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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Best Advice I've Received Without Knowing It

"Never go on a diet," & "Be careless!"

They both sound like really bad advice at first. But...

When my sister told me to never go on a diet, I had no idea how helpful this would be for me.

I'm guessing I was in middle or high school. We were walking around the track. We had seen our mother diet, like many others, with great success only to re-gain all of the weight.

Around that time, my very overweight father told me that he used to wear jeans in "slim" sizes, too, when he was my age.

So what did I do to avoid becoming like my parents (at least in terms of being overweight)?

I did not go on a diet.

Instead, I made small choices to drink more water (where I'm now to the point of never drinking soda), try new vegetables, and make sure I continue doing things I love that are active (swimming, climbing trees, walking). It has led to me also finding new things I love (kayaking, backpacking, rock climbing, contra dancing).

At that moment, neither of us had any idea that I would remember that conversation with my sister 10 or 15 years later. I'm the same size as I was then (which also means, yes, I'm short!) and have never been on a diet.

"Be careless."

My dad used to say this to us as children all the time. I loved it! While the rest of the adult world (and even sometimes other children) was screaming, "Be careful!" he gave permission to make mistakes.

He seemed to really use it as reverse psychology and a joke. I loved the playfulness of the phrase as if he was saying he didn't care if we got hurt, but I could hear in his voice that he did. It wasn't as annoying as hearing someone say for the thousandth time to "be careful." When they said that, it seemed to mean, "Stop whatever you are doing and do something that involves less risk because I don't want to have to take you to the hospital if you get hurt."

For me, his phrase to be careless has so much more meaning.

In that one phrase, I would hear also:

  • Be careful, while you continue to try this somewhat dangerous/scary thing you are doing because I don't want you to get hurt, but I do want you to have fun and grow and learn new things.
  • Be carefree. Don't worry about if other people think it's too scary. Trust yourself, and know your limits. But also test them because if you don't, they will always remain your limits.
  • Be sloppy. It's ok sometimes. Don't be a perfectionist. Don't fear showing your weaknesses. It's hard to make anything without making mistakes. Learn from them, fix them when you can, but make them. And with them you will make memories, and friends, and beauty.

I don't think this is exactly what my siblings heard when he said this; they may not even remember him saying it. But until I watched this excellent interview with Grant Cardone in which he mentioned that he told his nanny not to tell his kids to "be careful" but to "be dangerous," I didn't realize what great advice (that he probably didn't even consider to be advice) my dad had given and how it may have affected the choices I make even today.

What's the best advice you've ever gotten?

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