Despite all of the invaluable knowledge I learned in school (especially graduate school), a chronic illness has been my greatest teacher, beckoning me to slow down and look within for answers to life’s most pressing questions.
There are so many important lessons I've learned—too many to list—but below are some highlights of a lecture I gave at the end of their semester titled, “What They Don’t Teach You In School: Life Lessons From A Sociology Instructor.”
1. Be kind. You never know what battle someone may be fighting. Don’t add to his or her burden.
2. Go out of your way to make someone’s day better. You'll both benefit.
3. Have compassion for everyone, no matter how terrible their actions seem. Hurt people hurt people.
4. And forgive them. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you're saying that what was done to you was OK, but it frees you from the negative emotions that can create dis-ease within the mind-body-spirit.
5. Your legacy is the way you make others feel and the impressions you leave them with.
6. Bad things do happen to good people. Find the lessons buried deep within the suffering. They're there.
7. Cry more. It feels amazing.
8. Enjoy the process. We can become so focused on the end result that we miss the little miracles that happen along the way.
9. Nurture your relationships. At the end of your life, you’re never going to say, “I wish I'd spent more time working.” But you will say, “I wish I told them that I love them more often.”
10. Don’t turn down an opportunity just because you're afraid. Use fear as a compass. Let it guide you in the direction that will produce the most personal growth.
11. Treat others as you wish to be treated. Never do something to someone else that you'd not want done to someone you love or yourself.
12. Make friends with yourself. Treat yourself like you would treat someone you cherish. We spend far too much time being our own worst enemies.
13. Have more fun.
14. Be grateful. Not just for the big things in your life. Be grateful for everything.
15. Be in this moment. The past is over. The future doesn’t exist yet. Plan for the future, but don’t spend all of your mental energy and time there or you'll miss what's happening now.
16. Your health is the foundation your entire life is built on. When the foundation is weak, everything built upon it collapses. Start building a strong foundation today.
17. Change is good. It stretches your limits. And as your limits grow, so do you.
18. If you have the ability to experience the unconditional love of animals, do it.
19. Slow down. Take your time. Life is more enjoyable at a leisurely pace.
20. Don’t try to change people. Inspire them with your actions.
21. Mistakes are how we learn. Just try not to make the same ones over and over again.
What about you? What have you learned outside of the classroom?
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