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11 More Life Lessons for Peace, Love, and Happiness

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“A man is not old until regrets take the place of his dreams.” ~Proverb

When Lori wrote her list of 33 lessons she’d learned in life—one for each of her years—to celebrate her recent birthday, she gave us some amazing insights (33 to be exact) for someone so young.

It got me thinking of what wisdom I could possibly add to the list from the extra years of life I’ve led, eleven extra years to be exact. (Did I just admit that!)

As someone still so young (well, sort of), I’m still learning too, and hope to keep learning up until the day I die (preferably as someone very old, but still young at heart). In the meantime, I offer the lessons I’ve learned to go with the wrinkles.

So following on from Lori’s astute final observation that “what we do matters,” here is my list of extras:

1. What we think matters.

We can let our thoughts control our lives, or we can be guided by the wisdom of the universe. Our thoughts will keep us small; universal wisdom is rather large!

2. Pain is mostly in our heads.

Of course we can suffer terrible physical pain and losses that seem unbearable. Without discounting this suffering, it’s the stuff we manufacture for ourselves in our minds that is often most painful— guilt, resentment, bitterness. We relive pain over and over in our heads. Pretty silly. Enough.

3. There really is no black and white.

The yin yang symbol may be black and white, but each segment of the circle is constantly merging into the other. We perceive dark because of the absence of light; night becomes day—they are complements, not opposites. Without one we could not appreciate the other. And then there is hot, warm, cool, cold, tepid, freezing etc. Look for the degrees in life (the shades of grey if you like).

4. Be kind to yourself.

I have spent too many of my 44 years not being kind to myself. I made my life more miserable than it needed to be with my high expectations and harsh judgements of myself. I recently read a wise piece of advice (on Tiny Buddha of course): “Think of how you would treat a good friend in the same situation.” It’s likely to be much kinder, and you should show yourself the same understanding. You deserve it.

5. Self-love is not selfishness.

Perhaps it was the good old Catholic indoctrination of guilt, but it took me a long time to understand that I needed to fully love myself in order to love others fully. Actually I’m still grappling with this one. It’s not selfish to love yourself; it’s the only path to giving abundantly of yourself. Self-esteem is good; selfishness is ego—big difference.

6. Children are our greatest teachers.

I had to wait a long time to learn from my own kids (our adopted kids). Children remind us of joys we’ve forgotten and things that are always simpler than we make them. They give us a reason to be selfless and forgive our selfishness. They can be loud, annoying, and demanding, and make us bone-achingly weary at times. But they are worth it. Spend some quality time. As much as you can.

7. Loss transforms to gain.

There is an alchemy that transforms loss into gain, if we are willing to let the magic work. In fact, we only truly appreciate gain when we have lost. We gain strength, learn lessons, and learn to appreciate gain anew when loss comes around again, as it inevitably will.

8. There’s beauty in impermanence.

Things are rendered more beautiful by the very virtue that they are fleeting. Experiencing snow days really taught me this. Usually the snow soon melted or washed away, but I chose to savor the joy while it lasted and appreciate the sense of peace that remained. We experience joy in moments. The trick is to have lots of them.

9. We are all connected.

My experiences adopting our children from overseas, and then living overseas, have reinforced my firm belief that we are all connected. There is a Chinese legend of a red thread that joins those who are destined to meet regardless of time, place, and circumstance. It may stretch or tangle, but will never break. I like to think of the ends of the thread joining to form a circle of love.

10. We are all one.

Not only are we all connected on the universal way, but in essence we are all one. Others like Lao Tsu and Eckhart Tolle express this truth far better than I can. But I know it for sure when I see the light of our oneness shining through our differences, and most especially when I look into my children’s eyes.

11. Contentment is found in balance.

There will be joys and sorrows, losses and gains. There will inevitably be change. Our challenge is to embrace acceptance, to be content. We don’t chase it like happiness or success (futile really), but if we are still and peaceful, we can find it in the core place of balance in our beings, in the perfect energy of love.

Wishing all Tiny Buddha readers many more happy birthdays.

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About Kathy Kruger

Kathy Kruger is an adoptive mother of two beautiful kids from China. She blogs about going with the flow, finding yin yang balance, embracing change, and being grateful at www.yinyangmother.com. A former journalist, Kathy shares insights from her long journey to motherhood.

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  • Johnny

    Excellent

  • Trivedi Effect

    I totally agree with all of your points, especially #1, 4, 5 and 6. All are so fabulous and true. Great read and reminders. Thanks.

  • http://How-toBeHappy.com/ TJ Chasteen

    “Think of how you would treat a good friend in the same situation.” I will carry that mantra with me everywhere I had.

    Thanks for sharing the lessons life has taught you.

  • Stephanie

    Be your own best friend. I used to beat myself up over silly things and thought that life is hard enough on us, without being unkind to oneself on top of all that:)

  • Kathy www.yinyangmother.com

    So true Stephanie. Apologies for delay in responding. Waking up today in Australia to news of the discovery of the body of a young woman who was abducted on the streets of Melbourne. Life is so short and we should never waste it by beating ourselves up.

  • Kathy www.yinyangmother.com

    Thanks for enjoying them!

  • Kathy www.yinyangmother.com

    Thanks. I don’t think we can underestimate just how much what we think about ourselves influences our lives. And children certaintly remind us that life is not for thinking but enjoying.

  • Kathy www.yinyangmother.com

    Thanks Johnny!

  • DannySCR

    The whole ” Think of how you would treat a good friend in the same situation” and the Chinese saying really impacted me. I will carry this on through my day to day for the rest of my life I hope!

  • Kathy www.yinyangmother.com

    The Chinese saying is one of my favourites and the notion of showing ourselves the compassion and friendship we show a good friend seems so simple, but we often struggle to do it don’t we? Thanks for the comment and glad you feel it has such meaning for you.

  • http://twitter.com/gimmetim Tim Henningsen

    “There is an alchemy that transforms loss into gain, if we are willing to let the magic work.” I love that thought. #2 reminds me of the Buddhist belief: “The greatest meditation is a mind that let’s go.” Easier said than done but always the best path. Thanks.

  • Kathy www.yinyangmother.com

    Thanks Tim. I love the Buddhist belief too. Lao Tsu also says it – ‘to a mind that is still the whole universe surrenders’. I truly believe that it is in acceptance of loss, despite the pain, that we make room for gain…we have to DO the accepting to let the magic work – of course as you say, easier said than done.

  • http://howhealthy.net/

    Awesome article..