I struggle to post regularly on Facebook. I don’t lead an interesting life, and I don’t think people want to know what I had for breakfast, or when I am driving by a Taco Bell (every day).
I’ve tried incorporating my writing (Twitterized Story) by posting a short fiction piece on Twitter, and have it forward to FaceBook (killing two birds with one story, as it were). I tried a few other things, and one of them was listing things I learned in the course of my life.
People might have mistaken that as me trying to give advice. How useless would that be!!
People my age have learned these very same things. Younger people assume I’m wrong, and prefer to learn on their own. People older than me know I am wrong, but they can’t be bothered to correct me.
Still, I like to see my thoughts on paper. Somehow when I read what I write it makes me think I must be smarter than I feel. Yes, it’s an illusion, but a darn good one, if you ask me.
These morsel of ejd wisdom are currently dispersed somewhere in the chaos that is FaceBook, so I thought “Hey! I should gather them all up in one place so future generations can ignore them all at once!”
And so this post came to pass . . .
Things I Learned from Experience and Observation
A forced laugh is better than an easy frown.
Try it; when you are feeling down, laugh out loud and clap your hands. It may start forced, but for most it will turn into genuine laughter. The feeling may only last a few minutes, but it’s worth a lot.
A measure of optimism is needed to continue on with life, to grow, to expand, to build. A measure of pessimism is needed to help you keep what you build. Too much of either is often a recipe for disaster.
Summary: you need to be realistic in both your optimism and pessimism.
Some of the things I learned in life are fairly useless now . . . I can program a VCR, use a Slide Rule, splice recording tape and film, change the TV channel without a remote, and heat food without a Microwave. I know how to tie a knot on a tie and what pocket to put the end in. I can find my way around without a GPS, and use a mimeograph machine.
Great ideas seem a lot clearer, simpler, and grander when still inside your head. But try to voice them, or worse yet, write them down, and the vast majority of them quickly lose their luster, their clarity, and their grandeur.
Like most humans, I am best equipped to notice other people’s biases, and to justify my own when someone points them out. It’s something I actively try to remedy.
Corollary: I am more likely to admit to my own bias, and try to change it, when it’s not pointed out in the form of an attack.
When someone wants to “make things better” by enacting more laws, they typically don’t . . . make things better, that is.
Corollary: lawmakers often excuse themselves from both existing laws, and ones they enact.
No matter what idea you might have, a great many people before you have debated both the pros and cons of it much better than you ever will. But it won’t stop you from adding your grain of sand to the mountain.
A little adversity can turn a good person into a better one, and a bad person into a worse one.
A lot of adversity just makes everyone miserable.
Not always, but for most of your life people are the principal cause of both the happiness and misery you will live through.
Strive to latch on to people who provide the former.
People don’t think the same, or come to the same conclusions you do, even when sharing the same experiences. You could follow my path, and shun social interaction, or learn to accept and enjoy the differences peculiar to your friends and family.
Whatever you are afraid of, what often will hurt you is something you did not give a second thought to. Take what precautions you can, and be ready to bounce back from being sucker-punched.
Corollary: Be prepared is a good motto . . . provided you are prepared for the unexpected.
You will feel better if you strive not to add to the difficulties in people’s lives.
Not so much learned as confirmed; TANSTAAFL. I also learned few are willing to pick up the tab when it comes due. Fewer still are willing to clean up afterward. Even less consider planning for the next meal as falling within their sphere of responsibility.
Corollary: offer enough meals out of kindness, and eventually they will be expected.
When comparing themselves to others, few people get any consolation from hearing other people are doing worse, but many are resentful of people doing better than they are.
Corollary: most people are unwilling to expend the effort, or take the risks, commensurate to the level of reward they seek. It’s what makes lotteries so popular. That, and poor math skills.
Most people’s ethics, beliefs, and morals are the sum of the culture they are born into and of their unwillingness to critically examine the basis and validity of those beliefs.
Corollary: societies prefer stagnation to growth, and hence discourage personal introspection, rational examination, and skeptical evaluation of their own tenets.
The ability to change one’s mind in response to knew evidence (a.k.a. learning) is labeled a weakness by those who seek control for personal benefit: most notably, political parties and religions.
Corollary: education is lauded as a good thing until it challenges any part of one’s personal interest.
Sadly, many buy into the idea a raised voice, especially if indignant, is a valid substitute for logic and reason.
Corollary: The more shrill the argument, the less reasoned it’s likely to be.
A person’s or institution’s best intentions are often not enough to keep them from harming others.
Corollary: unintended consequences often result in as much harm to individuals as the actions of those intentionally causing suffering. So much so, that sometimes they are indistinguishable one from the other.
Observation: civility, personal responsibility, honesty, and most of all personal honor have been in decline for as long as I can remember.
Opinion: given the chance to get away with it, people will opt to be uncivil, dishonest, and irresponsible jerks.
Lesson Learned: eliminate or minimize interaction with the majority of people.
If you set your mind to it, work hard, and pick stuff within your control, you can do almost anything. But it does not mean you should be doing it, or that you’ll do it well.
Corollary: Underestimating your limitations is as bad as overestimating your abilities. The trick is to get it just right, but if you have to pick one, aim higher.
People are much more likely to look at or read a post about a kitten sleeping inside a shoe than to read posts by some rear orifice opining about what he has learned in life. Perhaps that is how it should be.
Things I have *NOT* learned from experience and observation
To shut up when outnumbered.
To respect those who have not earned it.
To purposefully hurt others.
To use others for my own gain.
To rely on anyone but myself.
To give a pass on stupidity.
To let anyone get close.
To abandon the idealism of an honor-based existence.
I might have missed a few, but trust me, they are no better than these.
Some may correctly point out these are but variation of what others voiced in the past. Remember my comment about younger people? Maybe I had heard some of these in my youth, but if so they did not carry the import they do now, just as I am sure the above observation won’t carry any import on anyone until they experience them for themselves.
Thanks for reading (if you made it this far).