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At the age of 45, writer Regina Brett wrote a column for the Cleveland Plain Dealer listing 45 lessons that life had taught her thus far. As a breast cancer survivor, many of those lessons were learned the hard way. Five years later she added five more lessons rounding her list up to 50 and turned her popular list into a book called God Never Blinks. I found her list to be entertaining, inspiring and thought provoking. I thought I would go through each of her lessons learned and write about how that lesson has or has not come up in my own life, now that I am over 40 and feel old enough to have finally learned something.
When I was younger, I spent a lot of time being envious of others. I looked at the lives of friends and family and coveted the various things that they had going on that I didn't. I wanted to have the handsome and loving boyfriend. I wanted to have the terrific job that paid well. I wanted to have a shiny new car that didn't need repairs. I wanted to have the glorious apartment in the trendy location.
As I got older, some of those nice things came into my life. They weren't enough. There were still things happening to other people that weren't happening for me. I wanted to have a husband willing to commit to me. I wanted to have a home of my own with a yard and everything. I wanted to have a real vacation of my own design. I wanted to have tickets to all the cool events in town.
Over the years some of those desires became a reality. They weren't enough. Someone else was always involved with bigger and better things. I wanted to have a loving child. I wanted to have a different career. I wanted to have a beautifully renovated home. I wanted to meet new and exciting people from around the world.
I now have a son, a new job, a comfortable home and friends from throughout the blogosphere connecting me to their worlds daily. I have what I have because I worked very hard. I didn't stay envious, pout and compare my life to those I felt had it better than me. No one wants to date a sour puss who stays home feeling sorry for herself. No one wants to give a raise to a distracted slacker, wishing she could lounge around instead of working hard to improve. No one wants to travel with a complainer who is never happy with the accommodations. I relaxed and took stock of my life. I realized that I had an abundance of friends. I had a supportive family. I had a paycheck. I had good health. I had all I needed to get me where I wanted to be. While I had been busy being envious of others, I saw that I had been neglecting the qualities of my life that others would kill to have. I decided not to sit around waiting to be lucky. I already was.
I will always be seeking more, more, more. Because I want to always learn, explore and grow. I will want more knowledge and experience. I will want more compassion and love. I will want more variety. Because these are the things that make me happy. I will always seek inspiration from what is going on with others in the world around me. But I will not be envious of them. Because I have all that I need. The ability to live well, laugh often and love much.
We are all capable of these things. Living well means giving yourself to others when they need you. Laughing often means finding joy in both the simple and the glorious occurrences out there every day. Loving much means having compassion for and finding common ground with folks who cross your path. You get what you give. Give often and you'll never need to be envious again.