There's so much to know to have a happy life. And at my advanced age I've noticed that a whole lot of us never got the instructions. In fact we were taught a bunch of stuff that isn't true.
I was taught: Do what you're told, get good grades, have the right kind of friends (whatever that is - probably those that do what they're told, get good grades and whose families are of the same social class as yours).
I guess those instructions were not terrible. However, they were incomplete. Scarily incomplete. Plus in a lot of ways wrong.
I heard somewhere that someone asked Siri (the voice on iphones) to say something wise. She said, "Eat your vegetables, get plenty of sleep and be kind to everyone." Those three instructions seem a lot more useful to me.
So here are 20 things I wish I had been taught before I had to act like an adult:
*Keep track of your income and outgo. If you were keeping books for someone else, you would do it so aren't you as important? Spend and earn according to your values, your well-being and your enjoyment.
*Have an emergency fund so that your basic needs would be covered if you didn't have an income for six months.
*Plan for retirement. Put a little bit aside consistently.
*Don't have any debt. Having no debt means you have enormous freedom. No debt means no debt. No car payment. No house payment. No debt.
*Keep in mind that handling money boils down to two things: Earn enough to cover your needs and some of your wants and spend less if times are tight. Pay for necessities before you spend for stuff you want.
*Pay close attention to your physical well-being. It will pay off now and later. For starters - eat a bunch of brightly colored vegetables and fruit plus high quality low-fat protein. Get plenty of sleep.
*Keep your teeth and your body clean. This pays off now and later too.
*Keep your back straight and your muscles strong. Get your heart rate up so your heart muscle will be strong.
*Learn how to dress and present yourself in a way that you enjoy and that draws people to you rather than pushing them away.
*Develop the skill of mindfulness. Study it. Practice it. Be aware of your thoughts, emotions, and behavior. Be aware without judging yourself. Just notice. Notice everything around you.
*Be aware of what you really want for your life. Be aware of whether your actions every day are steps toward the life you want.
*How other people treat you has a lot to do with your quality of life. You can teach them how to treat you by deciding how you want them to treat you and encouraging them to do that. Learn how to do this. Get really good at it. If they don't treat you well, and you've tried to teach them, go away from them and stay away.
*Treat other people with kindness; even when they're obnoxious. Don't be afraid to do this. Learn how and then practice, practice, practice. The more kindnesses you do for other people, the happier you'll be.
*Don't criticize - yourself or anybody else. It doesn't work.
*Be aware of your environment at home and at work. Make both nurturing and enjoyable.
*Keep everything simple - personal care, care of your environment, your activities. Learn how to do this and practice, practice, practice.
*When someone is paying you to do something, be sure you understand what they want you to do, and then do it to the best of your ability. Do a little bit more than they actually ask you to do. (If what they ask you to do is illegal or unethical, get another job.)
*Romance and sexuality are incredibly complicated. Mother Nature is driving us to make babies. It doesn't actually have much to do with love and long term partnership. Learn all you can. Expect good treatment; give good treatment. Being "in love" and/or being sexually attracted doesn't mean you've found "the one." You are just being led by Mother Nature to make babies.
*Decide if you want to be a parent. Not everyone has to be a parent. If the answer is no, there are plenty of ways to keep it from happening. If you do want to, be sure you learn how to be a parent. We're not born knowing how. How our parents parented us is not always the best model.
*Find what feeds you spiritually. This is the most important thing you can do to have a happy life. Learn all you can. Practice, practice, practice.
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