I always feel very unqualified to give advice in every arena except for relationships. Because outside of that category, what struggles and sufferings have I overcome? What do I know about anything? Being raised in the lower-middle-class in this society means having a way cushier life than most people in the world. Good sources of advice are Thomas Jefferson and Google, not me.
But being a devotee of Valerie’s advice column and reading Matt Moment’s recent post made me think about advice, and what qualifies a person to give it. Who wants their advice anyway? Oh right, we readers of their blogs do. But usually I don’t feel very motivated to send words of wisdom to the world at large. I forget all the details of my life that make up answers to questions like “how’s life?” or “what did you do over the past five years?” so I document everything for posterity. But I know my own major life lessons by heart, so why should I type those out?
Then I started trying to think of who would need my general advice. Yikes…If it pleases the cosmos, in the next few years I’ll start having children, and then I’ll be too busy mothering for the following few years to figure out life and get all my advice prepared so when my teenager eventually asks “how does a person stay happy in this life?” I won’t know what to say. Scary prospect! I should get my advice in good order.
Mr. Moment is right about anger and what it usually stems from. It’s cute that we’re on the same page, because it’s like having something in common with a good friend that you didn’t know you had in common until someone finally said it.
For getting my advice on the pursuit of happiness in order, here’s mostly what I’ve got so far:
Go on frequent adventures. Take up gardening, or other pursuits like it that require cultivation and yield tangible benefits. Your own happiness, calmness, and good intentions will speak for themselves to those around you. You do not need to prove points. If you think someone’s going about it all wrong, your actions and their results will prove your points. Do your best to promote good things and curtail bad things. You will know the difference when you see them. If you don’t know the difference, ask yourself the question “Is this the better way to show love to others?” If yes, it’s a good thing. If no, it’s a bad thing. Divide everything into two piles: Pile A consists of things you can’t change, and Pile B consists of things you can change. Throw Pile A away and never think about it again. Huge changes in the world are only made by a lot of people working on Pile B instead of grumbling about Pile A.