Answer by Lanie Bakeberg, science teacher:
The Advice That Changed My Life
Everyone has a story--thinking about that guy behind you in traffic that honked, about the server that just couldn't get it right, about the students in a classroom with their heads on their desks. We live life with one legitimate perspective. Yes we can be empathetic and try their shoes on for size, but, in reality, we look at the world through our own two eyes. Our worlds revolve around us.
In middle school, I sat in a classroom full of bullies. They were ruthlessly tearing into a fellow student, and finally the teacher intervened. She talked to us about treating people with respect. And that talk turned into a lecture. And from that lecture, one small fact stuck out to me--"everyone has a story." I've taken that advice and applied it to multiple situations over the years. Many times I feel my frustration building while I receive poor customer service or I see my students acting in a manner that makes me weep for the future, and I take a step back and wonder what their source of frustration is. I wonder if they are struggling to feed their children. I wonder if they recently lost a loved one. I wonder if they are hungry. Sick. Angry. Tired. Bored. Stressed.
Even though they are strangers and I may never see them again, realizing they are people with lives, families, and personal beliefs put my frustrations to ease.
Don't Sweat The Small Stuff--I know this one is cliche, but it is important to remember. There are big problems in this world. And if you focus on the small problems, then you won't ever solve the big ones.
I used to be disappointed whenever plans failed or hiccups altered the day's coarse. It wasn't until my dad shared his Don't Sweat The Small Stuff book with me that I realized that was exactly what I was doing. Going with the flow is a skill that takes practice. When you have been sweating the small stuff your entire life, this simple task seems impossible. Learning coping mechanisms is important--count to five, take deep breathes, or whatever yours may be.
Focus on the big picture. Focus on the things that are truly important to you. Only then will small things will start to fade.
Never Complain About Your Significant Other--loving a significant other is not equivalent to always being happy with their actions. If you are unhappy with them, then do not go flaunting your issues to friends, loved ones, or, worse, social media.
My mom and dad did not always have the best marriage. In fact, after 30 years they divorced; however, my mother never spoke ill of my father. She told me that "if you are complaining about your partner in life, then you look dumb. You picked him." I've taken this advice, and I am happier for it. When I am unsatisfied, I go straight to the source. I don't traipse my boyfriend's name through the mud.
Rather than complaining to your friends/family, share with them what makes you love your significant other. Be careful, this outlook may make your friends jealous.
Do As Much As You Can In The Time You Have--we all know the saying "time flies when you are having fun," and the scary part is that time not only flies, it is limited. We never know when our time here on earth will end, so it is important to fill it with experiences, adventure, love, and happiness.
As a young child I moved A LOT. Before high school, I lived in four different states and multiple cities. In effort to help me make friends quickly, my mom encouraged me to join clubs and play sports. When starting high school, she told me that these four years would fly by in a blink of an eye. I scoffed and said "I'm sure." And with a blink of an eye, I was graduating and moving off to college. Taking that same advice, I knew I needed to immerse myself in those four years because they would go quick. I graduated college after building new relationships, way too many football games, and studying abroad. I now live my life with that advice flashing in my head.
Get out of your comfort zone. Gather a group of friends and go somewhere you've never been before. Take a class. Call your grandma. Remember time is limited. You should never sit bored.