Time to do the Janus face: look back and reflect, look forward and plan.
As part of the reflection phase, I present a handful of truths I have learned, in no particular order.
1. Be More Than Just a Pretty Face.
Develop your character more than you develop your physical appearance. The most interesting, intelligent and worthy people I know aren’t necessarily the most attractive; they are the people who have the most thoughtful insight into our world.
This isn’t to suggest that all beautiful people are shallow; more that the people of substance are more interesting, vibrant and alive.
2. Take Care of Your Body.
I know this is going to sound contradictory, but your physical body does need to be taken care of as much as your intellect. I mean this as a health care issue. I learned, almost too late, that a sedentary lifestyle is not good.
If you want to live to an old age, and your family history suggests a preponderance for chronic diseases, do your best to head them off before they make your life difficult.
3. Be Generous.
Being generous starts with the desire to impact someone else in a positive way. It could be regular donations to an organization you support, and yet, generosity is more than monetary.
Every year, I participate as a volunteer with the London Fringe because I believe in their principles. The creativity and passion behind the performing arts is important, and I believe artists should not have to jump through a lot of money-obsessed bureaucratic hoops to get their messages heard.
Everyone has a story; every person is creative and has the right to express their creativity. The Fringe circuit in Canada and the U.S. offers just that opportunity. I don’t go to the fundraisers for the festival, and I have rarely been able to donate financially, but I give 12-13 days of my time every summer to help the artists who put themselves out there.
4. Learn to Say “NO.”
Again with the contradictions! Be as generous as you want to be, but remember, all your effort has to come from somewhere.If you don’t stop and give your own batteries a chance to recharge and realize goals independent from any other person or cause, something will burn out.
The word “no” has the power to change any situation, any circumstance, and you owe it to yourself to hitch onto that power once in a while.
5. Fiction Is Not Reality.
You cannot live in a fictional world. I read a lot of paranormal mystery and romance novels, and I am aware they are escapist fantasies.
For awhile, I wished I was Jane Eyre, or Clary Fray, but I’m not. I’m glad I’m not, really, because those girls had a lot of freaky stuff to worry about.
The problems of life are rarely solved in under 44 minutes. Real CSI police detectives don’t solve cases in less than a week—often, the cases take months, even years to be satisfactorily completed.
Brilliant people make serious mistakes—as a real-life doctor, Gregory House would probably kill a lot of his patients before his team could figure out what’s wrong with them.
Pre-teen girls are not secret rock stars or actresses, and there are NO SUCH THINGS as vampires, werewolves, ghosts, or magical beings.
Life is hard sometimes, and it’s better to take strength from the lessons you learn from the stories you see and read and hear than it is to try to actually live them.
6. It’s Good to Have an Imagination.
A healthy imagination helps you learn to solve problems. If you can never conceive of alternate way of fixing something, or figuring out a puzzle, if everything goes from point A to point B in your life, you will never be successful.
Life is about making choices, and about the randomness of choice. Take out the random, the imaginative path, and you remove some of the magic and beauty of Life. I hate the phrase, “Think Outside the Box,” but the spirit of the message is sound. Don’t be afraid to daydream a new idea into reality.
My favourite Edgar Allan Poe quote is, “It will be found, in fact, that the ingenious are always fanciful, and the truly imaginative never otherwise than analytic.” Be fanciful, be analytic, be imaginative.
7. Forget Lemonade, make Lemon Sorbet
There is no situation in life which cannot be improved by a calm attitude, and sometimes, that means finding your inner cool. Take a walk, leave the room, put your headphones on and listen to music you love, distract yourself for a few minutes (or hours), then look at things again.
Sometimes, it may seem this is not possible, but it is. It’s not just for task-oriented problem solving.
I come from a family of hotheads. My bio. father and my sister use snark and vicious tones to attack and put their target on the defensive. What they haven’t learned is, you can never take something back once you’ve said it.
The person they say nasty things to may forgive them—he or she may even forget exactly what was said—but that person will always remember how that conversation made them feel, and it will scar them.
I’m learning (emphasis on the present, active tense) to curb my own tongue, to step back and cool off. It will take awhile, but I have faith in me. Life gives you lemons, etc….
Okay, so I’ve learned other stuff, but these are, in my opinion, the most important.