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  • Writer's pictureDana Hayes

Life manuals

As I’ve gotten older I find myself saying “I always say” or “my mama/daddy always said” etc. To my kids or people younger than me.

It’s like throughout life we create these manuals on life to pass on to future generations. Manuals filled with lessons learned the hard way, things we’ve observed, revelations we’ve come to.

And the older we get, these things become our guiding light.

And a lot of times, I know they don’t get it yet but just like me, eventually all those “mama said’s” become clear.

It makes you think, what’s going to be the lessons I want to add to these generations old manuals passed on through conversations about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness. Passed to us when we least want to hear it, as we roll our eyes and hold back the tears.

It’s these lessons that form who we are.

So I’ve really started to think about what lessons I live by, that I also want to share with my kids.

1. Focus on who’s there, and don’t spend your energy on those who are not.

This lesson actually makes me slightly sad because I think of all the time I missed with people who aren’t here anymore. The fact that I was possibly busy with those who had to make myself a part of, when I had genuine people that I took for granted.

But it also makes me happy because it sets me free from trying to belong everywhere and appeal to everyone. I want my kids to show up as themselves and do whatever…for them. Not for who’s there or not there. But to the one who’s there, show extreme gratitude because they are a blessing.

2. Self worth is the foundation of every choice. Always think about how this thing or situation will serve you.

I have so many “almost situations” because my self-worth kicked in. Thank you God! If these things had happened God only knows where I’d be. That’s God Mercy in action.

3. Don’t use fear as a reason not to try. Use it to try harder.

Fear is a MF. Speak life, take action, face truth and fear will dissipate. It’s normal to fear, but it shouldn’t paralyze you. Education, action, confidence, prayer is the fear eliminator.

4. Nothing truly happens to you, they happen because of choices made by you. Self- accountability and integrity will free you!

5. Embrace the things that make you different/ unique, instead of trying to become everyone else. Who you are is the most beautiful thing about you.

Anyone who tries to convince you differently is a hater.

6. Love doesn’t hurt. All that ride or die, making up to break up, the bad times makes us stronger stuff is BS. True love is kind, keeps no record of wrong, it is patient. Basically the Bible’s definition of love is how love should truly feel. Accept only that!

And how will you know it’s love. I always think about my favorite quote from When Harry Met Sally, “ When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” True love is urgent, it’s forgiving, it feels safe. When you know, you know!

7. You have a right to change your mind. As Lauryn Hill states in Her song Selah, “ you are not obligated to obey the demands of bad decisions” ! You are young, you’ll make bad/poor decisions, but it’s the good decisions thereafter that matter. Be accountable, take action, do better next time.

8. Be slow to speak, but always listen intently. Every answer you are looking for lies within silence. Take time to just be and you’ll always get the answer. It will show you people's hearts, allow you to feel, allow you to breathe when life feels exhausting.

9. God’s people aren’t perfect. Try not to allow their mistakes, abuse, and misuse of God’s word to change you and alter your belief in him!

This is a whole word. I’ve gone through so much silent hurt from “Church people” / “God’s people”. But God’s love always prevails. Get to know him for yourself, and know that people have free will. They decide! So their actions don’t always align with his word. Give them the grace God gives you everyday, and know that their actions don’t change how good he is.

10. Remember you can ask for what you want. It doesn't hurt to ask. It also doesn't hurt to demand more. You get one life, don’t spend it settling.

I’m not done. I’ll continue to add more over time, but I’m curious…What lesson’s resonated with you? What lessons would you add to your life manual?

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