I received an email that is circulating called 45 lessons life taught me. According to the email it was written by Regina Brett, age 90. This seems to be confused with Regina Brett, not 90, author and Pulitzer Prize finalist. She is just as inspirational…because she is the same gal. Her nifty stuff is found here. Regina Brett, age 90 was scoped out on Snopes.com and was found to be correctly attributed, here is snopes proof. However, the age thing is wrong. They are the SAME person. Regina Brett wrote an interesting blog post about the whole internet rumor about being 90 and how she came up with the lessons. Regardless of the confusing stories, it is an inspirational list and I encourage you to read it. There are quite a few lessons on the list I have already learned the hard way since becoming The Edmonton Tourist. Looking at the entire list, #13 stands out as the most recent lesson learned. It has happened to me countless times and I have done it to others plenty. Now I have seen both sides of the fence. Sure it took me forever to get this lesson,, better late than never – right?
#13. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is about.
This is so true. It is hurtful when someone thinks they know exactly what you are going through and think they know how to judge or fix it. It also is painful when some one expects you to be more than you are capable of and let them down. It all boils down to perception. It’s hard to know what another person is going through until you walk in their shoes. Empathy is a hard thing to understand.
It is not a secret that I work with children and their families that immigrate here from other countries or are refugees from war torn places. The importance of empathy and using perception in such a way that can strengthen our relationship instead of divide us further is crucial. In an effort to understand better, I watched Gandhi for the first time on Boxing Day. I can hear you all now…no I didn’t live in a box, yes I am well read, but could be better, no I have not seen every classic movie, but I am closing in. It was a hard choice for me to watch it since the World Jr. Hockey Tourny was going on here in Edmonton. Yet Something compelled me to watch it.
I wanted to know more about the man who tried to live a peaceful existence, I wanted to know more about the conflict between Pakistan and India since these are the families I mostly work with, and I wanted to challenge my mind and I wanted to perceive their situation with THEIR eyes, not mine. So Gandhi it was.
There was a point during the movie ( I am not issuing a spoiler alert because this movie was based on historical fact) where Gandhi held his wife’s hand as she lay dying. He looked up and smiled at the people who surrounded him and without a spoken word, they knew they should leave. Perception and awareness was present in the room. This gave me pause.
I am struggling right now with a relationship with a friend who I love very much. I care and worry about her situation and yet her perception and awareness of my actions has cause significant strife between us. My problem is I get too deep and don’t realize it until I am drowning. This may be because I just want to help or I care too much. I need to tune into my feelings as well, I must be aware of hers and finding the balance is problematic for me. I have done this a million different ways with people I care about. I have felt abandoned by family because their perception of my situation was incorrect. Harsh words fly back and forth because of hurt feelings. When the reality is, we hurt because we love each other very much. There is just a lack of understanding.
A wise woman said to me, “Boundaries are important. You can’t be available for every crisis. Pick and Choose.” My Perception of the problem may not be the problem after all. Perception and Awareness is a problem within my family as well. If we just took a moment and practiced empathy I think many problems would be solved. My New Years Wish for us is to have a greater awareness of each other’s feelings. I’m not sure that will happen but I can do my part. Not engaging in sides, not contributing to strife and offer kindness will be what I continue to do. I need to help where I am able and let the rest go. I am not the person to fix all the problems of the world. I can only start with me.
Unlike Gandhi, I have no idea what my role is in my life, but I do know by moving forward and being kind is the biggest gift I can give to my friends and family, then I can keep doing that. It may not be enough, but I am only one person doing the best she can. I need to remember that being kind is NOT fixing a problem, it is being kind. No need to fix anything. Some things are not my lesson to learn.
#13. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is about
is very true. I think I need this tattooed on my arm so I can be in a constant state of mindfulness when it comes to this statement. It’s true I don’t fully grasp your journey and you can’t possible grasp mine either. We need to be mindful of that and focus on our OWN lessons to be learned.
- 45 Life Lessons by Regina Brett (vineyardroad.com)
- Four Questions for Pulitzer Prize Finalist Regina Brett (jimkukral.com)