Sunday, November 28, 2010

Life Lessons I Wish Everyone Had Learned

My husband and I have a practice of espousing "Life Lessons" to our kids, on any variety of subjects and in varying degrees of seriousness.  For instance, a Life Lesson yesterday sounded like this:

     Life Lesson #264: If your shoes are rubbing at the beginning of a walk, take a minute right away to adjust them if you don't want a blister later 

Over the years, our kids have picked up on this tradition, and have started calling our their own life lessons.  Sometimes theirs are the most poignant, and you just have to say, "ahh, yes. Life Lesson #659, indeed!"  Here's one Jackson surfed up recently:

     Life Lesson #199: Don't pour grape juice from a full container to a small glass, anywhere but over the kitchen sink.  

Indeed.  Don't do that, Jackson. 

I am sometimes shocked by the things I see people do and I have to remind myself that everyone was not raised in my house, by my mother.  Not everyone grew up with someone giving them the important Life Lessons.  So, I'm compiling a list of Life Lessons, and I'll use this space to periodically update the list. These are in no particular order, just as they occur to me.  And I'll kick it off with some of my personal favorites: 
  1. Accept a compliment graciously. Don't make a person out to be a liar by telling them they're wrong about the nice thing they just said about you. 
  2. Get rid of your ugly old underwear.  You don't want to be wearing them when they pull your body out of a mangled car and you're on the evening news. 
  3. If you're at an important lunch or on a date, excuse yourself at the end of the meal and go check your teeth. Yes, you do have a big leaf of spinach covering your front tooth. The more important it is to make a good impression, the bigger the piece of spinach. 
  4. Take nice pajamas on a business trip or to spend the night with a friend. Wear them. 
  5. It is always a better idea to be over-dressed than under-dressed. You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. 
  6. Keep a small container of personal essentials in your desk drawer at work. Deodorant, clear fingernail polish, toothbrush & paste, underwear, etc. 
  7. Don't pretend you know someone you don't. Not to their face ("yes, I remember you"), not if someone else name-drops ("of course I know Joe Namath!"), not by referencing them in writing ("so-and-so told me to call you"). It will backfire and you will look like a fool. 
  8. Keep the receipt for any item over $50.00. 
  9. Don't pay for anything on sale with a credit card unless you will pay the bill in full when you get it. 
  10. Don't answer the phone if you don't want to talk to the caller.  Your phone is a device for your own convenience, not the convenience of others. 
  11. Follow the double-digits rule: Never call someone at home before 10:00am or after 10:00pm.
  12. Never write a personal check to a child.  It will create an incredible inconvenience for the parents.
  13. Keep a set of blank thank-you cards and a book of stamps handy. 
  14. Keep copies of important documents in a zip-lock bag, in a fire-proof lock box. Birth certificates, passports, drivers license, marriage license, social security card, life insurance policies. Never send the original or only copy of a document you can't easily replace.
  15. Don't lend things you would be heart broken not to get back. 
  16. If you borrow something and break it or lose it, replace it. Don't offer to replace it, just do it. Don't borrow something you can't afford or aren't able to replace. 
  17. Don't throw away your high school or college yearbooks, no matter how sure you are you will never look at them again. Those people may end up being your professional network someday and by then you won't remember why you hated them.
  18. Never write anything in a letter, email or on the internet that you wouldn't want your mother/father/boss/spouse to read.
  19. Never let anyone take naked pictures of you. 
  20. Never let anyone take pictures of you doing drugs, or pretending to do drugs.
  21. Don't scream at, flip off, or cut off other drivers. One of them will be your future boss.
  22. There are 4 categories of clothes that constitute "dressing up". The clothes from one category seldom, if ever, cross over from one category to another.
      • Church 
      • Work 
      • Formal occasions
      • Halloween/costume parties/clubbing

What Life Lessons have you learned, that you wish someone had told you earlier?  What do you wish someone had taught the rest of the world? 

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