Being a genuinely good person is one of the most important things you can be. Honesty, integrity, and wisdom are qualities that can improve your life immeasurably. These 27 people share the amazing words of wisdom shared with them by parents, grandparents, and other people of influence in their lives – words that helped them grow, and may help you, too. So many of these I have never heard, but I plan to apply most to my own life ASAP.
1. 2 big parts of life
My father once told me, “Never make fun of the way someone laughs or eats because they won’t want to do either around you.”
2. Level playing field
If you can’t outthink them, out-work them. It’s proven remarkably helpful to my career. I can hold my own, but am nowhere near the smartest person in the room. But you know what? People are generally pretty lazy and I do my best not to be. It more than levels the playing field.
3. Harsh realization
I grew up on a farm. Taking care of the chickens was one of my chores. One day, I didn’t do it, and my father said, “How do you think it feels to have no food or water?”
I realized then that if you’re responsible for an animal, you have to take care of it to the best of your ability. They are so dependent on you.
I cannot understand how people get pets and then discard them. Animals are a commitment.
My grandpa used to always say: “Do a job, big or small, do it right or not at all.”
It has kept me from doing a lot of things half-heartedly.
5. Make sure it’s worth it
“Don’t burn a bridge until you’re sure you’re never crossing it again.”
This does not mean I don’t burn bridges, it means I only burn bridges after careful deliberation as to whether that individual and their connections add any positive value to my life.
When I was little, I really wanted some random toy from blockbuster. My mom wouldn’t get it for me, so I hatched this brilliant idea to steal it.
I stuck it in the front pocket of my overalls, and thinking back it must have been super obvious. My mom acted like she didn’t notice and stood there watching me with the guy working and let me walk right through the security sensors, which set them off.
Then she told me the police were coming and I’d have to go to jail where they’d only feed me stale bread and toilet water. I was so scared, I started bawling. I’m sure they thought it was hilarious (my mom obviously wasn’t seriously going to let me steal it), but I never even thought about stealing from that moment forward.
7. Little Worries
When I was about eleven, we had this exam.
Most of my teammates were terrified because it was a really difficult exam and many knew they failed. Then our teacher, some old grumpy man, just smiled and said:
“Don’t worry. If it makes you guys feel better, I don’t remember what grade I got in any exam I did when I was eleven.”
That’s what made me realize that those small things we always feel bad and anxious about, don’t matter that much in the grand scheme of things.
A few years later, you won’t remember those worries. You will have others, but all you will have left from those old ones will be the time you wasted being sad.
8. Early is on time, on time is late
Being 15 minutes early is OK, being 5 minutes late is not. My parents forced me to be early for everything when I was a kid, and it’s stuck with me to this day.
9. Good perspective on other people
“No one ever got up in the morning hoping to make a bad decision.”
It’s something that my dad used to say that really stuck with me for some reason. I find myself reminded of it whenever I’m about to judge someone for doing something stupid, and it helps me make an effort to understand why people make the decisions they do.
“Nobody cares what you were thinking; they care what you did.”
11. So enjoy it
Every time I get edgy, stressed and too serious I always remember this “You’re not here to live forever, you’re here to enjoy the ride.”
12. This one makes you think
Two things from my father: “When you sit down for supper ask yourself: did I earn this meal today?”
“Even if your job is to just sweep the room, do it like you are going to be paid million dollars for it; you can hate your job, but love your work.”
13. Yelling never helped anybody
“Yelling doesn’t make anyone want to listen to your argument, even when you’re right. Especially if you’re right. Any jerk can raise their voice. It takes practice, but good leadership comes from a steady head on steady shoulders. Don’t let your anger betray your good sense of reason.”
– My brother
14. Keep quiet
To be prepared to admit when you’re wrong, even to people you might think are less intelligent.
That sometimes you need to just keep quiet. Sometimes things are more trouble than they’re worth.
Everyone has a different way of looking at things, they will think they’re right/justified in the same way you will think you are right in an argument.
Accept this and be a better person, don’t get drawn into a pointless fight.
15. Don’t fall for the trap
“Be the change you want to see in the world.”
It has kept me from falling into the trap of, “This is wrong, but everyone else is doing it, and if I don’t, I’ll fall behind.”
No, screw that. Change starts with you. Maybe you won’t see any effect, but I guarantee that someone will see this act of moral courage and become inspired by it, and that makes the hardship worth it.
16. Time is precious
Don’t waste someone’s time, it’s the only thing in this world you can never repay.
17. No bullies allowed
My dad told me to be as nice to people as they let you be. I try to be nice to people even when I don’t particularly care for them. However, I won’t allow myself to be bullied or taken advantage of. This modified Golden Rule is advice that has served me well.
18. Worth the Wait
Don’t wish your life away.
My parents always emphasized that waiting for the things you wanted always made you appreciate them more, and that wishing your life away (wishing it was the weekend, the holidays, that your birthday would come around faster, etc) is a waste of precious time.
19. Deserving until you’re not
To treat others with respect, everyone deserves it until they have shown they don’t deserve it.
20. Should is better than could
Stop thinking, “What should I do?” and start thinking, “What could I do?”
Seriously, try it. Changed my life for the better.
21. Do what you have to
My mom told me, “When the horse dies, you get down onto the ground and walk.”
It was what she told me when I asked her how she coped with taking care of two kids while working three jobs when my dad died.
22. Keep your word
When I was seven, my dad and I were on the beach throwing mud at each other. He was winning, so I made a truce. Then, as soon as his back was turned, I got him right in the ass with a huge ball of wet sand.
He was absolutely furious I’d never seen him so mad, and for DAYS he would talk about how disappointed in me he was, that I had gone back on my word. I felt obscenely guilty, and I’ve never made a promise I didn’t or couldn’t keep again.
Your word is your bond.
I grew up with just my mom. My dad got married when I was 13 and he pretty much disappeared. She told me why she always said this when I was growing up before I left for college. I’ve made sure that I’ve followed through with everything that I’ve made a commitment to. If I know I can’t do it, I’ll say it up front.
24. Weigh your options
If you’re going to buy something, imagine the money in one hand and the object you are going to buy in the other. Now, which would you pick?
25. Litter is terrifying
There was a Sesame Street segment that I can’t find anywhere that really resonated with me as a child. There are two muppets sitting on a park bench. One finishes his food (I want to say it was a sandwich) and throws the wrapper away. The other tells him that he shouldn’t do that, and asks him to imagine what it would be like if everyone threw their wrappers on the ground. There’s then a scene of the littering muppet running away from a giant ball of garbage.
Firstly, it made me terrified of ever littering. It also helped me realize that, even as one tiny human, my actions had an impact on the world and people around me. Even as an adult, I consider the effect of my actions on the people and things around me in terms of whether they will do good, or whether they will result in a big ball of trash chasing a muppet through the park.
26. Wisdom is greater than wealth
Father always said (in Hindi), “King is worshiped in his country. A wise man, everywhere.”
27. Don’t lie
When you lie, you have to remember that lie forever. And I’m too lazy for that so I don’t lie.
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