Younger Teachers

“The older I get, the younger my teachers become.”  ~Unknown

As a life-long learner, I’m grateful for the people who have been (and currently are) willing to teach me.  Whether they’ve written a book I’ve read, created a podcast, or sat down next to me to explain something, their willingness to teach me has enriched my live.  I’m especially grateful that these teachers are often younger than I am.

As someone who’s been around for over half a century, I couldn’t imagine how adversely impacted my learning would be if I only listened to people who were older than me.  If I carried the belief that there’s nothing I can learn from anyone who’s younger than me, I’d be willingly disconnecting myself from the wisdom and knowledge of a significant portion of the world population.  What an awful way to move through life!

If sense a negative attitude bubbling up when you have the opportunity to learn from someone younger, check yourself.  You may be on the cusp of throwing away a perfectly good learning experience.

How foolish it would be to miss an opportunity to learn something valuable, simply because pride and ego deafen your ears to voices younger than your own.

A Thought on Giving Advice

“The best way to succeed in life is to act on the advice you give others.”     ~ Unknown

Have you ever observed a behavior in another person and found yourself either thinking, or actually telling them, how you feel they could have better-handled the situation?  If so, here’s a news flash for you (and for me as well!): Unless someone asks you for your opinion, they aren’t interested in hearing your advice.

I don’t normally appreciate unsolicited advice from others, so why would I think someone else would be receptive to unsolicited advice from me?

My best option is to take my own advice and work on myself versus trying to fix others.  Because ultimately, the only person I have control over… is me.

Extending Grace

It’s so easy to see or hear something about another person and quickly come the conclusion that “they’re a jerk!” or “inconsiderate”, or any number of unflattering things, when we really don’t know what they might be carrying in their own life.

Maybe they’re dealing with:

  • Loss
  • Loneliness
  • An illness
  • An ill loved one
  • A terminal diagnosis
  • Hopelessness
  • Lack of affection or kind words from others

The point is, since we don’t really know what’s going on in the lives of those around us, the kind thing would be to extend grace to others instead of ill-informed snap judgments.  Because wouldn’t we all appreciate that from others?

Next Time

I like working to improve different areas of my life.  Whether it’s learning a skill, interacting with others, maintaining healthy habits, or following the teachings of Jesus, there are so many opportunities to get better every day.  I find that encouraging!

However, occasionally (actually, more often than I’d like to admit) I find myself acting in a way that is contrary to the improvements I’m trying to make.  To keep from feeling frustrated and defeated when this happens, I remind myself that although I missed the mark this time, I will do better next time.

I’m so grateful that missing the mark doesn’t condemn us to forever-failure status.  We have so many opportunities to do better, because there is always a “next time” right around the corner.

If you’re working to make improvements in your life, but find you’ve been missing the mark, that’s OK!  Simply think about what hitting the mark would look like, and commit to doing that the next time.

Make the Most of the Next 12 Months  

Several years ago I got a birthday card from my co-workers.  It was a nice card filled with kind words of birthday cheer.  Of all the notes written, there was one encouraging message that really stood out.  It simply read, “Make the most of the next 12 months, for you will never be this age again!”

I’d never thought of birthdays like that.  Sure, I know how the calendar works, but I‘d never really considered that we get the privilege of being a certain age for only 12 months.  This encouraging note reminded me that I get to decide how I want to spend the next 12 months of my lives.

It’s easy to think of birthdays as a reminder that we’re getting older, but my co-worker’s wise words continue to remind me that we have a role to play in what we do with the days between our birthdays.  We can choose to become “old” by complaining that we’re getting old, or we can choose to be grateful for the days we have and get about the business of living them well.  It’s absolutely up to us.

Get This Decision Right

Many of the choices we make don’t require a great deal of thought. For example deciding what you’re going to wear today, what you’re having for dinner, or where you want to go on vacation this year, while important, are not life changing decisions. If, in fact, you do make a bad decision in one of these areas, the consequences are pretty insignificant. (Your life isn’t going to change a great deal if you had chicken for dinner instead of salmon!) However, for those decisions where the stakes are much higher, we must make sure we’ve gathered sufficient information and given ample thought to our decision before we pull the trigger.

One of the most important decisions we make is the primary person we decide to do life with. Whether it’s a spouse, a life partner, or significant other, this person will have a very substantial role and impact in our life. As such, this type of relationship should be entered into slowly. Only after we’ve gathered significant experiences and information about the other person are we about to make a good decision.

If you’re currently in the process of making this decision about someone, before you decide, you should have answers to the following questions:

  • Do you know what your own goals and dreams are and what you, specifically, want out of life?
  • What are the other person’s goals and expectations from life? Do they align with yours?
  • What are the non-negotiable character traits and attributes you’re looking for in another person?
  • What are the non-negotiable character traits you are unwilling to settle for in another person?
  • How does this person align with the previous 2 questions?
  • No, really! How do they align?
  • What’s their worldview and outlook on life?
  • How does the other person handle conflict?
  • How do they handle money?
  • How do they treat other people?
  • How do they treat you?
  • How do they respond when life gets tough?
  • What guides them in how they make decisions and live their life?

The only way you will get answers to these questions is through conversation and time together. Lots of time together, so don’t be in a big hurry. The questions above are a list you can check off in a weekend, a week, or month. To really answer these questions, I think it’s important to observe someone for at least a year, if not longer.

Nothing will affect the quality of your life more that the primary person you decide to do life with, so spend the time to seriously answer these questions, lest you rush into a bad decision.

Giving Attention

Here’s a quick mental exercise. See if you can think of an area of your life that gets better instead of worse as a result of being neglected. Here my attempt at a list and whether or not these areas get better when neglected:

  • Relationships – No
  • Health – No
  • Finances – No
  • Career – No
  • Family – No
  • Personal development – No
  • Possessions – No
  • Outlook on life – No
  • A garden of wild weed – Yes

Most areas of our life don’t get better as a result of neglect, they usually get worse. I know, that’s obvious, but here’s what may not be so obvious. While we may not intentionally decide to neglect an important area of our life, neglect is what happens when we fail to give something our attention.

To make something better, or to at least keep it good, requires our effort and attention. With so many things clamoring for our attention it’s essential that we purposefully give attention to those important areas of our life, lest they be unintentionally neglected.