How many times have the words of a loved one or their experience given us the wisdom to face life with greater joy and in some cases, even tenacity?
Like in the situation that my friend found herself in, years ago. During a personal crisis and the resulting sense of loss and disillusionment, my friend, Catherine * had found herself momentarily floundering – not knowing how to proceed and overcome it. It was during that time when her best friend shared the words of wisdom that impacted the rest of her life.
“Catherine, the best reply you can give people who dislike and scorn you is through your success – let your actions speak for themselves”, said her wise best friend, Jane *. Catherine did not think much of Jane’s words at that point of time, but years later, she realized the depth of the wisdom of those words. Her life’s purpose and focus since listening to Jane’s words had transformed her. She grew from someone who always listened to the words of those around she knew, to a zealous individual who strove to achieve the larger purpose in her life.
I thought of Catherine during a recent webinar I had conducted on stress management. While discussing the importance of stress coping management plan during times of crisis, I came upon the contribution that the wisdom and insight we receive in our life comes handy during times of stress. The topic had come about when I had touched upon the ways we can tackle stress. One of the best ways we can tackle stress is by considering the presence of those who are there for us – they are our valuable social support system. Secondly is through the mechanisms we implement in tackling the cause of stress and thirdly is the role of the wisdom and insight that we hold dear. This wisdom that we have received may not appear at that moment, to be very obvious and important in helping us lead a happier and fulfilling life.
If I were to look at my own life, the wisdom and insight I have received during my childhood, teenage years and early adulthood have proved invaluable. Just that I didn’t realize when I received them that they could be life transformational. It is not just a matter of shaping my personality, but the wise insights that I have received from parents, grandparents, friends, books and even classic movies, have influenced my thoughts during some of my happiest and not so thrilling moments. In fact, I don’t even need to consider any really sad moments to consider their worth.
Years ago, as a child, who was talkative and impetuous, I got bored easily. During the weekend, I once mentioned to my Mom that I was thoroughly bored. To my surprise, not only did I extremely annoy my Mom but my Dad too, who was reading the newspaper beside her. “There are lots of things you can do, plenty”, Dad had said. “For starters, you can clean up your shelves, and study table”. Seeing my sullen expression, he suggested with amusement that I complete what was mentioned and then come back to him for some ideas.
Curious about his ideas, I quickly finished my chores and ran to him. Smiling, he asked me, “What do you enjoy doing apart from watching cartoons?”
The next hour and a half, I spent describing all the activities I enjoyed doing – reading, drawing, craftwork, singing, writing, talking to friends and so on. After I had exhausted my list, Dad just asked me to consider any time when I feel bored, what I can do at that moment and do it. “That way you can never be bored in life”, he said with a laugh.
More than almost four decades later, I really value the advice I had received from him that day. Today, I’m fortunately never bored, not even on 18-hour flights. In fact, I sometimes look forward to those long trips since they are perfect opportunities for me to catch up on activities I otherwise struggle to make the time for – my leisure reading, writing and listening to music. Our life is undoubtedly richer because of the sagacious wisdom we have received, and we continue to receive from our personal and social network and the world we are a part of. And wisdom is only wisdom when it is shared and has made the impact it needs to, much like the joy a garden provides, no matter to whom it belongs to.
Like Augusta Carter once said,
“You don’t have a garden just for yourself. You have to share it.”
*Names changed for privacy purposes.