Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Things I've learned so far

I read, and loved, this post on the Happiness Project about keeping track of "things learned." I can never resist the opportunity to make a list, nor reflect on the principles I try to live by.

So, here's my list of Things Learned in my 23 years:


  • Whenever you have an extra dollar, put it in savings.
  • If you have a particular skill, offer to share it with the worthy organizations and people that cross your path. Pro bono work will enhance your skills, relationships and self-esteem.
  • Buy secondhand whenever possible. Doing so will save you money and help the environment, and over time you will learn to appreciate the beauty of pre-loved items.
  • Being rich has nothing to do with money. It has everything to do with how much love, gratitude and happiness is in your heart.


  • Never give in to the lure of a sale. A low price is not enough to make you love an item you would otherwise not buy.
  • Wear shoes as expensive as you can afford. They will be comfortable and last longer than cheap shoes.
  • If a pair of shoes is a little tight, don't count on them to relax. Pass on them and find a pair that fits.
  • Never wear plastic on your feet, especially in summer.
  • Always wear shoes you can walk in. You never know when a sit-down event will turn into an adventure.
  • If a restaurant is empty, don't eat there.
  • Many of the most popular restaurants serve crappy food.
  • When in doubt, eat at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant.
  • When shopping for clothes/accessories/cosmetics, buy only what you love.
  • When at Trader Joe's and you see something you like to eat, buy two instead of one.
  • Diamonds are not all they're cracked up to be. This goes for most things that are fetishized.
  • When buying antiques, always turn an item over before buying it.

Joy and Kindness

  • Whenever you want to shout or cry, laugh instead.
  • Habits are fine, as long as they are productive habits that feed your long-term wealth and/or happiness.
  • Take care of something: a pet, a plant, a family heirloom. It will teach you that to give love is to increase your capacity for love and empathy.
  • Be nice to your parents. You never know when you will need them.
  • If someone pisses you off, kill them with kindness.
  • A true friend is a treasure.
  • Karma may not be real, but acting like it is real will make you a kinder, more compassionate person.
  • Treat others how you would like to be treated. This will never, ever let you down.

Common Sense and Counter-Intuition

  • Never throw up into a headwind.
  • Easy, short bursts of housework increase my energy and make me feel a disproportionate sense of accomplishment.
  • Always wear sunscreen, and bring a small bottle of it wherever you go, in case you decide on a whim to go for a long walk, play on the beach, etc.
  • If you're going to do something, do it right. Don't give into the lure of putting forth a half-assed effort.
  • The first person to raise their voice loses the argument.
  • If you want something, ask nicely for it. You'll be surprised by what you get simply by being calm, polite and laying out your case.
  • Fake it til you make it.
  • Accept compliments with a gracious smile and a thank-you.
  • Accept criticism with a gracious smile and a thank-you.
  • Where there's a will, there's a way.
  • Learn how much alcohol you can handle, and stick to your limit. This is a social skill as important as being a good conversationalist.
  • When in doubt, put cheese on it (food) or sleep on it (ideas/decisions).
  • Never write something on the Internet or in an email that you wouldn't want published on the front page of the New York Times.


  • Make exercise joyous. Slaving away in a gym is not joyous: dancing, hiking and cycling are.
  • Don't rely on pills to cure all your minor aches and pains. Go to the root of the problem. Maybe you have a headache because you spend too much time at the computer; maybe you ache because you're not getting enough sleep. Address the root, not the symptom.
  • Be respectful, friendly, outgoing and forthcoming with your doctor, and you will get the best care.

Relationships and Emotions

  • Constantly being the Martyr or Victim will get you sympathy in the short run, but in the long run it will make people lose respect for you.
  • Feeling resentful is like taking poison and expecting another person to die.
  • If a member of the opposite sex doesn't like you, there's little you can do to change that. Forget him/her and move on to someone who actively appreciates you.
  • You’ll find love as soon as you stop looking for it.
  • Being pretty is not enough. It helps to be charming, pleasant, open-minded and adventurous.


  • Age brings wisdom. Making mistakes is one of the few ways to truly learn.
  • 90% of computer problems can be solved by A) restarting the computer or B) jiggling cords.
  • I am not a morning person, and there is no shame in that.
  • If you want to learn more about a certain subject, read a book about it.
  • Strive for excellence, not perfection.
  • Embrace skepticism, but reject cynicism.
  • Seeing what works for others is one thing. Finding out what works for YOU is quite another
What are your own "things learned"?


Anonymous said...

What a smart cookie you are! I love the idea of listing what you've learned. At the top of my list? Never take yourself or life too seriously.

Forever Chic said...

ooh, that's a good one! I'd LOVE to see your list.