Wednesday, September 26, 2018

20 Life Lessons From 40 Years

I have three teenagers. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN??? I mean, I know how we got three kids in our house. I know what causes that. I just don't know how they were babies a few minutes ago, then I blinked, and now they're all...well...not babies anymore.

One kid will be out of the house in less than a year, and the other two won't be far behind. Knowing they will be flying on their own soon, I keep thinking about what I want them to take with them. I wrote down 20 lessons I've learned over the course of my life. These are the things I want to pass on to my kids. I figured I'd share them here too. Here are some of the most important things I've picked up during my time on the planet.

1) Find people with deep lines of crows feet around their eyes. These are the people doing the most smiling and the most laughing. The deeper the lines around their eyes, the better. Then work hard to develop some deep crows feet of your own.

2) Take pictures. And not just photos of the good times. Capture the good, the bad, and the ugly. Those snapshots are worth gold. Looking back on happy times will make you smile. Looking back on hard times will remind you that you are resilient, and that things will get better.

3) Speaking of pictures, Warsan Shire said “Document the moments you feel most in love with yourself – what you’re wearing, who you’re around, what you’re doing. Recreate and repeat.” I’ll stick this quote in the “Wow, I wish I’d written that,” file.

4) Get a dog. They don’t care if you’ve had a bad day at work. They love unconditionally. A dog is a powerful antidepressant.

5) The world will tell you that you’re not good enough. When you look at social media, you’ll see people who are cuter, or skinnier, or wealthier. Here’s the thing: being cuter, or skinnier, or wealthier won’t make you happier. What will make you happier is knowing that you are enough. You. Are. Enough. 

6) God made you. This guy knows what he is doing. You are perfect.

7) You can never know the silent pain and the inner battles someone is facing. But know this: almost everyone who touches your life is facing their own personal battle. That includes grocery store baggers. And fast food workers. And coffee shop baristas. So be kind to everyone.

8) Energy spent worrying about what others think is wasted energy. You’d be better off investing that energy into making chocolate chip cookies instead.

9) Take the path less traveled. Different is good. Embrace your uniqueness. The world needs more people who are willing to color outside the lines.

10) Enduring the Beverly Hills 90210 drama of high school isn’t just to make you smart and prepare you intellectually for your career. Enduring the Beverly Hills 90210 drama of high school is also to prepare you for the Beverly Hills 90210 drama you will experience in your adult life with coworkers, neighbors, and in-laws.

11) Choose friends who accept you for who you are. It is better to have a few close relationships than many shallow relationships.

12) The experience from childhood that haunts me the most was a day in first grade during recess. We were out on the playground and other kids were making fun of Phillis. She had red hair and freckles and worn out clothes and no friends. While the other kids made fun of Phillis, I didn’t join in on the mocking. Instead, I stood in the background looking on in silence. Since then, I’ve deeply regretted my silence. I learned from my mistake. If others don’t have a voice, be willing to be the voice for them. Have the courage to be a friend to the friendless.

13) Be frugal with your money. Credit cards cause short term happiness and long term headaches. Don’t waste money on useless stuff. There are a few things that are worth paying extra for: a warm coat, a comfortable mattress, and adding avocado to your hamburger.

14) Get good at saying “no”. It’s so easy to get roped into things you don’t really care about, and those things can suck up your time like a vacuum sucking up dust bunnies. Time is an incredibly valuable commodity. So unless it’s something you are deeply passionate about, it’s okay to say “no”.

15) Get good at saying “yes”. Say yes to adventure. Say yes to fun. Say yes to naps. Say yes to cinnamon rolls. Always yes to cinnamon rolls.

16) Be spontaneous. I’ve tried to guide my life after H. Jackson Brown’s sentiment that “When you look back on your life, you’ll regret the things you didn’t do more than the ones you did.” So far I’ve found this to be completely accurate. Some of my happiest memories came from deciding on a whim to do something adventurous.

17) Exercise almost never feels good when you’re doing it. Exercise almost always feels good when you’re done. Your brain will come up with 4,871 excuses for why you’re too tired, or too short on time, or too sore to exercise. Patiently tell your brain to shut the hell up. Then put your running shoes on.

18) Be optimistic. Things will work out. They always do. If you look back at all the things that worried you or stressed you out, you’ll see that most of the time your fears were unwarranted, and you spent way more time worrying than needed.

19) You are never too old to crank up the music and have an impromptu dance party in the kitchen. 

20) A smile is like a glowing fire in a cold, dark world. Spread that fire as much as you can.

Love, Dad


  1. To add to number 18- I always go by the ole Jurassic Park motto of "Life will find a way...."

    Loved this list Cory! Keep it up!

  2. Great post! (Except I'd change number 4 from dog to cat...)

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