10 years ago…

Ten years ago I graduated from my undergraduate work.  I work at a university so this time of year always brings back fond memories.  I cannot believe so much time has passed.  It is so hard to see how much we have changed and all that we’ve endured unless we take the moment to do so.   Here are ten things I’ve learned since graduation:

  1. Your parents want what what they think will increase happiness and decrease pain, not necessarily what is best for you.  They do this through the lens of parent love, but their wishes and hopes for you may not be what is in your best interest.  Take it with a grain of salt, consider their love for you, and do what you feel is in your best interest, not what will make them happy (I’m still learning to do this).
  2. Education is always beneficial, but it doesn’t matter what your degree is in… as long as you finish it.  So, make sure you spend the four years of college (or 11 in my case since I went on to get a PhD) studying something that inspires you.  You get a job through who you know and who you are as a person, not solely because you have the “right degree”… it doesn’t exist.  But being smart, creative, and an agile thinker will always serve you well.
  3. You will regret more of what you don’t do than of what you do.  It is better to make a move and make a mistake than to never move at all.  I saw a bumper sticker with the quote, “The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” ~John Bingham  Amen to that!
  4. Don’t stoop to another person’s level.  Since entering into the “real world” I’ve realized there are a lot of lazy, lazy, lazy, uninspired people out there… don’t be one even if you find yourself surrounded by them.  They may make more than you, have a better office, have a better title, but at the end of the day you know that you did your job to the best of your ability and then some.  Always take pride in your work.
  5. Don’t compare yourself to others.  I am very guilty of looking at others and thinking, “wow, they must have it all, they must not have the demons in their head like I do”.  This is false.  All the perfect people and families you see on Facebook are just facades.  There is always more going on than you can imagine.  So don’t compare yourself to others.
  6. Learn to forgive yourself.  I have an easier time forgiving others than I do myself. It has been one of the hardest things for me to learn how to do and I’m still not good at it.  The compassion you show others should also be shown to yourself.
  7. Never lose your enthusiasm for life.  Marvel at a sunset, take time to smell the flowers blooming, be in wonder at the beauty of a butterfly, let music wash over you, jump for joy when you hear the ice cream truck, trick or treat, believe in Santa for the night, do everything that you did as a kid.  Just because your body ages doesn’t mean your soul has to.
  8. Great friends are there when you are at your worst and at your best.  They are there when you make mistakes, they are there when you are successful.  They provide support when your soul is crushed and they laugh when your spirit soars.  You will only find one or two that are truly great friends… count your blessings when you do.
  9. You will never stop learning who you are.  The 20’s were a wild ride and so far the 30’s have been a great period of self-discovery, but you will never “figure it all out” or have a complete understanding of what you need in this life.  But always make time to get to know yourself along the way.  You may be surprised at what you learn.
  10. Serenity.  I love the serenity prayer because it is so relevant, “grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”  The last part is the hardest for me… the wisdom to know the difference between that which I can change and that which I cannot change.

~AA

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Complexity

Life is complex, but I assume that you are completely aware of this.  My Buddhist studies are in full swing right now.  I seem to obsessively write/talk about it (ad nauseam), but  it truly helps me become a more compassionate and accepting person.  Perhaps this is why we are giving these piercing opportunities to feel pain and the end of our story line.  It was time to rediscover myself and to recommit to my practice.

I am grateful for these experiences; although sometimes it takes me a while to remember that I am.

Walking Meditation

I just took a wonderful walk around campus.  Enjoying the trees, the cool air, the squirrels… there are hundreds of squirrels busily working to get ready for the winter; feverishly burying nuts all over campus.  It is one of my favorite things to watch.

While walking, I just focused on breathing and letting my mind be open.  Open to to the world around me and open to my heart.  And focusing on relaxing.  I need to do this more often.  As previously mentioned, I become a much better practitioner of Buddhism when I’m going through a change.  Perhaps that is what the change is for!?  To get me to refocus on the things that I need to be doing.

There is a beautiful practice in Buddhism called Tonglen.  It is a meditative practice focused on taking in the suffering of others.  I’ve been doing this for C since this entire mess started.  Basically you breath in the pain of others and exhale happiness in an effort to reduce suffering.  You can do this for an individual or for a group of people.  I encourage you to try it.  The beauty of this philosophy is that you are not exhaling bad things from your body, because you don’t create bad things…  you exhale things to reduce the suffering of others, because we do have the ability within us to do that.