The new calendar year is approaching, an ideal time for introspection. I stumbled across a wonderful memorial service given by an alumnus, Peter Gwillim Kreitler, of the Loomis Chaffee School in Windsor, Connecticut on the occasion of his 50th class reunion. He shared ten life lessons he and his peers had learned while at the school. He opened his delivery by stating, “We have been given a birth we did not request and a grave we cannot escape. The time in between defines our lives, defines who we are as men and women.” He inspired me to identify ten life lessons that have been poignant throughout the yearly chapters in my life.
10. Kindness is Power. I observe numerous social situations where individuals engage in angry disputes, even over trivial details. Let others have the last word and gracefully walk away when others may be hostile. Be respectful even during times of conflict and do not engage in the heated banter. Do not let others influence your behavior; otherwise, you lose your power.
9. Imagery Defines The Journey. Individuals struggle with change if they cannot visualize where they see themselves in the future. Explore the obstacles in your path that are inhibiting your ability to envision a “better” you.
8. Core Beliefs Influence Behaviors. As Henry Ford stated, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t- you’re right.” His quote is reflective of self-efficacy such that beliefs in your abilities affect success.
7. Embrace Accountability. Commit to and follow through with tasks, both for yourself and others. Many people fail to follow the basic value of a “promise,” which is defined as “a declaration assuming that one will or will not do something- a vow.” Much of the heartache seen in relationships is that promises become as dispensable as paper towels.
6. Think for Yourself. Question the meaning of your actions. What activities provide meaning for you? Are you just following the actions of your peer group or do you truly find enjoyment? Engage in events that fill your soul, rather than empty it.
5. Live Well. You unwittingly deliver an unspoken message in your community with actions. People “listen” to what you do rather than what you say.
4. Live Passionately. Take risks in life to achieve goals. Don’t be afraid of victory or defeat- either one builds character.
3. Give of Yourself. People tend to find happiness in their lives when they volunteer and offer their emotional and tangible support to others. Those who are selfish tend to be unhappy, irritable, and struggle with finding worth.
2. Reflect. It may sound counter-intuitive, but we do not necessarily learn from experience. If we did, then Elizabeth Taylor would have been happily married the second time. Rather, we truly learn from reflecting upon our experiences.
1. The Blessing of Unconditional Love. Peter Gwillim Kreitler beautifully stated the following: “The greatest gift ever given to another, and the greatest gift to receive, is the gift of unconditional love, the acceptance of who we are. We all fall short of the mark on occasion, but when someone loves us even when we make mistakes, it can be transformative.” In addition to you being that special someone who gives unconditional love, surround yourself with those who provide a soft place to land when you fall, rather than those who are quick to leave and never look back.
May you embark on the chapter of 2012 with an enlightened spirit, an open mind, and a charitable heart.