Friday, May 16, 2014

Words of Wisdom

We were asked at our church to offer some "words of wisdom" for the young people who are going on a special retreat. So this is what I wrote:

You will have all sorts of experiences in your life; some great and some not-so-great. Enjoy the great ones. With the not-so-great ones, find the lesson. Some of our worst experiences provide our greatest teachings. If you can learn from something, you haven't wasted your time. Also, look for the humour in the situation. If nothing else, you'll have a great story. Don't wait to laugh about something later. Find the funny; you will enjoy your life much more and can even provide entertainment and lighten a situation for others. 

Bring joy into everything you do. So often a task is unpleasant not because it's that horrible, but because our attitude taints our experience.  Find the fun. Ask yourself, "How can I make this more enjoyable?"  

It's not about you. Even if someone is rude or unkind or even blames you for something. Don't take it personally. We all have bad days. Find the compassion. Ask yourself, "I wonder what is going on with that person to treat someone that way?"  If it's a friend, they will remember how kind you were. If it's a stranger, so what? What do you care what someone you don't even know thinks of you? 

We live in a busy, stressed out society. Find the stillness. Take time for quiet. It is only in the silence that we can listen to God's whisperings to us. 

Every generation has an iconic celebrity who dies from a drug overdose or some other reckless behaviour. Learn from other people's mistakes. You can choose to live a life of wisdom or woe: If you don't get the lesson the first time, it will keep coming back stronger and stronger. What starts as God's whispering goes to a pin prick and will become a sledgehammer. Avoid the sledgehammer, find and choose a path of wisdom.

It's hard to believe this, but pretty much everything you think is a disaster, isn't. It just seems that way. Lost homework, failed tests, fights with friends--you will look back as an adult and have a different perspective. None of these is the end of the world. Whenever I'm having a grumpy moment, I remember Carla Nash. She was the woman who had her face chewed off by a chimp. If you still have your face at the end of the day, things are OK. Find perspective.

When things don't go your way, you prolong your misery by thinking reality should be other than it is. The sooner you can accept reality, the sooner you will feel better. Whenever I'm whining, I have a friend who reminds me, "You wish things were the way they aren't."  Accept reality and then say, "So what? Now what?" It will help move you along. 

 Celebrate your Yay, me moments. Take time to acknowledge your hard work before you move on to the next thing. Keep a list so that you can refer back to it when you have times of doubt or fear.

Adults can have a tendency to be very serious and forget how to play. Don't forget. We need play in our lives as much as we need sleep. There is all sorts of scientific research to support this!  Remember what you enjoyed doing as a child. That is your clue to what you can do as an adult. When astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson was 9 years old, he went to a planetarium and fell in love with the stars. He had teachers and other adults who discouraged him because he was a young black kid from the Bronx. Don't let the colour of your skin or your age or your gender be an excuse not to pursue what you want to in life. If God gives you a gift or talent for something, that's your gift to share with the world. 

As a teenager, your greatest fear is to be embarrassed. And the people who love you most, your parents, are your biggest embarrassment. You may think they don't understand, or that they don't know anything. As you get older, you will notice how much smarter they got. Try to remember that they love you and want what's best for you. They have the experience of having already lived through the teen years, so they might even have a bit of wisdom!  

With every end comes a new beginning. Nothing is the end of the world! It may feel like that, but there is always a new friend, a new experience, a new learning just around the corner. Just think: some of the best days of your life haven't happened yet. How exciting is that?!  

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