Home > Life, School > Five Things That I’ve Learned

Five Things That I’ve Learned

I’d like to share a few things that I’ve learned. Some of the ideas are related to each other:

1. Life isn’t just about me.

Sometimes, I get to be the star and other people support me. Sometimes, other people get to be the star and my job is to support them. The same applies to all of us. Sometimes we’re the star, sometimes the supporting actor. We should play either role with grace and gratitude.

Sometimes, things go the way we want and other people are disappointed. Sometimes, things go the way other people want and we get disappointed. When the latter happens, share the happiness of the people who “won” this time, learn whatever you can from the situation, and then move on to the next goal without looking back.

2. If something isn’t in our control, don’t stress over it.

Sometimes, we and the people we love will get sick. Sometimes, we won’t get the jobs or the social situations we want. Sometimes, we will get dumped. By the time we’re 30, the Arctic ice pack will probably be history (not that we were ever going to go there, anyway). Someday, the sun will explode. Someday, each of us will almost certainly die.

We can’t do a thing about any of those events. Don’t worry about them. Try to invest emotional energy only in things we can control.

3. People do whatever they do. Get over it.

People always think they have good reasons for doing what they do. We usually don’t know what their reasons are. Even when someone makes a hurtful remark, she’s doing it for a reason. Maybe she misinterpreted something we said or did, and that hurt her. In her mind, we were the ones who started it. She might think that she’s just striking back.

People very rarely do mean things just from pure meanness. Instead, they have reasons that make sense to them. In addition, they often have subconscious motivations of which they aren’t even aware.

The best thing we can do is try to be as fair and as nice as we can to everyone. If they don’t act that way toward us, remember that we don’t know their reasons. They see the situation differently from the way we see it.

We are only in charge of our own behavior. We should only worry about making sure that our own actions are fair and loving. How other people act is their choice, between them and their conscience. We have no control over that, so we shouldn’t worry about it.

4. This, too, is for the good.

Our viewpoint is very limited. We don’t see the big picture and we are biased by our own desires. When something happens that frustrates us, we need to remember fact #1: “Life isn’t just about me.”

If we can improve a “bad” situation without hurting people, then we should do it. Otherwise, we should trust in the essential goodness of the universe and not worry about it. Things will work out for the best.

5. Happiness and fulfillment are the goals of life.

For you, for me, and for everyone. Things that help people achieve happiness and fulfillment are good. Things that frustrate the process are bad.

In our personal actions, we should seek happiness and fulfillment for ourselves in a way that supports other people’s pursuit of them. In our countries’ social policies, we should do the same. Policies that help the most people achieve the most happiness and fulfillment are good as long as they don’t violate people’s rights or cause excessive harm.

Copyright 2009 by Rinth de Shadley.


  1. October 12, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    Good advice.

    • Rinth de Shadley
      October 12, 2009 at 2:29 pm

      Thank you for the nice comment!

  2. David
    December 21, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    Wow! Great stuff, Rinth! You are a very thoughtful young lady! My goal in life is to put God first, my wife second, everyone else third, and me last. If we could live our lives this way, I think everyone would be much happier. The Beatitudes are words to live by.
    The thing that stood out in #2 is about “Climate Change”, especially now. Controlling climate change is above humanity’s paygrade. The earth had heat waves (during the dinosaurs time) and ice ages (during the mastadon’s). This all happened without human intervention. This does not mean we shouldn’t strive to be better stewards of the planet. But we can’t change climate.
    #3, this is why I pray for our leaders even if I don’t like what they’re doing. I know I don’t want to be one! Actually, this covers #4, too.
    #5, I might amend to be happiness and fulfillment after we die…I don’t care about happiness here (though it is nice when it happens), but I just keep looking toward heaven!

    • Rinth de Shadley
      December 21, 2009 at 11:58 pm

      Hi, David 🙂

      Thank you very much for your nice compliment!

      I agree with all of your points, but I’d like to offer a little explanation on a couple of them.

      You asked somewhere why I like Camille Paglia. First, I obviously don’t agree with her religious viewpoint. But she is very smart and says things that make me think. I even saw her speak once, and she was absolutely hilarious. Just so you know I get a little balance, I’ve also read two books by Pope Benedict, who is also a very thoughtful writer and with whom I agree more about religion.

      About my blog, I hope that you won’t think some of it is too immature, though it probably is. I write it for everyone, but when I’m writing, I often think mainly of my friends at school. Most of them read it, which is also why I sometimes refer to things that happened at school. So some of the jokes I make, well, I hope you don’t think badly of me.

      • David
        December 22, 2009 at 4:41 pm

        Hi Rinth, I can easily see that you are quite well balanced. Even in choices of ‘tramp stamp’. I’m old school, don’t like tatoos much, but can admire them on others…:) As for Camille, I think you can like someone and not necessarily walk in lock step with them. Many think that if someone identifies with someone, that means they are, like, glued to them or something. I like some aspects of her, as well. In fact, most people, I can admire on some level while not even thinking about other aspects of them. What I like about you is that you seem to have a great head on your shoulders, and you try to see all sides of an issue.

        Your blog is a bit ‘young’ for me, but that’s to be expected-i’m 30 years older than you are. But I am discerning to be a deacon, and I’m in a schhol at my diocese for pastoral ministry. Part of what I do out here is to look at how people think, so that one day, when asked, I can relate to someone with a younger or different viewpoint. As someone who took an exctra 20 years to mature, I don’t think badly of you at all. I just hope you partake of the Sacraments on a regular basis, and I include you in my prayers…:Merry Christmas!

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