One of the most beautiful aspects of growing older is the opportunity to review our lives to date, with the wisdom of age. We can look back at our many years on earth and think how gradually life evolves. From the naivety of youth, to the reality of older age, we travel a long and winding path. Some of it is bumpy and some of it is smooth, but it is never even. Contemplate “What I Would Tell My Younger Self.” You may be surprised how much you have learned.
Write down your ideas. You may have an opportunity to share them. Perhaps these thoughts will inspire a new reality check. Because we live in an ever-changing world, it is inevitable that youth views life from a very different vantage point than we seniors do. There may be differences, but many similarities as well. Talk to yourself, and see what you would do differently or better or smarter.
Of utmost importance is: Understand that if you are young, you have not lived long enough to accumulate profound wisdom, which comes from living, learning and suffering, whether it be on a small or large scale. You are a “work in progress,” and that is how life is meant to be. You go from being a dependent child, nurtured and cared for by (hopefully) loving parents to being a student preparing to make your own way in the world. You may be filling your head with knowledge acquired from books, lectures, professors, teachers and grandparents. Your experiential life is still just beginning.
After graduating from college, trade school or serving in the military, learn to live independently. Learn to handle your own finances, pay your own rent and taxes, shop for your own groceries, and start a savings plan. Learn to live on a budget and balance your checkbook each month. These basic skills will reap life-long benefits. Save love and marriage for later: in your middle to late twenties at least, if a family is what you want to complete your life. Be cautious in your selection of a mate. Passion is great, but it doesn’t pay the bills or make wise decisions.
Keep your mind open. Youth typically feels they have “all the answers” thus slamming shut the door on experiences of others. Listen respectfully to the suggestions from elders, even if they sound archaic. Ask questions as to how they coped with difficulties encountered during their youth. Listen, absorb, and embrace the sage advice of your elders. Sift through what makes sense to you, engage in a dialogue about what bothers you. You just may gain another perspective.
Welcome a mentor…a person on the job or in another area of life whose values you admire, and whose expertise may help you grow. Always seek people who will enrich your thinking and your attitude toward life in general. Always observe the successes of others, both as people and as leaders. Learn from them.
When job loss or heartbreak make you feel as if a tsunami has slammed you against the shore, give yourself little time to wallow. Instead, pick yourself up, go forward and remember Admiral Farragut’s famous words as he embarked upon the Battle of Mobile Bay: “Damm the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” Teach yourself to be resilient. Do not wallow in self -pity. Look for the opportunity to grow even among unwanted difficulties that are inevitable as we take the journey of life.
Always remember to say “thank you.” Always remember to reach out and away from yourself. Always remember to imagine how someone else might feel, and be compassionate. Always give of yourself, and always find time to do something for someone less fortunate than yourself. Always “give” without expectation of receiving anything in return.
And if you are a parent or a spouse, love selflessly. Remember that babies grow up all too quickly, and that your children are yours only for a brief time. Kindergarten is the first step to letting go; realize that your baby is exposed to many other people who will influence her or him. Love your children with understanding, a sense of humor and always, always try to be consistent with your affection as you strive to set meaningful limits.
Imagine how your words can impact another person before you say them. Never be mean. Give sincere and heartfelt compliments when deserved. Don’t be stingy with them. Remember that superficiality is readily discernible. Be genuine in all your interactions with family, friends and co-workers, and if someone annoys you, try to ignore the reason why.
When someone is hurtful or unkind to you, recognize that angst may be generated by a deep seeded hurt in that person. Forgive. Follow the Golden Rule even when your feelings are hurt. Practice good manners and never be rude, in thought, word, or deed. Open the door for a person in front of or behind you. Never let it slam in their faces.
Enjoy your youth. Exercise regularly….all your life. Keep your mobility, your desire to stay fit. Being young is a uniquely beautiful time of life, and it only comes to you once. Don’t be afraid to take a risk. Do the best with it that you are able. Take off your blinders of innocence, open wide your eyes to growing better every day of your life….even unto the end of it. Count your blessings every single day. And never take them for granted. Love and be worthy of love.