Advice to New Graduates: 8 life lessons

Listen up graduates – I have learned plenty about life since I sat waiting impatiently in my cap and gown to get my hands on that diploma, eager to first get on to the picnic in the park, and then to my new life. Here’s what I can tell you:

  1. Let yourself be a beginner. Even if you have been a smartypants achiever all your life, you’ve barely begun learning what you will need to know. The learning curve only gets steeper from here. I wasted a lot of time trying to look like I already knew what I didn’t yet know. If you cultivate a beginner’s mind, you will learn whatever you need to without much of a struggle.
  2. Say yes whenever possible, to invitations, opportunities, relationships, wild ideas. When the universe taps you on the shoulder to say what do you think would happen if you…, jump in and find out. The positive psychologists ask it this way: Is the word in your heart Yes? 
  3. Be in charge of your expectations. Don’t assume that you are entitled to anything just because you are a good person. We are almost all good people, and we are all in the same soup. You will have heartache, loss, grief, disappointment every week of your life, on a big or small scale. You don’t get to feel sorry for yourself when things don’t go your way. In fact, those are the times when you get a chance to show what you are made of. 
  4. Think abundance. At the same time that you are being showered with those inevitable griefs, you will also be the recipient of endless bounty, measured by the gifts of love and luck that also will come your way. If you don’t watch for them however, you may miss them. Be on alert.
  5. Cultivate gratitude. Keep a journal or a list or tweet or write on the back of your grocery list, whatever works for you. Just collect and keep the evidence of your good life. It will help you through the hard times and remind you to savor the good. 
  6. Respect the spot you stand on. Nobody else has had the combination of your mind and heart and experience. I am the only tall, Boggle-playing, Leonard Cohen-loving, May apple-planting, Unitarian therapist/writer, whose mother was born in a log house up Juneywhack branch in the Smokies that you will ever know. I know things based on where that puts me that no one else knows. And so do you. Share them. The world at large is kind of a mess and needs all the help it can get. 
  7. Say no to seductions to be petty, resentful, hateful, narrow. If you let negativity in, it will change you and diminish your light. If you let your thinking become black and white, you will miss all the variety of colors that life offers. 
  8. Allow for serendipity. An over-planned life chokes out possibility. Leave room for chance and surprise. Let things come in their own time in their own way. You will find that each wonderful happening is built over the top of disappointments and seeming failures. Remember that at the next failure you have, which may not turn out to be a failure at all. 

So, go forth my friends, and plunge into your future. Take these thoughts or drop them off on your way out. Either way, you will begin collecting your very own wisdom in your own way, starting right now. Good luck and godspeed.

 

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