Instructions for Life

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To help you get your New Year and whatever resolutions you’ve decided to make I’ve decided to post these tips to help you get started!  These are from a book called “Life’s Little Instruction Book”, by Jackson Brown and H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

  1. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.
  2. Memorize your favorite poem.
  3. Don’t believe all you hear, spend all you have, or sleep all you want.
  4. When you say, I love you, mean it.
  5. When you say, I’m sorry, look the person in the eye.
  6. Be engaged for at least six months before you get married.
  7. Believe in love at first sight.
  8. Never laugh at anyone’s dreams.
  9. Love deeply and passionately. You might get hurt but it’s the only way to live completely.
  10. In disagreements, fight fairly. No name calling.
  11. Don’t judge people by their relatives.
  12. Talk slow but think quick.
  13. When someone asks you a question you don’t want to answer, smile and ask, Why do you want to know?
  14. Remember that great love and great acheivements involve great risk.
  15. Call your family.
  16. Say, Bless you, when someone sneezes.
  17. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
  18. Remember the three R’s: Respect for self, Respect for others, Responsibility for all your actions.
  19. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
  20. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
  21. Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice.
  22. Marry a man/woman you love to talk to. As you get older, his/her conversational skills will be as important as any other.
  23. Spend some time alone.
  24. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.
  25. Remeber that silence is sometimes the best answer.
  26. Read more books and watch less TV.
  27. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll get to enjoy it a second time.
  28. A loving atmosphere in your home is important. Do all you can to creat a tranquil harmonious home.
  29. In disagreements with loved ones, deal with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.
  30. Read between the lines.
  31. Share your knowledge. It’s a way to acheive immortality.
  32. Be gentle with the earth.
  33. Never interrupt when you’re being flattered.
  34. Mind your own business.
  35. Don’t trust a lover who doesn’t close their eyes when you kiss them.
  36. Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.
  37. If you make a lot of money, put it to use while you are living. That is wealth’s greatest satisfaction.
  38. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a stroke of luck.
  39. Learn the rules, then break some.
  40. Remember that the best relationship is one where your love for each other is greater than your need for each other.
  41. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
  42. Remember that your character is your destiny.
  43. Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.

Quote for 12-31-14

“Life goes by so very fast, my dears, and taking the time to reflect, even once a year, slows things down. We zoom past so many seconds, minutes, hours, killing them with the frantic way we live that it’s important we take at least this one collective sigh and stop, take stock, and acknowledge our place in time before diving back into the melee. Midnight on New Year’s Eve is a unique kind of magic where, just for a moment, the past and the future exist at once in the present. Whether we’re aware of it or not, as we countdown together to it, we’re sharing the burden of our history and committing to the promise of tomorrow.”
-Hillary DePiano, New Year’s Thieve

2014 in review: Of Whiskey and Words

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for my blog- Of Whiskey and Words.  If anyone of my readers have any ideas for topics for me to write on in 2015 feel free to let me know!

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,900 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

TED Tuesday: The game that can give you 10 extra years of life by Jane McGonigal

When game designer Jane McGonigal found herself bedridden and suicidal following a severe concussion, she had a fascinating idea for how to get better. She dove into the scientific research and created the healing game, SuperBetter. In this moving talk, McGonigal explains how a game can boost resilience — and promises to add 7.5 minutes to your life.

Quote for 12-29-14

The alchemist picked up a book that someone in the caravan had brought.
Leafing through the pages, he found a story about Narcissus. The alchemist knew the legend of Narcissus, a youth who knelt daily beside a lake to contemplate his own beauty.
He was so fascinated by himself that, one morning, he fell into the lake and drowned. At the spot where he fell, a flower was born, which was called the narcissus.
But this was not how Oscar Wilde, the author of the book, ended the story. He said that when Narcissus died, the goddesses of the forest appeared and found the lake, which had been fresh water, transformed into a lake of salty tears. “Why do you weep?” the goddesses asked.
“I weep for Narcissus,” the lake replied.
“Ah, it is no surprise that you weep for Narcissus,” they said, “for though we always pursued him in the forest, you alone could contemplate his beauty close at hand.”
“But…was Narcissus beautiful?” the lake asked.
“Who better than you to know that?” the goddesses said in wonder.
“After all, it was by your banks that he knelt each day to contemplate himself!” The lake was silent for some time.
Finally, it said: “I weep for Narcissus, but I never noticed that Narcissus was beautiful. “I weep because, each time he knelt beside my banks, I could see, in the depths of his eyes, my own beauty reflected.” “What a lovely story,” the alchemist thought.”

-Paulo Coelho

On Relationships…

“The half life of love is forever.”

Over the past year there’s been a lot of movement in my friend group. Part of that is just growing up and the other part based on all the moving around I’ve been doing. Traveling around the world has been a phenomenal experience and it has allowed me to meet tons of people. But the thing about traveling is that even if you develop a great connection with someone your time together has an expiration date on it. (This is also true for relationships without traveling but we rarely dwell on it.)  It doesn’t matter if it’s a guy or a girl, a buddy or a romantic interest, with each person you meet there will come a time where that relationship will either knowingly or unknowingly end.

Coming back to Nebraska after two different half year stints abroad led me to really start thinking on relationships. Being 24 in Nebraska it’s not uncommon to be in a long term relationship or even already married. Since coming back I’ve seen numerous buddies get engaged. Couldn’t be happier for them. I’ve also seen multiple break ups. Couples that had been together when I left weren’t when I came back. I saw some pretty crushed people. I’ve always found it weird how people derive their personal value from their relationship status, but I suppose that’s a topic for another time.

It’s always easy to judge a relationship and why it failed from the outside. It’s even easier to look your friend in the eye and tell them that “you can do better” or that “she kind of sucked, it’s her loss.” But in the end that doesn’t do anyone any good. It’s ignorant to insult exes, not just because they may get back together, but because at some point that person was exactly what they were looking for and made them happy.

I started looking back on my past relationships. Granted there haven’t been a lot as I’ve never really been much of a relationship dating guy. But over the course of high school, college, and even traveling I’ve managed to find girls who kept my interest for months and in one case even years. My longest relationship was on and off for about two years. When we broke up I won’t lie I was pretty confused. I hadn’t ever said it out loud but I really thought in my subconscious that we’d end up together.

Obviously that didn’t work out. And looking back I can see that it was for the best- it’s always easier to connect the dots in hindsight isn’t it? In no way was I ready for that. I’m still not. I have so much stuff I want to do before I can be satisfied letting other people dictate my actions (ie moving to Australia for a year). But at that time, like most people, I thought a failed relationship meant there was something wrong with me. I thought that if two people decided to go their separate ways it was one of their faults. I mean if something fails it’s only natural to blame someone. Something failing isn’t bad enough, no it HAS to be someone’s fault.

But that’s not true. Not at all. When most relationships end it’s usually because people just grow apart. The feelings just aren’t as strong as they once were. The infatuation is gone.  It fails because the relationship isn’t viewed as essential anymore. Is it the other person’s fault that the other one became less interested? I’m not sure. Every relationship is different. But at the end of most relationship someone tends to get blame. Which causes a lot of hard feelings and overshadowing of the good times.

I once read “we assume others show love the same way we do- and if they don’t, we worry it’s not there.”  It’s hard for us to understand that someone does care about us if they don’t show it in a way we’re accustomed to. Some people easily show affection with words, presents, or their actions.  Others are much more reserved.  I fall into the first category.  Expressing thoughts and feelings had never been a problem for me.  But for a relationship to succeed each person has to know the other and their tendencies and accept them. They have to understand each other and be willing to find a common ground to share their feelings.

It does seem like in most relationships one person always appears to care more. Granted, appearance and reality aren’t always the same thing. You can’t judge a relationship based on the number of words two people exchange. The real question then, is it better to care less and protect yourself (from both love and misery) or is better to give the other person all you have, to be fully vulnerable, even though it could lead to terrible pain.

In the end, to me, the latter is the better option. It’s like any competition, you can go out and try not to lose or you can go out and try to win. By not giving your full effort you’re trying not to lose. You’re holding the ball and hoping. You’re protecting the lead and yourself. When this happens more often than not that team loses. But if you go out and give it all you have and try to win the game you’re much more likely to succeed. Not only that but you’re also more at peace in the end regardless of the final outcome. At the end of it all the last thing you want to do is be left wondering “what if.” What’s the point of even being in a relationship if you’re not doing everything you can do to make it succeed?

Sometimes being vulnerable backfires and you get hurt. But when the pain fades you’ll be at peace and looking back have no regrets. Also, if ending things doesn’t hurt you at least a little, than you shouldn’t still be in the relationship anyway. You should be giving it your all. Feel free to congratulate yourself for not sitting there with one foot out the door and then wondering why it fell apart.  After giving part of yourself to another (and make no mistakes that’s what being in a relationship is), being at peace is the best negative outcome you could hope for. Understanding that you did your best and that it’s not your fault it fell apart. It’s not their fault either.   Playing the blame game does nothing for either of you.

There are only two possible outcomes when you enter into a relationship: breaking up or being together forever. There is no in between. No grey area. If breaking up is the result it’s best to just let it go and realize the two of you just weren’t what the other wanted anymore. That doesn’t take away from what you shared. It doesn’t make the old feelings any less real. It only means that it’s time to go your separate ways without being held back by anger, hate, or grief.

Too often when we look back on relationships we focus too much on the sloppy ending and not the all the great moments. We don’t realize until much too late that with each person we choose to spend time we take a little of them with us going forward. The good, the bad, the ugly.  We use them as examples of what we want and what works. We use these past relationships to help us pick our new ones.

The next time you’re hurting don’t waste time wishing things were different. Take the experience and use it to help you walk forward. Everything we go through, good or bad, can be used to make us wiser. Don’t blame yourself and don’t foster any hate in your heart because in the end you’re the one who is paying the price.

Stay Gold.