s when he busted out this one:
You know, I think it’s almost tragically beautiful that you keep putting yourself through this just for the sake of other people. I know it’s hard to believe it’ll ever be worth 15 years of suffering, but once you’re on the other side of it I think you’ll see what an incredible person that makes you.
It still makes me tear up every time I think about it. It was one of the most important things anyone’s said to encourage me, and it helped get me through some of my worst times. Thankfully, it was only about a year after that that I finally found a treatment that worked. No updates yet on the giant ego I’m supposed to be growing, though.”
“‘Do it to do it, not to have done it.’ -Teacher of mine
Made me really think about my motivations for doing things as I moved forward.”
“‘You are not required to set yourself on fire to keep other people warm.’
Really hit home for me, since I grew up trying to mediate my parents’ issues and had multiple friends in and out of the ER for mental health crises during my teen years, among other things. As someone who spent the majority of her life feeling like she had to take care of others at all costs, it was kinda a shock to the system to hear that I was allowed to have my limits even with people who truly needed help.”
“I was having a bad day one time and being all ‘Why me?’ when a coworker said ‘Why not you?’ I had never thought about it before, but it was a good point. So I shut up and got over it.”
“When I joined the army I went to Germany, and had to go to a new-person briefing by the Chaplin. I’m not religious. I don’t give a damn what the Chaplin has to say. Happily, the Chaplin didn’t talk about Jesus or abstinence or any of that. What he said has stuck with me ever since, through many moves and life changes.”
When you move to a new place where you have no friends, you’re going to be lonely. You’re going to be overtly unhappy for six weeks, and not really happy for six months. Don’t kill yourself and don’t get married.
You should be able to stand in front of every ex’s future husband (or wife) and have them thank you for the impact you had in her (or his) life.
It’s hard to live this way. But boy is it worth it.”