Letters to Paige (9 Lessons for a better life)

This post is dedicated to my grandchildren, the oldest of whom is Paige. Hence, the title. We live far away from each other, but so many times every day, my mind slips to them & I wonder how they are & what they are doing. This letter & series of letters is to offer the wisdom of my short time on earth.

In times past, the elders of the tribe or clan were held in great esteem. Oftentimes, just to have survived to an old age was nothing short of miraculous. There were many pestilential diseases such as polio & smallpox. A simple infection that today would merit nothing more but a short course of antibiotics could oftentimes be fatal. Wild animals, accidents, starvation, all these could end life at an early age…

Thus, those who survived the rigors of the hunter gatherer lifestyle were revered for their longevity & their wisdom. Many were the high priests and leaders of their age.

Today, we often overlook the value of experience from another time. So many things have changed just in my lifetime that it’s easy to forget that there was a time not so long ago when we didn’t have the internet, a computer in every house, and for that matter not even television. Automobiles were just beginning to become more common a mere hundred years ago. Yet with every generation the knowledge and shared experience of the past slips further away.

So here are some basic thoughts that I’d like to share with you Paige, and with this young generation that will soon inherit the world. For good or bad, it will be your world, and what it becomes will soon be yours to shape. Use these “pearls” as you will, and remember me when I’m gone. I will whisper in your ear…

1) Read, read & read some more – There is no better way to increase your knowledge than to be a constant voracious reader. It may seem tedious after a long day at school, but if you find something that you are interested in personally, it will be a great habit to cultivate for the rest of your life.

2) Become what you think about – The greatest lesson of the ages is that we become what we think about all day long. If you can “see it” in your mind, it’s likely that you can achieve it as well. Daydream of what & whom you want to be. It’s very very powerful!

3) Develop a skill that you can always do – Knitting, playing the guitar, making jewelry, sewing clothes, writing a blog or article etc; these are all things that you can do wherever you are while waiting for something, watching TV etc. If it has monetary value (even low value) it can be something that you can use to earn extra money in the otherwise lost times of your life.

4) Limit television – When I was in college, I wrote a term paper on the effects of television. The plain fact is that television makes deleterious changes in the brain, and acts to reduce intelligence even if it is just on casually in the room. Not to mention that it generally is a big waste of life (who’s going to care that you watched Survivor or American Idol in 10 years,) but it actually changes the brain function similar to many types of drugs.

5) Be generous – For the most selfish of reasons, you should always be generous; generous with your time, generous with your love & expressions of love, generous with your possessions & money. Why do I say for selfish reasons? Because the giver always receives more than the recipient. Share & it will return to you every time, not only externally, but in the inner sanctum of your soul where it lifts you up to be a better person.

6) Don’t try to impress people – The world wants you to think that you must wear the latest fashion, be hip and cool with all the newest trends, and spend to impress friends & family. The reality is that you only need to impress yourself. Although it may seem impossible today, in a few years you won’t even remember most of these people from school. So, save your money, stop worrying about what other people think, and just let your own light shine.

7) Become an expert at something – One can become insanely knowledgeable about any subject in a few short years by studying as little as 15-20 minutes a day. With the Internet, and smart phones, you can always be reading & expanding your expertise. Pick something that interests you and learn everything you can. You can be an expert!

8) Learn another language – Beyond the joy of being able to converse with more of the world, having a second language opens many employment & travel opportunities. Moreover, learning to think in another language actually has positive effects on the ability to learn, opens the brain to functions beyond what single language users have, and adds another level of creativity for all parts of your life to benefit.

9) Do what is hard – It’s easy to conform, to do the minimum, to just get by. For the intelligent person, it’s just coasting. What really adds spice to your life is to do something difficult & then actually accomplishing it. Is it comfortable? You need to be stretching more, reaching for something that today is beyond yourself. This creates joy and independence.

These are just a few things I wish to share today. There are many more. Above all, I want to send my love, and hopes that your life can be a light for others too.

Hugs…Grandpa Ben