I collect words of wisdom like a magpie collects tinfoil. The shiny baubles of insight catch my attention and attract me to them.
Unfortunately, I’ve learned I can’t hold all the wonderful quotes and lessons I encounter in my brain at one time, and must occasionally audit what I want to carry with me. The start of a fresh year seems like a good time to do that.
Below are the 11 pieces of advice I’m giving to myself this month to carry me forward in 2024. I have no idea if these will be the thoughts I’ll want or need in the coming months, but they seem like a good foundation given how 2023 went. Maybe some of these will come in handy for you too.
Here we go!
1. We choose how we suffer.
Life is always going to be hard. The greatest power we have is choosing how we struggle. In veterinary medicine, we chose a hard path, but it’s a path that can offer reward, meaning and purpose.
2. Good judgment comes from experience… and experience from bad judgment.
No one is born with all the answers. If we are not making mistakes, we probably aren’t pushing ourselves to grow enough. Like a blade being ground against a whetstone, the only way to become sharper is through friction.
3. Hurt people hurt people.
Most people who get angry at us are driven by pain. We can stand up for ourselves and still have empathy for them. We can also decide not to take their anger personally.
4. Let it go. Not for them but for you.
There are plenty of justifiable reasons to be angry at other people every single day. We, however, are the ones who must live inside the anger that we create. Let it go. Not because the other person deserves it, but because you deserve better for yourself.
5. Sometimes being kind means being a little bit deaf.
Everyone has bad days. We don’t have to catalog the mistakes, missteps and misspeaks. Sometimes just ignoring those we care about (including our clients) for a few moments is the greatest gift we can give them and ourselves.
6. Optimism costs nothing.
It’s also a much nicer way to spend our time.
7. Let yourself be bored.
Boredom is an opportunity to rest our frazzled minds, get comfortable with ourselves, and pick up useful activities (as opposed to mindless distractions). We should all aspire to be bored more often.
8. Take time to learn more about the people around you.
Our lives are made rich by the relationships we have and maintain. Take time to ask people about their lives and thoughts, and then listen to what they have to say. This is the path to really knowing people, and there’s no shortcuts.
9. Stay away from the news.
Modern news is designed to suck as much time and attention from us as possible. It’s often emotionally manipulative and almost never actionable. Research and learn whatever you want to know, but avoid scrolling through the news whenever possible (unless you really enjoy it).
10. Sometimes we walk in the rain.
Sometimes we don’t do anything wrong, but we still have to endure hardship. This is unfortunately part of life. The only power we have here is to try to find views and perspectives we can appreciate along our path, even as the rain comes down on us.
11. Look for reasons to laugh.
Most of us are pretty diligent about scanning for potential problems and pitfalls in our daily life. We should aspire to be equally diligent about looking for things to laugh and smile about. Life, after all, is good.