29 Lessons in 29 Years

Does someone under the age of 50 actually have have life lessons to share?
Ryan Freitas thinks so. I do too. Here are some of my 29 in 29 years, in random order:

  • Always be willing to have sincere, engaging conversations with others who have very differing views from you (e.g., religious, political, financial, cultural, etc). Open, open, open yourself. You’ll grow and hopefully they will too.
  • Study a language of your choice, not for any practical purposes or because it is a educational requirement. Greek anyone?
  • Engage often in free writing exercises and do NOT edit your writing during the process. After you write, put it away for a bit. Then, when you’re ready, come back to it and be your own favorite editor.
  • Attend a same-sex educational institution–even if only for a semester or night class. You’ll have the thrill of what it’s like to learn with your own gender (liberating!) sans distractions.
  • Visit the midwest in height of summer. Soak in the beauty of landscape and thank a farmer for growing your food.
  • Write newsy, handwritten notes to family and friends as often as you can. Everyone loves getting snail mail.
  • Take up freelancing. It’s a boost to whatever skills you’re fine-tuning and can lead to excellent opportunities.
  • Do a few housechores each day, preferrably in the morning before work or school. That way, when you come home, things are tidy and you can relax and enjoy family, roomates, or time alone.
  • Don’t be afraid to travel, even if you don’t have a travel buddy.
  • Experience a variety of unpaid internships. You’ll meet fantastic professionals and learn more than you can imagine.
  • Update your resume frequently for no reason at all. It will keep you motivated toward your goals and remind you of what you’ve accomplished.
  • Do manual labor for a good cause (e.g., Habitat for Humanity, religious mission trips, community service agencies, or just a neighbor who needs assistance). It feels so good to sweat your way toward making a difference.
  • Encourage others to tell you their story and listen, listen, listen.
  • Adopt a cat, dog, or another fuzzy animal and snuggle with them far more than you think you should.
  • Smile at children. Always.
  • Even if you have no artistic talents, make homemade cards. People love receiving them.
  • Forgive yourself. Repeatedly.
  • Don’t let anyone tell you that piddling is a waste of time. It’s what fantastic (and productive) days are made of. 
  • Go to county fairs, state fairs, community and school festivals. Eat the food and enjoy the people.
  • If you’re left-handed, keep your own pair of left-handed scissors, use good pens, and learn Hebrew (you won’t smudge your own writing). If you’re right-handed, be considerate of those who aren’t.
  • When you shop for clothes at thrift stores, look at the labels. Not because you are a brand snob–but because most name brands are well made and will last longer (even if they are secondhand).
  • Write poetry. Even if it doesn’t rhyme. Even if it’s dreadful.
  • Take the time you need to grieve any losses.
  • Don’t be afraid to tell others that you are writer. Even if they give you “the look” (you know which look I’m referring to).
  • When you can’t sleep, get up to read, type an e-mail, blog, and enjoy the silence that the sleeping world has to offer.
  • One year, keep your Christmas tree (or holiday decor) up until Valentine’s Day. Or Easter. Or Fourth of July. Just for fun.
  • Eat popcorn for dinner.
  • Read classics in literature. There’s a reason their called classics.
  • Each time you hear a siren (ambulance, firetruck), say a prayer and/or send positive energy toward the person(s) receiving assistance. If you or someone you know has ever been in an emergency situation, you know how important this can be.

For addtional lifehacks with a philosophical spin, visit Vichara.

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