As a kid, I always hated that saying, “do as I say, not as I do.”  It didn’t make any sense back then, and it still makes no sense to me now.  The easiest way for kids to learn something is through observation, which means we really have to be careful as parents and role models, and we need to lead by example.

The last couple of years, after I got done teaching my son the basics, I put a lot of thought into life lessons I wanted to teach him, and of course that meant I’d have to try to live this way myself.  Many of these pearls of wisdom come from my clients and elders, who looking back expressed deep regret for not having learned and passed on to the next generation these facts of life:

1. Say I’m Sorry– It is okay to admit when you were wrong; it’s not going to kill anyone.  No one is perfect, and we all make mistakes, but you need to show remorse. A little humility goes a long way in making amends.

2. Be Forgiving–   People will constantly disappoint you in life, but for your own sanity, don’t hold a grudge.  Depending on the transgression, some of which may be truly inhumane and inexcusable, you don’t have to accept someone’s apology, but you also don’t have to harbor resentment or let delusions of revenge eat away at you.  Let them deal with their own guilt while you just let the past go and move on.

3. Relationships are Complicated– All of us need to think of relationship development as an ongoing work in progress.  Not all relationships will work out, but you just need to give it your best shot.  We learn something from every experience, so no mater how short lived an encounter may be, try to focus on what you got out of it.

4. You Can’t Control Everything– As much as we may want to control our world, the fact is we can only control our own actions and reactions to the chaos around us.  There are a lot of control freaks out there, and their lack of control causes them severe anxiety.  Stay away from those that try to control you.

5. Pursue Your Own Passion– Once you are done with your studies, work is something you will have to do for the rest of your life, so find something you are passionate about that will make you happy to go to work each day.  In that vein, define success for yourself and don’t worry about how others define success.

6. Live Within Your Means– The simpler your life, the happier you will be by avoiding debt and not over-extending yourself.  Those that live beyond their means not only have tremendous pressures and stress in their lives, but they often are then forced to make difficult choices and compromises.

7. Express Gratitude– Try to show gratitude every day by being thankful for what you have.  As long as you have a safe home, food, clothing and some purpose in life, the rest is just gravy.  You can live without the gravy, meanwhile many in this world don’t even have the basics.

8. Appreciate Others Strengths– We all have different gifts, and that is what makes life so interesting.  Embrace the beauty of having a world filled with variety and be open to different perspectives.

9. Follow Your Gut– There is true evil out there, and you can’t ignore the signs.  We are all energy sources, and there are some incredibly negative ones out there that will want to suck the life out of you like a vampire.  When you sense danger or believe a situation is unhealthy, get out.  Intuition is a key part of our survival.

10.  Beware of Attachments– It’s very easy to get attached to things, but things come and go.  Nothing lasts forever, even life itself.  The sooner you can accept the fragility of life and the temporal nature of everything, the sooner you can just enjoy the moment and stay focused on the things that really matter.

11. For Every Problem, There is a Solution– Problems surface every day in life, and the key to staying upbeat is to just see it as a challenge and stay in a problem-solving mindframe.  The solution may not be necessarily the one you want, but things will always work out in the end as they should, sometimes you just need to give it time to be able to appreciate this perspective.

12. Be Generous– The more you give of yourself, the more you will get back.  We do reap what we sow.  If you can’t pay back what you were given, then pay it forward.  Get involved with your community and engage in activities for good causes.

13. Pick Your Battles– A great warrior knows when to put down his/her sword.  Not everything is worth fighting over, so pick your battles wisely.

14. Find Your Own Fun– There are so many incredible opportunities in this world.  Go see the sites, read all the classics and enjoy the movies.  Learn to entertain yourself– exercise, write, paint, plan an outing, attend sporting events.  It is okay to be alone, just keep your own mind stimulated.  The options are only limited my your own imagination.

15. Love– We have to accept that with love comes loss, because as stated previously we will all die and nothing lasts forever.  No matter what, never lose hope, which is what leads people to utter despair.  It truly is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all– we simply can’t live without love, that would not be a life worth living.  That said, each person will have his/her own capacity for love, and this does vary greatly.  No matter what, don’t settle for anything less than what you think you deserve.

I suppose I could write a whole book about all these things, and maybe one day I will, but for now Im just trying to provide some food for thought because I’ve seen way too many parents focus on providing for their children financially at the expense of not spending enough time with their kids and teaching them so of these key life lessons.  There is so much that we can do, but one thing that we will NEVER be able to do is turn back time.

Step off the treadmill and spend some precious moments with your kids while you can.  They grow up fast.  If you want them to do well in the outside world and come back to the nest every now and then after the age of majority, you can’t just focus on feeding them, you have to nurture their souls.  You can always make more money later, but you’ll never get back those golden years.

Go make those truly golden while you can!

By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.