Over the past year, I have learned a lot about myself. I went through big changes and found out some pretty crazy things. The radical changes that occurred over the year helped me realize a few things. One of them was, what I need to do in order to be happy. These six lessons have been helping me get through every milestone and blazing hoop I have to jump through. I hope they can help you too.
What all of us do every day is talk, talk, talk. Talk about ourselves. Our kids. Our wonderfully fantastic lives. We always want to tell other people what's going on with us. I should know, I’m a big offender of this. But with all the talking going on, we forget to listen. We stop hearing our friends' stories because they told it to us three days ago. We shrug off our significant other’s work drama because we simply don’t care or think it’s trivial. Stop. If you ever want to get to know a person and build a strong relationship with them, listen. Really listen to what they have to say. Listening is the easiest way to find the best friends, the most lovable partners, or the most relaxed coworkers. If we don’t listen, we won’t hear all the signs that they should not be in our lives. (Hint: It also works the other way around).
I have taught myself this lesson more than once. It needs a constant reminder and crash course every so often. Forgiveness is something we do selectively. As it should be. But sometimes we’re too selective. Okay, so Sally ate your favorite dessert without asking. But she didn’t know it was yours. She apologized. Even offered to buy you a new one! So why hold a grudge? Why throw it back in her face or tell her she doesn’t mean it? We need to learn to forgive each other. Our lives are too short to find reasons to cut people out of them. Especially those closest to us. If a person is truly seeking forgiveness and is sincerely apologizing, just forgive them. It doesn’t mean you have to make them your best friend again. It just means this weight on your shoulders of needing to categorize this person as “bad” is eliminated. Always forgive, but never forget.
3. Never Forget
People learn from their mistakes. Occasionally that means making the same mistake five times before learning the lesson, but it’s a lesson that needed to be learned. The phrase “forgive and forget” is wrong in my opinion. Forgive, absolutely, just look at number two! But we should not be so easy to forget. If we ever want to learn from our previous mistakes we must look back to what went wrong. Do not forget the feeling of betrayal after your partner cheated on you. Do not forget the feeling of despair when your best friend insulted you. Do not forget the sadness you felt when the cashier at the store shames you for purchasing an item. Forgive them when sincere, but do not forget. The quickest way to make the same mistake twice is to forget how it happened in the first place. Remembering the anger you felt at the rude waiter allows you to speak your mind and not tip him when he does it again. Recalling the shame you felt at the store when buying tampons allows you to kindly educate the young male cashier that it’s not dirty or whorish – your mother does it too! Do not forget.
We hear it all the time. From people we love to people we hardly know. Smile! Smiling makes you feel happier (that’s a fact) and it makes you sound more pleasant. I have found that smiling, even in stressful situations makes them more bearable. I feel less embarrassed or scared or mad when I’m smiling or laughing at what’s going on. We all have embarrassing parents – so why scream or hide when they get silly? Laugh with them, smile at their lame attempt to joke around, instead of making a big deal out of it. (Hint: it makes the situation less embarrassing for you too if you do that). It helps calm the other feelings that are going on. I’ve been doing it so much lately I already have laugh lines! Laughing and smiling makes my life more enjoyable, each and every day.
5. Be Honest
Honesty is the best policy. That line from kindergarten will always be true. Instead of lying about how I feel, I am straightforward. Especially with my boyfriend. If he says something that upsets me, I let him know. I don’t bottle it up and let it fester. I want to know when my friends are upset with me so I can fix it. I want to tell them what is wrong with me so they can be there and support me. I also want to say when I don’t to be around a person and why. It’s much easier to make things clear with someone instead of constantly having to shut them down or turn them away. It may hurt but honesty is always the best route to go. It also makes way for a clearer conscience.
6. Be Yourself
Figuring yourself out is something everyone has to do for themselves. No one else can do it for you and it can take a while. But when you want to be something you know you’re not and you try shoving yourself into a tiny, metal box and labeling it some B.S. thing you wish you could be – that’s not being you. I love animals. If someone asked me to hurt an animal in any sort of way, I physically wouldn’t be able to do it. That is who I am as a person. When we shove ourselves into these pre-made boxes of stereotypes or desires, we are lying. Humans are so unique and individual, why try to shove yourself into someone else’s pre-made box? Be yourself. It is so freeing being able to do the things you want to do and look the way you want to. Who cares if your mother hates that you wear all black? Or that your friends disapprove of your tattoos? Sure, we always want to impress but how exhausting is that when you can’t impress in our own way? Always be yourself and that will bring people that love you for you, not the idea of what you want to be.