Words to Live By

Words to Live By

As I get older (reticent to say mature), there are a few things I try to keep in mind. I guess you could call them words to live by. They may not be life changing, but they are things I’ll mention to my daughter as she grows up, especially if she grows up to be anything like her Pa.

If something brings you joy, and doesn’t hurt anyone, enjoy it! Don’t apologise.

We all have things we’re passionate about. It’s great to have something that makes us happy and gets our juices flowing. What isn’t great is people feeling the need to belittle or put down those things. Do you love the latest TV show? Brilliant! I hope it’s everything you want it to be. I don’t watch it, but it’s not my place to diminish your opinion or make you feel less for enjoying it. You enjoy your stuff, and I’ll be over here enjoying mine. Different does not equal bad or wrong.

I learnt this one in college, when I realised that concerning myself too much with what other people thought was energy-sapping and pointless. I’m not sure how or why it clicked, but I’ll happily tell people about watching Steps perform live, completing Metal Gear Solid 25 times, or crying whilst watching The Dark Knight Rises. Any issues with that are the other person’s, not mine. Spend your energy enjoying things, not worrying about how it’s perceived.

Ride the wave.

Act on something when you’re interested is piqued. That wave has risen up, so ride it for as long as it lasts. When it subsides, move onto the next one, and don’t feel bad about it. Doing something when your heart isn’t it, especially a hobby, can be damaging to your relationship with it.

This ties into the ‘sunk cost fallacy’; when you continue an endeavour due to already already invested costs (time, money, energy).

The X-wing Miniatures game taught me this one. Full of highs and lows, I’ve loved and hated the game. The first time I decided to take a break I was terrified that I’d wasted the substantial amount of money I’d invested. Sure enough, I came back around, and now I have a relatively healthy relationship with it. Sometimes I play and sometimes I don’t. In the meantime I ride other waves, which may not even be games. It’s not going anywhere, so I don’t worry about it.

Close the loop.

My most recent addition to the ‘words to live by’ set. This is a very recent discovery but an extremely worthwhile one. An open loop is something that is unfinished, or something that’s on your mind. Unless there’s a way to close it, or at least put it down for now, it will drive you crazy.

Handing it off can take the shape of taking the next step, or even be as simple as writing it all down. I’ve found keeping notes and to-do lists immensely helpful in this regard. The open loops are in those words, not in my head.

You can’t always close loops, and some are good to keep open and think about. But close them off when appropriate and give yourself a break. You’ve likely got enough on your plate, so do yourself a favour.

Comparison is the thief of joy.

This quote by Ted Roosevelt covers several points for me. You do not know what is going on in other people’s lives. Perhaps they’ve got a nice car, or they go on lots of holidays. It’s safe to assume they also have their own problems to deal with. Most importantly, if you spend your energy thinking about how things are so good for others, you’re losing sight of what is good in your own situation. There’s a tendency to compare from a place of weakness, so you’re rarely going to come out of it well. Just be aware that you might be comparing your beginning to someone else’s middle or end.

If you can’t forget it, act on it.

Things don’t always go how you’d like. It’s perfectly natural to have things go against you, and for people to say and do things that you don’t agree with. If something affects you, there’s a choice to be made. You can either forget it and move on, or you can raise the issue and tackle it.

This is a particularly sore point that I’ve learnt the hard way. Do not sit on things and hope they’ll will go away! I struggle with anything resembling confrontation, and procrastination on this sort of thing this has cost me. Recently I’ve acted more positively in just such a situation and been surprised by people’s responses. People can be oblivious, so pointing out how something has made you feel is worthwhile.

If you value the relationship, you should act. Don’t let ill feelings fester. So gather up your thoughts, figure out what you want to achieve, put your big boy pants on, and talk.

Stinky Pete

It turns out Toy Story 2 had a massive effect on me growing up. The story of how Prospector Pete was kept ‘mint in box’ for decades, becoming an embittered and lonely toy, haunts me. So if I’m not using something, or can’t display it, I try to move it on. Things need to be used and they need to be loved. If they aren’t, what’s the point? You don’t want a load of Stinky Pete’s in your loft.

Don’t stress about reboots!

A more tongue in cheek set of words to live by to finish off. Just don’t worry about them! Everything is cyclical, so you can bet that the property you have great affection for will come back around in a new guise. Remember that this time though, it’s not made for you. This is the nature of things. If you enjoy the reboot, great! If you don’t, let others enjoy it. No one can take away your originals.

An important caveat that I should mention is that I don’t live by these things all of the time. I frequently mess them up or forget them. But it’s good to remind myself of them every so often.

Do you have any words to live by of your own?

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