After 42 years on earth, I've been blessed to live a life of "wins" and an equal amount of (if not more) "losses". Along the way I picked up a few "Words of Wisdom" that I'd like to share with you, along with a few stories. I hope you can relate and enjoy them!
This blog is called “Word of Wisdom” PART 1, because I’m sure eventually I’ll have 10 more words of wisdom that I learned by making mistakes. 😂
I first posted these on Facebook for my 42nd birthday chronicling some of the lessons I’ve learned in my OLD AGE. These are things that took me 42 years to learn/realize. I hope it doesn’t take me another 42 to learn lessons like these again!!! Here we go . . .
1. You can never tell someone you love them enough, give them enough hugs and kisses, or show them (in your own way) how much you care.
I’m starting this blog off with a no-brainer, “under-hand” pitch, lob, or whatever you call a “duh”.
There’s a story my mom used to tell me about the day her father passed. I never met my grandpa, but I think I would have liked him from what I heard. My grandmother was a remarkable woman, so any man she was married to would have been someone I’m sure I would have liked.
He was a milk delivery man and was heading out to work. After leaving for the morning, he came back in to give my grandma an extra kiss and to tell her he loved her. Later that morning he was hit by a drunk driver and passed away. Something made him come back that morning for an extra hug and kiss.
Words of Wisdom or not, I’ve learned that I can never tell someone how much I love them, give them an extra hug or kiss or do something nice for someone I care about. Life is short, and I want everyone to know how much I care about them in the time I have.
I pray none of you ever live this story, but truthfully, every hug could be your last. And if it’s not, then it’s never a bad thing to get in an extra hug, kiss, or kind gesture. Don’t ever be afraid to verbalize and show those you love, how much you love them. At the very least, it could change someone’s day. And when you give that hug, make it a good one.
2. Give GOOD Hugs.
When you lean in for a hug, make it a good one. Nothing feels better than getting a good, authentic hug than giving one! The flip side is how terrible it is when you get a bad hug. Don’t be that person. Just lean in and give a good one.
I read an interesting article on the health benefits of hugging. From the article, it says, “theorists believe interpersonal touch can modulate oxytocin (a feel-good hormone also known as “the cuddle chemical”) and the endogenous opioid system (neurons in the brain that can produce soothing chemicals), both of which can boost health. “Feeling safer and cared for, in turn, can make us less sensitive to physical pain and less reactive when faced with potentially threatening experiences, especially socially threatening experiences,” he says.”
Now, if all that medical mumbo jumbo doesn’t make sense to you, let me use my physiology degree I earned in college to decipher it for you.
Hugs feel good. The End. 🙂
This is one of my favorite t-shirts. Thug Life? Drop the “T” and Get Over Here.
3. Your first instinct about people is probably the right instinct.
Your first instinct about people is probably the right instinct. It’s been a rare occurrence for me to think someone was a POS and then find out they were an outstanding human being. More times than not, the reverse is true.
I could lecture you on how to identify people who don’t belong in your “circle of friends”, but truth be told, my best friend since I was 8, the best man at my wedding, and someone I trained to be my right hand man, stabbed be in the back professionally, and then ended up marrying my ex-wife. I’m the last person to lecture all of you on the signs.
What I will say is that I was warned dozens of times from dozens of people and I didn’t listen. They were right. I was wrong. It’s hard to say, but I was. Looking back, I can identify several key times where I should have known he wasn’t a good person, let alone a good friend. I chose to ignore those signs, and I paid dearly for it. Listen to your friends, trust your instincts, and don’t ever try and convince yourself you’re crazy. You’re not.
4. Be less to more, and more to fewer people.
Ok, maybe more than 2 people. This is one of the “Words of Wisdom” that I struggle the most with and even though I’ve “learned” that this is how it needs to be, I have to focus on practicing this in real life.
If you know me, you know how much I value friendships. That’s a good thing but it has its downfalls. I’ve dubbed it “the Adoption Syndrome”. I was adopted when I was 7 months old, so I think the effects of this syndrome are more subtle, but they’re still there. I’ll eventually be writing a blog about adoption, but you should know it definitely comes with some abandonment issues.
I’m not sure if it’s my personality or just that I want to be liked, but I try to be everything to everyone. I want to be the “connector“. To learn more about what it means to be a “connector“, check out this article.
What I had to learn after my divorce is that I was going to lose friends. My divorce was so devastating to my circle of friends that it caused a HUGE divide between all of us. Maybe it was a blessing as I know that one of the most difficult byproducts of divorce is the fallout of dividing up friends. With my divorce, there was not grey area. Either you were Team Ben, or you were Team Ex.
One of the things my ex and my ex-best friend always accused me of was not prioritizing my friends. They said I was paying more time to my B-Level friends and not enough to my A-Level friends. Turns out, maybe they were right. The irony is that my B-Level friends ended up being my good friends, and my A-Level friends all turned on me.
I could go on and on about this, but I’ll tell you that I’ve re-focused my life to be more to those who I care the most about, and less to those who come in and out of my life. That’s not to say that those people aren’t important, because they are. But I’ve made a concerted effort do spend time with family and friends who are in my “inner circle”. I’ve felt more peace and connection with these people than I ever have before. Give it a try, I promise you won’t regret it.
5. People teach you how to treat them.
People teach you how to treat them . . . You just need to listen. The most toxic relationships in my life have been one sided. Had I listened to my own advice, I could have saved myself a lot of wasted hours, days, & weeks on people who didn’t deserve it.
I know so many good people who get treated badly. Translate that into relationships and I think you probably know a few people who could take a lesson from this.
In order to understand this item on my list of “Words of Wisdom”, you need to be able to listen. When you listen to someone talk, you don’t really hear them. Next time you are listening to someone talk, focus on what your mind is doing. You’ll find that there’s a subconscious voice in your mind translating and talking over that person. It’s totally normal and natural, but often times you don’t really LISTEN to someone. You’re listening to your subconscious translate what you’re listening to.
Focus on concentrating on what they’re saying and ask yourself if they’re a positive influence in your life or not. Once you determine if there’s a symbiosis (even exchange of benefit), then you can decide how to treat them. I think you’ll find that if you really listen, people will teach YOU how to treat THEM.
This is an added paragraph as an after thought . . . but it’s equally important that you treat THEM how YOU get treated. I don’t often mention that, but to interact with another human, you need to reciprocate also. Kindness begets kindness, and so on, and so forth. It’s a beautiful cycle.
6. You can’t take it with you, so use it wisely.
I’m not advocating spending your money recklessly, but I will tell you that once life is over, you don’t get to take your money with you. I choose to spend my money on experiences for my daughter, family and friends. The experiences I create HAVE to make lasting memories. Memories have social currency that’s worth a whole lot more to me than the value of a dollar.
I hear this phrase somewhere over my life and it just stuck with me. I spend money more than I should. But if you look at the pattern of my spending it is most always to purchase something that can be enjoyed as a group. I’ve never put much thought into why I have this purchasing pattern, but it dawned on me that I like to create memories.
I take the most joy out of providing a party, situation, or event that people can enjoy, that they wouldn’t be able to afford or plan themselves. This brings me such happiness.
This is not to say that saving and being fiscally conservative is a bad thing, but go enjoy your wealth with your friends and family. Take a step back and enjoy what you’ve created. Commit that to memory and it’ll be something you keep forever. I promise.
Then take a TON of photos . . .
7. Take photos.
This is perhaps my favorite of the “Words of Wisdom”. I love photos (as most of you know). Remembering how I felt, who I was with, and what life was like at that exact moment. A moment captured in time forever. Some would argue to put down the phone and enjoy the moment. I get that and would never advocate missing being “in the moment”, but I enjoy revisiting the memories I’ve had with all of you over the lifetime I’ve lived. That’s also important to me.
I currently have 196,096 (as of tonight) photos on my iPhone and 10,118. If we’ve ever hung out, I promise you I’ve got a photo of you in there somewhere. When I can’t fall asleep, I watch videos and look at photos of Kailyn. It reminds me why I’m alive and is a great way to fall asleep.
Some people don’t care about photos and I get that. But try and take a few extra photos. Now that everything is digital, there’s no reason to take a ton and then delete the ones you don’t want later. It’s a great documentation of your life and those you love in it.
8. Let go of things you need to let go of.
Life looks a lot different as you get older. You realize that every day is a gift and you appreciate it as such. It’s definitely too short to hold onto grudges. It doesn’t mean you should forgive and forget, but sometimes it’s time to move on.
I talked in my previous blog The End, about divorce and the assets you accumulate. My favorite phrase from that blog is “Shit is just Shit”. And that’s so true. When it comes to houses, cars, boats, and other items, they’re just things and can be bought, sold, and rebought (if necessary).
But more important than things are emotions. I’ve clung onto so much baggage in my life and it wasn’t till I got divorced, cleared my head, and decided I needed to move on, that I finally found myself. I found my voice, I found my spirit, and I found the ability to love again. I can’t tell you how to let go, but I will tell you that if you keep holding on to it, it will drown you.
An important part of my letting go, was surrounding myself with people I love. People who I’m proud to call my friends. Surrounding myself with these people showed me that THIS is what I need. This is what I need to grow and repair myself, and like the Phoenix, I rose from the ashes a new and better person. But I had to let go of the baggage. Try it, and I promise you’ll be a new person.
9. Say thank you, and mean it.
There are too many cruel people and things that go on in the world. It’s important to say thank you to those who deserve it and even some times to those who don’t.
I do this in many ways. As a boss, I write emails, cards, and give bonuses. As a friend, I send emails, buy gifts, and do nice things, and as a human, I tip well, I give generously, and nobody in my life will NOT know how thankful I am.
My point is that “thank you’s” come in so many forms. But I think it’s important to let people know you’re thankful for them and how they affect your life. I recently wrote a letter to someone I care about deeply. It was well received, but it became obvious that her sentiments did not match mine. That’s fine, and although it hurts a little but, I’m glad I wrote the letter. She means a lot to me, and I wanted to thank her for being her. Rejection isn’t cause to stop thanking people. It’s motivation to continue the cause. That’s how I look at it anyhow.
A simple “Thank you” can change the course of someone’s day or life. It takes just a few moments and doesn’t cost a penny. I can’t ever say “thank you” enough.
10. Don’t let bad things in your past, ruin the good things yet to come.
Don’t let a few bad things that have happened to you ruin potential relationships and opportunities. Just because you’ve been hurt in the past doesn’t mean that everyone you meet is going to hurt you in the future. Give everyone a fair chance. As you get older and life seems to narrow down friendships and relationships, make time and clear pathways to make new friends and new relationships. You’ll thank me for this tip sometime! The world needs more people who are kind to others.
After my divorce and betrayal, someone once said to me, “you see Ben, that’s why you shouldn’t be so trusting of people. You’ll continue to get hurt.”
I would choose getting hurt 1000x, before I’d let some assholes take away, what I feel are some of my best qualities; trusting, loving, and caring. In fact, it’s those who hurt me that FUEL me to continue being the person I am.
THEY DO NOT GET TO DICTATE WHO I AM, WHO I WILL BECOME, OR HOW I WILL LOVE.
I put that in caps and bold because I want you to know how passionate I about this. This feeds both my personal and professional life. I’d rather be a compassionate caring boss and get taken advantage of from time to time, then be a merciless boss to try and protect some unknown future.
Likewise, I won’t let past relationships ruin future relationships before they even begin. Don’t become jaded because of your past. Your future relationships don’t deserve it, and it’s not fair to them. Be who you are and don’t let some a-hole take that away from you.
This type of thinking doesn’t come naturally, and I’ve had to work on this every day.
What To Do With This?
These 10 “Words of Wisdom” are principles that I live my life by. They are important to me because they define how I’ll be as a human, a friend, and most importantly as a father. I’m not a therapist, so I’m not here to give life-advice to you, but I’ll gladly share what I’ve learned in hopes that maybe there’s something in here that will make your life a little better.
I’ve thought long and hard about the blogs I write and don’t ever want to get preachy. These principles work for me, but I understand that life doesn’t occur in a vacuum. These aren’t RULES, they’re just advice (as unsolicited as they may seem). I hope you don’t feel preached at, it’s not my intention.
Till Next Time . ..
I hope you enjoyed these little “Word of Wisdom” that I’ve compiled over my life. When I assemble another 10 of them, I’ll post them in another blog. Hopefully it’s before I turn 84 in 2060. Thanks for reading and if you enjoyed this blog, check out my previous blog, The End.
With BIG Hugs,
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