The Things My Dad Taught Me

My father passed away two years ago today. Complications from a long fight with cancer. In life, he was not a direct advice-giver, necessarily. For the most part, he encouraged my sister and I to make our own decisions. What he taught, he taught through actions — through the way that he chose to live his life, before and even after he got sick. But I’d like to believe that if he were asked to put into words some of the principles with which he governed his life, it would go something like this.

While this is by no means a full list of what my dad taught me, sitting outside this morning, allowing myself a nice cry for the first time in awhile, this is the stuff of his nature that I remember most. And it is genuinely how I aspire to live my life each day. For whatever it may be worth.

  1. Holding Grudges is Pointless. People are going to fuck up, and they’re going to hurt you, intentionally or unintentionally. But ultimately you make the choice about whether or not to hold onto negativity. And it’s almost always not worth it.
  2. Be Generous. You can’t take it with you. And if making your friends and family happy helps to make you happy, why wouldn’t you do what you can to make them feel good?
  3. Remember to Laugh AKA Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously. You’re smart. People know you’re smart. You don’t need to prove it to them by being an elitist about who you are and what you stand for. Just relax and be okay with poking fun at yourself.
  4. Don’t Settle for Less Than You Deserve. Giving people the benefit of the doubt is worthwhile, but if someone is about to take advantage of you, in any regard, call it out. You’ll probably freak them out and they’ll likely recognize you are not one to be fucked with.
  5. Sing Often. It’s ideal if you’re good at singing, but ultimately it doesn’t matter. Either way, it’ll make you feel good.
  6. Travel Efficiently. Learn how to pack light. Join frequent flier programs, get a good mileage credit card. Sign up for TSA Pre-Check. And be nice to the people who work at the airport. It’s not their fault.
  7. Own Your Intelligence. Once again, YOU ARE SMART. It’s here twice because it’s important. Nobody is allowed to tell you you aren’t. If people are threatened by your intelligence, try to work around them or remove them from your life.
  8. Work Hard, but Don’t Take It With You. You won’t always succeed at this one, and that’s okay. But remember that it’s your family and your friends that ultimately matter — not your job. Look up from your phone and your computer, and appreciate them as much as you can.
  9. Don’t Discount Doing Big & Small Things That Make You Happy. Get a massage. Join an improv or a singing group. Take the vacation you maybe shouldn’t take. Then take the extra two days to actually get to that family wedding.
  10. LOVE. Tell the people you love that you love them, as often as you can. Ideally, every day. There is absolutely NO reason not to do this. None at all. Working towards something and feeling successful is important. But it really does mean absolutely nothing if you don’t have people in your life to love. It really is the only thing that matters.
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