The 10 life lessons I‘ve been relearning for 10 years

Number 5 might surprise you.


BY CHRIS DANILO — First appeared on my personal blog

I’ve got a lot to learn.

But here are 10 things I’ve learned in the last 10 years, distilled.

1

There are things I can control, and there are things I cannot; but mostly, there are things in between.

We have a habit of saying things are one or the other. Black or white. It’s nature or it’s nurture. Usually, in the past, we’ve been wrong about either. It’s usually both.

The take-away here is that I cannot base my self-worth on something that is ultimately not in my control.

This goes for cold-calls in sales, job interviews, and relationships that just didn’t work out. If it’s not 100% your choice in the end, then you’re going to have to learn to shrug this one off. I’m still figuring out how that process works — but just knowing this helps.

2

The worst case scenario will always inflate infinitely to consume the mind — but the more it grows, the more unlikely the outcome.

But what if she was lying to me the whole time?

I must have said something offensive, and now this whole room is upset with me.

I think if I’d have waited a few minutes longer, and tried a little harder, things might be different today.

Maybe. I wonder. I bet. Probably. If only. Should have. Shouldn’t have.

It’s noise. Whether you’ve learned this truism in physics, philosophy, or religion; the only thing that exists is the present. The past is gone and the future is constantly being converted into the present.

Logically, it makes no sense to ruminate on the past or the distant future. It’s NOW that exists. Sure, it seems straightforward, but how do we actually THINK this way? I’m no expert on this, but I can tell you that it doesn’t help to be stuck in your own head for too long. Start there. And read the next paragragh.

3

Don’t be afraid to use your lifelines:

Social support (being part of a community)

Verbal processing (talking to a close friend, journaling, CBT)

Exercise (all of that cortisol in your blood isn’t good for your heart or thought patterns)

4

I cannot please everyone, I can only do what I think is right.

It’s simple, but I judge myself and others for failing to do this all the time. I try, until I just can’t bear to try anymore.

Pragmatism helps eliminate that extra pressure to accomplish my enormous dreams all at once, and focus on where I am right now.

Focusing on one thing at a time definitely helps alleviate the scariness.

5

Having a broken heart is a poor excuse not to love.

Even if it hurts. Even if it’s scary.

It’s still the right thing to do.

It’s hard to argue with that.

6

I can only think of what comes to mind.

The trick is context. I have to do my best to put my mind in a peaceful place and a healthy routine where I can develop productive thinking habits.

7

I can only love until my heart stops. It is up to me to be vulnerable and authentic.

It’s only over when it’s over.

I was holding back because I was worried about getting hurt. But I got hurt anyway — and I had to realize that not going “all in” just set me up for regret.

Now I’ve got to wonder: what would have happened if I had tried harder?

8

I can only create what I can imagine.

I can’t stay sharp, conscientious, and optimistic if I don’t create the context that allows my brain to think creatively. I can always pull back on the idea-throttle later, but the long-game isn’t won by thinking small.

It’s not news that play helps us develop creativity. I’m responsible for making time to play.

It’s kind of fun, to do the impossible.
- Walt Disney

9

It’s only over if you quit.

Something I learned from distance running: if you can take one more breath, keep breathing. If you can take one more step, keep running.

I’m always surprised at how far I can go.

10

The 1 thing I’ve decided to say to myself before I start my day:

I accept where I am today, and I promise the world (and myself) that I will love, try, and play.


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