The universe called. It’s been trying to get a hold of us. Here’s what it’s been trying to tell us for kind of a while now.
10. Men are from Earth, and women are too.
Some of the points made in Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus are valid. Men and women are different in some ways. Specifically, there seem to be commonalities in the way each gender approaches some situations and copes with things.
Case in point: I say I’ll do a thing. My wife or a female co-worker asks, “Are you sure?” I hear doubt and feel disrespected. What my wife or the co-worker was intending was a show of support.
But that’s not a different language; that’s an opportunity to learn to communicate. Maybe I should look past my immediate reaction and apply what I know about my wife.
- She loves me.
- She’s a great person.
- She’s my favorite person.
- She’s thoughtful.
- She doesn’t want to hurt me.
Sure, it’s hard to look past emotional reactions, but we’re adults, right?
Instead of being pissed off, maybe I say, “Out of curiosity, why do you ask if I’m sure?”
BOOM! Opportunity for communication and a deepened understanding of each other.
Men and women aren’t different species, otherwise we wouldn’t be so compatible. Remember: we don’t find dogs or salamanders, or even chimpanzees!, attractive or appealing as a mate.
If you do, I don’t want to hear about it.
Men and women are different enough that trying to form a forever relationship is challenging– and from that challenge comes joy and deep, ultimate satisfaction. So instead of acting like you speak a different language from your (potential) significant other, treat him or her with some respect, set your emotions and knee-jerk responses aside and listen to what the universe is trying to tell you: communication is the answer.
9. Life IS a contest. Against yourself.
People who say that life isn’t a race are sort of correct. The fact is that Usain Bolt will always be faster than you.
All of this BS about, “I’m never changing who I am” and finding who you are needs to be burned, eaten by a lizard, crapped out, and spat on. Then shoveled into a big pile of manure, or Washington D.C.– take your pick.
You define you. Modern society and its trends prove that.
Further proof of that is the fact that people, unless they’ve let their spirit die completely, are always striving for improvement in some way. We’re trying to learn to dance, acquire a new language or other skills, and much more.
If you’re never changing who you are, you’re dead on some level.
Sure, you must be true to the fundamental, core you, but you can always be more true.
Change who you are. Fight laziness, complacency, apathy, ruts, fears, and everything negative that the world throws at you.
You’re more than your parts. You consist of each moment in your life, be they negative or positive moments and/or choices. Win those moments and you win your life contest against yourself. Every moment you can be a better you.
8. Demonstrating emotional reactions is a choice.
Our emotions are real things. They affect how we relate to the world. Feelings help us understand ourselves better and when we can be sympathetic, we find that our feelings help us understand the experience of others.
This is all for the good.
There is a difference between having your emotions react to something and letting your emotions dictate your behavior. You yell at your kids.
Do you yell at your boss?
Yelling in anger is a choice.
My three-year-old whines sometimes (all the time). When he comes to the dinner table, sometimes he whines because he’s feeling sorry for himself. There’s no reason for it, he’s just being emotional.
When we suggest he needs to go to bed instead of having dinner because he’s whining, he usually stops whining. You can see him dig deep and force himself to control his emotions and not have them control him.
Yes, you are entitled to your emotions; you are not entitled to let them control your behavior. In fact, letting emotions control your behavior is childish and whining that your emotions are valid and people shouldn’t expect you to control them is you at your worst.
Disclaimer: Mental health issues are not emotional issues; they are biological conditions. Emotions can be talked down and rationalized past. Biological conditions that manifest as emotions are different and they need to be respected, treated, and supported.
7. If it’s of value, it should be hard to achieve.
Things that come easily are gravy on the meal of your life and can be tasty. If you want an easy life, full of things that come easily to you, with payoffs for minimal effort and dedication, get ready for boredom, dissatisfaction, and a constant craving for something more.
Everybody’s got different things in life that are challenging. A great lady I know named Annemarie is unbelievably smart and curious. Learning is a passion for her. She loves science, literature, languages, and lots more. She loves school for a lot of reasons.
What did she study at university? Theater. Not a thing that came easily to her. But she did great, even developed her acting ability, and earned this guy’s forever respect.
Remember the first time you accomplished something difficult, something that tested you, even a little bit? Felt great didn’t it?
That’s because you, for a little while, transcended the easy, the simple, the natural, and became a better you.
Go after hard things. Test yourself, push yourself, direct your passion into things that are difficult. Accomplish the hard things and your life will be far more full.
6. Stop making everything about you.
The world is full of people who are living lives of all shapes and sizes, with all kinds of challenges and difficulties. You don’t know what’s going on in other people’s heads; other people almost never follow the script you have for them in your head; and your job isn’t to see people through the lens of the big, important ‘YOU.’
Your job is to grow up, move past you and reach out, love people, see them for who they are, help them, do something for them, and make the world a better place.
Let’s take parenting. Parenting isn’t about you. Being worried that your kids won’t like the rules you’re considering putting into place in order to restrict the amount of video games being played just shows that your head’s in the wrong place. “Oh no, my kids won’t like me!” What the what? That’s childish.
You remove privileges strategically, thoughtfully, and carefully not to make yourself feel good, but to help teach your kids. It’s YOUR JOB to do the hard things, the deliberate, careful things that will help your kids learn. Remember how Batman had to take the blame for Harvey Dent’s death?
Because he could. And so can you.
Also, when someone’s sharing a story or an experience, your best follow-up is NOT to say, “Yeah, I was out running last weekend and I passed this old fat guy named Jared.” The best follow-up is, “That’s really awesome.” And maybe a question to get the person you’re chatting with to share more.
See other people as people and not extensions of you and get in the habit of questioning your judgments and behavior in relation to others.
5. Start making everything about you.
Oh but number 6!!!
Number six is about seeing people for who they are, loving them, and reaching out to make the world a better place, as well as taking responsibility for the hard things you have to do as a parent. That’s all about seeing people as people and treating them with respect and dignity.
Making everything about you is different. If you see this life in the same way that the universe sees it, you understand that this life is made up of moments in time where you can be a better you or a same you or even a worse you.
When you’re driving and you see that person stranded on the side of the road, it’s a test of who you are, or really of who you’ve decided to be, whether you stop to help. See it as a test and plan to pass that test– every time.
If you fail one time, or more, remember that every moment is an opportunity to be a better you, so do better next time. Examine the failure first, of course, and identify why you failed, then figure out how to overcome that weakness.
Big deal. Try again. Take the hit and get. back. up.
This life is a path. Stand still doing nothing- you’re still on the path. Figure out which direction is right for you, according to your deepest values, and make each moment a test that you can pass.
This doesn’t make for a boring life. It makes for a fulfilling, challenging life that can be wonderful and all kinds of fun. Making service something you do because you want yourself to love others and help them and make the world a better place– that’s about you being a better you by giving to others.
You can only live one life: yours. Don’t try to live others’ lives. But get out there and proactively live your own life.
4. Forgiving is hard and necessary.
Life is unfair. Sometimes it’s randomly, brutally cruel. Some people grow up in cults without deep family ties. Some people spend their entire lives simply trying to get enough food and water. Some people’s lives are cut tragically short by senseless war and conflict while others lose loved ones to random awful stuff. Some people spend their lives scrabbling as hard as they can to try to get ahead and circumstances, demographics, and crappy luck keep them from succeeding.
There’s plenty going on around us that can make us bitter and angry and cynical. Not overlooking the need to be realists and honest with ourselves and others about reality, running around a cynical, embittered person is not a route to happiness.
We have to find a way to forgive. Forgiveness is not about saying it’s okay to be hurtful or just fine to overlook patterns of bad behavior. Forgiveness is about transforming your heart and making yourself into a person whose behavior is driven by goodness– and even love.
You have to forgive random tragedy. You have to forgive the crappy drivers. You have to forgive yourself.
You have to learn from tragedy and adjust your behavior based on the reality of the world, but always seek to forgive. It’s about peace in your heart and hope in your life.
Seek peace through forgiving the universe and others. It’s hard, but make a habit of it. Remember that God can give forgiveness as a gift.
3. That’s not how you win an argument.
Being loud, obnoxious, snarky, clever, angry, offended, self-righteous, and reliant on zingers is not how you win an argument. It’s how you win hypocrisy and a vague sense of unease that is typically glossed over by a feeling of righteous superiority.
Which is false.
You win arguments by transcending knee-jerk reactions, cultural mores and momentum and trends, and by generally not even getting involved. Remember that Internet arguments aren’t arguments. Mostly.
Generally, you win arguments by either not participating or by listening. And you win arguments by remembering that winning doesn’t mean you had the last word or dominated the other person’s viewpoints. You win arguments by listening, considering, and getting over the idea that you have to win an argument and transforming your purpose into the desire to understand and be understood.
To understand and be understood. Remember that.
2. Perfect will NEVER happen in this life.
No matter what promises our media makes regarding having money, fame, a perfect body, and the right job and/or clothes, your life will never be perfect. You can hit all kinds of milestones in your life: a big house, a nice car, a certain dress or pants size, the ability to run a marathon, a certain career position or track, an academic degree. But perfection never comes.
Is this depressing? Demoralizing?
Fine. Ignore the happiness just hovering, waiting for you to grab it as you soak in the experience of this great creation and life.
Or win the moment and turn your attitude around and see this as a challenge. Focus on the prosperity you’ll take with you when you die: your family, your happiness, your sense of self, a history of doing good to others.
Don’t wallow in poverty. Work hard, be smart, and craft a you that you are happy with, craft a family you are fulfilled with, and work through the tough times because you know it’s worth it. Joy in the process!
1. “I, the universe, owe you a big pile of nothing.”
I’m not talking about the esoteric, the soft stuff. You absolutely deserve and are entitled to the love of your family.
Sadly, you deserve nothing else. You’re not entitled to respect, a good job, a good education, money, a cell phone, nice clothes, a chicken in your pot, or even a good wireless connection.
You have to work for all of that. You have to earn all of that. Accept this reality. The sooner, the better. You are the master of your fate and hoping for luck to bail you out is you at your worst.
That doesn’t mean that luck won’t show up sometimes, but don’t let luck ruin you.
Keep in mind that just because you’re going to school doesn’t mean you’re going to get an education. You are responsible for your education. The biggest successes in history are from people who took charge of their own education and life and opportunities.
There you go. The ten things the universe talked about in its voicemail on my phone. Now go for a walk and notice how cool leaves really are.