Things I’ve Learned

Disclaimer: This post is from the archives, and may not represent the current views of the author. It also may not be at all interesting to read. Continue at your own peril!

Over the past little while, I’ve learned a few things. They may not be deep and profound, but hey – if you’re reading my blog, you obviously didn’t come here for anything deep and profound, right? Well, okay, that might not be true; sometimes I’m capable of coming up with thoughts I never thought I could, but that only happens once in a while.

But yeah. Over the past few months, lots of things have happened to me. Now that things have kind of slowed down for the most part, I’ve had a chance to reflect on some of those things. The first thing I learned was that relationships aren’t easy. They take a lot of work to cultivate and produce something meaningful. Misconceptions and misunderstandings occur frequently along the way; these aren’t setbacks or roadblocks, but simply circumstances that happen along the way. They can be used for great good. Without conflicts, it’s impossible to take a relationship to a deeper level. Sure, someone can talk to another person every day and learn lots of things about that person, but you never really “know” someone until you go through a trying time with them. You can know about someone, but knowing someone and knowing about someone are totally different. Oh and one more thing I’d like to say about this: to anyone who thinks this paragraph was about you and me, it wasn’t. This is the result of thinking about many relationships, so don’t get all sappy/angry at me.

Another thing I’ve learned along the short section of the road of life I’ve traveled is that the human mind has the capability to do the wrong thing on short notice. When you don’t think things through, you can end up doing something you would have never dreamed of doing afterwards. Some people have a habit of deciding things on a whim; to them, I say they’re headed downhill. Every bad decision I’ve made was a result of not thinking hard enough about a situation. Every good decision I’ve made was a result of thinking through something completely. While it’s true that bad decisions can produce good results from learning from your mistakes, it’s also important to learn from others’ mistakes as well. Some things must be experienced in order to learn from; others can be avoided entirely by steering your life away from it entirely. It is often too easy to get “caught up in the moment” and establish a lifestyle of “just doing it” without thinking. If you’re doing that right now, you need to stop. Speaking of learning from mistakes, one of my mistakes was to not think through what I was doing before doing it. And you need to learn from my mistake and not do the same thing yourself. I look back and think about some things I decided and say to myself, “What were you thinking?” The fact is, I can’t answer that, because I wasn’t. Don’t let the pressures of this fast-pace society get to you; the more you think about something before deciding anything, the more likely you are to see all sides of the issue.

On the other hand, there’s also a tendency to steer completely away from that and think about an issue for way too long, and miss a great opportunity entirely. While this is probably not as common an issue, I’ve done this before as well. I missed out on much of life because I refused to make a decision on what to do before it disappeared. Don’t miss out on life because you’ve sat on the sidelines discussing strategy. Let’s think of life as a football game. I choose football because it’s a game with a lot of strategy involved with plays and such. If a team decided to just get out there and play the game without discussing any plays at all, they would be confused and disorganized. The other team would kill them because they had planned beforehand what to do. But if, on the other hand, that first team decided to spend hours and hours discussing strategies and plays, there would be a tendency to lose focus on the real issue – they want to win. Like a group of philosophers discussing/arguing endlessly on a topic, they would lose sight of the original topic. The team would again be confused, or possibly even miss the game because they took so long to come up with plays. These are the two extremes everyone must avoid – not taking long enough, and taking too long. Like the saying, “Too much of a good thing,” we need to make sure we don’t take too little time, and by the same token too much time. Both can lead to negative consequences.

I’ve learned something else as well. This might be more of a personal issue, and perhaps some people don’t have as much of a problem with this as others, but I’ve found that sometimes, as humans, we get too caught up in the little details and miss out on something bigger and better. There have been times when I’ve been too concerned with getting something done exactly right, when I could have done something more productive. And I’m not talking about “doing homework really quickly so you can go watch TV.” Television can rot your brain anyway. No, I’m talking about doing something with an obsession to be perfect in everything. I’m somewhat of a neat freak; not as much as some people I know. One person I work with cleans the entire store up as the first thing she does when she gets in. But sometimes I find myself fixing something up that wasn’t broken in the first place, and then I catch myself and go, “Why?” Why fix something that isn’t broken when you could be repairing something that is? That’s not to say that we can’t make something better, but there’s a difference between fixing something and improving something. For instance, I can have a friend that I get along with most times, and spend more time with them than with a friend who I don’t get along so well with anymore, and with whom I could improve my relationship. This is mostly a subject of laziness. I prefer to be with someone I get along with just to get away with that person that I need to get along with.

On a related topic, sometimes it’s easy not to deal with a situation with your friend and focus on something else entirely with them. If someone’s friend has a problem with their temper, I think everyone has a tendency to stay away from them when they’re angry, and instead only hang out with them when they’re happy. It’s natural, but natural isn’t always best. I think it’s important to deal with that person and their temper, because it’s in their best interest. It’s in your best interest to stay away from them, it’s in their best interest to help them get over their temper.

That brings up another thought (last one, I promise). I guess I might be biased, coming from a Christian background, but even if everything in the Christian faith was false, it would still have one thing going for it, and that is one of its primary commands: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” Some people think this is just stupid – putting others before yourself, that is. But one thing I’ve found is that no matter what you do, it’s always best to put others before yourself. That’s the way to gain the best rewards; nothing feels better than serving someone else. It sounds like reverse psychology, but I can personally guarantee that it works. Look at all the rich people in the world. Are they fulfilled? Not particularly. They’ve spent their entire lives serving their own needs (most of them; there are always those who give to charity, etc.), and all they want is more money. They have more money than most people could ever dream of having, and they can’t understand why their lives are empty. Then you see those in third-world countries; small children receive bread from world relief organizations. What do they do with that bread? Do they gobble it up and fight off others for more? No – they share with those who have even less. They do it gladly. They give their bread to the elderly widow down the dirty street that can’t walk to get her last meal before she dies. And they’re happy. They are fulfilled. Though they have nothing, they are happier than 90% of the people in the Western world. And why is that? I believe it has to do with nothing more than being able to put someone else before themselves. Try it for yourself some time. I used to think the idea was stupid. Why would I give up something I worked for to someone else? Why would I give up my time to help someone with something they were supposed to do themselves anyway? But I tried it, and it gave me a feeling I can’t even describe. No, it doesn’t feel good to lose something. But it does feel good knowing that you helped someone else who needed it. Or maybe they didn’t. It feels good all the same. At work is where I have the chance to do this the best. Being somewhat of a senior employee there (though I haven’t really been there that long), I have the ability to tell people under me what to do. I’m basically over top of anyone who was hired under me. But I also have people over me as well; the supervisors can tell me what to do. What I do to help others is, first of all, to do things without being asked. Initiative is a great gift, but it doesn’t come easily. My general rule is that if I see something that needs to be done, I will do it – even if it’s someone else’s job. I’m the one that volunteered to clean the insides of the smelly garbage cans when that needed to be done. I’m the one that unclogs the sinks of soggy bread and food that have gotten stuck in the drain. Do I complain? I don’t really have a right to, since it’s my decision to do it. But although it’s not fun to do, I enjoy doing it because I know I’m saving someone else the hassle of doing it themselves. I’ve been in the position where someone I was in charge over didn’t do what they were supposed to, left, and left me with the task to do. And I’ve been determined never to do that to anyone over me if possible. And I feel great for doing it.

But anyways, I’m done. That’s just some long rambling that I just felt doing. There’s no real point to this entry; just think about what I’ve said, see if it applies to your life, and if it does, great. If it doesn’t, well, keep it in mind for if it ever does.

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