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20 Times Profound Words of Advice Literally Changed Lives

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Sometimes, words of wisdom stick with you forever. I know that I can clearly recall certain advice I’ve held on to from my parents, siblings, friends, and former bosses.

People on AskReddit shared the wisdom they received that changed their lives.

1. It’s not about being unafraid

“I was 13 years old, trying to teach my 6 year old sister how to dive into a swimming pool from the side of the pool. It was taking quite a while as my sister was really nervous about it. We were at a big, public pool, and nearby there was a woman, about 75 years old, slowly swimming laps. Occasionally she would stop and watch us. Finally she swam over to us just when I was really putting the pressure on, trying to get my sister to try the dive, and my sister was shouting, “but I’m afraid!! I’m so afraid!!” The old woman looked at my sister, raised her fist defiantly in the air and said, “So be afraid! And then do it anyway!”

That was 35 years ago and I have never forgotten it. It was a revelation — it’s not about being unafraid. It’s about being afraid and doing it anyway.”

2. Amen

“Don’t be a d*ck to your dog. He’s a few years of your life, but you are all of his.”

3. Liberated

“I met a person who was in a wheelchair. He related a story about how a person once asked if it was difficult to be confined to a wheelchair. He responded, “I’m not confined to my wheelchair – I am liberated by it. If it wasn’t for my wheelchair, I would be bed-bound and never able to leave my room or house. ”

Amazing perspective.”

4. Your whole life

“My mom was dying. A friend told me “you have your whole life to freak out about this– don’t do it in front of her. ”

It really helped me to understand that my feelings are not always what’s important. It IS possible to delay a freakout, and that skill has served me innumerable times.”

5. Good advice

“When I was 38 I contemplated beginning a two year Associates Degree in Radiography. I was talking to a friend and had almost talked myself out of doing it. I said “I’m too old to start that. I’ll be 40 when I get my degree.” My friend said “If you don’t do it, you’ll still be 40, but without the degree.” I’m nearly 60 now, and that degree has been the difference between making a decent living, and struggling to get by.”

6. Real talk

“When I was young and having what I thought was a serious relationship talk with my first real SO, I told her that I just wanted to find the right person.

Without missing a beat she said, “Everybody is looking for the right person, and nobody is trying to be the right person.”

That stopped me in my tracks.”

7. Bonds

“A friend of the family’s five year-old child died in a freak accident, where the father had just left the room for a minute to go to the bathroom, and the child climbed on top of the TV, and it toppled and crushed him. The family was in pieces, and the father undeservedly blamed himself for the death of his child. I remember telling my dad, a stoic man who has only said he loves me maybe three times in his life, that this is a reason that I don’t know if I want children. I don’t think I could handle something like this.

His response was: Even one minute with you in my life is worth whatever pain I would feel if you had died.

To hear that from him really showed me how strong that bond can be, even if a parent doesn’t show it openly, and changed my mind about wanting children.”

8. Don’t be embarrassed

“Think of a time you were embarrassed, easy right? Now think of a time someone else was embarrassed. It’s a lot harder to do isn’t it?” I don’t really worry about being embarrassed anymore if no one but I will remember it!”

9. Be better

“After getting rejected by a bunch of colleges in the same week, my dad (who is a writer) said “I was rejected by Stanford three times, and now my books are in their library. You’ve got to be better than them.” “

10. Make mistakes

“As a child, my duty was to empty the dishwasher.

I was something like 10, that day. I was always trying to do that fast, so I had more time to play SMB on my NES.

Only my dad was home, gardening. I grabbed the coffee pot that was in the dishwasher and it slipped off my hand, to broke loudly in pieces on the floor.

I was ashamed and afraid of my dad’s reaction. Like a lot. He was (and still is) a nice guy, but for me it was like a big mistake, and for my child brain, this pot was worth a lot of money. He would be mad.

It took all my courage to go see my dad and tell him, but I did. I was almost crying of shame, while still having the handle of the pot in my hand, as a proof.

My dad, calmly looked at me, and said “Breaking something happens when you work, that’s ok, don’t worry”.

It’s silly, but I think of that almost every day. It’s okay to make mistakes, at least you are trying to do something.

Thanks dad!”

11. Just do it

“Next year, you’ll wish you had started today.”

12. Set a good example

“I’m the oldest of three kids. I’m older than my little brother by 2.5 years and my little sister by 9.5.

When I was about fourteen or so, arguing with my dad in private about something I don’t remember, he, being the second-oldest of eight kids, told me:

“Any decision you make in this household, you make three times. Once when you make it, once when your brother makes the same decision after watching you do it, and once when your sister makes the same decision after watching you and your brother do it. How you treat your brother will tell him how he can treat your sister; and how you treat your sister tells her how she will expect to be treated for the rest of her life, even as far as her future boyfriends.”

That kinda shook me up and made me rethink my role as the oldest child; I started taking my responsibilities as the role model a lot more seriously after that. Even when you aren’t trying to actively influence those around you, those who look up to and respect you will still base their decisions, in part, on how they’ve seen you handle similar situations. If you break down and get stressed and angry when something inconvenient happens, they’ll feel better doing the same when something similarly small happens to them. But if you keep your cool in a dire situation and under a lot of stress, it can inspire them to believe they can do the same.”

13. Open minded

” “How would it make you feel?”

It’s the sentence that changed my stance on gay marriage. Without context, that seems silly, but I’ll offer up a shortened version. I grew up in suburban STL to conservative Christian parents (and they weren’t remotely tolerant) and pretty much never left my comfort bubble. I moved to Kansas City when I was 20 to finish college. My roommate was good friends with a gay couple, and this was my first encounter with gay people (that I knew of, which was ignorant. There’s no way it was my first). Inevitably, we got into a debate, and they basically went into a tirade about how much it sucks to constantly be berated and made fun of, and how it sucks to be treated unfairly because of something they can’t control. I reverted to the classic “it’s a choice!” line of thinking.

They responded with “why would we f*cking choose this for ourselves? Why would we choose to constantly be made fun of, to constantly be judged, and constantly be denied rights? How would it make YOU feel?” It was pretty much that exact moment when I, who I consider to be a logical person, realized I was being an illogical asshole and that I was just regurgitating the sh*t I picked up from being raised in a conservative Christian household. From that moment on, I start undoing all of the programming in my mind from years of living in a sheltered environment. My views have since changed on nearly everything, from gay marriage to abortion to religion. One sentence from one conversation with two gay men changed me in a huge number of ways, and now I scoff at the idea that you can’t change someone’s mind about these things.”

14. Sometimes you just need to cry

“My mom was in a nursing home, recovering from a heart attack (a battle she eventually lost). She had struggled with depression in her life, and this was hitting her very hard. She had worked in nursing homes, and hated them. I spent hours a day with her, and some days were better than others. I pushed her a lot, encouraging a positive outlook, and patience. Patience with herself, her situation, the staff, everything.

I started taking in some headphones, thinking maybe music would cheer her up. So one afternoon I’m sitting next to her bed, and she’s listening to my iPhone, and tears just start running down her face. I pulled the headphones off her and started asking her what was wrong. Asking her not to cry. She looked at me and smiled like a mother looking at her son, and simply asked me “what if that’s what I need right now? To cry?” Then she pulled the headphones back on.

Through all the pain and chaos of the last few years, that really stuck with me. What if sometimes, you don’t need to focus on the positive. You don’t need to smile, and bear it. Sometimes you just need to cry.”

15. Always a team

“I recently got married earlier this year, and obviously our marriage is far from perfect. We argue, and disagree, and sometimes can’t stand to be around each other. I grew up in a very hostile environment and having an arguement with a family member was awful. Personal attacks were always used, instant anger, and no mutual understanding was ever to be had. It was always about who was right and how to make them feel bad.

When I got married, I quickly noticed that my fighting habits were toxic for our relationship, and my husband said something to me that I use in every relationship I have. He told me, “It’s not You Vs Me, love. It’s You and Me Vs Problem. We are always a team.” It’s helped me overcome some serious rifts in my personal relationships and I will never forget it.”

16. Words of wisdom

“Everyone you meet knows something you don’t.” My grandfather told me this, and it’s been a good reminder that I am surrounded by teachers.”

17. Forgiveness

“This is a bit lengthy, but changed my life. Not just the way I think. When I was young my father abandoned me twice as a child. I grew up to be a very angry and depressed young man. I truly hated him for it. In high school, I had this amazing teacher. He helped me, and so many others, in so many ways. But one day he asked me something. He asked “You hate him right?” I said yeah. He said “And he deserves it right?” And, again, I said yes.

Then he then he said “Do you think he feels any of your hatred for him?” I thought for a few seconds and answered “No. He probably doesn’t.” And then he said “But you feel all of it. And you don’t deserve that. It’s time to forgive the man. Not because he deserves it. But because you do.”. He was completely right. I forgave my father, and over time have built up an incredibly close relationship with the man. And I could neve have gotten to this point without my teacher.”

18. Right vs. Wrong

“You know you’re an adult when you can be right without proving the other person wrong.”

19. No guarantees

“In terms of love and romance, the truth is, the only person you know you’re definitely spending the rest of your life with is you.

Everything else is simply not guaranteed -no matter how much you believe in “true love” and all that it entails. People die. People leave. People change their minds. When all is said and done, you end up with yourself. So you better f*cking like who that is. In fact, you better LOVE who that is. Work everyday to be your best self. And don’t let ANYONE EVER define who you are without your permission.”

20. Grandpa knows best

“You’re going to die one day. We all are. Do everything you want to do. Don’t wind up on your death bed one day thinking of all the things you didn’t do because assh*les might have an assh*le opinion about it. They’re just jealous anyways.”

~ My grandpa at 89 years old; a few months before he died 12 years ago.

And that’s the real quote. It was on video.