The best advice you'll ever receive is about more than the wisdom imparted from one to another, it's also a matter of timing. Sometimes, it can feel like a sort of synchronicity between you and another person -- that they were there to impart a breakthrough truth or wisdom just when you needed to hear it. But the truth is, it's probably because we're receptive to hearing that truth right then...the timing is right.
What's important too is what we each DO with the wisdom that's imparted. Let's be honest, sometimes we're given good advice but we ignore it. Other times, we put too much trust in the guidance of others at the risk of ignoring our own inner voice. I believe the best advisor any of us have is our own inner voice. I'm very aware that the most important truth is my own belief and my own judgement. It's never the case that I blindly follow what anybody tells me (in any sphere of life).
Information becomes really valuable when we process it for ourselves, deciding what to embrace, what to act upon and what to (respectfully) ignore. With that said, I thought I'd share some of the best advice I've ever received... wisdom that I believe is worth sharing:
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(1) Don't love more than you're loved
We've all been there... in that relationship when we were head-over-heels with our partner but just felt we weren't as loved as we were loving, or that we weren't being loved in the ways we wanted to be loved -- after all, people love each other in different ways and need different things from relationships.
Of course, people fall in love at different paces and learn to appreciate each other over time, so a little patience in matters of the heart is always wise. But don't spend months or years in a relationship where your needs aren't being met. We all deserve to give and receive love in equal measure -- or at the very least it should balance out.
(2) Listen to your gut
It's a cliche, but how many times have you heard people saying they wish they had listened to their gut instinct? This applies to all areas of life, from professional to friendship and romantic. We tend to override our gut instinct with reasoning or with concerns about appearing rash or impolite... or at times it's fear that doesn't allow us to act on our instinct.
It's so easy to underestimate that gut instinct, because it seems to reach conclusions more quickly than reason allows. But the instinct doesn't come from some mysterious source -- we're actually drawing on accumulated knowledge. You may already know more about the situation you're in than you're giving yourself credit for, or than you consciously realize. I believe that our gut instinct gently guides us to where we are supposed to end up -- following it helps us reach our true potential.
(3) Small moments matter
We tend to gloss over the small decisions in life and deeply contemplate the big decisions (and the big worries). But, sometimes you look back and realize that a seemingly insignificant decision shaped a whole period of your life. It could be a conversation, or a chance meeting, a seemingly small opportunity that has long term implications.
If you're like me, you're great at setting the BIG goals, but find it harder to break them down into component parts, to see how those small dots connect and weave their way into the fabric of life. Of course, it's impossible (and would drive you crazy) to try to labour over every decision or see what every single thing leads to. But, mindfulness, even of the smaller things, is some of the best advice I've received.
And now for the advice I never received, or didn't listen to, that I really wish I had! Hopefully, some of you benefit from these!
(4) Celebrate your beauty & your brains
I read a quote in a magazine once where a celebrity wished they could tell their 20-something self to wear a bikini, because it was really the best they've ever looked. It's so true! When I think about all the physical insecurities I had when I was young, I want to give my teenage self a big hug and make her see how much better she looked than she felt!
But it's not just physical insecurity. Many of us struggle to express what we think and feel when we're young. We can feel under-qualified or intimidated. It's natural to feel this way, but I do look back and wish there had been times when I felt the confidence to express myself -- the lesson for me was that the only person holding me back was me.
(5) Think more broadly about the life you want
We all think that we've got life-planning covered... that we've got our plans down cold: school, career, relationship and family. But more and more, I wish somebody had told me to consider other "what if?" scenarios. What if life doesn't unfold in that order?
We can place so much stock in a single vision of how our life will (SHOULD!) turn out that it can be difficult to roll with the punches when things don't go to plan (and, let's face it, they often don't!) Of course, we should all cling to our dreams, but alternatives don't always have to be devastating. If you come up with broader options for a life you want to lead, you'll be able to evolve and see a path that's just as rich and exciting, even when things don't go exactly according to your first plan. You'll also know the things you want to make happen in EVERY scenario -- the things you're not prepared to compromise on.
(6) Don't race to the finish line
Were you that teenager just dying to be all grown up? I was! I was always in a race for the finish line, not able to see myself as fully-formed until I'd accomplished certain things. Of course, now I realize life isn't so linear: We take steps forwards and backwards. We move sideways for a little while. We accomplish some goals and abandon others, and then we set new ones.
Constantly projecting into the future and waiting for some magical moment of arrival is something I think many of us struggle with. The huge downside is that we don't enjoy the NOW. But there really is no arrival point, no finish line. Instead, there is a here and now that's full of both blessings and challenges and we should embrace the beauty of that... that's what a wonderful life really is, after all!
Life takes many twists and turns and there are times when we all feel confused and in need of advice. To help at such times, I arm myself with a strong support network: I talk to friends and experts. But, mostly, I listen to my own voice. Where we seek comfort and advice is a subjective, personal decision... it's about a certain readiness and, of course, turst both in ourselves and in our destiny.
When you're feeling uncertain about life, where do you turn for advice? I'd love to hear what some of the best advice you've ever received was, or what advice you wish you could give to your 20-year-old self!