If you simply read this blog for the substantive material, cruise on by this post. Here lies only self-serving material. If you continue to read, govern yourself accordingly.
Today I turn 34. In that arguably short time on this planet I’ve been through a lot of experiences. I’ve learned, I’ve loved, I’ve lost, and I’ve survived some ordeals that would cause others to simply quit on life. I’m still here, and my life now is better than it’s ever been. Not because of worldly accomplishments, or any monetary gain, mind you; it’s all due to my wife and daughter, both of whom continue to be the reason I stumble out of bed at 5 AM each morning to do stuff like write this blog.
Eventually today I will get asked by someone in my family “if you had one piece of advice to share with others what would it be?” It’s a question one family member in particular asks each year, and I’m flattered one person actually thinks my head is filled with worthy platitudes. In the spirit of humoring this person, and in an attempt to keep up my writing habits, I offer you thirty four bits of wisdom gleaned from my life. Some are my thoughts, others are quotes from individuals I respect and admire. If the latter, I will do my best to provide an attribution.
1. Two immediate things you can do in the name of self improvement: listen more and speak less.
2. Get outside and play a little bit each day. (Mark Toorock)
3. Take care of yourself, because no one is going to do it for you. (M2)
4. The quiet, contemplative life is better than the loud, publicly engaged life.
5. Strive to never say “yes” to anything unless you’re absolutely sure you can commit to it. People will respect you more for your integrity than your enthusiasm.
6. Laugh. Laugh each day, laugh at anything and everything, and laugh as much as you can. It will make your days easier to bear. (Everyone in Knox Comedy)
7. Having kids teaches you to take every compliment you receive with a grain of salt just as you would take criticism with a grain of salt. (Paul Heyman)
8. It’s better to be an honest person than someone who is well liked. The former means you know at least one person with integrity.
9. Put the damn phone down when you’re in public and speak to others. If you’re by yourself, watch how people act, walk, and talk. You might be surprised at what you see.
10. People are more than a collection of ideas, thoughts, or labels. Please treat them accordingly. (Andrew W.K.)
11. Do something to keep your inner child alive and kicking regularly. We age too fast as it is, so take the time to remember what it was like to be a kid.
12. There is little substitution for the utility of a notebook and pen when needing to capture your thoughts.
13. Watch less TV and read more books.
14. Plans are important in life, as is the task of setting goals. Mashing rash decisions or taking terrible action in the name of sticking to either is not so much.
15. Very little that is worth doing is done without thinking it over first.
16. You may love texting, but it will never replace the value of a phone call. You may love email, but it won’t replace the joy of a letter.
17. Social media actually disconnects you from people. We’ve all seen how much value Facebook and Twitter comment wars add to life–why bother?
18. Every second you send taking pictures or video with your phone is another second you’ve lost out on truly enjoying the wonders around you.
19. Two or three good friends on which you can rely will beat twenty to thirty acquaintances every time. Relationships are best with quality, not quantity.
20. You don’t have to actually comment on something to have an opinion.
21. Experiences are worth more and will stay with you longer than any tangible goods you will buy. (Paula Young)
22. Words matter. Words mean certain things, regardless of what definition you’d like to give them. Certain words like “bullying” and “harassment” even have statutory definitions. You’re free to co-opt these words and their definitions for your own advantage, but if you do so keep in mind others have the same right and will probably use the words against you one day. (Ken White)
23. Laws criminalizing hurt feelings don’t belong on the books. (Scott Greenfield)
24. Sometimes you need to speak your mind. When you do so, do it with confidence and without fear of societal backlash. This goes back to integrity. (Marc Randazza)
25. Regardless of what others tell you, the only barriers stopping you from achieving your goals are your lack of confidence in yourself and your lack of willingness to work hard daily to get what you want. (A ton of people, but more specifically Matt Ward, Jay Kendrick, Jeff Blank, J.C. Ratliff, and Sam Donnelly)
26. Despite what some would have you believe, women are people too. Many are smarter than the men in their lives–they just have the grace to let us think otherwise. (My wife here, but many would fit in this space)
27. Pro Wrestling is a great source of entertainment. So is Dancing with the Stars. Anyone who has the temerity to tell you otherwise just doesn’t get it, and they don’t have to.
28. Regarding number 27, when a highbrow snob says “you know wrestling is fake, right?” the appropriate response is “Yes, and so is Downtown Abbey, but you don’t see me pointing that out every time you watch it.” (Shane Rhyne, Chase Dyer)
29. Never stop playing, exploring, or adventuring. (Paul Mederos)
30. Set goals. Have aspirations. If you have to set any aside, do it, move on, and don’t beat yourself up over it. Sometimes this is necessary.
31. Life is what happens when you make other plans. (John Lennon)
32. Do what is right all the time solely because it is the right thing to do. (Albert Pike)
33. Never be afraid to ask for help or seek the counsel of others.
34. Live each day with integrity, love to others, and a heart of charity–it’s the best way to see you have no regrets when your time comes.
Have a good day, everyone. And for those of you who have wished me a happy birthday in person, via call or text, or on Facebook or Twitter (@clsesq), or have yet to do so, thank you from the bottom of my heart.