Wisdom is everywhere. It can be found in the smallest of flowers or in the words of a story that is told. Wisdom is also inexhaustible. In today's society, we need all the wisdom and insight that we can get. Honestly, it think it is safe to say there have been more than a few steps in the wrong direction within the world. Over the course of the last year, I would carry a small book that I could record the small moments of wisdom that presented themselves to me. Here is what I have learned.
"Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose."
-Lyndon B. Johnson
1. Life doesn't discriminate between the sinners and the saints.
Okay, maybe this was not my own thought. (Thanks Lin-Manuel Miranda) While listening to the soundtrack of Hamilton, I misheard the true lyrics to "Wait For It", but what I heard left more of an impression on me. Life happens, and there is no controlling it. If you are rich, if you are poor, if you are black, if you are white it does not matter at all. The good and the bad will happen to everyone. What makes the difference is how we react to it. After all, life is 10% what you make it and 90% the way you take it.
2. Let not the world tell itself what it needs. Let the world notice the needs of the world that are made apparent.
The way I see it, this world is suffering. Suffering is as prevalent as humanity itself! But some people find it necessary to decide for themselves just what the problem is, and how to fix it. These people are on the outside looking in, or should I say, the top looking down. We all see how well that's working... I say, let those who are actually suffering make their needs known, and let those who can provide do so. We are all one race, one brotherhood in humanity, so we ought to provide for the collective good.
3. Find the gold among the fire and brimstone.
Growing up in a Catholic household, hearing homilies and sermons was not uncommon. In fact, it was a weekly event. Often times, I found myself to be in moral conflict with the message that was being conveyed. As a result of this, I found myself dismissing the entire narrative. However, it was during one particularly fiery homily that I realized that there is a truth to every position. This goes for every opposition you can encounter. All faiths and all political platforms contain a common thread of truth. The key is to find that thread and let it bring groups closer together than the divisions separate.
4. Test your ideals like gold in a furnace. Let them be strong.
We are nothing if we do not have our ideals. As a matter of fact, one can not live if they do not have something to believe in. The strongest people in this world are the people who know who they are, know who they want to be, know what they believe in, and act accordingly. So let the world come at you, and let it make you more resolute in your ideals and beliefs.
5. Love is kindly blinking your flashers at someone who forgot to turn off their high beams.
Everyone who drives knows just how infuriating it is to be blinded while someone drives by you with those high beams shining directly in your eyes. Not only is it annoying but it is also really unsafe because it ruins your night vision. The choice then becomes yours, get angry and honk, or relax and kindly blink at them to let them know. Choose to be kind, choose to let it go, and choose to be happy. They are all choices, and the decision is most important when it comes to the little things.
6. Be grateful for every little thing, it makes the big things that much better.
It is so incredibly easy to take very small things for granted. The fact that we were able to wake up this morning with our lives and health is something we can't even guarantee. When we take time to appreciate these small gifts in our days, the larger blessings become that much more glorious. When you learn to appreciate the beauty of the rose, you can better appreciate the bouquet.
7. Favors are merited.
I learned this quick and suddenly. we have all been in a situation when you are in a pinch and have no one else to turn to. It happens to the best of us. So when you call on a friend to help you, you better be ready to help them in return. People will not do you a favor unless you give them a reason to. Let that reason be the goodness, kindness, and respect that you show them.
8. Trust, like respect, is always earned and never demanded.
Trusting someone takes courage. It is something that does not come easy for some people. When you have to place trust in someone, you do so for good cause and reason. It is also something that can not be forced, meaning there is nothing that one can do to cause trust between people to exist. It is a passive occurrence that only comes about through legitimately earning it.
9. Don't let "downs" bring you down any more than "ups" bring you up.
Classic positive message. Nevertheless, I still find it critically important to recognize. When something goes wrong, it is normal to be disappointed about it. But its important to keep things in perspective. Be sad, but know that things will get better.
10. Never forget the laughter of a child.
Children are one of the greatest source of joy and inspiration this world has to offer. They laugh so much, especially babies. There is something so genuinely pure about the laughter that comes from the pure wonder and happiness that a child experiences. As adults, I feel like we have all lost, or have begun to lose, that wonder. Why is that?
11. Love for the sake of loving.
Why not? It costs us nothing at all to show love to another person. So love boldly and fearlessly. We never know just what is happening in someones life. If we show love to someone who needs it, we have just contributed to giving life to the world in the form of compassion. I think the world needs all the love it can take, so spread it to anyone you can.
12. The closet does not define you - once you are out of it.
When a young person comes to terms with their identity, it can be terrifying. It suddenly becomes this massive game of figurative "Keep Away" for fear of being bullied, hurt, or excluded. Unfortunately, the closet you live in becomes your entire worldview. It is like being afraid of going outside in winter for fear of getting cold or frostbite. You are unsure just how it will feel, so you remain in the warm indoors. The key is to be brave, put on a coat, and step out. Only then can you realize the world contains so much more beauty and goodness.
13. Ask for forgiveness, not permission.
This was an adage that a former stage director of mine once told me when I was timid to make bold acting choices. He wanted me to take a chance and be confident in myself. If I were never to do so, I would have never known what I was capable of. It is better to be bold and strong in who you are than to seek the permission of others to be yourself.
14. Worry is a misuse of imagination.
We as humans worry when life becomes unsteady and we are unsure of your footing going forward. We begin to think up every situation imaginable that could then happen. What a waste of imagination this is. Why think of disaster when you could be devoting your energy to dreaming of something beautiful and good?
15. Find It. Learn It. Live it.
This is my mantra for this book, and for my life in general. If you rearrange the three sentences, you get a new idea and guide. When you find something good and true, learn it to the best of your ability and then live by it. When you live through something, learn from your experience and find where this new insight can positively impact your life and others' lives. When you learn of something new, find the truth within it and live that truth.
Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.