Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Ten Things I've Learned In The First 50 Years

Friday is my birthday.  I've been on this earth for fifty years now!  Fifty wonderful years.  In fact, if there's one thing I can profess to be an expert about, it's about being happy.  Through good times and bad, through gain and loss, and sickness and health, and all that other nonsense life never stops throwing our way--I've always been happy.

So here's my birthday present to you.  I'm going to share ten of my secrets to a happy, laughter-filled life!

#1  Live with an attitude of gratitude.  Every single day you're alive on this earth is a gift, and no gift should be squandered.  Appreciate the time you have.  Appreciate the things you have.  The people in your life.  Say thank you.  Tell people what they mean to you.  Show your appreciation of the gifts you have by being generous to others.  Share the things you've learned.  Be grateful for what you have, because no matter how little you find yourself with, there's always somebody with less who prays for the day they have even as much as you have.

#2  Find a place to belong.  Find people who share your morals and your values, and surround yourself with them.  Find a good church, or a Masonic Lodge, or a women's group, or a book club.  Make friends.  Share your life.  Don't be afraid to share yourself with others.  Sometimes you'll get hurt, but the alternative is going through life alone.

#3  Bury hatchets rather than sharpen axes.  Life is too short to carry grudges, and usually the only person that is hurt is yourself.  Live a clean life.  When somebody wrongs you--forgive them.  When somebody feels wronged by you, whether rightly or wrongly, just apologize and move on.  Carrying old hurts and anger around with you everywhere will suck all the joy out of life, and if you carry it long enough, it will poison you.  You'll become bitter, and you'll never be able to see the good in people because you carry all those old scars around with you from all those conflicts nobody remembers anymore . . . except you.

#4  Don't take yourself too seriously.  People are so easily offended these days.  All you have to do is disagree with some people, and they become furious.  Laugh a little.  Joke a little.  Learn to see your own faults and be able to poke fun at yourself.  Life is about accumulating experience, and some of the best experience we gain is learning from other people, and seeing the world through their eyes and experience.  So suffer yourself to remain a student rather than seeing yourself as the professor all the time.  Students keep learning, and professors very often just keep teaching the same material year after year.

#5  You get what you expect.  It's all about your attitude towards things.  If you decide you're not going to like a new restaurant, you won't.  If you think you can't do a thing, you're right.  If you decide you're probably not going to like your new boss, you won't.  Learn to eliminate your own bias, and you'll learn to live in the moment, and walk into every new situation with a clean slate and open to just live the experience.

#6  Be generous.  With your treasure.  With your knowledge.  With your experience.  With your time.  With your love.  With your respect.  With your laughter.   Most things become even more valuable when they are shared.

#7  Say yes!  Life is an adventure, and you don't go on grand adventures by playing it safe.  You have to take risks.  You can't do that unless you look for opportunities in life to try new things, and then say yes when the opportunities present themselves. 

#8  Do things that scare you.  Fear paralyzes people.  Fear of failure.  Fear of looking like an idiot.  Fear of falling.  Fear of water.  Fear of heights.  Fear.  Fear.  Fear.  My biggest fear was, and still is, being up in front of people.  Especially speaking in front of a group.  I'd be so afraid before I'd have to do something in front of people, I'd often throw up beforehand.  Ask my wife.  I did that before our wedding.  Even back when I was a musician, I'd have a few drinks before I'd play even for a couple dozen people.  Being front and center still scares me, but I do it all the time now.  I've gotten very good at hiding that fear.  In fact, last weekend I was up on a stage handing out diplomas to high school grads in front of a whole gymnasium full of onlookers. Every time I do it, I get a little better at it, and a little less afraid of doing it.  I look at all the things I've been able to do since I began working on that fear a dozen years ago that I wouldn't have been able to had I let fear stop me.  I've been the master of two Masonic Lodges.  I'm a Masonic speaker on a regular basis  I give presentations and sit on panels.  I've officiated weddings.  If you don't deal with fear, you wind up spending your life avoiding any situation that might involve that one thing you're hung up on.  The best way to overcome fear is to face it.

#9  Choose your friends wisely.  Some people have many friends.  People like me have a very few carefully chosen intimates.  Whatever your model is, introvert or extrovert, choose your friends wisely.  Pick friends that build you up instead of tear you down.  Pick friends that you know you can depend on, rather than friends that always disappoint you.  Pick friends that will pull you off to the side and give you wise counsel when you need it.  Pick friends you can trust.  There is nothing more important to a happy life than the people you choose to surround yourself with.  So exercise good judgement in those you select to be in your inner circle.

#10  The last is actually the first--find God and let him in your life.  Always start there.  I have always maintained that all people are born with a God-shaped hole in themselves.  If you don't fill it with God, you walk around with an empty space inside you.  As Ben Franklin once said, a man wrapped up in himself makes a very small package.  When you let God into your life, your life takes on a more important meaning.  It's no longer just about you, but you begin thinking about how you can live a life that would please God.  God designed us, and knows how we should live.  The answer to every single problem you may ever encounter in your life is written in the Holy Bible, if you'll only look.  When you live life the way God designed you to live it, you'll find strength, and happiness, and abundance, and love.  But when you go your own way, you'll find your path is a lot more difficult, and happiness is much harder to find.  If you want your car to last a long time, you operating and maintain it according to the owners manual.  You should view the Bible the same way--our operations manual written by our manufacturer.

So I hope you'll try and few of these out.  I think you'll find they have tremendous value.  But I'd start with the last one . . . find God first.  The other nine all come right out of the teachings of the Holy Bible.  Like I said, you'll find the answers to every question life will throw at you in there.

Enjoy!

~Todd E. Creason

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