What is a life changing realization that you wish you'd had sooner?
August 12, 2013 4:17 PM   Subscribe

I have a birthday coming up soon (28 - which for some reason feels like a milestone to me) and have been spending some time thinking about some of the small epiphanies I've had in the last few years that have made my life infinitely better. Such as - it's ok to let go of friends who no longer bring anything positive into your life; you are not responsible for your mothers happiness; and it's OK if the person you are seriously dating and thinking about settling down with is very different from the person that you thought you'd be with. In fact, it might be a very good thing. All of this thinking has made me realize that 1) if I had known this a few years earlier I might have avoided some serious heartache and anxiety attacks and 2) that there are probably plenty more epiphanies that I haven't had yet. So, I'm asking you all wise and all knowing MeFiers - what is a life changing realization you wish you'd had sooner?
posted by Bokonon11 to Human Relations (106 answers total) 432 users marked this as a favorite
A lot of epiphanies come at the end of an unpleasant process. That process is not only necessary to achieve the epiphany, but part of the epiphany itself. As such, distilling that process down to an axiom isn't as valuable as going through the process itself, however grueling it might be.

Honestly, realizing that was a huge epiphany for me.
posted by Pecinpah at 4:21 PM on August 12, 2013 [98 favorites]

You realize that other people's life-changing realizations can sound like so many facile calendar quotations, right? A realization is just that – something you have come to know is real, for you, because of cumulative experiences and observations in your own mind.
posted by zadcat at 4:21 PM on August 12, 2013 [14 favorites]

That I could get fit. That I could cook. That I don't need to own things.
posted by srboisvert at 4:22 PM on August 12, 2013 [27 favorites]

That being pleasant and easy-going is actually more interesting than being moody and sarcastic.
posted by Ideefixe at 4:26 PM on August 12, 2013 [140 favorites]

That when you're on good standing with other people, you can do no wrong. Conversely, when you're on bad standing with other people, you can do no right.
posted by DrGail at 4:28 PM on August 12, 2013 [47 favorites]

It's okay if you don't want to be friends with your exes.

You should never feel like you have to start trying to have kids by a certain age - fertility does not automatically turn off when you reach some magical age.

Your life will be just fine if you get rid of television and cable service.

When it comes to work, you should always ask for what you won't. Don't expect someone else to look out for you.

Related: Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.
posted by joan_holloway at 4:30 PM on August 12, 2013 [9 favorites]

I can say no.
posted by absquatulate at 4:30 PM on August 12, 2013 [13 favorites]

1. Your exes will *always* call you up after the break up. It's not because you're so awesome (although you are certainly awesome) or that you're such a great fuck (although you're certainly a great fuck). It's because they're scrolling through their phone, they see your name, they think "hey, she used to let me hit that" and they hit "dial." No more, no less.

2. Older men will always hit on you. It's not because you're so mature for your age (although you are certainly mature for your age) or because you're so interesting (although you are certainly interesting). It's because you're young. Period. (Corollary: That doesn't make them bad people. "If you're not trying, you're dying." You've got to respect that.) (Also, as long as there are men older than you, there will be older men hitting on you. Respect that, too!)

3. Sometimes there's no reason for a breakup that will satisfy your broken heart. Sometimes -- many times, in fact -- there is no "why." It just is. But your mind will torture you with all the things you think you shoulda coulda woulda done to avoid the breakup, or will torture you with pictures of your ex floating around in your brain to the tune of "But I was such a GOOD partner!"

4. Love leaves scars. And that's a good thing. We want to be permanently affected by the ones that we love. Otherwise, it's not really love. And like any other scar, it begins as a painful wound, goes through the period of laudable pus during which you drain out all the bad stuff, and then, eventually, heals to a painless but visible scar.

5. Great love means great pain. But if you aren't brokenhearted by the loss of a love, you're not fully human. So just understand, it's hand in hand with the best part of life.

6. Everything ends. Every relationship will end, whether voluntarily (through one or both people ending it) or involuntarily (through death). But the value of knowing this means that you are prepared to appreciate every moment while it's here. Don't waste a second! Make every moment count. Let go of the little things to the best of your ability, and see and appreciate in your partner what you will miss when it ends.
posted by janey47 at 4:31 PM on August 12, 2013 [76 favorites]

One thing that I have been in the process of realizing lately is that I need to acknowledge and accept my feelings, and give due consideration to where they are coming from. I have had a tendency in the past I think to just write my negative emotions off as a result of the "fact" that I am somehow an anxious or depressed person by nature, or deny that I am feeling what I am feeling and I think this has led to extra problems/the prolongment of unhappy siatuations. So I am trying out accepting my feelings and exploring them instead.
posted by thesnowyslaps at 4:35 PM on August 12, 2013 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: EDIT/ADDENDUM

I realize that quips from strangers are no substitute for going through life experiences - particularly the difficult ones - myself. And that what is a true realization for one person is not necessarily true for another. Still, I think it's valuable to hear what others have to say on the topic. For me, plenty of tiny epiphanies have happened because of something I've read or watched or talked about with a friend.
posted by Bokonon11 at 4:37 PM on August 12, 2013 [5 favorites]

Yes, also sometimes it takes someone else putting it into words for you to realize that you know it, too.
posted by janey47 at 4:39 PM on August 12, 2013 [11 favorites]

Don't worry about the opinions of people you don't like and/or respect.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:48 PM on August 12, 2013 [43 favorites]

The benign indifference of fundamentally emotionally healthy people is in nearly every instance preferable to the love of fundamentally emotionally unhealthy people.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 4:49 PM on August 12, 2013 [89 favorites]

Not all romantic relationships need to be charged with continuous drama.
posted by craven_morhead at 4:51 PM on August 12, 2013 [8 favorites]

HR works for management, not for you. Never go to them with a problem.
posted by Wordwoman at 4:53 PM on August 12, 2013 [83 favorites]

When I was about 18, my father warned me that as we age, the perception of time passing changes and it'll seem like time is passing more quickly. It wasn't until about 15 years later that I realized that I was experiencing what he was talking about. He said that it'll continue to speed and that I should stay aware of that phenomenon, especially when I find myself thinking that there will be all the time in the world to do something or achieve something.
posted by quince at 4:54 PM on August 12, 2013 [81 favorites]

This seems kinda silly, but a couple of years ago I realized that I am under no obligation to finish a book that I don't like. As a reader, that was such an epiphany!

Another thing is that I am a creature of habit, and I'm content doing the same things over and over (like eating the same food). People like me tend to get teased a bit for being unadventurous, but you know what, fuck it. Often coworkers will say "oh I don't want to eat there, we had that last week" and my thought is "um, yeah, and it was good last week so it will be good today!" I do try new things, but in general I know what I like, and I'm not going to let anyone make me feel guilty for doing otherwise!
posted by radioamy at 4:55 PM on August 12, 2013 [25 favorites]

That I am a damn good employee and, while it took awhile, I finally got a supervisor who saw that I am and has taught me so much about how to actually manage.
posted by govtdrone at 4:56 PM on August 12, 2013 [5 favorites]

You know that friend who has an endless supply of very entertaining epic tales of DRAMA DRAMA DRAMA that was inflicted on the friend by evil, bad, wrong people when the friend was just minding their own business peacefully living a virtuous life?

Eventually you're going to get to play the role of the evil, bad, wrong person.
posted by BrashTech at 4:57 PM on August 12, 2013 [90 favorites]

Do whatever you need to as soon as you can. Don't assume you'll have the time later; stuff to do will fill up any available time you have. Nature abhors a vacuum.

Plan to relax, whether vacations, a hobby, TV or just staring at a wall. You might forget and start to burn out.
posted by griphus at 4:59 PM on August 12, 2013 [27 favorites]

It's more important to have friends who are good people than friends who are interesting.
posted by leedly at 5:00 PM on August 12, 2013 [112 favorites]

The epiphany I had was that sometimes when I had friends who are at different places in their maturational journey, that it showed more character and mercy on my part to be patient and help them then to abandon them as if our friendship meant nothing other than what the deal brought to me.
posted by brownrd at 5:00 PM on August 12, 2013 [19 favorites]

Everything's negotiable. (From a job in Accounts Receivable.)

Acting now is better than waiting to act, usually. (Waiting to get busted for expired license plate tags.)

You're more competent and generally on top of things than you give yourself credit for (Teaching a class as a grad student.)

Shutup about yourself and prompt other people to talk more about themselves. (Teaching a class as a grad student.)

Ideefixe's: That being pleasant and easy-going is actually more interesting than being moody and sarcastic. (Living with a spouse.)

A corollary to the above: Return the shopping cart to the corral, pick up litter, hold the door open for the guy/gal with hands full, etc. (Buying a house and joining a community.)
posted by notyou at 5:01 PM on August 12, 2013 [20 favorites]

Whenever you think, "hey, maybe this isn't such a good idea," you are almost invariably right, and even if you're not quite right, you're not far off. Especially in a relationship.

Conversely, don't break up with someone just because it feels different or less "sparky" than all your other relationships to date. You know what all those relationships also have in common? They didn't work.

People who don't like anything are hilarious on stage and vampires in real life.
posted by Errant at 5:02 PM on August 12, 2013 [47 favorites]

Again, this sounds silly because it should be obvious, but relationships are hard work! I think I always expected that once you got into a rhythm with someone and got comfortable, that everything just fell into place and was smooth sailing. Not so! It takes a lot of energy to be a good partner.
posted by radioamy at 5:05 PM on August 12, 2013 [8 favorites]

That self-critical, judgmental voice in your head is not telling the truth. It's actually flat wrong out.
posted by joeyjoejoejr at 5:05 PM on August 12, 2013 [42 favorites]

Not making a decision is still a decision.

It's okay to not be polite all the time. Your safety comes first.
posted by rtha at 5:23 PM on August 12, 2013 [21 favorites]

1) It's better to be alone than to be with someone who is not right for you, who does not respect you, who does not treat you the way you want to be treated. Corollary: treat your loved ones like you love them.

2) All the things I've ever done that I really, truly regret are things that, at the time, I knew I shouldn't be doing, and could hear myself in my head saying "this is really not a good idea." I've certainly thought some things would be awesome and then was disappointed by reality--but I've never really regretted anything that I hadn't already known I should not be doing, but did anyway. Learning to listen to that voice is invaluable.

3) The most important and dangerous tool in the lives of average people is compound interest.

4) Patience. See also #3).

5) Accept the fact that you will not have everything you want in life, and be thankful for what you've got.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 5:25 PM on August 12, 2013 [16 favorites]

> I can say no.

And the corollary: "No" is a complete sentence.
posted by mon-ma-tron at 5:26 PM on August 12, 2013 [21 favorites]

Sorry, I keep coming back to this thread with thoughts!

Someone told me that the the word "decide" has the same root "-cide" as "homicide," meaning "kill," which is why it can be really hard to make decisions. You have to "kill" (let go) of all the other options, and that can be really hard.
posted by radioamy at 5:33 PM on August 12, 2013 [21 favorites]

It's better to be happy than right.
posted by latkes at 5:34 PM on August 12, 2013 [12 favorites]

Almost nothing is actually about you.

Real social change takes generations.

There is no art without constraints, and no freedom without boundaries.

Everyone is pretty much plagued by self-doubt. The people you admire simply get on with things in spite of it. Related: the only real difference between you and an athlete is that when you get tired, you stop.

Loving is a skill to be developed, mostly through really awkward conversations, more than a state of being you fall in to or out of by sheer chance.

You are not a bad person for not falling in love with someone with whom you have a great sexual relationship. The same is true of people who don't fall in love with you.

The traditional road to education and success is a trap. But it is actually a road. So if you don't take it, you'd better have some damn good alternate routes planned.

Any move is better than no move.

You can't blame people for taking advantage of you if you never speak up for yourself. Stay in an unhealthy relationship (romantic, professional, whatever) long enough and you will reach a point where you are letting someone fuck you over, and then that's the issue.

Pleasure has an incidental relationship to happiness at best.

Work is bullshit, but leisure is overrated.

At any given moment, you have so much less time than you think you do. The answer is, weirdly enough, to slow down.

My grandfather's preferred scotch was not, in fact, the best scotch.
posted by Mike Smith at 5:35 PM on August 12, 2013 [86 favorites]

I am a homebody and that's ok.
I am a bottom-of-the-food-chain analyst and that's ok.
I don't want to climb the career ladder and that's ok.
I take medicine every day for a chronic illness and that's ok.

i am allowed to be whoever the f I want to be and that's ok.

Because at the end of the day, three things matter: Me. Mr Meat. And our kitties. Everything else is fluff.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 5:42 PM on August 12, 2013 [33 favorites]

Quince's remarks about time made me recall a conversation I had with my grandmother when she was in her 80s. I asked her about the time thing, and said, "I know it's too much to wish for that it will slow back down, but does it ever plateau, at least?"

"Nope," she said, "It just keeps getting faster."

So I asked her, "well, what about this idea that you can make your life seem longer by doing boring things?" (I had recently read Catch-22*)

"Well," she said, "the thing is, when you're in the middle of being really really busy, time just FLIES" [I nod] "and when you're in the middle of doing nothing, time drags." [more nods from me] "But when you get to be my age--" [she was legally blind, practically deaf, and almost immobile] "--all you have to do all day and all night is sit around remembering things from your past. And when you look back on the time that seemed to drag, there's nothing to remember, so it's like it didn't even happen. But when you look back on those really busy times, when time just went by in a flash, well, in your memory it stretches out forever. So I recommend you live life to the full and pack in as many experiences as you can."

I thought that was pretty damn good advice.

*relevant excerpt: Dunbar was lying motionless on his back again with his eyes staring up at the ceiling like a doll's. He was working hard at increasing his life span. He did it by cultivating boredom. Dunbar was working so hard at increasing his life span that Yossarian thought he was dead.

posted by janey47 at 5:51 PM on August 12, 2013 [232 favorites]

"Since, according to me, your life is going to be a gradual process of becoming kinder and more loving: Hurry up. Speed it along. Start right now. There’s a confusion in each of us, a sickness, really: selfishness. But there’s also a cure. So be a good and proactive and even somewhat desperate patient on your own behalf – seek out the most efficacious anti-selfishness medicines, energetically, for the rest of your life."
posted by smoke at 5:52 PM on August 12, 2013 [36 favorites]

You can go home again, so for goodness sake go see the world.

Stuff is just stuff. It's nice to have, but it's just stuff.

Manners are not a sign of weakness. Helping the weak is a sign of strength.

You can be anything you want but not everything you want.

Create things. It doesn't have to be artistic, a brilliant new filing system is a creation but creation is the stuff of life. You don't have to do it well, sing badly, paint passionately, sew badly fitted clothes, decorate your house how you want not how some magazine tells you to just have fun and make something.
posted by wwax at 5:55 PM on August 12, 2013 [26 favorites]

The two most important traits to have: passion and compassion.
posted by forforf at 6:10 PM on August 12, 2013 [15 favorites]

I'll copy one from a comment I made earlier in the summer and give you one fresh insight. Both of these are things my mom used to say/do; one is a valuable realization at face value, and other other involved realizing that I really should be doing the opposite of what I learned from her:

1. There's always something. At Tom Petty concert a few years back I remember him pattering in the middle of an extended medley, "...I thought to myself, wouldn't it be great if there was just one moment where nothing was wrong and everything was alright." And it would be great. But the reality is, there's always something. Learn to enjoy the imperfect moment you have now rather than always waiting to arrive at that perfect moment out on the horizon--when you'll have the right house, spouse, kids, job, and a well-mannered dog--because there's always something.

2. Once you're over the age of 12 or so, "Who Can Be the Quietest?" is not a healthy game to play. Damn, I was really good at playing the Quietest Game! But outside the context of the backseat of the family station wagon, playing the Quietest Game can get you into trouble. Especially in your relationships!
Corollary: Like so many other values gleaned from Disney movies, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all" is utter crap.
posted by drlith at 6:26 PM on August 12, 2013 [10 favorites]

Really internalizing the idea that women can do anything men can do. (Not a woman, but lots of women). Which was also my introduction to the idea that we all carry really deep-seated biases.

I grew up in a pretty egalitarian household with a mother who was a tenured and
award-winning academic in the biological sciences. So, not exactly retrograde. And if you had asked me, I would have said I was a feminist, and of course a woman could do anything a man could.

And then one day during my junior year in college I was talking to my new friend, who was a student at Smith. And she mentioned something about her physics class or maybe student government, I don't even know what, and it suddenly hit me like a fucking thunderbolt, I tell you: all the physics majors at Smith were women. All the math majors. All the chemistry majors. The student body president, and the student body vice president, all the members of the chess club and the debate society and all the student workers in the Computer Center who knew Unix. All women, who were presumably doing just fine. And that those things were perfectly quotidian and that no one was ever the only woman in some guy-centered activity.

I was totally flabbergasted, and then immediately shocked at how shocked I was, because seriously, duh, women's college. And then I spent a long time thinking about it, and realized that apparently I had absorbed this idea that it was ok for a woman to be good at guy things if she was exceptional at them but that I should never expect that to be very many women at any given time,a and that my mental default image of of "chemist" or "student body president" or "person who could unbork my email" was a guy. So anyway, that moment required me to really examine my understanding of how the world works, and I also periodically revisit it as a reminder that I too am carrying around a shitload of unconscious biases and that just because I think the world works in a particular way is no real evidence that it does.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 6:34 PM on August 12, 2013 [103 favorites]

A big one for me was the realisation that you can't control other people. And if (or, inevitably, when) you try, YOU are the one who is going to suffer, especially from frustration when they won’t do what you want. You CAN influence people, but they are going to do what they are going to do.

Since I took the effort I used to spend fretting/fuming about getting other people to do stuff that I thought they should have been doing, but weren’t, and used it to further my own development and advance my own plans, I have been so much happier.
posted by t0astie at 6:42 PM on August 12, 2013 [11 favorites]

posted by elizardbits at 6:52 PM on August 12, 2013 [38 favorites]

A year from now, you'll wish you had started today.

Applies to almost any goal you'd like to work toward.
posted by justonegirl at 6:56 PM on August 12, 2013 [61 favorites]

36 years young and still trying to learn this one for good: "No one cares, so do what you want."
posted by getawaysticks at 7:04 PM on August 12, 2013 [31 favorites]

Get a job where people respect boundaries. It makes life so, so much easier. So much easier.
posted by RogueTech at 7:32 PM on August 12, 2013 [14 favorites]

Generally, good girls can't save you, and bad girls just need your savings.
posted by paulsc at 7:35 PM on August 12, 2013 [9 favorites]

"You can't change other people; only the way you react to them."

I would say the above is the single most important thing I've learned as an adult (I'm 34). It's saved me from many toxic relationships, and even saved a few. It has allowed me to let people go who bring nothing but pain and stolen energy and to love more fully those who are flawed but important to me.
posted by katyggls at 7:42 PM on August 12, 2013 [23 favorites]

We seldom tell stories about events in our lives that went according to plan.

There is joy to be had in embracing the unexpected, reveling in moments that aren't unfolding in the way we had imagined they would.
posted by WaspEnterprises at 7:49 PM on August 12, 2013 [18 favorites]

Stop over or under thinking things in restaurants. Don't be one of those people who get the same thing every time. Conversely, don't agonize over what you should get. Pick something, look it over briefly to make sure it doesn't have something you're allergic to and order it. If the place is even slightly better than a fast food joint your food will almost certainly be tasty and you may discover something you love.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 8:01 PM on August 12, 2013 [5 favorites]

You don't have to give everyone a chance who wants it. If your every instinct about a person is screaming no, you are not obligated to date them or associate with them just to be nice, or fair. Ignoring your instincts on this does not work. You are also not obligated to give ANOTHER chance to someone who has blown fifty billion previous chances and is whining for a fifty-first.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:11 PM on August 12, 2013 [14 favorites]

It's not my job to make sure everyone else is OK.
posted by jet_silver at 8:12 PM on August 12, 2013 [25 favorites]

Your parent could die unexpectedly and you will be trying to figure out who he/she really was from the things they left behind. Try to do this before they die.

That narrative you have in your head about your family? It's faulty. Everyone in your family has a narrative they cling to.

If you are unable to move forward you are probably afraid of something and this is too obvious for you to take seriously. Take it seriously before 20 years have passed you by.
posted by lillian.elmtree at 8:23 PM on August 12, 2013 [22 favorites]

If you have the opportunity to give someone a compliment, take it. Along the same lines, if you are about to say something hurtful or insulting in anger or frustration, think twice.

What is said can never be unsaid. And there are so many things that don't ever need to be said.

It took me a very long time to realize that what you don't say in life is as important, if not more important, than what you do say.

Another thing that took quite a long time to understand was that not everything in life deserves to be remembered. I used to keep very detailed records of various emotional dramas that unfolded in my life. I occasionally would return to these records and read them over, and realized that by recording only what was bothering/upsetting me most of the time (which I was trying to get off my chest/sort out for myself on paper), I was solidifying my least favorite memories and lowest moments in my long term memory, and letting the beautiful, incredible, or fun things that I saw and experienced slip away. It was something I had done purposefully, like a way of punishing myself for mistakes I had made. After this realization, I then destroyed all the writings about past drama and since then have been reveling in the freedom of forgetting.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 8:25 PM on August 12, 2013 [61 favorites]

I really, really, REALLY wish someone had given me How To Win Friends And Influence People a lot sooner. I don't think I'd have been ready for it because I was all I AM WHO I AM DEAL WITH IT, but man. That book would've made my life so much simpler if I'd been smart enough to listen to the advice within.

One of the most important skills you can learn while you're young is how to entertain yourself and meet people. A lot of people get used to the whole Teenager/Young Adult Entertainment Complex where there are all these activities around and adults charged with making sure they have a good time and are well-rounded, but once you graduate from college, nobody cares if you go to work, come home, sit there watching TV, go to sleep, and repeat until you die.

Nobody is looking at you. When you're worrying about what all those people are going to think about whatever, all those people you're worried about are just as worried thinking about what YOU are going to think.

So if you're in a creative field, this Ira Glass quote gets tossed around a lot:

“What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me . . . is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.

But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story.

It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

I'd just like to add--I just said pretty much this in another thread--that inborn anything, unless you're in something like a sport where it's all fast twitch muscle and height (and even then, there's 7 footers who can't play basketball and fast guys that can't do a damn thing on the football field), is bullshit. Oh, it's maybe the 3-5-10%, that last little percent that separates good and great, but the difference between you and that person you admire is that they've put in the work and you haven't. Most successful writers I know write every day. Most successful artists I know are always working on projects. Most successful musicians are always practicing. They're not joining Facebook groups and calling themselves author and talking on Twitter about how they're totally going to paint a painting one day. They're doing it, putting in the work, even if they'd rather be doing something else and even if they think it sucks (Most creatives when they're working on something think it sucks and is awful and they're awful and IT WILL NEVER END and then it does). I know some really talented people that just fuck around and fuck around and never produce anything while less talented people zoom by them because they're grinding it out every day. But honestly, calling it "talent" like it's some mystic thing they were given is actually kind of insulting when 95% of it is those hours and hours and hours they spent grinding it out.

It doesn't matter if you're right. It matters if people like you. I think this is one of the mistaken lessons a lot of kids pick up from school, that it's all about having the right answer and if you're the guy with the right answer, it doesn't matter if all the kids hate you because you get As anyway. Sooooooo not the case in the working world.

And ultimately, you are responsible for your own happiness. Nobody else is. And it's unfair to expect other people to make you happy. I know all kinds of people who sit around waiting for buying a thing to make them happy or having kids to make them happy or all these people they don't really like but feel obligated to to make them happy and they never ask themselves what would actually make them happy rather than what everyone else tells them will make them happy.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:27 PM on August 12, 2013 [100 favorites]

I'm 42. I finally stopped being troubled by what others think of me - wish I'd come to that decades ago - would have saved me endless heartache and anxiety. Fundamentally, whether people like you or not is largely out of your control.
posted by hockeyfan at 8:44 PM on August 12, 2013 [15 favorites]

1. It doesn't matter whether you deserve it or not; what matters is whether or not you're willing to deal with the consequences. (of spending, of eating, of drinking, of anything)

2. If you want to be truly great at something, that doesn't happen by accident. It's a choice you make -- you choose to be great, you choose to put the effort in. And it's not a choice you make once; it's a choice you make over and over and over again.

3. floss your dang teeth.
posted by KathrynT at 8:55 PM on August 12, 2013 [12 favorites]

- It's never too late to do what you want. You are not too old, or too fat, or too stupid to: follow your dream/wear a bikini/learn about chemistry.

- And; there is always a way to get to where you want to go, as long as you're willing to. Always. Even if you fail a test, school, don't get the job, etc. There are other pathways to follow, to other jobs, to learning. No matter what dead end life throws at you, there is always always another avenue. It's only not there if you stop looking.

- You are not as ugly as you perceive yourself to be. You are cute as. You were never as fat as you thought. The older you get, the more obvious this will be, and the more you'll want to slap your younger self for ever thinking that about you.

- There's no 'wrong' way to live. If you want to join the circus, you are just as valuable as someone who wants to be a surgeon. Don't let anyone make you feel inferior.

- Getting worked up about 'x' dramatic person/event only hurts you and doesn't impact their life at all. Walk away.

- Shaming doesn't work. Either in dealing with traits of others you disagree with, or yourself. Be kind.

- You will regret bending over backwards for nameless company. Every time. You do not want that to be your dying thought. So if you can afford it, don't work so hard. Be with your family. Your friends. Yourself. It makes you happier And don't let other people's work ethic make you feel bad. They can do whatever makes them happy. They can do them. You do you.

- In love, you're supposed to be on the same team. If it's full of angst, and drama, disdain, apathy, uncertainty, fear ... it may well be love, it may well be passionate, but they may not be for you. Love is always supposed to make you feel more good than bad. It can still be passionate, but it doesn't need to feel like a rollercoaster. Any time you're telling yourself otherwise, you're in denial. You deserve to be cherished. If you're not, find someone who will.

- ALL misunderstandings stem from communication problems/hiding feelings. Don't do this. Don't assume you know why someone 'looked at you funny' -- if you care, always ask. If they care too, it will always get resolved. If it doesn't, you're probably better off.
posted by Dimes at 8:59 PM on August 12, 2013 [63 favorites]

Be compassionate to yourself.
posted by Neekee at 9:04 PM on August 12, 2013 [22 favorites]

One thing that really, really, really changed my life is when I learned the power of communication. I was going to write a self-effacing and apologetic email to a former client, after I messed something up. Instead, a friend stepped in and helped me write a positive, optimistic, grateful email instead. As a direct result, I landed a $17,000 (a lot for me at the time) contract. Had I written the first email, that would not have happened.

With that experience, I very directly learned the power of communication. Now I identify when I'm in a situation that can have one outcome, or another, depending on the power of my words... and I choose carefully.

This was such an important lesson for me... I'm just waiting around in my life to have such a good lesson again. It's been the biggest lesson of the past few years.
posted by htid at 10:31 PM on August 12, 2013 [25 favorites]

Kingston is not representative of most Canadians.
posted by buzzman at 10:47 PM on August 12, 2013

It's hard to overstate the value of a workplace that's at least reasonably sane and fair.

Conversely, leave toxic workplaces as soon as humanly possible, even if you have to sell a kidney to survive.
posted by ambient2 at 10:50 PM on August 12, 2013 [12 favorites]

1) If you can bake a cake, you can make a bomb. Not literally in the destructive sense, but more in the transferable skills and survival sense. Like... you made it through one hideous life episode, and that's fortified you to take on the world. Or you know how to maintain great friendships with others, which means you have insight into interpersonal relationships in general. Essentially... what you know and the sum of your experiences has value should you choose to draw upon it.

2) Laughing at something that annoys you is a whole lot more fun than shaking your fist at it.

3) Growing your own food isn't that hard.

4) Taking walks is a good substitute for therapy, in a pinch.

5) The sky is always beautiful to look at, no matter where you are or what time it is.

6) It is almost always more useful to examine and reflect on your own feelings of anger and/or annoyance than to pick apart the thing or person that you think is annoying you.

7) If you can fart quietly, you can fart in a lot of public places whenever you feel like it. You know, given appropriate distance from others and/or airflow.
posted by Temeraria at 10:54 PM on August 12, 2013 [16 favorites]

When you're really feeling pissed off and angry and living in the emotional moment... Stop. Wait a minute. Think. Ask yourself if you can't really help what you're feeling—if you're just totally swept-up on a wave of endorphins and adrenaline—or if maybe you're perpetuating the emotion because you kinda enjoy it.

Generally, if you're able to pause and reflect, you'll find that you're doing it to yourself.

Then, you can decide if you still want to be angry. Often it's not the most constructive emotion for problem-solving.
posted by mumkin at 11:02 PM on August 12, 2013 [8 favorites]

It all goes very fast, and death is real.
posted by ead at 11:08 PM on August 12, 2013 [13 favorites]

Many life lessons are best learned through experience. The result of neglecting one's dental hygiene is not one of those lessons.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:11 PM on August 12, 2013 [11 favorites]

My ignorance is an infinite vastness of unknown unknowns compared to my cozy little Shire of so-called understanding. It's not just that I have certain facts wrong. There are entire universes that I haven't even smelled. Every other person in the world has an outlook that's so vastly different. Any genuine conversation with another person can reveal things, put things in another light, open things up. Same with any new experience, if approached with sincere openness.
posted by mbrock at 11:19 PM on August 12, 2013 [7 favorites]

Honesty with your own self, and what that entails, is probably the most important single principle in life. This means making sure you believe what you know, and only what you know.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 11:58 PM on August 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

Trust your feelings.
posted by honey-barbara at 1:47 AM on August 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

If you ask people out, it greatly increases the chances that they will go out with you.

You should not treat the person you love WORSE than you would treat a stranger or casual acquaintance. If a casual acquaintance in your home accidentally broke a dish, would you tell them they were stupid and that this is why you can't have nice things?
posted by kyrademon at 3:15 AM on August 13, 2013 [33 favorites]

Become an athlete. Find an activity you love, where you can push yourself and get that endorphin rush and feel proud of what your body can do. Whether it's waking up today and deciding that you're a runner, hiker, kayaker, swimmer, biker, surfer, rock-climber or yogarama, there's nothing in the world like the satisfaction you get when you push your body. Your mind clears, you make better decisions, you walk taller and you generate much more positive energy.

Eat whole, colorful and tasty foods with crunch and snap and zing. Life's too short to waste on bad food.

Know what you want in a relationship and be clear about it. Don't play games with people.

Conversely, if you're spending more than 50% of your time trying to decipher what a person means when they say or do something, stop. Don't try to guess other people's motives. It's never worth your brain power.

Never discuss emotions via text.

If someone wants to be with you, they will be with you, no matter how busy their life is.

No matter how exhausted you are, always have at least one great book to read. And read it.

If you're in any relationship or situation where you have an undefined sense of unease or unhappiness, listen to that inner voice and get out of that situation. Your little voice is right although you may not know why at the time.
posted by kinetic at 4:09 AM on August 13, 2013 [53 favorites]

Something I whole heartedly believe is this : You're only as good as your worst friend.

What I mean by that is who you associate with ultimately reflects on you. You can be the most amazing, honest, law abiding person in the world, but if you have a friend who is dishonest, a bit of an asshole, generally disliked, and disrespectful other people who know how that bad friend is like are going to wonder what the fuck you are doing hanging out with that person, and then they are going to start to assume that you must have at least SOME things in common, and they are probably going to assume it is the bad things. They are going to assume that your morals might be a little slack, or that you maybe aren't as honest as you seem.

For example, I had a friend who was a newly certified elementary school teacher in a not too big, quite close knit community. 99% of her friends were stand up citizens, but there was one friend who drank too much, smoked a lot of pot, couldn't hold a job, and just not such a great guy. She had to distance herself from him because she couldn't afford to be associated with him when it came to prospective employers.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 4:32 AM on August 13, 2013 [18 favorites]

Mod note: #1 for me has to be wisdom in choosing who you want to seriously commit to in a relationship. Once one is committed, even in today's apparently easy-come-easy-go relationship economy in terms of divorce, you can easily find yourself tied to someone who has the power to make you unhappy every single day of your life (or a significant, life-altering, chunk of years) for any combination of reasons (but especially having children together and economic factors, which often go hand in hand) – even if they aren't a "bad person." Also? They might be a "bad person."

The person you marry (or same-as) doesn't have to be perfect, but life is so much more joyful if they are perfect for you. I learned this, but I wish I had learned it earlier, because it's a world-changing difference. If you feel like "I love him/her, but XYZ* about them makes me unhappy" this isn't the one to bind yourself to. Don't wake up 5, or 15, or 30 years down the line realizing that unhappiness, insecurity, anxiety, and/or stress is the default setting for your whole life because that's what you blithely signed up for when you initialed the love contract. *Important: Never believe you can change "XYZ" about them. You cannot. Really.

I want to stress that this doesn't mean having unrealistic requirements of perfection in a mate. It means loving them and feeling happy with them as they are, and it means that even if some characteristics aren't necessarily "ideal" on some checklist, they do not actively make you unhappy, stressed, or anxious. It also doesn't mean bailing when things get tough [things always get tough]. It means don't settle for less than love, kindness, honesty, and joy in a relationship, and when you find that person, love the shit out of them (even when they kind of suck, because they will and you will too, from time to time), and don't take the magic for granted, because it's rare and precious.

I wish I had read "The Gift of Fear" pretty much as soon as I learned to read and/or reason (or, really, just absorbed it in the womb), despite the fact that it wouldn't be written until decades later. I don't typically read self-help books, btw, and certainly don't evangelize any of them. Except this one. I won't expound except to say that it's about the simple expedient of protecting yourself in a calm, everyday manner (you don't have to learn any ninja tricks), and is straightforward, logical, affirming, wise, rational and concretely, immediately useful, and despite how the title may sound, not at all exploitative or fear-mongering, and I feel like this is a must-read for pretty much everyone, the sooner the better.

Selfishness might be underrated. I've found that generally, the more selfish I am, the happier I am – but I mean this in a very specific way. As a woman, I've been expected to be accommodating and pleasing, and I am, mostly. When it suits me. I'm happy to make people happy, or do what I can do and want to do to make anyone's life, work, or interaction more pleasant. I like that. But what I learned is to become absolutely indifferent to those who are upset when I choose not to be pleasantly accommodating against my own wishes.

That cute internet saying going around these days? "No fucks to give"? That. I have zero compunction about just saying "um no, nope, uh-uh, no can do, don't wanna, will not," have learned the efficacy of being neutrally, blandly blunt about it, and honestly and truly do not care if someone is displeased by that. Their problem. Not my problem. I've become pretty gloriously selfish in this way, and it really makes my life happier. (I also find that this generally does not cause the sky to fall or other apocalyptic repercussions, even including being disliked. It turns out that most people are pretty willing to roll with that, actually.)

Aside from interpersonal relationships, I guess I'm most grateful for having a flexible mind (I know this sounds like egregious, disgusting boasting, but bear with me just a bit!). As it turns out, because of my lifelong reading addiction, I've always been aware of so many things beyond the narrow lens of my own lived reality and/or experience: I knew something about the experiences of GLBTQ people, for example, and even practices like BD/SM at a fairly early age (hey, I was a relatively precocious, definitely omnivorous, and completely unsupervised reader!), and the experiences of people of different races, nationalities, economic and social classes – modern, historical, speculative, and fantastic before I ever actually encountered any of this stuff in real life. As a constant reader from the age of six, I feel like I've been regularly confronted with ideas and realities that were odd, strange, surprising, unfamiliar, unsettling and/or shocking from my point of view... so it's always been relatively trivial for me to adjust to real changes in the world, new ideas, new social paradigms, new technology, etc., because I've been confronting and absorbing new ideas forever, and now that I'm a bona fide "older person," I especially treasure this gift and am so happy that I'm not fossilized into some Old Man Yells at Cloud version of myself.

This is not something I wish I had known sooner, but something I figured out later. I mention it because I highly recommend any exercises that stretch and poke at one's idea of how things ought to be, how and what people are or should be, what is objectively right or wrong, and what it all means. The best exercises don't supply answers, but raise more questions and possibilities, and that, I think, makes for a well-lubricated mind. One runs the risk of becoming slightly ridiculous at the age of 30, say, if he or she cannot encompass ideas, aesthetics and social movements that were invisible or unknown to them when they were younger, but beyond 50, it's what people expect of you, and it's really nice not to become a cliché. It's really nice not to feel stomped on by the march of time and increasingly alienated by the ever more isolating rigidity of your own limited, intractable mind. Everything in life is better with an agile brain, but especially when beauty and strength fail, as they inevitably will do. :)
posted by taz (staff) at 5:50 AM on August 13, 2013 [56 favorites]

Don't buy so much stuff; you don't need it.
posted by desjardins at 8:28 AM on August 13, 2013 [6 favorites]

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. - Don't let yourself get overwhelmed when a task seems large. Break it into small bits & just start doing them.

Not everything is about you. - Person X did Y and now you're upset? Get over yourself. The universe does not revolve around you and 99.9% of the time this person wasn't thinking of you at all when they did it, so stop taking things so personally.

Will it take less than 5 minutes to do something? Then do it now. - Stop procrastinating. Don't let the sink pile up with stinky dishes when it takes less than 5 minutes to load the dishwasher? Put away that thing that is lying in the middle of the floor, rather than stepping over it for a week while it invites all its friends to come have a chaos party in the middle of your livingroom. Answer that email. Why fill your mind with "Oh, I need to remember to do X" when you could just do it now & free up that mental energy for more important things.
posted by belladonna at 8:38 AM on August 13, 2013 [25 favorites]

"Vices" are underrated. In appropriate amounts, they are actually virtues. We need our pride, our envy, our lust, our vanity, our greed, our sloth, and everything else. They drive us to strive, to take care of our own needs, to find what we need to be happy. They are not only universal elements of the human condition, but actually worthy things. Yes, they can be taken to excess all too easily, but so can the so-called "virtues". (An excess of humility become self-effacement and self-deprecation. An excess of diligence becomes a life devoted to nothing but work. Etc.) Cherish both your virtues and your vices, and learn when they are appropriate and to what degree.
posted by kyrademon at 9:11 AM on August 13, 2013 [12 favorites]

1. Get off the internet. Oh, use it -- but don't aimlessly click around. Check your favorite sites and then log off or at least close your browser. Don't get into the habit of filling your time up with the internet, because there is so much internet it will fill up all your time.

2. Sometimes there's no right decision. There will always be things to regret, and that's okay.

3. A person can never know too much statistics.

4. Now is usually the right time to start the things you want or have to do, whether it's cleaning the kitchen, planning a trip abroad, learning a new language, or doing that assignment that's due next week. This is related to #1, Get Off The Internet.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 9:37 AM on August 13, 2013 [29 favorites]

that fear of making someone angry is not always a reason not to do something.

that knowing my values and trying to be true to them gives me strength that no one can take away.

that i never end up regretting kindness.
posted by eseuss at 9:43 AM on August 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

At some point, as a child, I was reading through a book of famous quotations. There was one: "Unless you think you can do better than Tolstoy, we don't need you."

This thought burrowed into my brain and stopped me from writing fiction for over fifteen years. Oh, I'm sure there were other factors, but this really stuck with me. I found the complete quote just now by Googling "we don't need you." I didn't remember the specific author, but I remembered last part word for word. "We don't need you."

Only now am I beginning to realize that THIS IS BULLSHIT. Damaging, elitist, soul-destroying bullshit.

Just because I am not in the top .01% of human greatness, doesn't mean my contributions are of no worth to society.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:09 AM on August 13, 2013 [36 favorites]

Such as - it's ok to let go of friends who no longer bring anything positive into your life

1) if I had known this a few years earlier I might have avoided some serious heartache and anxiety attacks

Maybe consider this: how could the acceptability of letting go of these friends been phrased such that you would have listened to the advice, back when you were still friends with these people? "Hey, Bokonon11, that person doesn't add anything positive to your life. You should just stop being friends with them." I imagine I don't have to tell you this rarely goes well (source: 8% of AskMeFi questions). You wouldn't have "known" the reasons yet, even if you were told. So, assuming you had a friend at these times who would tell you not to be friends with someone (which is generally considered to be rude), think for a minute how that conversation could have gone such that you would have listened. Would it have even been possible?

Is it possible that this question is motivated by a desire *not* to go through learning experiences anymore? There are no shortcuts.
posted by rhizome at 10:27 AM on August 13, 2013 [3 favorites]

You do not need to justify your reasons for saying "no." For years, I assumed that not only did I need a reason to say "no," but it had to be a good reason. Or rather, it had to meet the other party's criteria for being a good reason. My life became so much easier once I realized that "no" was sufficient on its own.
posted by corey flood at 10:28 AM on August 13, 2013 [6 favorites]

I read this on Pinterest, but it's true! Discipline is distinguishing between what you want now and what you want more and choosing more.
posted by semacd at 10:34 AM on August 13, 2013 [22 favorites]

The feeling of anger comes from either having my wishes thwarted or having feedback about myself that I don't like. I make myself angry. No-one does it for me. Furthermore, I am responsible for all of my feelings.

Your family is not here to understand you. Your family is here to love and support you in the directions you choose. If they understand you, that's a bonus, not a requirement.

Following this, honouring your [possibly dysfunctional] family is good for YOUR mind. Treating your [possibly dysfunctional] parents with kindness and social grace, even when they're doing that thing that drives you nuts, is a mark of maturity.

I have flaws that everyone can see. I'm not fooling anyone. They are right there in plain sight. So just be myself and be honest.

Weakness is strength. Hiding weakness results in more weakness. Expressing weakness is strength. And if anyone takes advantage of or denigrates weakness, run like hell.

Please do not make my opponents weaker, make me faster and stronger. (sports)

After you're 10-12 years old, no one corrects your behavior anymore. After 18 they *really* don't correct your behavior. They will just politely avoid/exclude you or stab you in the back. Therefore, anyone who takes you aside and give you honest feedback about things you actually said or did is a BLESSING.

All my problems came because I was prideful and arrogant. Humility is freedom.

All of our suffering comes from fear. Love is the cure.

Wear sunscreen. Even my doctor said it's as close to the fountain of youth that we've got.

Finally, from Mr. Keats:
"Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all. Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:40 AM on August 13, 2013 [21 favorites]

My realization that those who thought higher of me than I did of myself were right; that being able to admit you are wrong about something puts you in the driver's seat of your car of life; to surround myself with people who demand more of me than I think I am capable of and then make them right!
posted by curlytalks at 10:47 AM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Don't date the person you want to be. Be the person you want to be, and date the person who supports you in that.
posted by amoeba at 11:01 AM on August 13, 2013 [47 favorites]

Chocolate Pickle wrote this in 2010:

It is not written that you must detest everyone who disagrees with you.
posted by wittgenstein at 12:35 PM on August 13, 2013 [6 favorites]

Social media websites are not an accurate barometer for measuring the happiness and life satisfaction of your friends and acquaintances. You only see what they want you to see.

Life is not a contest. There is no ceremony at the end for Nicest Wedding or Had the Cutest Babies or Traveled the Most or Earned the Most Money or Cleanest House. These awards do not exist.

Somewhat related: Hard work gets results. I may scoff at the work of another and think to myself, "I could do better," but that's meaningless until I actually DO it and send it out into the world. There is no prize for Best Unwritten Novel or Greatest Unfilmed Movie or Best Imaginary Painting.

It is always, always better to get the dreaded Bad Thing over with sooner rather than later.
posted by castlebravo at 1:20 PM on August 13, 2013 [22 favorites]

Nothing good happens after 1AM.
posted by thatgirld at 2:14 PM on August 13, 2013 [5 favorites]

As adults, no one really gives a fuck if you suck at something (unless you are paid lots of money to do it of course).
So if you like something you suck at, do it anyway!
For example I always liked to dance and as a kid/teen I managed to get on a dance team, but was always put in the back because I was one of the worst. This was embarrassing, so I eventually gave up on it. Now at the ripe age of 34 I joined a weekly dance class and even though I screw up all the time, no one gives a fuck! Weeee!
On the flip side my dancing doesn't really impress anyone either, but the older I get the less I care about being impressive at anything.

Bottom line: Nobody cares, and thats ok..liberating even!
posted by hellameangirl at 4:19 PM on August 13, 2013 [6 favorites]

I'm only 33, but hey, here is my list!

Fiber is your friend. Psyllium capsules are cheap.

Moisturize! I was at a recently family function and everyone said I looked YOUNGER than my little brother. Be happy in your skin with happy skin.

If you aren't already, come up with a healthy living plan. You will feel so much better.

Don't drink as much. Quality over quantity.

Be caring, kind, compassionate, and passionate.


Try new things! Life is an adventure.

Better to be single than settle, BUT:

A real loving relationship probably isn't the crazy fire drama up and down and all around you may have had in your teens/twenties.

Relationships still take work even with someone you love. You will get mad, you will get hurt, but it will all be worth it in the end. All the good things make it worth while.

You can hurt your person more than anyone, remember that.

Never ever be bored. Make a THE LIST. THE LIST will be everything you always want to do, learn, watch, read, go to, just everything. This can be in your head, on paper, whatever. Life is too short to ever waste it by being bored with it. Keep adding to it. Till the day you day.

Always have a backup plan.

Treat your true friends right.

Don't buy stuff you don't need.

Put whatever money you can into savings.

Appreciate your accomplishments, before discarding that milestone and moving onto the next. Smell the roses.

Sleep in once in a while.
posted by PlutoniumX at 6:12 AM on August 14, 2013 [14 favorites]

When something is no longer an option, don't pine for it; just go in a different direction. (Examples: -I injured my ankle and had to drop out of a marathon I was training for; I took some time off, then started swimming instead. -I got dicked over by management and was pulled out of a dream-come-true great training opportunity at work; I kept my head down and found a much better job in a much more accommodating part of the organization, not looking back.)
posted by psoas at 9:47 AM on August 14, 2013 [28 favorites]

New habits can be learned, and far more quickly than anyone realizes.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:52 AM on August 14, 2013 [6 favorites]

One more: If you have something you're dreading in the morning, don't stay up all night. You won't keep morning from arriving, you'll just be completely exhausted when the sun comes up. I still struggle with going to bed when I have something I dread happening the next morning. I still irrationally think that if I just don't go to bed, morning won't come. I've been wrong every time, and if I do manage to get sleep, I'm actually better prepared to handle whatever it is.
posted by RogueTech at 1:35 PM on August 14, 2013 [6 favorites]

Whenever you get a raise, put half of the difference, every paycheck, into long-term savings, probably the index fund SPY. You then get to retire in about 20-25 years, assuming you do alright with raises, and started early enough.

If a course in college sucks, ask the professor why they decided to study the subject, and ask where you're likely to use it. They'll have an answer for one or the other that helps you actually give a damn about the subject long enough to crank out homework.

Never, ever give up. If you're not enjoying something, plan to change it. If you're focusing on something you can't change, that's fine in the short run; in the long run, you're *really* wasting your life; do something different. Seriously.
posted by talldean at 8:33 PM on August 14, 2013 [8 favorites]

Hey btw 28 is the right time to consider these issues. Any age divisible by 7 is de facto a transition age. 28 35 42 49. All big ages for me. Next up, 56. LET'S GO.
posted by janey47 at 9:49 PM on August 14, 2013 [16 favorites]

We seldom tell stories about events in our lives that went according to plan.

This sort of stuck with me: I just want to say there are people who do tell these stories; if you are friends with them and they like to plan things, hold fast to them. They may seem boring sometimes, but they (a) can make things happen and (b) are dependable; speaking as someone who is at times impetuous and capricious, having friends you can depend on in weird circumstances is invaluable.
posted by psoas at 7:50 AM on August 15, 2013 [13 favorites]

My grandfather's preferred scotch was not, in fact, the best scotch.

It is, indeed, awesome to connect with the past... But it's also awesome to find your own way.

For example: my grandma's favorite flowers were yellow roses, so that's what I gave to the woman who is now my wife. But the way I gave them to her (three, every Wednesday, for a loooong time) is not a thing that someone else taught me.
posted by wenestvedt at 1:35 PM on August 15, 2013 [4 favorites]

Admitting you don't know something -- instead of fumbling for a convincing cover -- is often more impressive and more useful, as well as honest. So be comfortable with being wrong: how else do you learn?
posted by wenestvedt at 1:36 PM on August 15, 2013 [13 favorites]

Also: "Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle." When I remember this, a lot of RAGE leaks away.

And something I have shared here before is to remember "HALT": never make an important decision when you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired.
posted by wenestvedt at 3:49 PM on August 15, 2013 [17 favorites]

Stop asking the internet for advice and go live your life.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:52 AM on August 16, 2013 [4 favorites]

On my way to work I pass a huge sign in front of a business. It says:
And every single day that I see it, I find it easier to forgive perceived slights and upsets.
posted by desjardins at 10:35 AM on August 16, 2013 [26 favorites]

Give money to charity. Not giant amounts, just loose change, every now and then.
posted by Quilford at 6:58 PM on August 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

Compassion is a muscle, when you exercise it, it gets stronger and makes you feel good at the same time.

I'm a lot less rational than I think I am. Therefore when I decide not to do something for a very good reason, the *real* reason might be anxiety or timidity. Realizing this has been a key to getting out of the comfort zone and broadening my life.

Today is the youngest you'll ever be.

In times of stress, practice defaulting to calm and kind.

Another worthwhile practice is gratefulness. We really are lucky in many, many ways.

Don't compare your inside with someone else's outside.
posted by storybored at 8:04 PM on August 16, 2013 [9 favorites]

I was reluctantly dragged along to a talk by a Tibetan monk named Ringu Tulku last year (I'm an atheist).

He seemed a bit wishy washy overall but I don't really remember much of what he said about Buddhism. What really stuck with me about him was how pervasively happy he seemed the whole way through, smiling and laughing casually through his talk.

And then he said this - which has absolutely changed the way I deal with my stressful life:

"If there's something you can do there's no need to worry, if there's nothing you can do there's no point in worrying."

That may be self-evident but it had never occurred to me at all previously. He has really helped me to move on from persistent ruminating on the negative and enjoy my life. I really wish I had heard this earlier.
posted by inbetweener at 3:20 AM on August 17, 2013 [39 favorites]

We are moving overseas and have to reduce our belongings. Most of the stuff I buy is pointless or worthless.
posted by mecran01 at 6:54 AM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Arguments can not be won. If you think you've won an argument, you've actually lost the battle for hearts and minds. That's not to say that arguments are useless, because they can be an effective way to air your differences or simply let off some steam. But they really can't be won.

The best and most forceful power over other people is soft power. You can sometimes use hard power ("because I say so and I'm your boss/teacher/parent/supervisor/stronger than you/etc") but it's far better to avoid that as much as possible.
posted by math at 7:44 PM on August 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

Once spoken, words last forever, and have a life of their own.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:11 AM on August 20, 2013 [6 favorites]

You are never too old to reinvent yourself - whether that means getting a drastically different haircut, deciding to dress in a totally different style, pursuing some hobby that you've been interested in since you were a kid, whatever. Whenever you find yourself trying to talk yourself out of something ("oh, I'm too old / that's frivolous" / etc) step back and remind yourself: "You know what? I can damn well take tap-dancing lessons if I want, because I am a grownup."

You don't have to become an expert at every single thing you try. It's OK to ultimately not even like every single thing you try... but you'll never know unless you try it. To quote gregglind in another good AskMefi discussion about voracious living, "Buying crochet hooks isn't a suicide pact with crocheting." Along those lines, passions can run hot and cold. Rather than feeling guilty about neglecting some pet project that you've gotten bored with, just set it on the shelf and run hard with whatever other thing has grabbed your immediate attention. You can come back to it in a couple of months.

And as an overarching theme that's already been mentioned a few times here: stop worrying about what other people think about what you wear, what you read, what you watch (or don't watch), about anything. The vast majority of people don't even notice (or care), and the few busybodies who do aren't worth bothering with.
posted by usonian at 9:30 AM on August 20, 2013 [9 favorites]

« Older Can I get some resolution?   |   Band drama alert! Need some advice Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.