As I age, it’s so easy to look back and think: wouldn’t it have been wonderful to have known this or that then. Hindsight – an understanding after the fact definitely comes into play.
So I’ve come up with a list of things I wish I had known when I was much younger; hopefully to give my readers some advance hindsight. I’m sure you’ll think I’ve left some things out. I’m sure I will too. But here is my list for now. Think of it as a work in progress. I’d love your suggestions. Looking back, what situations, events, and decisions that you experienced in your young life could have been helped if you knew everything that you know now?
1. Don’t fret about the small things.
I’ve learned the hard way, through the death of a son, that only the big issues are worth getting upset about. How many times do we “cry over spilled milk,” when we can just get up and wipe up the little mess and be on our way. The same goes for relationships with people. Overlook little mishaps or slights. They are not worth fighting over.
2. It’s only stuff.
If our stuff is lost or stolen, it’s no big deal. It’s only an easily replaceable object. Better yet, don’t hang on to things. Find a worthy charity thrift shop to give them to. Instead hang on tightly to your loved ones and your memories.
3. Only spend time with people you care about.
Life is too short to feel obligated to be with people we don’t care about. Learn to excuse yourself gracefully. Gently fade away. And believe me they won’t miss you. Friends have come and gone in my life. Even people I’ve known for years and years tend to retreat. It happens all the time. You’re true friends will love you and help you no matter what. Stick with them.
4. Writing is healing.
After my son’s death I found writing a healing balm. I could put my grief and tears on the page. There was so much I couldn’t share with anyone. But I could share on the page. After such a loss, writing is healing; other forms of creativity could heal just as well.
5. Say the magic words.
Show your gratitude by saying thank you and you’re welcome for good deeds done to you and for you. I never hesitate and probably say those words so much it’s like a broken record. But I say them sincerely. And now they have become a habit. By the way, my sons were complimented for using those terms even when they were little boys.
6. Don’t be judgmental. It’s so easy to judge someone we don’t know or hardly know by how he or she looks, what he or she eats, or what he or she wears. Remember you know nothing about them. Everyone is different. Everyone has another way of living. It’s okay to observe, but not to interfere or judge. It may turn out that that person will become your new best friend. Keep an open mind and you’ll like your life much more.
7. Be proactive – go for it 100 percent.
After all, what do we have to lose? We need to learn to toot our own horns, speak up for ourselves, and don’t worry about losing. If we want to get anywhere in life – in business or socially, in our love lives and in our friendships – we need to give it our all. If we don’t have confidence in ourselves and our abilities, who will?
8. You’re never too old to learn something new.
I know from my own experience it’s easy to learn something new. I was a technical writer turned creative writer after the age of sixty, and I’m the proud author of a published memoir. I also have become very agile on the Internet and social media in my old age. You should keep the door open to new things, new friends, and new experiences. That’s what will keep you young.
9. Life is short; eat dessert first.
A dear friend who I took aerobics with said that all the time. Sadly, she did indeed die young. What a lesson that was for me. It’s all about getting out there, not putting things off until you can afford them, and enjoying your life. Laugh a lot, dance, and hug and kiss your loved ones. Too many of us end up physically impaired as we age, and then it’s too late.
10. Wear sunscreen. Along with protecting our skin (I sure wish sunscreen existed when I was in my forties), we need to eat healthy and exercise to stay fit both physically and mentally. It needs to become a daily habit. I just had a bone density test, and at age seventy-five, my doctor says my bones are terrific. That was a goal I worked hard for, for the last twenty years or so. I didn’t want to turn out all hunched over like my osteoporosis-ridden mother. Take if from me. It’s worth it to take care of your bodies.