Turning 50:
Things I Wish I’d Known Before

by Jim Birrell
[source unknown]

As I approach my 50th birthday, I find myself a bit philosophical and introspective. I ask myself what lessons of life I have learned.

• Life is a test. The test is different for each of us. It is no use comparing ourselves to others because other’s tests are largely invisible to us.

• Two people can go through a similar or even shared experience and see it very differently. There is no common meaning in common experience

• To be content requires gratitude, and wanting less, in an age of ecstatic excess and easy access. It’s hard to be content in the age of addiction we live in.

• Simplify your life. Most people want too much. Mormons are especially good at this. Admit it, we think God pays us to be good; after all, doesn’t he prosper us in the land if we are good? Don’t we equate accumulation with goodness, and position with possession? We even confuse significance with prominence, in our respect for authority and office.

• Think yourself a fool, and you will find that you agree with many people on at least one truth.

• Want less and give away more; help others get what they need. Sell the boat and use the money to send someone to college.

• Keep perspective; we are all children playing “adult” in a large telestial sandbox. Play nice and share your toys.

• The ultimate reality is out of this world—literally. Better to be a spiritual misfit in this world than a secular one in the world to come.

• To love unconditionally means to love someone despite the way they are, not just the way they are.

• Don’t assume malice for what thoughtlessness can explain.

• Fear is the opposite of love, for perfect love casteth out fear. If you fear too much, you love too little. Fearful people are high maintenance; they love to control you.

• Laugh more; this world is a wonderful three-ring circus. Clowns are everywhere.

• Be introspective, especially about all the ways you are irrational.


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