Whether it’s a son or daughter, niece or nephew, granddaughter or grandson, we all want to pass along the life lessons we’ve learned to the important people in our lives. Yet, as we all know, it can often be hard to find the appropriate time to share our well-earned wisdom.
I have a daughter who is a junior in college and I’ve come to realize that the best way to communicate is often not through the grand gesture or big speech (though there is a time and place for that). It’s by sharing bits of knowledge drip by drip, little by little.
What I do is jot down conversation notes in the journal I keep. When school is in session, I’ll mention one or two of them during our weekly phone calls, allowing me to expand our conversation beyond the expected questions like “how is school going” and “are you getting enough sleep?”
Looking through 2 ½ years of notes, I realized that many of my conversation points return to familiar themes. So I’ve culled this list down, combined some thoughts here and there, and came up with the list that follows. I’m going to share this with my daughter. You may want to share it with someone you know or develop your own list.
11 Vital Lessons for the Young Adult in Your Life
- Try be to be better than you were the day before. Remember that you don’t have to prove anything to anyone else. The only person you should be comparing yourself to is you. Each day is a new opportunity to get it right.
- Learn to trust your first instinct. It’s the one you feel in your heart or what some people call “the gut.” Unless your head can come up with a very good reason not to do something, your first instinct is usually right.
- Give more to life than you take. Someone smile at you? Smile at two people in return. It’s an unwritten law of life: the more you give, the more you receive.
- Make peace with the fact saying “no” often means trading popularity for respect. ~G McKeown. Learn to say no to the event or situation that may put you, or others, in harm’s way. If your intuition tells you it’s not a good idea, it’s probably not a good idea.
- Be fully present to the moments of your life. In other words, put the phone down.
- Find pockets of stillness. Don’t rush through life without taking breaks. Learn to say no to some social events and schedule regular periods of “me time” to unwind, to contemplate, to just be.
- If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid. ~ Lean into the discomfort, don’t shy away from it. This is where you can learn the most valuable lessons. Never pretend to know something when you don’t. Ask questions.
- Don’t trip over what’s behind you. Move ahead. ~Mika Brzezinski. Did you mess up? That’s okay, as long as you learn from the experience. Failure is a necessary part of becoming wiser. The key is to learn from your mistakes.
- Try not to overreact. When you find yourself in a situation that leaves you feeling uncomfortable or stressed, remember to take a breath. This momentary pause will allow you to think before you act and is a key to showing grace under pressure.
- Don’t force things to happen, let them happen naturally. You can be ambitious but also be aware that, if your intentions are strong, the best opportunities are often right in front of you. Life has a funny way of bringing you the things you need. Keep your eyes open.
- People will not remember what you said. They will always remember how you made them feel ~Maya Angelou. Words to remember in every social encounter.
One final note: You may have noticed that I didn’t include any lessons that talked directly to spiritual practice or God or religion. There’s a time and place for that as well. So I also forward the occasional blog post, like this one on meditation, and once or twice a year I gift books of wisdom, which have included The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and my own book Thaddeus Squirrel.