8. Choose to give.
In the past, whenever I’ve had the opportunity to give, I always regret not giving more than I miss whatever item I give away. For example, if I lend out a book, I don’t miss the book, but I feel joy in knowing the other person has it. There are many other instances, but this one example stands out most in my mind:
Years ago, a student asked me if he could have this awesome purple cloak we were using as a costume in a Greek play we were adapting in his class. He played Dionysus, and he absolutely adored that cloak.
I told him no, because it was my costume, and we were using it in other plays, blah blah blah. The thing is, though, I should have given it to him. It was a super-cool vintage velvet cloak, and he was starry-eyed over it. After all the plays were done, I should’ve let him take it. Instead, I brought it home, where it has gathered moths in my closet ever since.
This life lesson applies to time as well. I regret not giving time to attend a gathering, or not volunteering for an event, far more than any initial reluctance at leaving the house. As a recovering agoraphobic, this last part has been a continual challenge. I experience an annoying amount of anxiety at getting invited to places and not being able to show up. Or, I show but then am unable to get out of my car to go inside.
By allowing myself some patience and forgiveness, I’ve improved. My true friends understand these struggles, so they continue to invite me out to places, even though sometimes, I can only stay for a few minutes. My fiance has helped with this, too. It’s really sweet to have someone to go places with.
All of this digression to say, giving is better than holding back. Material things are just things, and time given is never wasted.
9. Put love into the world.
Similar to the previous life lesson, this one is more about giving positive support to people and causes, rather than engaging in a cycle of negativity. There have been many times, especially since 2016 when we entered Bizarro World, in which I’ve read a post or comment online and become spun up with the fierce desire to retaliate. These initial reactions are typically negative and knee-jerk in nature, and they rarely do anyone any good.
I’ve always been more of the Jedi mindset, though, in that I believe anger leads to the Dark Side. So instead of that first visceral rejoinder, I’ve been actively seeking ways to counter it with love. Instead of No War, I’m aiming for Support Peace. Instead of ripping a person’s arguments to shreds, or attacking a person for their point of view, I’m trying to ascertain their fears and then sooth them.
It is not easy. In some cases, I’ve had to unfollow people or put them on mute because they aren’t in a heartspace to hear a message of love. However, I no longer want to feed their conflagration; I want to nurture my own campfire so that others can feel its warmth instead.
10. Be sugar free.
A recent life lesson, but a massive one. Until this last year, I had little understanding about the toll sugar was taking on my health. In 2019, my fiance and I embarked on a journey to better our physical and emotional health. We drastically altered our eating habits, nearly eliminating all sugar from our diet. We researched, we read, we chronicled what we ate, and the results have been astounding.
We lost weight, yes, which significantly improved our ability to get around and enjoy life. Beyond that, we experienced other health benefits. My insomnia has virtually vanished. The persistent issues with my kidneys went away. All these random aches and pains I attributed to getting older also disappeared. My hair is shiny; my skin is clear. My brain no longer feels like it’s wrapped in cotton gauze. Because I’m not dealing with the highs and lows of daily sugar crashes, my depression feels more manageable. Every system in my body has improved because of this one little change.
The truth is, we humans were never meant to eat so much sugar. A hundred years ago, people consumed sugar a few times a year on holidays or birthdays. Perhaps they would take a couple of teaspoons a day in tea or coffee, which is within a healthy limit.
Now it seems that every processed food in the store contains added sugar, and there’s definitely a reason for that. Sugar is addictive, and a lot of us have developed a habit.
I can (and probably will at a later date) go on about this for days. However, today I’ll end with a gentle nudge: Give up sugar for 30 days, and see what a difference it makes.
Here’s a TedTalk video about Reversing Type 2 Diabetes to give you a little background into the negative effects of sugar.
Thank you for reading about the big life lessons I’ve accumulated over the last ten years. I’m looking forward to learning and growing more in the next decade, too. May you live a lovely life, and may you love yourself and others, too. Happy New Year, everyone ? May 2020 treat you well!