Advice for My New-Year Self

Happy New Year.

Now that you’re motivated again to make some changes in your life, I’ve got some advice for you and I hope you take it because I know I probably won’t, but I know that I’d probably live better if I did.

I’ve lived a while now. I’m very observant. And I’ve made a lot of mistakes. And those mistakes have lead me to theories and thoughts-that-are-damned-near-platitudes and I’m pretty sure that if I were to go back and do things different, or do things differently by following those theories now that I’d be a happier person.

So I share my thoughts in hopes that somebody else might find value in them. That maybe something I say will come closer to completing a puzzle somebody else has been working on in their minds.

But it’s not all altruism and rainbows. Mostly, I write because it helps me internalize. It helps me figure out what I do really believe, and it helps me understand why it’s such a struggle to sometimes do the things that lead ultimately to my happiness.

I grew up in a religious community. And I still live there. And I kind of love it but I also kind of hate it. But I choose to stay because I really like my wife. And she wants to stay, and I’m cool with that.

But I feel like a fraud, because I believe people should take bold steps and moving is a bold step that I would stay if I was the type of person to take my own advice.

That’s ok, though, I’ll take other bold steps.

But then I lose myself in distraction, and escape, and frustration.

Still, after trying many different approaches to life, I’ve come to the soft conclusion that giving yourself purpose, and learning to move past distraction, really does help you feel stronger. It helps you prepare for the day that you are on your death bed and looking back on your life.

But it’s not just for your deathbed. It’s for today.

The funny thing is, it’s really easy to live a good life. You don’t have to want to change the world. You don’t have to feel like you’re weak. In fact, I’m starting to realize that you can live for the future (purpose-driven life) or the present (mindfully) and you can have a wonderful time. Living in the past can also bring sweetness, but it’s easy to do it in a way that brings pain.

The key is to appreciate what you have, and what you’re doing; to know you are doing what you are doing out of choice. If you are a victim to your addictions, to your escapes, to your daily decisions, the joy gets squeezed out.

But even that–the addiction, the sense of powerlessness, the aching frustration–can add to your life experience. It can be something you look back on and know you experienced pain more deeply than many people.

And that brings us back to appreciation again. If you are mindful of the pain. Mindful of the experience. If you let it be you, there is still satisfaction.

  It’s the what-if’s that will punch you in the balls.

The wondering what could have been if you had acted differently; if circumstances had been different; if, if, if.

   Don’t do that.

 Don’t compare.

Those things never end up good. They are greasy. They are harmful. They’re destructive and if you’re going to destroy yourself, do it in daring ways.

If you’re going to destroy yourself, don’t be weak about it.

Don’t be weak about anything.

Own your addictions. Own your escapes. You’re whole live will be stronger for it.

That’s not my advice – I’m just regurgitating. So, take it. Make it yours.

Make this year worthy of you.

Even I can try to do that.