I’m a young sexagenarian who has made a few mistakes in her life. I’ve made dumb mistakes. I’ve behaved in ways I would rather forget. I regret some of the things I have said; I cringe when I think of some of the things I have done. Now that I’m perfect – not – I have time to reflect how far I have come. Wise folk often talk about how life is a journey where “if you’re not growing and learning and improving, well… you might as well be dead”.
The longer I live, the more I find this axiom to be true. It is only when you go through horrible times which compel you to take a long, hard look at yourself, that life’s lessons begin to shape your future for the better. Here are three golden rules for living a better life…
1. Quit giving advice
I’m only going to say this once though I have ignored my own advice countless times: quit telling people what they should do. Why? Because they won’t listen. They will continue to do what is easier for them. The only time people listen is when they are pressed up against a wall, and have no choice but to do something different. Telling someone that what they are doing is dumb, and here’s a better way? Waste of time. The only time you give advice is when people ask for it. Really.
2. Rather than talk, listen
This is priceless advice, coming from me, as I love the sound of my own voice. However, I have learned – the hard way – that when people are upset, the best thing I can do is listen. Rather than dole out advice (see 1) on how to fix it, or step up to fix the problem yourself, simply listen. When you let people speak, and reflect their sorrows, anger or frustration, you give them the greatest gift of all: the gift of your your listening. Lifeline Crisis Counselling teachers teach this, and they know what they are talking about.
3. When you’re not sure what to do, WAIT.
I have had to learn this the hard way. Now when I feel a niggle about something I am about to say or do, I stop. And I reflect. And wait.
I like to sleep on things for 24 hours. I prefer to let time pass, until I get clarity about what I need to say or do. Believe me, you won’t be sorry that you waited before you leapt in. Some of us like to take action straight away. Better to slow down and THINK.
In summary: one, don’t dish out advice. Two, listen instead of blabbing. And three: don’t rush to pass judgement, advice or to act.
That’s it! Have a great life… until the next time.