1. Some people would have you believe that kindness is synonymous with stupidity, empathy is synonymous with weakness, and honesty and respect are synonymous with naiveté. Don’t buy it. There is no accomplishment in selfishness. It takes a wealth of inner resources to be a giver—and a lack of them to be greedy. In the long run, the people we all remember and respect the most in life aren’t the rich or the beautiful. They are the ones who gave something to others—and not because it glorified them. They gave simply out of love.
2. Remember what Jane Austen said over 200 years ago. Marry a spouse with character. That woman knew human nature. She’s still right.
3. Beauty really is overrated. What’s more, beauty is a lot more common than I always used to think—it’s everywhere. And thank heavens for that. If you don’t see it, change your definition. If you’re concerned about how you look, work to be healthy, happy, and good. Then you will be truly beautiful to other truly beautiful people.
4. When you finish learning, you finish living. Always learn.
5. Laugh at yourself. You’re a cheap source of amusement and you’re always politically correct.
6. Be best to those who love you most. Too many people work to attain the approval of strangers while mistreating their loved ones. Avoid those people at all costs. Be loyal to the people who matter. Including yourself (go Polonius).
7. If that little warning light in the back of your mind goes off, don’t be an idiot. Listen.
8. Beware of people who habitually ask for pity…or those who habitually try to dole it out. Both are manipulators. The people who deserve the most respect tend to be the ones who show it to others. Seek them out and befriend them. If they respect you back, they will always be dear to your heart and your life. And really beware of those who operate on double standards. In fact, beware of inequality. Woodrow Wilson said, “You cannot be friends upon any other terms than upon the terms of equality.” Was he ever right.
9. Crappy things that are completely beyond your control will happen to you. Maybe they already have. It sucks. The good news is that being an adult means you can either change your situation, or failing that, change your response to it. Do one of those, or both, making sure your choices are positive ones that make things better for yourself and others in the long run. Then be thankful for the person you’ve become and for the crappy things that led you there. If you do that, you will make each of life’s gouges into a stroke of the sculptor’s knife, and in the end you’ll be left with a work of art called Wisdom.
10. Two of the most valuable possessions you can own are a good walk and a good laugh. Walk like you own the world and people will think you do. Laugh like you love the world, and people will know you do.
So…walk far and laugh a lot.
In honor of the occasion, I have two quotes, each from one of my all-time favorite authors :