Random Bits Of Good Advice

By the time you’re 40ish, or been around long enough, you’ve been on the receiving end of tons of advice — some good, some not so good or at least not applicable to your life.  I thought that I would compile some of the best advice I’ve ever heard.  Maybe you’ll gain something from these “words of wisdom” too.

  • Never get into credit card debt” – My Mom, delivered in such a severe and foreboding tone that I didn’t even ask her why and I never racked up any debt)
  • “If your kids fall or bump into something and you know they’re not hurt, just distract them.  ” – Male co-worker.  This tactic also works if they’re fighting over toys or cry for no reason.  You can distract them with funny faces, loud noises or other shiny toys.
  • “You can only change your reaction to people.”  – A friend, after hearing me complain one too many times about the same people.
  • Money buys freedom.” – I can’t remember who said this but I think it was a rock musician.
  • Don’t lean back ahead of time – Wandering Scientist, who has written a million good posts about balancing work and motherhood.  Lots of practical tips as well as thoughful posts.  I’ve written about this too and the most important thing is to not feel guilty.
  • “Forget balance. Choose Flexibility” – The Happiest Mom blog. This is good advice for anyone with interests outside of work.
  • “If someone tries to abduct you, fight back and don’t let them take you away to an isolated place.” – High school teacher, to the whole class.  This stuck with me because it had no context in terms of the school subject.  This teacher was also male and he was so sincere and heartfelt that it made me take more notice for some reason.  I now wonder if he experienced any personal tragedy.
  • If you only have a few minutes to clean before guests arrive, clean the bathroom (clean toilet, wipe sink, quick sweep of the floors).  Drop an Alka Seltzer in the toilet bowl.” – Probably a Martha Stewart or Real Simple magazine tip, i.e. clean what people will notice most.
  • “To find a good, affordable restaurant in a foreign country, take a peek inside and see if most of the customers are local.  If yes, it’s a good bet the food is authentic and reasonably priced.”Rick Steves, of the PBS travel series.  That’s not an exact quote but I followed this advice in Europe and it really made a difference in my travel experiences.
  • “Focus on your strengths.” I forget where I read this but as someone who tend to focus on improving my weaknesses, this was a bit of a revelation.  While I do continually try to improve myself, I do my best work when I take on projects that play to my strengths.
  • “Rock your baby up and down with energy, like this.” – A Nurse, who showed us that many babies prefer a vigorous up-and-down rocking motion rather than the gentle back-and-forth motion.  It sounds strange and sometimes it felt like our babies were hanging on for dear life, but it worked!

Advice is a funny thing. After I wrote down the above list, I realized that most of the advice I take to heart come from strangers or acquaintances (blogs, books, famous people), not people I’m close to in real life.  I don’t know if that’s common or if I’m more dismissive of advice I hear from family and friends, or if most advice given are nothing more than well-meaning clichés.

Another thing about advice is that timing comes into play.  Sometimes two people can give you the exact same advice, phrased differently, and you just don’t pay attention until you’re ready to hear it.

What are some unforgettable, and good, advice you’ve received or read somewhere?

9 responses to “Random Bits Of Good Advice

  1. “To find a good, affordable restaurant in a foreign country, take a peek inside and see if most of the customers are local.” Did this in Hong Kong. It was a very good tip, except that I maybe should have stopped there and not ordered “what they’re having”. Which a very special long-fermented chicken dish which while actually very tasty, I was not quite up to after a long flight. My family who stuck to safer choices laughed long and hard at me.

    • Ordering what they’re having is brave! It could be a good idea though because I have done that too and you often stumble upon the best foods.

  2. Thanks for the shout out! But I think, technically, the “don’t lean back ahead of time” advice started with Sheryl Sandberg.

    As for advice I’ve gotten that I think is good: leran how to say “hello” and “thank you” in the language of whatever country you are visiting. It makes people more forgiving of your utter cluelessness. I forget where I picked this up… but it is definitely true!

  3. It takes ~20 min for a solid pill to start working. ~10 min for liquid. Don’t overdose on drugs just because you don’t think they’re working when they just need more time. (From a health teacher who had spent time working in an emergency room for drug stuff… LSD overdoses were a big problem– she told how long subcutaneous, under the tongue, under the eyelid also take, but without practice I’ve forgotten.)

    Don’t compare yourself negatively to other people. No matter who you are there is always someone more awesome in some respect. Instead learn what you can from people. (From college and grad school friend.)

    Use “I” language instead of “You” language when discussing disagreements. (From former roommate and co-blogger.) Also: always give yourself dedicated physical “you” space that you don’t share with anybody, even if it’s just small enough to sit on.

    • I had no idea about how long it took for medication to take effect. Must keep this in mind. I’ve had bad experiences in the past!

      • Also keep in mind that different people metabolize medication differently. And it can be different for different medications. And if you are a big fan of grapefruit, watch out for the potential impact on how fast you metabolize things, particularly if you are already a slow metabolizer. There is a compound in grapefruit that inhibits one of the drug metabolizing enzymes, which can allow toxic levels to build up.

  4. It’s telling that I’m still pondering this question 5 minutes later. I don’t remember getting any advice apart from put your money in your sock.

  5. I love hearing other people’s Best Advice. JNU — I hope you come up with something other than money in your sock!

  6. “The friend to everyone is the friend to no one.” – Spanish proverb. I take this to mean beware of getting too close to a conspicuously popular person – they’re probably popular because they know how to work people. They can’t commit to deep friendships with shared confidences and the true intimacy that entails. Some of the most inappropriate, juiciest gossip I’ve ever heard has been told to me by 3 people I’ve known who are each the proverbial “friend to everyone.” Yuck.

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