We’re continuing our week of bests here on the blog and I am LOVING your suggestions. Today I want to know the best piece of advice you ever got.
If you’ve read my books you already know “PRETEND YOU’RE GOOD AT IT” – which I still write on my arm every time I have to do something scary in public but the second best piece of advice came from my grandmother, who told me, “It’s nice to be important but it’s more important to be nice. Unless people are being dicks. You don’t have to be nice to dicks.” Except she didn’t say “dicks” but probably just because English wasn’t her first language.
Still good advice though.
PS. I had a wonderful surprise recently when I opened Neil Gaiman’s new book Art Matters and saw this:
So basically I asked my favorite writer for advice on my first book and the advice was so good I wrote about it in my next book and then he wrote about that in his next book and this is how the world should work.
360 thoughts on “The best advice I ever got”
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Don’t write anything down you wouldn’t want anyone else to see–my mom. Diaries, letters, emails, comments, etc. Never assume anonymity.
The best piece of advice I ever received was from my father when I was a small boy and getting stressed about something. “Deep breaths Gary, take deep breaths. Breathe in and breathe out and think about what you need to do to get the job done.”
I still use that advice decades later.
Next day: best thing you’ve made. Drawing, writing, cooking, anything. Plus, you look awesome with a beard.
Be like a shark. Keep moving forward. (Journalism prof Scott Brown)
Read all contracts you are asked to sign and don’t sign anything you don’t agree with. All contracts are a negotiation and you can usually change the terms.
That IS exactly how the world should work and we’d all love each other a little more with every go-round. <3
To remember that there are no “Important” people; only important positions that require ordinary people to make important decisions.
The squeaky wheel gets oil
I think this post means I can’t say Neil’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane was my favorite recent book that brought me to tears. There are no grown-ups, indeed.
Anyway. Best advice? “Act like you want your hair to look like that and no one will know otherwise.” from my mom, and it really is just a great way to say move with confidence and no one will ask too many questions. It’s true.
Well, he didn’t say this to me personally, but I always liked Oscar Wilde’s quote “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.”
Best advice given to me personally, in regards to a breakup: “Take a year off dating. Just learn to be by yourself, and like it, because you should always be comfortable with your own company.” I waited one year exactly, and within a month, I had found (although it would take me a few more months to realize this particular fact) the love of my life.
The “Three Rules for Life” my stepson came up with one random day years ago. Best advice I ever got, hands down.
1.) Try not to hurt anybody
2.) Help people when you can
3.) Don’t be a jerk
“Be excellent to each other.”
“Never pass up a chance.”
“What do you mean, Grandma?”
“If you think you can wait for the next rest stop, you’ll be really sorry if you find out it’s closed.”
Instead of thinking, ‘why is this happening to me?’ – think ‘why is this happening FOR me.’
Best advice I use all the time: Do what’s in front of you. Basically helps to stay present in each moment.
Not a lot of advice from my family but my husband was given one nugget. “Don’t marry a Finlander because they are beautiful when you marry them but then they get fat and ugly.” I’m Finn. At least he was warned. Now, where are those Doritos?
Two pieces of advice, both from my stepfather (my hero!):
1. Never reject criticism without thinking about it – they might be right. If you look hard and honestly in the mirror and they’re full of shit, let it go, but if they’re right, thank them.
2. There is always some dumb son of a bitch that doesn’t get the word. And some days, you’re the dumb son of a bitch.
Might I just say OH MY HEART!!!
My not-always-wise mother used to say, “When in doubt, don’t.” That advice has proved very useful. Another one was, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” But the first one is gold.
Love the sweetness of influence going both ways!!
My amazing therapist said to me one time (and then many more because it is something that I struggle with haha) “embrace ambiguity”. I hate when life isn’t black and white but growing in this area helps me to let go of things that are out of my control.
Label everything. Especially if it goes into your freezer. You will NOT remember what it is, later.
My mom gave me a copy of Desiderata by Max Erhmann when I turned 21. Its shaped a big part of who I am now
My boss in my first “real” job told me: “Work to live. Don’t live to work.” It’s advice I struggle with sometimes, but it grounds me in what’s really important.
Raising kids: Pick your battles wisely.
Life: Fake it until you make it.
In general: You are the company you keep. (In GREAT COMPANY HERE!!).
Make a decision and then MAKE IT BE the right decision — whatever that takes.
Really ask yourself when it’s time to move on. You can’t win them all.
Whatever your first thought is what you’ve been conditioned to believe/think/feel. Wait for your second thought before responding.
My mother told me to always laugh at myself. That way I wouldn’t care if anyone else laughed at me. It is SO TRUE. Plus, I keep myself entertained.
To go to a recovery meeting, 100 percent. Also to buy a better-than-average mattress.
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” I read it attributed to Theodore Roosevelt and it quite literally changed my way of viewing many, many things, much for the better.
“Always be true to yourself,” My father.
1) it was great advice then, and it’s great advice now. That I need to take to heart. 2) I had no idea that Neil Gaiman had a new book out, and it looks super awesome. Thanks for the tip. 3) Love the beard.
RuPaul (via his mom): “Unless they gonna pay your bills, pay them bitches no mind.”
The best advice I ever got was from Life’s Little Instruction Book. It said basically to picture everything you own broken so that it isn’t such a shock when it DOES break or get lost or what have you. And the more kids that I have, the easier it is to do.
“This too shall pass.” Absolutely true and best advice ever for those moments when it looks like all is doom.
I thought it was callous when my sister said it, but the more I thought about it and applied it to my life, the easier my life got. Her words of wisdom? “Shit happens. Get over it.”
My mother told me not to expect marriage to be 50-50. She said that it was often 60-40 and sometimes even 90-10. So not to think things were over if they weren’t sunny all the time.
“Don’t take things personally.”
“Always do your best.”
“Consider the source.”- from my Mom, still the best advice I carry with me everyday.
“Never expect anyone else to take care of you” – my mom, who raised two girls who both excel in male dominated industries, and who maybe don’t always make the best life decisions but always are capable of getting out of them.
Also, Winston Churchill said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” I remind myself of that when depression hits and it helps.
Work advice from me that has served my sons well:
Be on time.
Do what you’re asked.
Of course, this assumes a lot, but the odds of you keeping your job are a lot higher doing these 3 things, regardless of whatever level you’re on, from CEO to overnight watchman.
Boundaries help you share and save yourself.
“If you don’t have a sense of humor, you might as well be dead” – Betty, a delightful elderly English lady I met on a Greyhound bus and liked so much I brought her home to meet my family and have lunch.
“What you do with your days is what you do with your life.” I tend to be inclined to procrastinate, but it’s so easy for “someday” to end up being “never.” If something is important, I should do at least a little today, and every day.
My best friend’s husband told me, right before my first kid was born, “Don’t be the expert. If someone else wants to dress/bathe/feed, etc. the baby – let them do it their way. If it has to always be the way you want it, you will end up doing it all yourself.” This sage bit of advice is, al least in part, why I have been happily married for 25 years.
My father before my wedding night said”never trust an animal that bleeds for five days but does not die”
It’s usually better to ask forgiveness than permission. If you do something, own it & accept the consequences.
My Dad always said, “Be aware of how what you do affects those around you”. You know those people that step off the escalator and stop? I want to double-hand push them so badly!
Mom, Betty Joy, also said,” Do something, even if it’s wrong.” Not sure that’s been as helpful, but it does keep me from being stuck.
When I was an awkward teen girl, I asked my father how I could make boys like me. He thought about it for a bit, then said “Don’t speak. Boys don’t like it when girls are smarter than them.” It’s the best advice I ever ignored.
If you don’t use your head, you’ll use your feet.
Never let ‘em see you sweat!
I totally have trouble remembering this, but “Perfect is the enemy of good”.
Also, from my therapist: “Would you believe your brain if it said you were a ninja warrior?”
Me: No..?? (confused)
Her: Why not?
Me: Why would I be a ninja? That’s so weird and absurd!
Her: Then you don’t have to believe your brain when it tells you you’re a bad person. You could never be a bad person, and those thoughts are equally absurd.
“Get your butt there, and your brain will follow.” I’m a therapist, and that was said in a group in reference to going to AA meetings, but it can apply to SO many situations. Very useful for me when it comes to exercise, social interaction, etc. I often don’t want to do something…but if I just GO, I’m glad I did 99% of the time.
If there’s something to be done, do it. If there’s nothing to be done, let it go.
How will you feel about this (whatever is bugging me at present) in ten or twenty years? Will you even remember it? This definitely has helped me sort out my priorities.
Stay out of the forest. Carry pepper spray. Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered. Maybe not the best advice I ever received, but is always in the forefront of my mind. It’s everything that is behind it that makes it such amazing advice.
I love this advice. I will write almost anything online or in print, but speaking in front of a crowd makes me break out in a sweat and talk too fast and too loud. I become terrifyingly communicative. (So, basically, like me when I drink too much.)
“You can’t find love until you learn to love yourself”
Thanks to Craig A. for ending a decade of depression and suicidal thoughts when I was much younger.
My dad: “Steph. Some people are just Assholes.”
In my current job, outsiders often expect our staff to be experts on many topics. My first boss here told me not to pretend to be an expert on a topic if I wasn’t. Instead, she said, offer to connect folks to those people who are the experts. Be the expert connector instead. Has always worked for me and I have been in this job 12 years now.
I can’t think of the best at this moment. I know it’s something I read, not something that was said to me.
But the WORST – my husband saying, “Calm down.” because no one in the history of ever has calmed down by being told to calm down.
I’ve got a short story for my best “advice” … https://kieranbullshit.com/2018/07/25/5-life-lessons-in-2-minutes/
“Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” Also, I love the old blessing? I guess? that goes, “May your life be long and your memory short.”
Not really advice but my mom once said ‘you can’t like everybody’. Seems obvious once you say it out loud but from that point I have not worried about not liking someone and even better, not being liked by someone
Shoulda, coulda and woulda don’t count.
“You must never run from anything immortal; it attracts their attention.” Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn. Still one of the best books I ever read:-)
My Mama: You ARE a good mother. You are. You just do the best job that you can, and hope you don’t fuck it up too much. That’s what I did, and you turned out great. (She was NYE drunk at the time.)
Never make decisions based on fear or laziness.—a girl I went to college with
From my grandmother: “Feel free to trust the public, but look both ways on a one-way street.”
“Don’t water the kudzu.”
“Do what makes you happy unless it hinders someone else’s happiness.”
Can’t remember where I heard this one and it’s not technically advice, but… Your success rate for surviving bad days is 100% so far!
The fight or flight response was baked into us back when it was useful for fighting off cave bears. So when you get stressed or anxious about something, try to think about whether you are responding to something that is actually happening right now, or something that might happen at some point in the future. If it’s the latter, remind yourself that nothing bad is happening right in this moment, and that you don’t need to be responding to something that’s not actually happening.
A boss once told me “you don’t have to know where all your limits are. But pay attention when you hit one, and do something about it.” He wasn’t actually firing me: it’s been useful ever since.I can take a lot, but recognizing when I’ve had enough has helped me leave bad relationships and bad jobs.
If you do something unseemly, deny it unless there’s video proof.
You know how kids will start asking “what if” questions – what if Santa gets lost? What if the sun falls out of the sky? When I would start one of my “what if” question marathons, my mother would end it by saying: “Well, that would just be what if.” Now I remember her words when I start conjuring up worst case scenarios.
Also, I’m not sure this is considered advice, but it is information I got from a dog trainer that has served me well with my dogs (and some humans, too): “What a dog is looking at is what the dog is thinking about.”
Never turn your back on the ocean or flushing toilets.
A colleague gave me this advice in my first few weeks of a high-stress job. I didn’t know at the time how hard it would be to find a few minutes to follow her advice, but I never forgot.
I recently heard this and I’m not sure it’s advice, but it’s powerful “Find out who you are and then do it on purpose.” – Dolly Parton.
When I was hiking the Appalachian Trail I was desperately trying to speed up so I could hike with a few people I had met the first week out. But I was so focused on that that I wasn’t enjoying my hike like I had been. My other friend told me something I will never forget, and it has made my life infinitely better ever since.
“If they wanted to hike with you, they would.”
And she was so right. I was killing myself trying to catch up with them. But if they really wanted me with them they would have slowed down. So I stopped trying to catch them, and I ended up meeting some of the best people in my life.
Just ran into a great one yesterday, when feeling mentally crappy, by Winston Churchill of all people:
“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
The best advice I ever got is from my mother:
“You wanna be right all the time, or do you wanna have friends?” 😁
Also, my aunt’s mom, when she was sweeping, “I like it, and I’m good at it”.
In other words, every action is important and can be enjoyable if you open your mind.
When I was in high school I made a joke about my weight to a guy friend and he said something along the lines of “If you’re not happy with the way you look then you should do something about it.” Which I’ve thought back to when I realized I was complaining about something I had the power to change. Either do the work or shut up about it.
When I had my first baby, my sister told me that every parent should have IT’S JUST A PHASE tattooed on their wrist for when they forget. That’s come in handy, for instance when that first baby was giving kisses that were really bites. My least favorite phase thus far, but like all of the others, it ended.
I also really liked a quote I saw from Ricky Gervais about how nobody else knows what they’re doing either. It always feels like I’m the only one bumbling along, but apparently a lot of people are just better at hiding it.
Never fry bacon naked.
I had a college professor that used to say “if you can’t dazzle them with your brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.” 🙂
Not my circus, not my monkeys!
“Tell the truth. It’s a lot less upkeep.” — my first therapist.
“Don’t agree to anything legally binding today.” — the guy who did my colonoscopy this morning.
“If you don’t ask you already have the ‘no’ ”
We were buying a house and we needed the seller to accept some different, out-of-the-ordinary payment terms. When I asked our agent if they would do that he said, “If you don’t ask you already have the ‘no'”. We asked and they said “yes” so we were able to buy our first house.
When I was miserable in my job, my dear co-worker said to me “You can change your life.” And while I know that not everyone can change things in their lives, I COULD change enough things in my life to eventually get me out of that job. I DIDN’T KNOW I COULD DO THAT. I thought that because I had gone to school for something specific, and had worked at it for 14 years, that I had to keep working at it forever. Nope!
Hands down- the best advice I ever got was in the middle of my sobbing to a friend. She said, “Get over your fucking self or you’ll miss the lesson.”
Best parenting advice from a mom with a profoundly challenged, disabled child back when they were institutionalized: “When you make the decision to institutionalize your child for the rest of her life, you sort out real quick what’s important. Long hair on boys is not important.” This was in the early 70’s but it served me well. Look at the big picture and choose your battles. Let your kids win some so they can lose on the biggies–their safety, for instance.
A friend once told me, “Embrace the awkward!” And it is AWESOME. Just don’t worry about what anyone thinks, do your thing 🙂
A good friend and former colleague once offered some great career advice. He said it doesn’t really matter if I become a busboy or a C.E.O., or if I decide to sell trinkets on the internet or help cure cancer. What’s important, he said, isn’t the title, the work, or the money; it’s making sure I do something that allows me to be home in time to tuck my four kids into bed every night, and that I can always look them in the eyes and tell them how I spent my day. Every part of it.
That was over 20 years ago.
I’m very grateful for my wise friend and the four North Stars who have unknowingly been guiding my way for the past two decades. I know I’d be lost without them.
Never miss an excellent opportunity to just shut up
From our pediatrician at our first visit with our new baby: “Trust your instincts, they are usually right. If people weren’t instinctively good at raising children, none of us would be here now.” And also “You don’t need to buy expensive baby food. Just feed her what you eat, it’s what she’s going to wind up eating later anyway.”
From my mom: When you start to feel so overwhelmed by the number of things you need to get done that you find yourself doing nothing, just pick one thing on the list and do it. Doesn’t matter what it is. Doesn’t even need to be the most important thing. Just start somewhere.
It has helped me find a way to move forward in moments of paralyzing anxiety, and I am grateful every day for the advice.
Be the change you wish to see in the world because you can make a difference 🙂
Mom always said – don’t look back, that’s not the way you are headed.
I too didn’t get this piece of advice from the actual person, but I did glean this from his book Pathways to Bliss. Joseph Campbell said “Enter the forest at the darkest point, where there is no path. Where there’s a way or path, it is someone else’s path; each human being is a unique phenomenon” and I’ve tried to stick to this even if I’m scared as hell. Or when I feel defeated, sad or pissed off as hell. So chin up, march on! 🙂
When I first started working in the arts, a co-worker told me to “never work for free.” I later added that I shouldn’t work for less than what it cost me to travel to the job, either.
You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.
Not sure who said that first, but it definitely resonates with me.
Maya Angelou on the Oprah show sometime in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s:
“When someone shows you who they are, BELIEVE THEM.”
It’s been a HUGE life lesson. And every time I’ve forgotten it or ignored it, I have been burned! It never fails.
Mine is very similar to yours: “Fake it till you make it.”
Not really advice, but my Dad told me I couldn’t make a living being a smart-ass. Naturally, I have made it my life’s mission to accept the challenge!
It’s okay to not be okay. Which I learned from you and has been absolutely invaluable. Also, The internet is forever. Don’t post things you don’t want to be confronted with in job interview someday. Or by the cops.
Always keep your sense of humor. I give this advice at wedding & baby showers. And then I laugh & laugh.
If they don’t like you for who you are, then it’s their loss. Not yours.
The best advice I ever got was from my supervising teacher when I was a student teacher in college. I was having a really hard time connecting with one student, who was always acting out, blurting out, and being disrespectful. When I asked my supervisor for advice, she told me, “You never know what sort of situation a child came from this morning or is going to this afternoon. You may be the best part of their day.” I started carving out time in my day to offer this child a compliment, a high-five, or simply a smile, and the behavior started to change. Turned out that his parents were going through a nasty divorce, and he was always wondering who would pick him up after school and if they would have his favorite toy with them. It was a tough situation for him. 13 years later, I still keep that advice in the back of my head, and bring it out every time I have a student who is like my first little buddy.
You never have to do today again. Tomorrow is a new day and with the sunrise comes a fresh start for you. [I told my daughter this when she had had a really bad day at school with so-called best friends being extremely nasty.]
“This too shall pass. It may pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass.”
The other is don’t get upset when you get the difficult letters in Scrabble. They are opportunities to score higher. In other words, difficult situations can be opportunities for something in disguise.
The two quotes that are the favorite of my daughter and I when things are difficult with people are from two separate sources. The one is very inspirational; the other makes us laugh..
1. Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.– Dalai Llama
2. On those days, when you are feeling bad and someone hurts your feelings, remember this: They’re gonna die–Bianca Del Rio.
“If he’ll cheat WITH you, he’ll cheat ON you.” My mother told me this often, and I’ve never yet seen the exception. As a result, married and committed men just didn’t exist for me in my dating days. And I never had cause to regret that.
“You can’t please everyone” and “not everyone is going to like you”. That is what I tell myself to help move on when I feel stung or rejected.
“The distance is nothing. It’s only the first step that is difficult.”
Go with your gut.
“What other people think of me is none of my business.”
From my fun uncle, “ It might be a bad idea, but it could be really fun!”
And advice to my kids “ Let’s not and say we/you did”
Sounds kinda cliche but my Dad always says “stop worrying about things you have no control over”. When we lived in NJ growing up my Dad would wake up one morning and announce “ lets go we’re driving to Florida”. My Mom woukd pack up the station wagon and off we went. I worried the whole way there about the weather because I wanted a tan. I think that’s one of the first times he said it. I might have been 10.
If you’re in a situation where people are going to say, “If there is anything I can do,” then make a specific list and share it. The worst thing that can happen is you don’t get everything you want, but you do need these things, and someone might be able to help you and wants to help you, and if you’re both vague, your needs aren’t going to get met.
Somebody told me this when I was sobbing about my husband having left me, and it helped. I have told this to people who don’t have the deductible in their bank account when their car got totaled, when there is death in the family, breakups, etc. Even if NOBODY has something for you, making the list goes a long way in getting your own shit together.
“Are you having a bad day, or do you just have a bad attitude?” ~ my father’s thought provocation was stronger than his advice game, but always on point
When struggling with any conversation: Never be afraid to say what you need to say, as long as it is the truth, it comes from the heart, and it’s TRULY meant to help. If it doesn’t hit all 3 of those buttons, keep your mouth shut.”
That advice has helped me in so many professional and personal awkward conversations. I will never forget the boss that shared that with me.
Don’t make important life altering decisions while PMSing. Seriously don’t.
After the birth of my first child: The baby won’t have his first memory for years. Anything up until then is practice so calm down.
My dad used to say, “If someone wants to pick up the check, let them!” In other words, allow others in your life to feel generous & tell them you’re grateful.
From my mom….”Always pee after sex”
Extend the same amount of grace to others that you want extended to you.
From my mom….”Always pee after sex”
I have five rules of life:
1. Always put yourself first. You can’t take care of anyone else, unless you are physically and mentally capable.
2. Never change the answers on the test. My mother told me this before every standardized test I ever took from grade school on. It means always trust your instincts.
3. Everybody does what’s best and by definition what’s best is what’s best for them. From The Big Chill. This is helpful because when somebody is treating you badly, you can figure out why that is best for them. If you are engaging in destructive behavior, you must analyze and say why is this best for me?
4. If you don’t ask the question, the answer is always no.
5. Fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke. Also from The Big Chill.
6. A corallary from my mother only for women (or anyone who wants to dress like a woman) if you find a really great dress for less than $50, buy it.
2 words: DEPRESSION LIES!
My grandmother once said, “Don’t cry over something that can’t cry over you.” This advice was to help me break with some of my hoarding tendencies, and it has worked wonders over the years. She later told me the real advice was “Don’t cry over someone who won’t cry over you.” Both versions have been very helpful to me.
Be at the right place, at the right time, with the right equipment, and the right attitude.
Breathe. Breathe. And breathe again.
Paraphrasing Aziz Gazipura’s book “Not Nice”:
SAY THE THING.
You can say The Thing tactfully. You can say The Thing nicely…but you need to say The Thing, for your sake, for the sake of the relationships you have that you want to keep, and for the sake of relationships you shouldn’t be holding onto anyway. Do not swallow The Thing, do not pretend it’s “not that big a deal.” Your feelings are a big deal and they matter. SAY THE THING.
I don’t have an exact phrase but I can honestly point back to reading Furiously Happy as a turning point in my life. After reading the book I was more ok with doing things just because it makes me happy. I bought and wore a dinosaur dress just because it was something that I thought was awesome but didn’t have the courage yo wear because I worried about being judged. Now I do the fun or silly things because why not. I truly need to thank you for helping me find the courage to be the me that makes me happy.
I don’t GET a lot advice, but I frequently find myself GIVING it to parents who just found out their kid is autistic and they’re losing their shit because they don’t know how to deal with it. I always tell them to just fucking breathe, because autism is NOT a death sentence. YES it will change your life..more than you expect or want. Just roll with it. You can’t “fix” it..not with medication or fancy ass expensive hippie chelation treatments or whatever the fuck Diagnose Autism NOW! (which I seriously dislike cuz they’re kinda shitty) is pushing to make your kid “better”. Your kid will be better because you work with them on their speech, their fine motor skills, their social skills. Yes, having an autistic kid can really suck when you’re in public and they’re having the most massive meltdown you’ve ever seen because it’s too hot, too cold, too loud, too quiet, too much of something or not enough of something else. That’s when you just suck it up, deal with it the best way you can and then that night, when you go home, after they’re asleep..you drink lots of wine. Not enough to get drunk but just enough to relax for 5 minutes while you contemplate running away to a desert island with all your friends (who are also, of course, moms of autistic kids because they’re the only ones who really get the shit you go through on a daily basis).
my dad used to say “save your money.” i wish i had listened to him! 🥴
From my high school boyfriend as he was dumping me: Just look at ‘me and smile.
From another guy I dated: There are no friends in bumper cars.
The best advice I ever got: clean up after yourself. Don’t make a mess you aren’t willing to clean up, whether it be in the kitchen, at work, or in a relationship – if you don’t want to clean it up, don’t make a mess of it.
Advice from my dad on my wedding day (I divorced that guy btw): “Never argue about sex, money or religion with your spouse and never go to bed mad.”
“You are enough.” Don’t know who said it first, but LOVE it!
I overthink things – and sometimes get so overwhelmed that I talk myself out of doing them in the process. So Anne Lamott’s “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird” is some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten.
“If you can do it, it ain’t bragging.” This is a Dizzy Gillespie quote my dad told me when I was a kid. I’ve never forgotten it. It’s the only useful advice I ever got from my father, and it is especially true for women. Forget false modesty, if you can do it, tell people! You’re not bragging no matter what anyone says, you’re telling the truth.
Advice from my mom: “Never turn down a free meal.”
A boss told me “Don’t get in a pissing match with a skunk.”
My own advice to others: “Never date a man whose waist is smaller than your thigh.”
Assume positive intent. It avoids a lot of unnecessary drama, and you look like a better person.
Advice from my first boss: “Save at least 10% of your paycheck every week for your retirement.”
When someone shows you who they are, believe them — Maya Angelou
Just keep swimming — Dory
Always listen and feel for the ones who cry in the dak!
My dad (who passed last month) gave me a piece of advice for dealing with angry, frustrated customers (which has been used with just about anyone in my life now). When I was working for an AC company in the middle of summer I had people calling me every name you could imagine when I couldn’t get them scheduled quick enough. My guys were working til midnight and still not finishing as it was. I called him crying after a particularly harsh call. He told me to just think in my head “Boy, you sure would feel better if you had a nap!” Something about thinking that helped me to remain calm and professional (even while giggling a bit to myself).
Go look it up. If you don’t know what something means go to the dictionary or library and find out. It’s kept my love of learning alive for years…
My mom’s best advice ‘never let anyone take pictures of you naked ‘ . I was particularly grateful for this gem after my divorce
In the dark……..of course….lol….can’t even get a landline straight.
You always have a choice. Some choices are set in stone, but most aren’t. And at the end of the day, you have to be able to look at yourself in the mirror and be okay with the person looking back at you with those choices you made. But no matter what, I’ll always love you. ~Paraphrased from my dad when I was deciding whether or not to leave college after one semester. Applicable to many, if not all, parts of life.
Trust in abundance.
Two bits of advice I try to live by: #1 I recently got promoted to a position I don’t feel at all comfortable in (long story as to how this happened), but I read somewhere to “summon the confidence of a mediocre white man” and it has helped. #2 Also, my dad always used to say “If you’re gonna be a bear, be a grizzly.”
Pee when you have a chance. You never know when there will be no restrooms. (my mom)
The one I always remember is one I heard in the movie, ” Moonstruck”.
“Don’t shit where you eat.”
So true. So true.
Y’all are amazing! Advice: Chocolate makes things better, and if it doesn’t it still tastes good.
When I was a little girl my grandmother was looking after me while my parents were at work and my sister was at school. As she was getting things out for sandwiches, she commented that she was going to have a peanut butter and pickle sandwich. Being a very young child without a filter, I replied with the first thing that came to my head: “Grammy, GROSS!”
She responded “How will you know it’s gross if you don’t try it?” She then proceeded to hand me half of her sandwich. I didn’t really have a good argument for that and I knew I probably wouldn’t win that argument anyway, so I did as I was told and took a bite.
Let me tell you, that sandwich was DELICIOUS. So delicious I wouldn’t give it back and she had to make herself another one. And I never would have known if I’d just gone with my gut feeling of “WTF, GROSS.” I had to try it to know.
It really is applicable to a lot of things beyond just food and I try to keep it mind even now, thirty years later.
It’s not your job to fix people.
You don’t need to let others dictate how you feel.
I’m guessing a therapist gave me these gems, and even though they seem obvious, it was game-changing once I believed it.
Don’t worry – be happy (on a mug from my Dad) and NO askee no gettee (the street)
One more – if your at your lowest, loneliest and in complete despair – know that you are in very good company!
I had a teaching colleague tell me during my first year of teaching that I could work 24-7 and still not do everything I would want to do for my students. She basically told me it’s okay that I leave some things undone. Or not done well. And that’s OK.
25 years into teaching, and I firmly believe that the reason I’ve lasted this long is because I followed her advice.
It’s better to be pissed off than pissed on- my grandfather.
I always wanted to write a book but couldn’t figure out how to start. I read Chris Baty’s book “No Plot, No problem” and it changed my life. I participated in National Novel Writers Month and wrote 90,000 words in 30 days. The book was finally done! I edited it and finished it and its ready to publish! Just write…even if crap comes out, just get it on paper. And that’s what I did!
Best advice: Don’t regret things you have done in the past, because even if the only thing you learned is to never do that again you still gained a valuable lesson about what makes you happy. If you feel regret, think about the lesson you learned, and then you will see how you are better.
Not an advice I got from anyone really, but just a thing I had to learn on my own and which I think would be solid advice to give to someone else. “If things are unclear then just ask about it.” Didn’t catch who called you? Ask. Didn’t understand what’s expected of you? Ask. I used to really worry about asking and just sort of hope I did things right but the thing is people don’t mind it when you ask questions, especially not if that keeps you from fucking up basic shit that could have been easily avoided.
It kind of ties in with the “There’s no such thing as a bad question” mantra that I did get from time to time.
Take nothing personally no exceptions and This too shall pass!
If a man tells you he’s an ass hole he is one. Don’t try to change that just move on.
Jill Conner Brown in her first book “be particular”,,,,,applies to everything – great advice
From my mom: “When something bad happens don’t add it to the list of all the bad things that have happened in your life. Treat every situation on it’s own.”
From my dad: “When something sad happens you still have to eat and take care of yourself. Otherwise you will be too weak to notice the happy moments tucked in between the sad.”
From my sister: “You look stupid wearing jeans and a hoodie in the middle of summer.” This advice has actually done wonders for my self esteem. I used to cover up in summer because I was self conscious about my size. My sister made me realize that every body is a summer body.
My Dad always says, “If you don’t ask, they can’t say no.” It has served me very well over the years.
“Never confuse your resume with your life.” I have trouble not defining myself by my career success (or failure, or absence, or lack of direction), but this advice—that what you do is not 100% of who you are—has always been a good reality check for me.
I was going through a real tough time with some chronic illnesses and asked my therapist what she would say to someone who was dying (although life is also a terminal illness!), and she said, “decide who you want to be in the world.” No matter where you are in life, figure out what kind of person you want to be to yourself and others.
My grandfather when he was giving me the sex talk when I was 17, haha, he said “whatever you focus your energy on now is what you will be good at, so if you’re spending your time trying to get boyfriends and have sex then that’s what you’ll be good at.” Mainly, he was trying to get me to be less wild about boys. But the piece of the advice that sticks with me is that whatever I’m focusing my energy on is the experience I’ll gain and the knowledge base I’ll have to show for myself so it better be worthwhile.
If you never tell a lie you won’t have to remember anything. I think it was Mark Twain who said it, who I also believe was a notorious liar with a terrible memory, like me!! 🙂 (Mark Twain is my hero.) I get really anxious when I lie even about the smallest things, so I try really hard not to. Except white lies. I’m not stupid…I’m not going to tell my husband that, yes, that mock turtleneck DID indeed go out of style in the 1990’s.
When my mother was dying I was crying and said to her, “No one will ever love me the way you will.” She said, “Oh, honey! Don’t you know that that is your job?”
Best advice: You are enough.
Emotions are like small children, they want attention and they’ll lie to get it. Always check the facts. You’ll often find your emotions are tied to past events that only bear a passing resemblance to the current situation.
“The end of the world as we know it is just the beginning of the world as we DON’T know it. It might be better.” I honestly can’t remember where I heard that, but it’s stuck with me.
Don’t tailgate someone with a trailer hitch.
My dad gave me two pieces of advice, which I’ve lived by ever since: If you get drunk at a party, sleep on someone’s couch, and Always count your change before you leave the counter.
From the Goddess RuPaul: “if you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else” Can I get an A-men?!
Also “dont eat yellow snow”…comes in handy here in Canada eh?
My grandma always said that, when she didn’t think she could do something, she’d just start and have faith that God would help her finish. I’m an atheist, so I just think of it as starting and having faith that I’ll be able to finish somehow.
My Dad- “You don’t always know what you want, but you always know what you don’t want. Just get rid of what you don’t want and you’re golden.”
I’m trying, Dad.
Best advice ever came from the star of supernatural #JaredPadalecki this is something that has kept me from suicide more than once. I write it on my arm when times are worst. “ always keep fighting “ #akf. One day I hope to meet or talk to him to say thanks for saving my life! Jenny Lawson you also keep me going on the rough days! So thank you!
From my friend Linda (maybe a bit negative after all these positive ones, but this was really helpful during my sister’s divorce.):
After someone’s break up, don’t bad mouth a person’s Ex (or soon to be Ex), because if they get back together, you’ll be left out in the cold. Just be there for that person and if they bad mouth their ex, make appropriate listening noises.
I can’t say I have a piece of sage wisdom but I love the one you shared. “Pretend You’re Good At It”. I needed this. My husband and I are relocating to make a better life for ourselves which means I have been interviewing like crazy. I have overwhelming anxiety before each phone call but I really think this will help!
The best advice I ever got was from my mother. She said “never cut your toenails stoned.” This not only a good and practical bit of advice, but also a excellent example of how conversions with either of my parents tends to go.
Oh, and I thought of two more from my mom that have always served me well:
It never hurts to ask. The worst they can say is no.
If you can’t find something, turn on a light and try using both hands.
My brother and I went to Catholic school as kids (which is precisely why neither one of us is religious, but that’s another story.) In second grade my brother had to write out the ten commandments as part of a test. For the second commandment he wrote, “Do Not Doubt.” Of course it was marked wrong on the test, but our entire family took that on as our personal lifelong commandment: “do not doubt that you will succeed at whatever goals you set for yourself in life.” My brother is now 35 years old. His “commandment” has seen us through some pretty gnarly life situations but has always proven to be true. 🙂
Relax your jaw. This is often said during a yoga class but really can be used anytime to stop you from clenching your teeth and maybe fucking relax already.
My mom’s best advice was to me when I was around 20 years old and worried about something that seemed BIG and IMPORTANT. She asked me if it were going to matter what happened or what my decision was in 5 years. Or even in 1 year. If the answer were “NO”, then I should immediately stop fretting about it.
My Nan always said, “you can carry a fur coat in a 10 cent shopping bag.” It took me years to really understand what she meant but it’s been so valuable to me.
My father gave me George Clason’s “The Richest Man in Babylon” when I graduated from high school. The basic premise is that 10% of all you earn is yours to keep. Pay yourself first and put that money to work for you making more money, either through investment in a business or simply in interest. That was 43 years ago and I have given all the young people in my life the same book when they graduated. I’m not rich, but I own my home and I’m comfortable. It’s a good habit to get into early.
When I was 16 and working at a local retail shop, and probably acting badly, an older lady asked me a few questions. She asked do you believe in God, do you live at home. I replied yes. She said well you have your faith, you have your family, you have your health, you have your youth, you have a job–I don’t think you have anything to be upset about. Sort of advice/lecture that she no doubt had dispensed as needed to naughty teens, -but I never forgot it and I am 60. No matter how bad you think things are in your life, there is someone who would love to have it.
Rejection is God’s protection – from Jeff Goldblum, Law and Order Criminal Intent
From my mom: Don’t ever let anyone make you feel like you’re “weird” or that there’s anything wrong with you or that you don’t belong anywhere. (I have anxiety & depression and sometimes I just don’t feel like I fit in with the other humans. But eventually the clouds disperse and the feeling passes).
It’s ok to not be ok.
My grandfather used to say “marry in haste, repent in leisure “
You can change a recipe to make it better! – my paternal grandmother
Frank Langella says of acting: “If you learn your lines and you understand what they mean and you’re ready to go…you just walk out on stage, and you leap empty-handed into the void, and you see what comes back to you.” I say a version of that to myself before every show.
“Comparison is the thief of joy” is a good one. Also not really advice but more of a mantra is “What would a mediocre white dude do?” Good for things like applying for jobs, asking for raises and promotions, and generally anything where women tend to get the short end of the stick for just not thinking they’re good enough/not taking initiative. If you have the confidence of a mediocre white dude, you can do a lot.
The best advice I ever got was from an advisor who was teaching me how to navigate life in the military. He said, “Pick your battles. Pretend you’ve got a six-shooter filled with silver bullets, and choose wisely how you will expend them.” He was speaking of metaphorical battles – about workplace politics, and about standing up for things I believed in. Decades later, no longer in the military, when I start to get worked up about something and consider whether it’s worth the battle, I still hear his words.
If you don’t like it, change it.
It has been my mantra for a few years now.
Never, ever depend on a man to take care of you. Take care of your own shit and no man can ever leave you alone and defenseless.
^and I got that advice from my father.
That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
OK mine is a bit difficult to explain without visual aid so I will do my best. This advice came from a therapist I saw as a teenager when I complained about feeling like I was failing in life or something. Anyway, he said this is the way people imagine life is and drew a graph with an X and Y axis and then drew a straight line starting at the bottom left and ending at the top right…indicating life was going well and things were getting better. “But that is not how it works, life is more like this” and then drew another graph. This also started at the same bottom left position and ended in the same top right position but it was not a straight line. It looked more like a spiral or a spring with lots of up and downs. So although there were lots of ups and downs you are still making progress over all. For some reason it stuck with me all these years.
Emotions are hard.
My brother told me this as I was struggling t through a decision. While technically it isn’t advice it is something that I remember often when times get tough.
No is a complete sentence. Full stop.
Oh man, the best advice I ever got was….
I’d just gotten dumped. In a city that I knew almost no-one except for my new ex – we’d been there for 2 years, I was struggling with depression the whole time AND it was a hard city to make friends in. It was a real, strip my life down and start over kinda year.
In the middle of it, my dad told me not to let this failure make me Scared to Love Again. And those were the words on my mind when I started dating my husband. And on my mind when I proposed to him. We’ve been married 12 years now.
You don’t have to sit in your own shit just because it’s warm.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stranger.
Never go into business with a relative.
I am now in business with my husband and two sons.
I guess I’m not a good listener.
If you have a question ask- someone else is probably wondering the same thing
Everyone poops and has had diarrhea in their life. That person who intimidates you? The rude woman at the store? Politicians you don’t like? At some point their actions were dictated by the needs of their colon.
(Basically we’re all just people, but my grandmother was colorful.)
You cannot love someone straight (referring to drug addiction). They have to love themselves enough to get there. And you can never love enough for two people. Both people have to put love in to make it work.
When I was in my 60s a friend of similar age say, “At our age the greatest treasure is a home that we love.” She lived in a darling duplex and she said, “The only way I’m leaving here is feet first!” Sadly that’s exactly the way it happened. That was about ten years ago and this week friends and family gathered to celebrate her favorite holiday season and tell “Barbara stories”.
So I’m in my 70s now and I do love my space and I thank her for reminding me of its importance.
Accelerate into the curve. My father’s advice for driving, but it actually makes a lot of sense beyond that.
My mom and stepdad always tell me “better than me yesterday”. Even if I don’t believe it, I know I still am because I made it through the last day
The best advice I ever got came from a man who watched me pushing my walker down the halls of a nursing home. I was back in there after having a surgery identical to a failed one just five weeks earlier. The man said, “I don’t know why you’re in here but when you get out of here, go do everything you are dreaming of. Go out and fall in love- do all the stuff- because this happens fast.” I was 52 and I was going to get to go home. He was not leaving.
Pick your hill to die on. A short way to ask myself is the fight really worth it.
My great-grandmother told me to always think before you speak when you’re really angry. She said you can apologize but once said, it cannot be unsaid. It has been helpful over the years especially regarding the ones I truly love. What runs through my head in those instances when I am furious/overtired/misunderstood…is not necessarily what I actually need/want to say.
Never say “I can’t.” (As a disabled person, this is a serious and important challenge.)
Never harm anything you find potentially useful.
I was struggling with a life decision and I was counseled that “It is difficult to steer a car before you put it in DRIVE.”
He was urging me to take some sort of action. I had sat and thought long enough. Nothing would happen until I did something. I’ve never forgotten that.
When I was leaving high school my mother told me, “Time will pass whether you do anything with it or not, so you might as well do something.”
Always have someone house sit during a funeral.
It’s easy for thieves to break in, when the date and time have been published. Someone broke into my grandmother’s house during her funeral, and stole several very important things. One was a beautiful turquoise bracelet made for her in thanks for establishing a women and children’s clinic for a Native American tribe. It was so much more than jewelry, and luckily my mother had put on the matching ring.
If you are not in the immediate family, one of the most thoughtful things you can offer them is to stay at the house for a few hours the day of the funeral.
Don’t ever think that one person can’t make a difference. If you look for things that need to be done, you can change the world for someone.
From my grandma: if you don’t listen, you have to feel.
The movie, Love Story, got it all wrong. Love does not mean never having to say you’re sorry. The 2 words, “I’m sorry”, can have a profound effect. My mother was dying and I hadn’t seen her in 2 years. When I entered her room, she said, “Sorry for all the crap.” It took most of her energy to say it, but those few words melted all the hurt and anger in me in an instant. Saying you’re sorry when you truly are is gold. Don’t be afraid to say it.
Lily Tomlin’s alter-ego is five-year-old Edith Anne. Edith sits in an oversized rocking chair and dispenses advice. I heard this one in the ’70’s and it’s guided me ever since:
“Whenever I think god is watching me, I sing and dance and do a commercial for myself.”
My family motto: Suck it up and take a Tums. This basically covers all whining, self-pity and any health issues that you are not bleeding outwardly or apparently dying from.
My father, who was a very correct, loving person always said “Intelligent people don’t need to swear, they always have a better word to use”. He used to also say “Never go to sleep angry because you don’t know what will happen in the night. Make us first”.
A really good one I was told far too late in life:
Surround yourself with people who make you feel good about yourself.
What a difference THAT makes!
Never eat anything bigger than your head. —B. Kliban
I don’t have an absolute best advice ever item that I can think of right now. But there’s my dad’s advice of “Never start a plumbing project after the hardware stores are closed,” which can be generalized to a surprisingly wide array of experiences in life.
What I’m dealing with now, though, is: work with who you are (motivations; emotions; actual knee-jerk priorities-you-have vs. the priorities you’d like to have), and also work to improve who you are (whatever it is you really want to be better at or want to be different in); both together.
Give people the benefit of the doubt. Always leave yourself a graceful exit. Advice from HR Dept. And from Dr. Phil, “Would you rather be right or be happy?”
When I graduated from high school, my father wrote me a letter, and at the end he wrote “Remember, you can’t find happiness on a roadmap. You have to take it with you.”
I am a children’s services worker (I work with foster children). Dr James Henry is well known for his research on trauma. His knowledge has served me well with so many people, but the one thing he always comes back to, “It’s not what is WRONG with you, it’s what HAPPENED to you.” It makes me remember that we all have a story (good, bad or otherwise) and it starts somewhere.
When I was overwhelmed: Just do a little at a time. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
Years ago, when I was applying to graduate school, one of my college professors told me he would be happy to serve as a reference, but ONLY if I applied to the absolute best graduate programs in the country — nothing second-tier. Before he said that, I never thought of myself as “absolute best material.” But he was right. And I ended up at Harvard. It was the best experience of my life. Thanks, Richard — you completely changed my world.
The last piece of advice my mentor gave me: Be brave.
I got it tattooed on my wrist when my mom had open heart surgery this past summer.
Listen to everyone’s advice, you can learn something worthwhile. But always do what’s best for you and your family.
Nobody is useless, you can always be a bad example.
From my mother-in-law —“eat well, do what you must, and don’t skimp.”
Also: “Do the next right thing.” When life seems overwhelming, just do the next right thing.
If it’s not a HELL YES!, it’s a no.
Live and let live.
The other piece of advice was given to me at work. We were forever being sent to trainings that were redundant, boring, or just ridiculous and sitting through them was torture. My colleague told me to look for just one thing that was new to me or useful. Just one thing. Sounds simplistic but it really does seem to make those particular trainings seem shorter!
Do your best, let God do the rest. This has helped me curb my perfectionism and consuming people pleasing tendencies.
Not to get a masters degree unless I was absolutely sure that I wanted and needed it. I graduated from college during the recession and the amount of people who decided to “just go to law school” was staggering. Personally, basically all of “daring greatly” by Brene Brown. Also, don’t leave any what ifs hanging. If it feels like it just might work even if t could hurt, foot.
Don’t microwave rocks.
Take a deep breath, straighten your shoulders, and pretend you’re Wonder Woman. Also, picture the audience sitting on the toilet with their pants down. Who knows where it came from, but I still do both. AND I occasionally put my hands on my hips to assume the WW stance.
Best piece of advice i ever got was from my Grandma. She said “Always wear clean underwear because you never know when your going to be in a accident.” I think that’s just good advice all around lol , she did have a good point I’d hate to think about someone checking out my business to make sure I’m alive n I’m a mess down there.
Do what is expected of you, and then do more. (Spoken by Ron Sullivan – my high school social studies teacher in 1990.)
How to change negative ‘self-talk’
1. Identify thought (usually causes an emotional reaction)
2. Challenge the thought (would you say that to a friend?)
3. Replace it (with a realistic new thought: I’m not always late for work only once in last two weeks.)
“You’re never too old to learn,” said my mom. Words she lived by and we carry on.
My mom gave wonderful advice and I miss her something awful since cancer too her. But the one thing I saw to myself much of the time is this, “principle is the most expensive thing you buy in court.” And she was right. Way to go mom.
My mom gave great advice and I miss her something awful since cancer took her. But he best was, “Principle is the most expensive thing you buy in court.” And she was right. LOVE you mom.
I love “Wisdom From Mom.” I was an abandoned child, and it has helped me so much with the kind of advice everyone should get from the adults who love them. I’m still learning from it every time I pick it up.
If you’re going through hell, just keep going
This too shall pass (coming in handy now while going through a divorce/move)
Never pass up a chance to pee (said while training to run a marathon)
My grandfather said ‘be independant’ since I was knee-high… When I rebelled as a teen & wouldn’t listen to anyone my Mom told me she trusted me completely but other people worried her. I’ve always remembered both gratefully! And now: “choose to be Furiously Happy” -Jenny Lawson
From mom- Take no shit, especially from men
From Churchill- When you’re going through hell, keep going!
Buy low; sell high.
My great grandmother made quite an impression on me when she advised me to never miss an opportunity to visit the ladies room or take a nap …
My dad always said, “don’t plant corn, too hard to grow.” Whenever someone asked for a tip or advice. Now I use it. Makes me smile.
Mine is from my dad. Whenever I was super stressed or worried about something he would always say, “The anticipation is worse than the outcome”. And he’s always been right lol.
From my mom: don’t write anything you don’t want everyone to see. From my dad: don’t put your hands in your pockets when walking on ice (because you will need them if you slip/fall). (I grew up in MN.)
My Mom told never to do anything I wouldn’t want broadcast on the 6 o’clock news. I used to think this meant don’t do anything that you would be embarrassed for people to hear about, because someone will eventually find out. As I get older I now see the deeper wisdom in her words. Doing thingss that make you feel shame, whether anyone else knows or not, eats at your soul. You deserve better.
I was working in DC in hospital administration and dealing with very self-important residents, doctors and government regulators who lived to make our life hell. On an exceptionally frustrating day, one of my colleagues, an older woman, said across the office in her best gospel voice: “Pray for patience! Praaay for patience!” Hallelujah, sister!! I still think of her often 25 years later.
When I was about to give birth to my first child, I got a card from one of my sisters-in-law. Inside, all it said was
“TAKE THE DRUGS!”
I can’t remember who told me this, but: Before you start an argument about something, just think, will this matter tomorrow or a few days/months/years from now? If not, it’s probably not worth it. In a nutshell: pick your battles. This advice has saved me a lot of grief lol.
This is what my husband’s best friend told me when my husband was dying: “You’re screwed, so shut the fuck up and keep rowing”.
Use it or lose it (from my Dad)
My favorite advice would be: try to always be kind
My dad told me “make your mistakes when you’re young so you can have them paid off before you get old”.
After listening to me whine about not having a degree over and over my therapist finally told me I needed to either accept things as they are or do something about it. So simple, and it applies to pretty much everything. Do something or let it go, whatever it is. This advice has helped me so much.
“Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.” Coach Wooden
and, from a friend who was studying to be a therapist: “Things work out….one way…..or the other.” Which is so true because no matter how things turn out, you still have to deal with it.
When I raced motorcycles, my grandmother used to tell me: “Rubber side down.”
“Keep a cold eye and a warm heart.” – Dr. Vaardaman, college professor
I think perhaps the best advice I ever received wasn’t spoken – it was modeled by my Dad. When a situation goes south (as they often do), he would invariably just keep going – keep putting one foot in front of the other – accepting where you are, and figuring out what to do next. It has served me well.
Hang on. My mom says this all the time to calm my anxiety and keep me from worrying that my depression will last forever. Just hang on a little longer.
Best advice from a psychologist, “If you feel an anxiety attack coming on, open your mouth and breathe through your mouth.” (I have perfected a half open smile for meetings.)
Best advice from a peer that turned me from a shy homeschooled kid into someone people often confuse as an extravert,”Practice making small talk with strangers on the metro. If it ends up being awkward, don’t worry about it because you are unlikely to ever see them again.”
Best advice from my mother on dating, especially when you are going out, but not finding anyone with whom you have chemistry, “It’s not even a numbers game, it’s just serendipity.”
Fake it, till you make it. Got this advice in nursing school. It’s was especially good advice as a new nurse when feeling completely lost & unsure. Patients want confident nurses!!!
The only person who can make your situation better or worse is you so make it better. Can’t remember where but it helps me some of those days when my brain is telling me I can’t. I also give this advice to my high school students.
My middle school texas history teacher gave his first lecture about how you could either be a sheep or a rhino. Charge at life, don’t let yourself be fenced in, and avoid the herd mentality. That lecture stuck with me and can apply to so many facets of life that I’ve never let it go. Also included was that attitude is more important than anything. Confidence and outlook can make even a bad situation an advantage so never discount them.
Best advice I’ve been given…
You do not have to do it all, ever. Do not lose yourself doing everything for everyone.
I tend to try to help all the time, at the expense of losing myself in the process. I’m getting better though. 🙂
When I was a kid, my neighbor (adult) and I were discussing the issue of someone not responding if you said hey to them. He told me that he gave people 3 chances. They may be preoccupied or having a bad day or something else entirely. So he didn’t take things personally until they ignored him the third time. After that he wrote them off as dick heads. But he didn’t use that word. He probably never heard that word as he was a very nice elderly gentleman. Anyway, that advice has worked very well for me for the last 40+ years!!
Good enough is good enough. (When I was learning to be a chaplain, my supervisor had me start labeling every interaction as ‘good enough.’ After a surprisingly short time it generalized to my whole life: good enough flat tire, good enough stupid comment to my kid, etc. Changed my life.)
If they’re being a jerk, they’re probably in pain.
Always be willing to admit when you don’t have an answer. Always be willing to go look for the answer.
Don’t try and be a perfect parent – be good enough
Save pennies to spend dollars. Me.
I actually wrote a whole medium post about the best advice I’ve ever been given, but my favourite is the one from my dad – sometimes you just gotta wallow.
My mom has always said – It will all be ok in the end. And if it’s not ok, it’s not the end.
I have to remind myself of that quite often.
I have 2. The first one is from a story I wrote:
“Fight when you have to.”
“Save who you need to.”
“And run when I tell you.”
The other one is from my favorite movie Doctor Strange.
“Death is what gives life meaning. To know your days are numbered, your time is short…We don’t get to choose our time.”
My mom, when I was stressing about a race I was about to run, worried that I would do badly and everyone would laugh at me: “No one really cares.” I was shocked into silence.
She then explained: “The other kids are worried about their own races. Their parents are worried about getting a good picture to send to the grandparents. I love you no matter what. You’re the only person who cares about how you run this race.”
“You don’t get what you want. You don’t even get what you deserve. You get what you settle for.”
Of course, this doesn’t apply to all situations, but it’s a good reminder anyway.
My mother gave me two bits of wisdom: 1 – Men never notice anything you wear unless it’s red. 2 – If it’s wet and it’s not yours, don’t touch it. (She was a school nurse)
From my dad: Never lend money to relatives.
You be YOU. You are better at it than anyone else in the world.
My mom always told me, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”
For a lot of years I didn’t really understand how much that piece of advice applied to pretty much everything.
It’s easy to say the right thing.
The people who matter are the ones who follow through with the hard actions.
This one I read on the forum of a snarky site of all places, but boy did it hit me: Never get engaged at four months into the relationship. You’re both in the height of the infatuation at this time, your perceptions of each other and the relationship are in la-la-land, and this phase doesn’t last. Wait. ( I don’t remember if she said for how long). Basically, you can’t trust your judgment at this point in the relationship.
Also, from my grandmother: the man may think he’s the head of the relationship/family, but remember, it is the neck that turns the head.
When I was going through my divorce, my supervisor told me “Better a disastrous ending than an endless disaster.”
I can’t wait to read all of these!
But here’s mine: Always listen to your gut!
If it’s not important enough to go on your headstone then don’t sweat it. Most things I wouldn’t want on my headstone.
If you don’t like a particular thought or an obsessive thought you are having and can’t shake, say out loud, “I don’t like this thought. NEXT!!” And visualize turning the page in a really large book. It works every time.
Thoughts have power, so be careful what you think about and feed energy into. Feed the good thoughts and the good stuff.
These pieces of advice were giving to me by three different people. They have impacted my life greatly and they always work.
Learn the difference between being mad and being disappointed. I was in my mid-thirties before the guy I was dating (who has now been my husband for over 15 years) called me on this when he’d had to cancel a date. I was being shitty, because I thought I was mad. Realizing I was disappointed, turned everything around. I’m a better person for learning this.
For people who have trouble saying “No”, practice saying,”I’m afraid that won’t be pissible.” Repeat until the person asking goes away. Make no explanation.
My advice: you make your own happiness. Don’t depend on anyone to do something you need in order to be happy, especially if they have let you down before. This advice saved at least one marriage. My mother’s advice to young ladies: no man ever died of an erection. Just because he has a need doesn’t mean you’re responsible to do anything about it.
Sink or swim.
And also, there’s no crying in baseball, which I use often with my t-ball/little leaguer. He can cry before we get there and he can cry on the way home. But unless he’s hurt, there’s no crying in baseball.
From my dad: Don’t let your mouth write a check your ass can’t cash.
From a beloved instructor in my high school senior yearbook, paraphrasing Kenny Rogers: You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, and know when to walk away.
Me to my kids: The rules of adulthood – Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should; Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full; You can be a jerk, or you can be incompetent, but you can’t be both.
From a former boss: Sometimes done is better than perfect.
I often have to remember this when my overachiever perfectionist personality is rearing its head and my anxiety is building. I just get it done and cross it off my list even though it may not be perfect.
My husband and I came to this piece of advice together: “Gotta try shit.”
Adopt an “unwanted”. When the “unwanted” (dog, cat, person ) is nourished, So are you.
Go for it! It’s not like any of us are getting out alive.
I know this makes me sound like a suck-up, but its really true:
He won’t break – advice from the hospital staff as I tried to put clothes on my newborn son and was SO afraid of hurting this tiny little new person. To all the new (and terrified) moms and dads out there : Babies are sturdy and they don’t break 🙂
Be impeccable with your word. Don’t take anything personally. Don’t make assumptions. Always do your best. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
The second one can change everything.
Robert Heinlein: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”
It sounds mean, but makes me much more patient with people.
The biggest life changer was an exercise of imagining your funeral, and what you would want people saying about you. Many things I obsessed over (clean house) were not what I wanted someone to remember about me (loving and welcoming). Most helpful thing ever for discovering what I really cared about so I could put my energies in the right activities.
My mom said, all of my life, “The decisions you make now will affect you later.” And when my son was born, “When the baby’s asleep, you sleep.”
My grandma said, “Marry a rich man. You can learn to love him later.” Uh…ok. 🙄
My English professor said: “When you write, don’t listen to your mother.”
When someone gives you a compliment, simply say “Thank you”. Don’t try to rationalize why it isn’t true, that just takes away their joy in giving you compliment.
Put your big girl panties on and deal with it – Mama. It might sound harsh without knowing the love and support of my mom, but it is something I have to repeat to myself on my worst days.
The secret to Life is ti discover your talents and skills. The secret to Success is to share them with others.
Not really advice, but the best thing anyone ever told me was, “You know that embarrassing thing you did or that happened to you that you will periodically stress out over the memory of for the rest of your life? No one else is going to remember it, probably not even the next day. Their minds will be too busy stressing out about their own embarrassing thing.” Not sure if this is quite true (because insecurity!), but it still made me feel better at the time of the embarrassing thing. 🙂
The advice I always give to anyone who will listen: Always Wear Comfortable Shoes.
An old boss of mine gave me some great advice. He told me, “you always have to empower your team to learn and take risks. If you don’t train them to do your job, how can you expect to ever move up to a better position?”
Great advice and something I’ve always followed when I’ve had people working for me.
My best friend from college when discussing difficulties of being a mom to several children and it affecting everything from mental to physical health and everything in between: ‘you aren’t even on the LIST anymore, put yourself back on the list’ as in the ‘to-do’ list.. so now I put down that I should attempt to read, walk x number of steps, take vitamins, and practice self care. Daily. It doesn’t always work out, but within a week, if the self care column is empty, it’s a good reminder that I need to do SOMETHING for myself.
Don’t be afraid to start.
I need to change my original advice to this: Don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outsides. That is all.
i found this author just as my ten-year relationship was starting to crumble, and started following her; she published this when things were at their worst and i feel so grateful for it.
“because i can live without you. the only person i can’t live without is myself and i wish there was a fucking commemorative celebration for that, i wish that was what we handed out diamonds for, because we’d all be really different fucking people. and i just want to say that if we’re going to talk about love then i want to tell you: you don’t have to love a man or a woman or a baby. you have to love yourself. if you put it all on other people, then you will expect it all back from other people and you will become something like a black hole. and there are so many black holes, my god. instead, be the sun, radiate out from the middle of a dark universe. it’s okay to do that. it’s okay to say maybe you don’t want to be anything to anyone else, but you do and should, want to be everything to yourself.” Elinore Abbott, Little Thousand
Not advice I got from someone, but advice I give to students on the speech team that I coach: “Don’t focus on what you can’t control. Do the best YOU can do. If someone else is better, be satisfied that you performed to the best of your ability.”
There are MANY days when I should take my own advice…
Best advice I had recently was from a book: Just because you got to the end doesn’t mean you know what happened.
I don’t know that this is advice I received, or just an epiphany that I had one day, but:
There is a vast and varied plethora of things that are none of my damn business.
Knowing what is and is not my business has made my stress level go way down.
I’m a professional life juggler and still trying to learn that just because someone throws you a ball, doesn’t mean that you have to catch it.
And that ties into…”No.” is a complete sentence.
and from my dad….only worry about the things you can do something about.
But my real favorite: Never argue with an stupid people. They will bring you down to their level, and beat you with experience. Mark Twain
Advice I live by:
Best advice I’ve heard is this: I was told that the #1 thing that couples should have in order to have successful marriages is flexibility. That piece of advice not only changed my marriage but my life as an individual. Life is very difficult and marriage is also not easy… combine those two with massive amounts of ridgedity and you have enormous amounts of stress on your hands. Don’t expect perfection from yourself or your partner.. Love yourself and your partner enough to let yourself and them be human…I found out you can have allowances for humanness from yourself and your partner, but also respect and love yourself by asserting your boundaries.
If you have a legit coupon use it! (My own advice).
Happiness takes work! (My own advice).
I’ve got two pieces of advice I still remember 25 years on. From my grandmother to me when I was in my late teens…. “Try before you buy dear, try before you buy”. Or from my father to me when I was agonising about not being able to put on makeup neatly…. “Why tell the world you think you’re ugly?” I’ve almost never worn makeup since.
My grandmother, gone 20 years this February. (I still miss her love and wisdom.) “Don’t wish your life away.” Once I had children, I found I wanted to hold onto each moment so bad it hurt. This advice helped me not only enjoy the moment but appreciate what I’ve gained from those gone by.
In stressful/bad/annoying/frightening situations, try to separate facts from feelings. These are two entirely different stories, and making that distinction helps with moving forward.
Fact: I went to a leadership seminar 20 years ago where I learned this. That’s it. Move on.
Feelings: It was two days of culty swami-guru lectures and group exercises that my husband suggested I attend. But why am I carrying that around two decades later, when the fact is really all I need?
My dad gave me this wise advice: “You have the time to do it right. You don’t have the time to do it over.”
Also my favorite thing to say at restaurants when the waiter asks me how the meal is when the plate is so clean it looks like I licked it: “I was terrible. I just ate it to be polite. I’m very polite.”
“You don’t get what you want. You don’t even get what you deserve. You get what you settle for.”
I know this doesn’t apply to all situations, but it sure makes me think about what I am just settling for and why. Sometimes it is ok to settle, sometimes not. Just be aware.
As a divorced parent, never talk bad about the other parent to the children. Kids will figure out what they need to about both parents.
Never go to bed angry. Always bring something up less than two days after it happened if you want it fixed. Don’t drink hot tea while typing, no matter how coordinated you think you are.
Honestly, I can’t think of any particularly good advice I’ve ever gotten. It’s just that…until I was 18 and broke free of the abuse I grew up with, all my role models taught me who I didn’t want to be, what I didn’t want to do, and how I didn’t want to relate to the world and others in it. That’s not so useful for good advice, although it provided some exceptionally useful BAD advice. And then, after that….well, before that, too….I was nicknamed the Oracle (but I don’t get comics about me like the Batman-verse Oracle, unless you count the kick-ass toonswag portrait that JcLittle gifted me), and everyone was always coming to ME for advice. People think I have it all figured out, whether or not I have any experience, which is a hilarious side effect of being empathic and insightful because when it comes to my own life I use up my pain tolerance before even getting to the part where I do anything coherent with my supposed intelligence.
So, at the risk of sounding egotistical (which if you knew me would be far more laughable than anything else I’ve said so far), I’ll offer what I’ve been told by the most people is the best advice I’ve given THEM. It’s actually something I started saying — at least in these words — to my son:
You can rarely control what happens. You can only sometimes control how you react to what happens. But you can always control how you DEAL with how you react to what happens.
To make me feel less weird about leaving my own advice, I’ll actually end with leaving some of the best advice my son has offered. Well, the quotable I have archived for MY book isn’t really in advice format, but it functions well as advice:
October 6, 2014:
Jamie: “I have a question. The trouble with killing a Hydra is that every time you chop off one of its heads, two more immediately grow back from the decapitated spot. So, instead of fighting nine or more heads, you end up fighting a million more and you get more tired while it gets more heads, and you lose the fight. Or, you know, you probably lose the fight, unless you’ve got a bunch of Greek demigod heroes and torches with you or something.”
Me: “That’s not a question.”
Jamie: “I know. The question is why no one ever started at the bottom.”
The best advice I can think of is from an old episode of Blue’s Clues, which I’ve used a lot over the years to help calm my ASD son & myself:
Stop. Breathe. Think.
It is a great mantra… I sometimes get stuck on the thinking part, though.
The best advice I ever got was in question form from my wife – “What’s the worst that can happen?” when I am trying to figure out what to do about a bad situation. I’ve learned that sometimes the worst thing that can happen might be better than where I was at the time.
Second best was from a boss “You can’t be all things to all people.”
The best advice I ever got was ‘ask yourself if this is the hill you’re willing to die on.’
In my personal and professional life I’ve seen SO many people dig in and get stubborn about shit that just DOES NOT MATTER. The saying itself is a bit morbid-sounding, but it’s all about assessing your priorities and energy. If a principle really does matter to you, it’s worth the effort. If not, let it go. I can be a perfectionist and very stubborn, and this has really helped me be more healthy in how I respond to most circumstances.
A family member I neither like nor respect once admonished me, “You know, not everything has to be done the hard way!”
Proving that even stopped clocks are right twice a day.
SSDGM (always useful) and when nervous in front of a crowd, talk fast and swear a lot -Georgia Hardstark
Reply from a friend when I was rejecting all of my ideas for stories to write as having been done already – “Yeah, but have they been done by YOU? Because that alone means they’re original.”
Feelings will pass.
My grandfather, oh great and wise man that he was liked to remind me that while I wouldn’t always be the smartest person in the room, I was certain to find people in any room who would underestimate my intelligence so I should always prove them wrong.
My mom’s advice to me on my wedding day. She said: Worry and plan and freak out all you want BEFORE the big day. But then stop. Wake up and realize that it’s your day to enjoy and no one will notice if something’s not perfect and it doesn’t matter if they do. Don’t ruin your day by worrying about stuff that can’t be fixed at that late date anyway. At the end of the day, you’ll be married. And the rest is just dressing. Relax and just enjoy.
I try to use that advice whenever I am planning or preparing for something. I try.
My Grandmother when things went badly: The wheel turns, sometimes you have to give it a push,
My Dad on doing you;
Don’t worry about what other people think of you, unless you respect them. Even then, you decide if the opinion is worth acting on.
Do what you do so long as it’s not harming anyone else. If it could hurt someone, you can’t make that decision without taking into account the consequences, even if it seems like the right thing to do, it’s their decision too. And; there is what’s right, what brings joy, what’s common sense, and then there’s the law, don’t get these confused, also don’t get busted if what’s right is against the law…
My Dad never read Heinlein but years later I did, I think they had a lot in common, for example:
“I will accept any rules that you feel necessary to your freedom. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.” ― Robert A. Heinlein
Catch them doing it right. And then tell them. Be specific.
Someone once told me “If you can’t change the people around you then change the people around you.”
Someone once told me “If you can’t change the people around you then change the people around you.”
My mom told me you NEVER judge a person by what’s on the outside. It’s what’s inside that counts. It’s tried and true
My Grandma told me that you hold the key to your own happiness and that it is not dependent on any other person, money, job, circumstances, etc. A few years ago to honor her after she passed (and to remind myself of her good advice), I had an antiquey skeleton key tattooed on my wrist…because you can’t tattoo your hand…well you can but it would just wear off and look bad.
Career advice: “Never get really good at something you don’t enjoy.” I am awesome at sales. I detest sales. I am no longer in sales.
My brother-in-law asked my dad for advice when he married my sister:
Dad: Always live east of where you work. That way the sun isn’t in your eyes when you are driving.
B-I-L: Uh, ok. (I don’t think that was what he was looking for.) But, I work nights.
Dad: Oh, right, the opposite then.
Until today the best advice has been, “Never eat anything bigger than your own head.” Now it’s, “Pretend you’re good at it!.” Thank you, my Guru. Thank you.
Never pick a fight in a tube top. Given by a really drunk cocktailer at like 3 am after we closed the bar and proceeded to drink away our paychecks. I have been writing it in ‘advice for our baby’ books at showers ever since. Once when it was pointed out that said baby was a boy I pointed out that it’s still good advice and they don’t know what his life choices are yet and so they should just stop judging him until he is at least out of the womb. I was handed cake and shown the door. Blessings all around cuz .,..no shower games but still got cake. #sometimesbipolarworksinyourfavor
Have fun with it (the task at hand). If it isn’t fun, and you can’t make it fun, you won’t find the secrets it holds. … this was advice for acting, but I think it can apply in life, as long as the task is not menial or mindless. Like, if you’re trying to learn a new creative thing or even analytical skill, if it isn’t fun, how quickly will you give it up? I mean, cleaning the toilet is not exactly a fun job, and it needs to be done, so whatever. But is there maybe a secret fun to cleaning the toilet? Maybe… let’s see!