Former talk show host and media mogul Oprah Winfrey always finds a way to ask the signature question "what do you know for sure?" to the high profiled guests she interviews. This has me thinking about the lessons I've learned through my own experiences or by bearing witness to the pain of others close to me. These are the things that I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, to be true. I apologize in advance for the crude way I've worded some of these lessons, but life doesn't sugarcoat it when it's being taught, so I'm not going to try to make it sound fancy.
Lesson One: Never Let a Fool Kiss You or A Kiss Fool You
Sometimes a kiss is just a kiss and there is absolutely no emotion behind it. A kiss is not a commitment or a promise and it's important to learn how to separate the two. All too often people,especially women, put too much meaning into gestures that are just that, gestures. Even worse is that we allow people access to our bodies without knowing exactly what kind of person they really are. It's not always the love making that means anything, but the person's non-sexual actions that show where his or her heart really is. Furthermore, it takes time to really get to know someone and physical contact can cloud judgment. The bottom line is don't kiss (or have sex with) someone who you are unsure about. Take sometime to really get to know them before the intimacy. If you've decided to wait until marriage, perfect, but if you haven't, my advice is to slow down and make sure that the person wants you and not just that part of you and also be absolutely sure you want them.
Lesson Two: Don't Give It All Away
No, I'm not referring to that age old question "Why buy the cow when the milk is free?" What I'm suggesting is that we learn to give from our abundance. Through the years I've seen others, and I've been guilty myself, of giving what they don't have. Like so many, I've volunteered my time and my energy when my body, mind and spirit needed rest. I've given above tithes and offerings for the "whatever fund" and then worried if my bills were going to get paid. What I've learned is that it is important to give, but we also have to give to ourselves. We have to make sure that we make ourselves as much of a priority as anyone else. If we need something, then we deserve it. Please hear me because I am not talking about material things nor am I promoting selfishness. What I am proposing is that we take care of our emotional, spiritual, physical and fiscal needs before giving it all away. You can't give what you don't have so stop trying.
Lesson Three: If You Haven't Given Birth to Me, Married Me or Financed Me, Then Your Opinion of Me Doesn't Really Matter
I'm not sure exactly when it happened, but somewhere along the way I stopped trying to please everybody. Of course I'm concerned with what my mother, husband, children and employers think about the public choices I make, but other than that I really don't care. Through the years I spent a great deal of my time hoping that people would like me. I tried to always be agreeable and polite and bent over backwards to accommodate other's needs. Unfortunately, there were people who didn't like me because of the way I looked, the car I drove, the way I spoke or whatever and there was absolutely nothing I could do to please them. So I stopped. If someone likes you, great. If they don't, two tears in a bucket...I wouldn't suggest that you upset your mother, your children, your spouse or employer by your words or actions, but I wouldn't spend a lot of time worrying about what others think. Everyone has an opinion about you, and it's just that-an opinion. And like noses everyone has one.
Lesson Four: Chocolate Really Can Make Things Better
If I'm sad, chocolate will lift my spirits. I don't care if it's dark, white or milk, Hershey's or Godiva it makes me happy. On those occasions when I feel sorry for myself I consume as much chocolate as I want. Sometimes it's Hagen Daz chocolate ice cream and other times it's chocolate covered peanuts. Regardless, it's the adult equivalent of a pacifier and it comforts me for a while. Thankfully, this doesn't happen often. Otherwise I would be obese. Also, when others are sad, I've found that a piece of chocolate can brighten their day.
Lesson Five: You Can Tell A lot About a Person by the Way They Speak to the Help
People can put on their best manners when talking to the Chairman of the Board or the most important guest in the room, but do they value the person who cleaned the toilet, mowed the grass or cooked the food? People who are only impressed by titles always let their true colors show when they have to deal with anyone who they deem as unimportant. I avoid these fake people at all costs because they're opportunists. They don't care about the individual's worth, only their net worth.
Lesson Six: Trust But Verify
U.S. President Ronald Regan often used this phrase when discussing the tense U.S.-Soviet relationship in the 1980s. Like President Reagan, I want to believe what people tell me, but I've learned that if I don't verify what people tell me as "truth" then shame on me. It's my responsibility to discover the truth for myself.
Life is full of lessons, but these are the first seven. Thankfully I'm still learning.