30 Life Lessons I'm Going to Teach My Children

I was born into an amazing family who has been a source of learning and support for me through all of my decisions and life experiences. What lessons taught to me both by family and by life, would I pass down to my future children?
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Father with daughter In Park smiling happy
Father with daughter In Park smiling happy

I'm not quite sure how to begin to describe how I see the idea of having kids. If I said it is 'one of life's most important events,' I feel like I would be doing it an injustice. You are literally bringing another living, breathing, human being into the world -- and subsequently doing your best over the next 18 years or so to help that individual be able to effectively navigate the society he or she is being brought into.

You are literally creating the next generation of decision makers, world leaders, and hopefully -- world changers.

'Important' doesn't even begin to cover it.

Fortunately, I was born into an amazing family who has been a source of learning and support for me through all of my decisions and life experiences -- good and bad.

So, I have thought to myself: What lessons taught to me both by family and by life, would I pass down to my future children? In no particular order...

Never take a good person for granted.

Someday, someone will come along and appreciate what you didn't.

It ain't over 'til it's over.

You may be a late bloomer, you may not be happy in high school, you may take longer than others to find your place in the world -- but if you consistently do what's right and do the best you can to be good to others, you will win in the end.

Having a significant other doesn't make you complete.

You are a complete, whole person, right now as you are. A great relationship is not about two people who complete each other, but two people who are already whole and accept each other completely.

Treat everyone with equal respect.

It doesn't matter where someone is from, what they look like, what they do or don't believe in, or what they do for a living - love and accept [don't just tolerate] them for who they are. More often than not, if you're they're nice to them, they will be nice to you.

Always keep asking questions.

Curiosity, learning, and understanding, are literally the lifeblood of both individual and societal progress. There is so much left for our species to learn about our own psychology, our planet, and especially our universe - that an unquenchable desire for ongoing knowledge is the key to improvement. The moment we stop learning is the moment we stop growing.

Don't be afraid of making mistakes.

Brian Acton, founder of WhatsApp, is a fantastic example of this. In 2009, Brian applied for a job at Facebook and was turned down. On February 19th, 2014 -- Facebook bought Brian's company for a staggering 19 billion dollars. Had Brian allowed his previous setback discourage him or cause him to change direction in life, this may not have happened. He used his "failure" as fuel to create an infinitely bigger success -- a lesson we can all learn from.

Dream big.

It sounds cliche, but it's important that we always make sure we have more dreams than memories. To wake up each morning without a goal to strive for will make for a bleak, mundane life. We only get one shot at life, and it's too short to be miserable.

Honesty is key.

As adults, we learn tact. We learn to be more careful with the feelings of others rather than just blurting things out, but it's important that we remain honest will doing so. As adults we often become too careful, too afraid to offend a person or group, and therefore water down our thoughts or even create a lie in their place. While I am all for saving the feelings of others, I am also a believer that a painful truth (that will help someone grow) is more desirable than a comfortable lie.

Never lose your imagination.

Ask a child to look into the sky and tell you what a cloud looks like -- and you'll get hundreds of answers. Show them a blotch of ink on a piece of paper, and you'll get an entire story around it. As we become adults we start to see things more in black and white without the imagination and creativity. Throw your logic away next time you look at the clouds, and see what stories you can create.

As important as logic is to living a successful life, it can also be paralyzing. We can over-think and create problems that didn't even exist in the first place. Happiness and progress relies on a healthy mix of imagination, emotion, and logic - not too much of one ingredient.

Be as optimistic as you can, as often as you can.

Children are naturally optimistic. They have no reason to see the glass half empty because they've never been disappointed. As hard as it is, we have to remember that the past is simply a thought appearing in your mind in the present. Each new situation is unique in its own way and we can't let our past disappointments govern how we see the future.

We all have to remember we have the ability to learn and grow constantly. Our minds are endless sponges for information and we can mold ourselves as we wish.

If you want to ask someone out, do it.

Being rejected may be painful, but not as painful as the lingering regret of wondering if you've let 'the one' fall through the cracks.

Tip well.

When you take care of people, they take care of you.

Say please and thank you.


You are not entitled to anything or anyone.

You are obviously an amazing, fantastic human being because you are my offspring (that's a joke, people...) but the fact of the matter is that the world doesn't owe you anything. We all have to pay our dues, we all have to work to improve, we all have to face failure and rejection before we can achieve success -- don't see this as a setback, see it as a rite of passage and the price you pay for happiness.

Waste no energy on negative people.

They will drain you of that optimism that is oh, so important.

Give and accept nothing less than respect.

This applies to everyone from people on the street to your romantic partner. If you are not getting what you deserve from them, find someone who will give it to you. If you are not giving it to them, don't be surprised if they leave. Never settle for less than you deserve in life or in love, you are better than that.

It's okay to cry.

We all have emotions, and it takes more strength to be vulnerable and show them to others than it does to hold them in and hide from the world.

Belong to a community.

Whether it is playing sports, and instrument, or playing chess - whatever you enjoy, do it, and do it with others. It will increase your sense of belonging, confidence, and bring new opportunities to your life. Stay socially involved.

Stay well-stocked on Advil and Gatorade on the weekends.

And maybe some nights during the week.

Grades are important, but...

Being a good person is more important.

It's okay to be wrong.

Being wrong is the only way we can find out what's right, and therefore become smarter. If we convince ourselves that we already know everything, we will never learn and grow.

Everything in moderation.

...even moderation itself.

Hold yourself to higher standards.

It doesn't matter if the people around you aren't acting respectably, you are not them and they are not you. Unless you want to be grouped in with the heathens, allow your actions to speak for you.

Apologize when you are wrong.

You will keep many more friends in your life if you are willing to admit when you screw up, than if you refuse to give them the satisfaction of an apology. One way of living is the mark of maturity, the other is immaturity. You can guess which is which.

People will let you down.

It's a reflection of them, not you.

Keep your body healthy.

It's the only one you get. If you don't, there will be a day you wish you had.

Win like you're used to it...

...lose like you enjoyed it for a change.

Don't be afraid to fall in love.

It may hurt you a few times, but it's a lot like winning the lottery: You may have to lose a lot before you win, but you will never win if you don't play.

Learn to love yourself, first.

The most important relationship you'll ever have is with yourself. If that one isn't healthy, none of your others will be.

Everyone has a different path to happiness. Follow yours with passion.

Aside from money, aside from cars, or houses, or clothes, or watches -- is the importance of being truly happy in life. There is no substitute for it. There is no possession that can fill the hole where it belongs. And there is no finding it if you stray from the path you belong on.

Do not let anyone tell you how to live your life. We all have different interests, different passions, different natural talents. To discover yours and to run with it, is something that many people forego for the sake of convenience and instant gratification. They are short-sighted, but time is not. Waking up one day and wondering where the hell your life went and why you never did the things you always wanted to do, is an easily avoidable tragedy.

To be yourself in a world that's always trying to make you into something else is the greatest accomplishment. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

This post originally appeared on JamesMSama.com.


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