Last Christmas, I wanted to share this with you.
But for some reason, I didn’t and vowed to share it with you this Christmas.
My bro has been an important person in my life. I’ve learnt so much from him and continue to. I’m sure my younger siblings feel the same way.
Ever since I was a small kid, he’d give me advice.
And even when we were apart, divided by hundreds and hundreds of kilometres, living in different countries – he’d still be there even though he wasn’t.
On Christmas in 2011, he sent me and my siblings an email which impacted me then as much as it does as I re-read it today.
In its most purest form – here is what my bro said:
This christmas i’m going to gift you with something much more valuable than any material possession: some well-intentioned advice.
I’ve lately began to wonder whether certain advice should be reserved for different stages of life; that at every stage of life certain secrets should be revealed to you.
That if you’re told too early, they lose their power or prevent you from enjoying those parts of life. Some of that may be true but i think it’s mostly an excuse to simply not bother.
One unintended consequence of this could well be that I f*** you all up psychologically.
If so, apologies.
“If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”
This is important and there’s a lot of wisdom in here.
The world as you know it is the result of a very small group of influential people.
This is why history is lauded as a subject.
Your lives have been shaped by people you’ve never heard of in the most amazing ways. Most obvious examples would be why you’re Catholic and why you believe in God or why you celebrate Christmas.
It’s because the Roman empire as it expanded adopted the various religions of the regions they conquered. At some point, they simply adopted the religion that was emerging from the Judeo-Arabian belt. You can look this up in detail. It’s quite interesting.
Another example – Poland is a post-war ruin because of the Russians and Stalin’s communism.
But if you read more about communism, you’ll notice that there are interesting reasons and social pressures that made socialism an attractive alternative to the taking advantage of normal people by the aristocrats.
The world wasn’t so materialistic as it is today.
Today’s consumerism is the result of the second World War.
Marx came up with the idea that to keep the economy going, people need to buy s***.
And if people buy s***, other people will make s***.
And that’s the pattern we’ve been running for nearly 100 years.
So you see dear siblings, many of the choices in life have been predetermined before you’re even aware of them (and some people never become aware).
Be very weary of dreams and ambitions that have been pre-packaged.
Paths to happiness that are expressed in media.
A lot of it is bulls***.
True happiness is really not that hard to achieve.
The real difficulty is washing off the crap that is thrown at us to divert our attention from the important things.
It’s important that you spend some time reflecting on your lives as you see them now, wash away the external rubbish and look inwardly. Find what is important to you, question why, and take that journey with yourself.
Epicurous (philosopher) said that there a number of ways to be happy (he figured this out centuries ago). One of them was reflective thought. You can lookup the other ways. Think of these as easter eggs that you can discover as extra reading.
Know what is important to you and keep it that way. Otherwise you’ll fall for whatever is trendy e.g. fashion, then maybe being social and getting drunk, and then maybe you’ll find a girlfriend or boyfriend and neglect the rest, or maybe you’ll neglect the girlfriend or boyfriend for a career.
You don’t have to pick one. Be good at all these things 😉
Much easier said than done. But having meaningful relationships is paramount and having a sense of achievement is also.
“Things are not important.”
You merely need to satisfy your immediate needs and all other additional material possessions will not bring you any more happiness. You might not believe this yet because you haven’t met you’re baseline yet.
But don’t assume that more things will mean more happiness. Initially a few things will make a big difference and then any extra will make ZERO difference.
Money is a tool to get you where you want to go. Remember that Mexican story from 4 hour work week. Financial security is good. Expensive louis vuitton bags are bad.
“Now is the age to discover”
Now is the age for you to discover. You need exposure. You need to learn about all sorts of different things in life before you can truly decide and pick what you like.
Otherwise you’re just liking the things that have been picked for you by other people.
Explore interests, explore places, explore people.
Get to know as many people as you can, from different walks of life. You’ll learn so much.
Being social is great if you’re around the right people and having the skills to interact with anyone is indispensable.
Get out of your comfort zone and meet new people.
There are lots of rubbish people but there are also very sincere and interesting folk.
And keep close ties with them. Obviously they can’t all be your best friend but always check-in with them. It’s good to have people who you know and they know you around.
“Education is the key”
And part of education is learning with and around people. I learnt just as much working in a new environment as i did at uni. Completely different skills and things i learnt but equally valuable.
Do well in school because that’s the key if you want to participate in society nowadays. Don’t let that ever be you’re failing. Don’t let doors close before they open because you haven’t met the grade requirements.
You might not realise it now because you’re told to learn but when the learning stops you’ll wish it would continue. And you’ll wish you took it more seriously.
I’m learning now, and I read so much to keep learning because the world and life is fascinating. And by being intelligent and educated, you get to make the most of it.
Because you’ll have good jobs and all the skills to navigate this complicated place called Earth.
Read about stuff you don’t even care about now. One day it’ll come in handy or you’ll remember it in a different context and realise that it’s interesting now.
I hate people who say “why am i learning this, how is this ever going be useful to me later?” It’s useful. and if you know it, you’ll know how to use it.
I’m not sure if i’ve missed anything out. I’m sure i have but those seem to be the most important things. They’re vague enough to be guidelines but without being restrictive i.e. telling you exactly what to do.
I trust you’re smart enough to use this well and not misread it.
And i hope it touches you in the way I mean it to. If you have any questions, you can always ask.
You have everything you need to be happy already. And discovering that for yourself (like they say, the truth cannot be told it has to be discovered) will be helpful to you.
As i once told my friend:
The book of your life is nothing but blank pages without any loose structure about how to live it limiting it you. Once you see it this way, you are free to paint the pages as you wish.
Here’s the advice that i gave to him when he was frustrated with uni still while his other friends were already working.
I know dude but here’s my advice: don’t wish it to be over. Whatever it is that you’re living now is your life. It’s what you’ll look back on in later years. Make the most of it. Being aware that you’re writing your own history has helped me to try and ‘write it’ in a way that I’ll be happy with when I’m old. Hopefully. For some reason people always aspire to the next thing and almost wish the present away. I think thats a destructive perspective to have.