40 Lessons in 40 Years

Forty Steps

Image by Troy B Thompson via Flickr

Forty doesn’t seem that old to me anymore. When I was nineteen, forty seemed ancient. Fortunately, I’ve learned a few things since then and these are forty of the most important:

1. I have a lot left to learn, and most often what I “know” changes.

2. Pride is the father of most of our sins and poor life decisions.

3. Fear and Doubt are our two greatest enemies after Pride. They are the ultimate obstacles. They will do whatever they can to stop you from fulfilling your dreams.

4. The more I own, the less satisfied I am. The more you have, the more you think you need.

5. How many times have you been cut off on the highway to eventually pass the car that was in such a big hurry? Seems silly, doesn’t it? But that’s how most of us live our lives every day, rushing from one activity to another, never really enjoying any of them. Life is much better, when we slow down and take time to live it.

6. Goals might not be as important as you think. Try working without them for a week; your work still gets done. Goals are another item to manage, like bill-paying and coupon-cutting! Who needs that? Cut out the bureaucracy.

7. Life is a vapor. I read that in the Bible years ago, but getting older makes it a reality. Young people feel like there’s a huge amount of time ahead, I know I did. But, it passes much faster than you think. The rate your kids are grown and gone can give you whiplash.  Appreciate every second!

8. The future is ahead regardless of how you are spending your time now. Why stay caught up in the past you cannot change? Stop the rewind, it’s distracting you from the present and there’s a reason they call it a present. Enjoy it!

9. Your child is not an interruption. Give your children your full attention. They will not always be underfoot and then you will be wondering where they are and how they spend their time.

10. Debt is bad. I’ve been there a few times and none of the trips were good. Credit card, Student, Home, Personal, Car, Co-sign, it’s all bad. Debt causes illness, more debt and can ruin marriages and lives.

11. Weight is much easier to lose when you are young. Don’t hit 30 overweight, and I promise you will feel better when you are forty.

12. I wasn’t the coolest kid. That’s a good thing, because it prepared me to be a parent that isn’t cool. Cool is over rated and just being competent will keep you busy.

13. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas doesn’t apply to the Internet or your email. If you don’t want the world to see it, don’t post it or type it.

14. You can lead a horse to water, whether or not they drink is none of your business. Focus on your behavior and your to do list. Let people worry about their own decisions.

15. Don’t follow. Lead, even if you have to change directions many times. You are the only one that knows where you want to go even if it hasn’t occurred to you yet.

16. You can’t do it all. There are some things in life you might miss out on. Give yourself permission to enjoy your life.

17. I am human. I have made and continue to make mistakes. I choose to forgive myself and the people who choose to remind me of those mistakes have been removed to the outer circle of my life. I forgive them, but control over my present, using the tool of my past, has been revoked.

18. Failure is a big pathway to success. Without it, we wouldn’t know when we’ve succeeded.

19. Books are the greatest gifts. There’s something for everyone and it makes us slow down long enough to listen to the viewpoint of someone else.

20. Make sure you hug the people you love, do it often. It’s amazing how much better it will make you feel. They might like it too.

21. Friendship isn’t free. You have to work on the relationship, don’t take your friends for granted.

22. Fitness isn’t something to start on New Year’s Day and stop on Valentines. It’s a lifetime decision that I hope to make a decision about soon.

23. Don’t schedule your happiness. Don’t get in the mindset of once this or that happens, I’ll be happy. You won’t! There will always be another “destination” to make you happy. Be happy now, right where you are. It’s a choice.

24. Love cures all problems. Trouble with your spouse? Love them more. Financial problems? Love yourself by forgiving yourself and moving forward. Want to cure stress? Love someone else and focus on them. Work problem? Love your boss and give him or her a hug.

25. Stop living in fantasy land and let go of expectations. You have no right to expect anything of anyone or anything. It usually has no basis in reality and sets you up for a
big disappointment.

26. Giving is so much better than getting, and giving up the need for recognition is powerful, it sets you free!

27. Competition isn’t always healthy. It’s linked to pride and can get in the way of so many goals. Cooperation is life-giving and it requires some humility. It gets easier with
practice.

28. Gratitude is one of the best ways to find contentment. We are usually discontent because we are focused on having more, not on how much we already have.

29. Dogs really are man’s best friend. They still want to hang with you even when no one else does. They always listen, even if they choose not to do what you said. They will
always play with you and they easily forgive you no matter what you do.

30. Get some perspective. If you spend most of your time alone, make time for some friends. If you are a social butterfly, get some time alone. Humans are rut-prone, we
begin to only do or be with what we are comfortable with, don’t get too comfortable. Narrow perspectives breed discontent.

31. All we are taught in schools, and all we see in the media (news, films, books, magazines, Internet) should be questioned. You have been lied to at some point. Do your own homework!

32. Empathy and compassion are not natural. Both must be learned and if you don’t know them, learn them quickly. Assumption is the mother of most embarrassments. Do
yourself a favor and learn not to judge.

33. Do less, not more. Don’t fill your life with a checklist, you are not a machine. Focus on what you love, throw out the rest.

34. No one knows what they’re doing as parents. We’re all faking it, and hoping we’re getting it right.

35. Love is a choice, you don’t fall in or out of it. Love is hard work and most people are lazy.

36. One of the greatest lessons you can teach your kids is self-sufficiency. Don’t depend on the school to teach them this, they won’t.

37. Freedom isn’t free. Stating you are not interested in politics is the same as stating that you don’t care about your freedom. You are already involved if you live here, pay
attention!

38. God is much more interested in saving our souls that He is in making sure we are comfortable.

39. Accepting Jesus Christ as my personal Savior is the best thing that has ever happened to me.

40. Life is a gift every day. Re-gifting it and sacrificing your time and energy for others makes it even more amazing!

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