Friday, October 05, 2007

Advice To My Daughter (Upon Request)

It is an honor to be asked for advice by anyone, but never more than when one of your own children asks. After all, we parents spend a lot of our time as the village idiots among our offspring, or at least I did. This afternoon, one of my daughters sent me an instant message out of the blue and asked this question:

"Dad, do you have any advice about anything, life, being happy, being so critical of yourself, just anything that you think would be helpful advice to your daughter?"

"At 55, hon, I've learned more about how to get it wrong than how to get it right . . . so my advice is mostly what you should not do which will hopefully narrow your options and make it more more likely you will succeed if only because you won't make the same mistakes I did. So, here goes:

"1st -- Don't take anything too seriously. This ends the same for all of us -- we get sick, and we die. No one gets out alive which eliminates the option of "winning." That leaves you with one of two choices: life is either not worth playing or is just a game and should be treated as such.

"2nd -- Money is important but it is not as important as people. I'd rather spend an hour nursing a tall drip coffee in any Starbucks with you than be alone in the fanciest hotel in London or Singapore.

"3rd -- Your work needs to fulfill a passion, something that you not only want to do, but need to do. If you work only for the buck, you will quickly tire of the game. Work has to have its own reasons independent of the toys we are told we need to be happy. Work needs to fulfill you and this is important if only because we all spend most of our waking hours working.

"4th -- Living in the future is a loser. There may be no future (see the bus coming down the street -- it may have your name on it). And even if there is a future for you beyond today, don't allow your ego or some motivational speaker tell you that "you have total control over what happens to you." No, you don't. You never did. Genes and environment determine 90% of what will happen to you. You won't. Ever. Fate has far more control of the external than you ever will. The only thing you have control over is how you feel about what happens and that is your choice everyday.

"5th -- Don't be afraid. Fear paralyzes us. Fear is the dark side of living in the future. Fear is the brother of "hope" which is nothing but fear with a smiley-face painted on it. Look around. What are you doing? If you like what is happening at this moment, you come as close to winning the game as you ever will. If you don't like it, change it if you can, and see if that works better. If you can't change it, change the way you feel about it. Look at where you are right this second and if you can find one thing to like, focus on that thing, whether it is your job, your spouse, your pet, or a flower that is growing in the sun -- just like you are.

"That's it, sweetheart. That's all I know."



Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a fantastic article and what wonderful advice.

I hope you share your insight with your closest friends, we can all learn from each other.

12:25 PM  

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