Jennifer Brozek | 50 Things I Have Learned in 50 Years, Part 5

50 Things I Have Learned in 50 Years, Part 5

Being in my fifties now, I thought it would be a good thing to think about some thoughts I’ve learned that I’ve incorporated into my life—or try to. I’m not perfect. I’ve broken these 50 things in to five groups: Emotions, Habits, Love, Career, and Perspective. I will post one section a week for five weeks. This week’s section is: Perspective.

The thing about perspective is that its wisdom only comes in retrospect. It is experience from the past that allows you to manage the present and mitigate future problems before they can become problems. It is this ability to compare and contrast situations while extrapolating the possible outcomes before they happen. At the same time, it is an ability to think and act instead of merely reacting.

Perspective is when a younger person goes to an older person for advice and there is a look of recognition in that older person’s eyes, but their words are tempered with the knowledge that how it happened to them, the details of how it could happen for another are different. The devil is in the details, but human nature has its commonalities.

These bits of perspective are based on my experiences, but I think they hold wisdom for those who recognize the situations.

  1. Perspective: When someone tells you who they are by their jokes, actions, or words…believe them. It will be better for you in the long run. Especially if their “jokes” are mean or punch down. This is what they will do to you when they no longer feel the need to impress.
  2. Perspective: When I learned to lose (or fail) with grace, life got a lot more pleasant. A non-success is not the end of the world. Sometimes, it’s the only way we learn.
  3. Perspective: Food is weirdly personal. Don’t tell anyone about the diet you follow unless you want to hear (from mostly non-professionals) why you are wrong. I mean both diet as in “what you eat on a regular basis” and “what you eat for X health reason.”
  4. Perspective: There is nothing more enticing that belonging to an exclusive group; to be chosen. Be sure that the group you are joining is worthy of you and your values before you join. If you discover they are not after you have joined, do everything in your power to leave.
  5. Perspective: If someone gossips about everyone around them to you, you can bet they are gossiping about you to everyone else.
  6. Perspective: Once you figure out ultimatums are all about what you control, the better you will be at drawing lines in the sand—personally and professionally. If they do X, you will do Y. You cannot control what other people do. All you can do is inform them how you will act if they cross your line. Sometimes, they don’t deserve even that much information.
  7. Perspective: You are never too old to learn (or relearn) the basics. I finally learned how to properly blow-dry my hair at the age of fifty. I had my hairdresser show me how she would do it.
  8. Perspective: If you can travel, do it. Get out of your comfort zone. Experience a different culture. It will expand your world in more ways than one.
  9. Perspective: When you learn how to say “no” your life will be so much better for it.
  10. Perspective: When things get rough, ask yourself “Will this matter in a day, a week, a month, a year, 5 years from now?” It helps you get perspective on what is happening in the immediate. If that is too abstract, think about where you were 1, 5, 10 years ago and how your life has changed.
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