When you are sad, remember that good times always come again. Always.
Develop your talents and abilities. Find them and you will find joy.
Creativity can be viewed as an everyday activity, as something that brings pleasure and satisfaction in the regular, humble way that good food does, and good rest. You don’t have to be Michaelangelo to be creative. I knit. My friend cooks. Find some humble, everyday creativity and treat it as a sacrament. An everyday sacrament.
If you want to be an artist, produce. Start something and then finish it. Repeat.
Human beings are social animals, and in general we are weakened by isolation. Single people so often must make decisions in a vacuum, and provide their own support and structure. This really sucks and is incredibly hard. Marriage and a circle of friends is probably the ideal, but if that’s not your reality, I say form what dyads you can. Tony Kushner says that the most basic unit of humanity is two people, and I agree. Your very being is a statement. And a statement needs a listener. Cultivate and treasure your listeners, and listen to them in return.
Welcome offers of help. Accept them and remember them. Do not be too independent. Pigheaded, isolationist independence is a horrible disease that afflicts many Americans. Be interdependent and part of a world where help is given and received. People who love you like to help you and want to help you. I bet you help people. Why can’t people help you?
People are not motivated by bad consequences the way they are by good consequences. When you need to make change happen, focus on the good things that will come from it.
Listen to the people who love you. When you listen to your own life, you hear both noise and signal. They just hear signal. They have clarity that you do not.
Any returning student who signs up for 18 college credit hours or more is actually signing up for bad grades and a nervous breakdown.
Unless you have lived partnerless and without help at home for a decade or more, you really do not know anything about loneliness or how dreadful it can be. You might think you do, but you don’t. Divorce your spouse, send your kids to boarding school, and get back to me in ten years and tell me if you’ve learned anything about loneliness.
One of the major benefits of spending a lot of time alone is that you get to know yourself very, very well. Because you cannot hide from yourself, you end up being forced to actively pursue your own happiness. There’s a real benefit to not having any shortcut to happiness. You have to get out there and seek joy.
When all your friends tell you that your boyfriend/girlfriend is a loser, your boyfriend/girlfriend is a loser.
When you befriend solitude, you have a powerful ally that will never desert you.
In work, seek flow (getting lost in your work in a good way), money and helping others. Yes, I just told you to seek money. Try to pick up some pleasant skill that pays well, because past the age of 25 or so, long-term poverty loses every ounce of its romantic bohemian charm. Comfort and stability fucking ROCK.
The difference between “art” and commercial art is audience. The first one you do for yourself, and the second one you do on spec.
Make do with what you have. You usually can.
I really like these four ideas. I think it’s a good idea to keep them in the background of my life:
I am here to serve with joy.
I will be great-hearted.
Everything’s gonna be all right.
What can I share?
Fix yourself. Don’t wait for someone or something to fix you. Be finished. Try to solve your problems yourself or with help, but don’t just give up and wait for _________ to happen.
Your life is finite. The choices you make now will affect your declining years. What kind of old age are you earning?
Do you best, then let go. Don’t get attached to results. If you’re going to expend energy somewhere, expend it in doing your best. After that, you’re done.
When tested, respond with strength. If you don’t have any, ask to borrow some from someone who loves you.
Inevitabilities should never be depressing. Prepare for them as best you can.
You will fail. You will do dumb/silly/embarrassing things that you are ashamed of. The person who did those things really is you, and it’s OK. Accept this part of yourself, and accept that this part of you is never going to go away.
To make changes in the world, energy must leave the body. Guilt is bad. Prayer is OK. Action is best.
Question authority. Think for yourself.
Never, EVER send an email while you are mad. Sleep on it and cool down. It’s probably just a misunderstanding, anyway.
The tide could turn tomorrow.
If you can’t decide between two courses of action, choose the more active thing.
Just start. Just begin. “Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.” Starting is almost always the hardest part of anything. Get it over with. “Once begun, half done.”
When someone treats you with anger and disrespect, ask what has made this person angry. Answer rudeness with politeness. Refuse to be an enemy.
Dreams are good. Reality is better. Getting the two to resemble one another is a pretty good choice for a life’s work. This will be harder than you ever dreamed. Good luck.
Happiness is hard work.
Your life is not something that is going to start happening when _________ finally happens. Life is today. Life is tonight. Life is this hour. Life is right now.