Here’s something funny to remember about advice: Nobody listens to it!
That’s right! They really don’t. You know how I know that’s true?
It’s because people have been asking the very same questions since the beginning of time, and we’re not any smarter now than we were back then. It can’t be because nobody knows the answers. Everybody who has ever messed something up knows the answer to at least this question: “If you could do it over, how would you do it?”
If all the answers are out there, then how come the rest of us keep doing the same stupid things and asking the same silly questions? Why aren’t we capable of learning from the experiences and misfortunes of others?
It’s because we’re not listening! In fact, we’re not even thinking about you! We’re only thinking about ourselves – just like you do.
The accumulated knowledge of mankind is bigger than what any one person can learn on his own in his lifetime, and it has all been written down for us in books to read and discover. Some information is rather vague and you have to sit down and really think about it, for it to make any sense.
You are the sum of all your experiences.
Sounds lofty, but what that means is everybody is different. We are who we are because of how and where we were raised and by who. It means don’t be discouraged if others know something or have something you don’t, or if they think differently than you do. Don’t judge them either! Observe and listen – because you might learn something new. Share your ideas too, so that they can understand you. Everybody brings something to the table.
Some counsel you’ve heard all your life is true, like this one:
You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.
It means that even when you can show someone something that is undeniably true, if it runs counter to what they believe or what they were taught to believe, they won’t accept it. (Religion and politics often fall into this area.) It also means that you can’t make somebody do something they don’t want to do even if it is in their best interest – like losing weight or giving up cigarettes.
Meanwhile, there’s a whole bunch more advice that you’ve heard forever that is NOT true – no matter how often they say it!
Time heals all wounds.
No, it doesn’t. Some things that get broken can never be repaired. Some things that get lost, stay lost. We don’t always get a second chance. You can’t take back hurtful words once they’ve been spoken. People may forgive you for saying them, but they don’t forget that you said them. The only thing you can do is move on and accept those things as best you can.
To be successful, work hard.
Working hard improves your odds, but it’s no guarantee. Sometimes success is just a matter of luck. You happen to be at the right place at the right time, or you chance upon someone who can help you get ahead. There have been – and will always be – plenty of people who will work hard all their life and have very little to show for it at the end. You may be one of those. Life isn’t fair. It’s messy and it’s complicated. All you can do is your best.
Some really wise people have given some good suggestions – some in books…
“Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice; Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment.”
-William Shakespeare, Hamlet
“Go not to the Elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes.”
–J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
All dwarfs may be bastards, yet not all bastards need be dwarfs.”
– George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones
“If thou wouldst seek justice, thyself must be just. ”
– Stephen R. Lawhead, Hood
“I’m always suspicious of disinterested interest.”
–Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land
…some in real life.
“Teach a man to fish, and he’ll buy a funny hat.” – Scott Adams
“There are only two kinds of motorcycle riders: those who’ve wrecked and those who are going to.” ― Bryon Burke
“If you are going to worry, don’t do it. If you do it, don’t worry.” – Michael Nolan
“If you want the law to leave you alone, keep your hair trimmed and your boots shined.” – Louis L’Amour
“Always drink upstream from the herd.” –Will Rogers
Remember at the top of the page when I told you that no one ever listens to good advice? Or, as Oscar Wilde so articulately put it, “The only good thing to do with good advice is to pass it on; it is never of any use to oneself.” Well? Here’s my advice to you:
- If you have to hit–hit low and hit hard.
- When someone asks you if you want the good news or bad news first, there will not really be any good news.
- Never raise your hand when they ask for volunteers.
- Before an important event, never change your haircut or color, or cook something from a recipe you never tried before.
- If someone says “Eww! Smell this!” Don’t.
- If you think you’re being funny and no one’s laughing– you’re probably just being an ass.
- Don’t start an argument with somebody who has a microphone when you don’t.
- You’ll never make yourself look good by making somebody else look bad.
- You will be known by the company you keep, not by your character.
- Right is right even if no one is doing it, wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it.
Pass it on! Or, just go make yourself a cup of tea and read another book. Cheers!