3 Life Lessons to learn while you're young

3 Life Lessons to Learn While You’re Young

When you think about your life, are you satisfied with what you’re doing right now? Are you living your life in a way that makes you feel good when you sit and think about it? We so often get bogged down in the day-to-day that the things we say are important are no longer our priorities, even if we want them to be. As Millennials, we focus so much on earning money or pursuing a degree that we forget to enjoy the journey of reaching our goals. Morrie Schwartz, the wise mentor and former professor in Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie, spent his time embracing the most important things in life.

Through this book, Morrie teaches us life’s greatest lessons. For those of you who haven’t read my about page, I’d like you to know that this book has a special place in my heart! I am a graduate student in the Gerontology Disciplinary Program right now, which means that I study aging. I absolutely love older adults and know that they have a wealth of knowledge that comes from many years of experience. In my opinion, the bond between Mitch and Morrie is admirable and I loved learning from their friendship.

Mitch was a lot like all of us at the beginning of this book. He had been bogged down for too long in life’s trenches and had forgotten the important things. He was a workaholic and his family life was in shambles. Mitch had also lost touch with his mentor until one day he saw Morrie on the news and decided it was time to reconnect with him. At this point, Morrie was diagnosed with ALS and was in the last months of his life. With that in mind, the two men decided to have one final class together, a class about how to life your best life.

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3 Life Lessons to learn while you're young

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I think it’s important that before I talk about the main themes I found in Morrie’s lessons that you get a sense of who he was. Morrie was a man that lived his life to the fullest. He served others as a professor and deeply cared about the well-being of his students. He forgave without question. One of his favorite things in this world was dancing, and he was incredibly grateful for everything he had. This was a man we can all learn from.

The Past

A large portion of Morrie’s teachings revolved around the idea of the past. The past is an illusive concept that looks different for everyone. However, we all have things in our past that we look back on with regret. Morrie suggests that we, “Accept the past as past, without denying it or discarding it.” I absolutely loved that piece of advice, because it gives us permission to move on without burying these feelings we have. We can’t change the past, but we can use it to create a better future by learning from it.

How we live day-to-day eventually creates a life of remorse or hope. Morrie teaches that “if you’ve found meaning in your life you don’t want to go back. You want to go forward. You want to see more, do more.” Are we living our lives in a way that makes us want to move forward in hope and joy? As young people, I think the best thing we can do to honor Morrie’s advice it try new things and experience as much as we can.

Our Society

One thing that makes me love Morrie is that he spent a lot of time around young people. He taught them for years at a university, and understands the struggles we go through and how our culture has changed. He acknowledges that “the culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves.” That’s so true, isn’t it? We are in a society that encourages people to beat other people for jobs, money, houses, relationships etc. Instead, it should be a society of building each other up and competing only against ourselves. We “have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn’t work, don’t buy it.”

Many people in our society have a sense of entitlement. They think that because they go through all of the schooling and get the right internships that they are entitled to the perfect job with a high paying salary… But that’s not the case for everyone. And some people, like Morrie, will live their lives in the best way possible and end up with a disease that robs them of fulfilling the rest of their dreams. On this subject, Morrie says,  “I don’t allow myself any more self-pity than that. A little each morning, a few tears, and that’s all.” What would the world be like if we were all like Morrie? If we faced our fears, failures, misfortunes, and heartbreaks with the same grace that he did? It would be a much better place.

Love

Throughout the book, Morrie meets with countless people in his home. He is constantly talking with others, teaching and loving them. He always welcomed Mitch with open arms and loved their Tuesday lessons. Morrie truly believed that “the way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something.” He lived that way, and certainly felt fulfilled.

There is a tendency to use work or school as excuses for putting off the things that really matter. We say things like, “I’ll spend more time with family when I get this promotion,” or “I’ll go back to painting once I have enough money.” The problem with this way of thinking is that you’re putting off the things you love for things that simply don’t matter as much. Morrie reminds us that “money is not a substitute for tenderness, and power is not a substitute for tenderness.”

If you’re looking for ways to be the best you, take Morrie’s advice. Learn from a life well lived and think about your past, our society, and love in a different light.

MAKAYLA

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How Understanding Gender Differences Aids Communication

How Understanding Gender Differences Aids Communication

In honor of Valentine’s Day, the personal development book I chose for February is Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps by Barbara and Allan Pease. One giant obstacle to communication is relating to one another and understanding someone else’s point of view. That can be magnified because of gender differences that aren’t often talked about or understood.

This subject can be controversial because our society wants to paint men and women as the same, even though there are unique differences. Men are not better than women; women are not better than men. But there are differences. And although this book wasn’t my style, it still had good information that can help us understand each other better.

We Are Unique

I would like to point out that every single person on this planet is different. The things I talk about below may seem limiting, but they talk about the majority of people in each gender. I completely understand that some women will not fit every female trait and some men will not fit every male trait, because we’re all individuals! Some people do not feel as if they fall into a male or female category, and there are people all over the spectrum. However, I think this post can still be applicable to anyone that doesn’t fall into these categories. It will still allow you to learn about the way people think, and maybe help you understand your own thought processes a little better.

That being said, welcome to the third month of personal and professional book discussions! In case you missed them, here are links to December and January‘s posts. December’s post was about 5 Ways to Ensure Success, and January’s post was about How to Take Advantage of Your Twenties.

How Understanding gender differences aids communication

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There were eleven headings in this book. The headings cover a broad variety of topics including communication, sex, biology, the workplace, etc. For our purposes, I would like to focus on the aspects that help us understand how to communicate effectively with the people around us.

Compartmentalizing VS Multitasking

Have you ever seen those graphics where the inside of a man’s brain is a bunch of boxes neatly labeled, and a woman’s brain is a tangled ball of yarn? According to research done by Barbara and Allan Pease, that graphic is incredibly accurate.

Men are more likely to be able to compartmentalize their thoughts, meaning that they can separate their thoughts into categories that don’t often mix. For example, if something goes wrong at work, a man can either go to the “angry box” or the “problem-solving box.” If they choose the problem-solving box they may feel anger about the situation later, but probably not at the same time.

Women, on the other hand, are quite different. Think back to that tangled ball of yarn. Women’s thoughts and feelings are all connected. Is something goes wrong at work, we are likely to feel man, annoyed, pressure to solve the problem, a little sad that the system isn’t working the way it should, which would remind us that the dishwasher at home is broken… You get the idea.

Since our brains are wired differently, it’s easier for men to perform a single task at a time and really focus on it. For women, we are masters at multitasking and get bored if we are told to focus on one thing. Understanding this difference is important, because it gets to the root of some persistent problems in many relationships and professional settings.

Indexing VS Talking

It’s common knowledge that most women talk more than men. But did you know there is actually science to back that up? Talking about problems, thoughts, and feelings is the best way for women to get them out of our heads. I think this is one of the reasons writing in a journal is so effective as well. It physically gets the thoughts out of your mind and allows you to think about other things!

Men are the opposite. They keep their thoughts, feelings, and problems in their mind and file them away. They are more likely to take time to sit on an issue and put them on hold to think clearly about them later. I’ve found this to be true in my marriage, and it drives me crazy (even though it’s probably a good thing)! I make decisions much faster than my husband does. The good thing about this is that it allows me to think more clearly about situations too by giving it time and making sure it’s not powered by the emotions of the moment.

There methods of dealing with problems causes tension between the genders, because they are essentially opposites. When women talk about all of their problems at the end of the day, they simply want to discharge, but men think the women are giving them a list of problems to solve. The best way to handle this situation is for the woman to say, “Hey, I would love to talk to you about my day. Don’t feel like I’m bombarding you with problems to solve, I just want you to know what’s going on in my head.”

Turn-Taking VS Engaged Interrupting

One thing I’ve learned from this book that I actively try to utilize in my life is how interrupting comes off to different genders. For women, we love to talk together and nod along with what someone is saying, and “Mhm!” and “Oh, right!” while they’re talking. It shows engagement, camaraderie, and builds rapport. Which I personally love!

The problem is when women try to apply this to talking to men. Men rarely interrupt each other and only do so when they perceive another man as being aggressive or competitive. So when women try to apply the way they speak to other women, it comes off as aggressive. And when men try to speak to women the way they speak to other men, they come off as disinterested and not engaged.

Finding a middle ground and understanding that there are key differences can help us learn to communicate better. It can also help us understand why people act the way they do. Try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, no matter what situation you’re in.

Although these categories may seem limiting, they fit the majority of people! I encourage you to put them to the test. See if adopting these tactics help you communicate better with the people around you. AND, If you’re looking for more interesting personal and professional development books, here’s a list of books to read in 2018. I hope you’ll join me in reading one every month!

Have you found any helpful, effective ways to communicate with others? Share them in the comments. We would definitely benefit from your thoughts and experiences.

Makayla

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The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter

Each month, I discuss a personal or professional development book on this blog. Last month the we discussed 5 Ways to Ensure Success in Business, Relationships, and Everyday Communication; influenced by Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People.

The book I’d like to discuss this month is The Defining Decade: Why your twenties matter – and how to make the most of them now by Meg Jay, PhD.

So in the interest of transparency, I am in my twenties (22). But to be honest, I think this book can be enlightening to anyone who isn’t entirely sure about the path they’re on… Which I assume is most of us! And if I’ve learned anything from this book, it’s that everyone wants to grow, live up to their potential, and be the person they’re supposed to be.

This book is broken into three sections and each section has several sub-sections:

  1. Work
  2. Love
  3. The brain and the body

I will use the same format to outline the themes I found. There may be some overlap, simply because our lives are complicated and interconnected.

Work

To me, the most encouraging piece of advice in this section was, “Don’t be afraid to reach out.” From experience I’ve found that applying to jobs that you aren’t quite qualified for makes you feel pretty junky. However, have you thought about what would happen if you actually get that job? Take an extra twenty minutes and fill out that application, even if you think there’s no chance you’ll get it. As Meg points out, “the worst they can do is say no,” and the best is life changing.

I know this point is true from experience! I had my resume up on a job search website and it was picked up by a recruiter for an investment banking firm in the city. She asked me if I’d like to come in for an interview. A little something about me, I graduated with a degree in human development and am currently studying gerontology… and have no finance experience whatsoever.

The author puts a huge emphasis on “the strength of weak ties.” You all know the basic idea, even if you haven’t heard that term. It’s essentially when someone says, “I got a job at Microsoft because my dad’s college roommate works there.” Now, I know some of you are thinking, “Ugh, I really hate networking. I want to get a job on my own.” I get it.

But stop thinking that way.

There is nothing wrong with asking for help from weak ties, and Meg Jay would agree with me. Why? Because once you get that job, you still need to hold your own and prove yourself. Be the kind of person that is grateful for the opportunity and proves that you do belong there.

If you’re someone that has no idea what they want to do with their life *coughMEcough*, try your best to keep your doors open and keep progressing and adding to your resume and life experiences, because when the perfect opportunity comes along, you want to be able to snag it with confidence.

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Love/Friendships

This section was originally labeled “Love,” but I think adding friendships to this category is important. At first it was difficult for me to glean advice or information from this section, because I am happily married to a man that I adore! It was only after I started taking Jay’s information into the context of other relationships that aren’t romantic, that I was able to digest the information in a helpful way.

She mentions that “An identity or career can’t be built on what you don’t want.” I think this holds true for relationships as well. If you’re going into a relationship or friendship knowing that it’s not what you want in the end, then what are you doing? You’re wasting time and energy. Even if you’re only in your twenties, put your effort into something or someone that will help you progress as a person and reach your goals.

This next point is something I see many people my age struggling with: having a tribe. Social media has us constantly comparing each other, and sometimes it seems like everyone else has “people” to hang with, go on trips with, or party with. It’s simply not true. What you’re seeing is someone else’s best, and I bet you’re comparing their best to your worst. No one feels satisfied with their social life 100% of the time.

If this is an area where you struggle, I invite you to read this book. Examine the areas of your life where you’re unsatisfied with your relationships. It’s a great way to put things in perspective and gain some tools to get out of your funk.

The Brain and the Body

Confession time: feeling overwhelmed is approximately 98% of my life. Luckily, I’m convinced that I’m not alone in that. This book helped me realize that we can’t control anything except how we interpret situations and how we respond. Jay points out that we often get stuck in a fixed mindset. We think that everyone around us has always been competent and confident in what they’re doing. In reality, they started out like us.

And you know how they became confident and competent? They said yes to something. They made a decision. The author addresses a common problem among young adults, which is “If you don’t say yes to something, your life will be unremarkable and limited.” As children, we’re told that we can be anything we want, do anything we put our mind to… Well, that’s not necessarily true. I don’t have the reflexes or problem solving skills to be a fighter pilot. No matter how much I wanted that or worked for it, it’s a path that isn’t attainable for me. And that’s okay! There are other things that I’m better suited for, and I can find it by developing my natural talents and not stressing about the paths that are closed to me.

So…

How do we make the most of our twenties? Recognize that we’re all seeds, but we aren’t all acorns. Some of us will grow into oaks, but some will be maples, palms, or elms. Recognize that your path won’t look like anyone else’s. Say YES to something, work hard even when you feel like it isn’t worth it, and be the kind of person you want to be.

Makayla

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2018 Professional and Personal Development Book List

Books written by driven and successful people are amazing resources for personal and professional development. Those authors have already experienced the feelings and trials we’re going through, and they not only got through it — they excelled.

I started Hello, Professional Girl! in December, and decided to read one professional or personal development book every month and write about how we can apply the guidance in our own lives. As the months go by, I will add links from my posts to this list.

I have chosen these books through recommendations from other blogs that I follow, and I am always accepting recommendations! Feel free to contact me if you have a book that I have to read!

2018: 12 Months of Personal Development Books (+1)

December

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Carnegie talks about the secrets to success through the experiences of people who’ve been there. His techniques can be applied to business, relationships, and every day communication. A great read no matter what age or stage of life you’re in. Check out my post on this book here.

January

The Defining Decade: Why your twenties matter – and how to make the most of them now by Meg Jay, PhD. This book is a fast, informative read. The stories that Jay tells come from her experience as a psychologist working with millennials who are going through the same things we are. She is totally honest and doesn’t just tell you what you want to hear.

February

Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps by Allan and Barbara Pease. Ever wonder why your significant other acts the way they do? From a biological standpoint, the authors break it down for you. If you want a better understanding of the biological reasons behind your actions, this book is worth the read.

March

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. As a gerontology student, this book was a dream come true! The author recounts his final visits with his mentor, Morrie. What we’re left with are amazing life lessons from a man who lived a life worth living. Quick and easy read with plenty of stories you can visualize.

April

The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women by Valerie Young. This book addresses the “Imposter Syndrome” that many feel as they become successful. Do I really deserve the success I’ve achieved? Was I just in the right place at the right time? If you’ve ever had similar thoughts, this book is for you.

May

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. This book focuses on personal changes you can make to become more effective in your life, including problem-solving skills related to business and relationships. Covey also emphasizes the opportunities that open up because of these positive changes.

June

I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This by Kate White. White aims to empower women to take chances and go after what they want. She uses stories from other people to give practical ways to achieve your own success and learn how to be happy once you achieve it.

July

The Power of Starting Something Stupid by Richie Norton. This sounds like a great book for people just starting out in pursuit of their dreams. It is said to instill courage and give tools to overcome obstacles even with limited time, money, and other resources (which is certainly common for people in their twenties!)

August

What the heck am I going to do with my life? by Margaret Feinberg. This is a book that gets right to the heart of your dreams, goals, and abilities. No idea what you’re doing? You’re not alone. If you feel stuck in your current situation, Feinberg will take you on a journey to discover what you really want.

September

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. Have you ever wondered why you have certain habits? Through information and stories from interesting people, Duhigg explains why you have habits, how to change them, and how they can be used to your advantage.

October

Grit by Angela Duckworth. According to Duckworth, grit is a blend of passion and persistence that anyone can obtain. There is power in the thoughts that go through your head when you fail, and talent has very little to do with it.

November

Life After College: The Complete Guide to Getting What You Want by Jenny Blake. This book is intended for twenty-somethings that want to take action and achieve what they want through actionable advice. This book hits just about every area of life for young people (click the link or picture for details).

December

The Shallows by Nicholas Carr. Although the Internet has some amazing advantages, have you ever thought about the potential downsides? Carr voices his concerns that the Internet is diminishing our ability to think deeply. What do you think?

Please feel free to join me this year as I read these books! I’ll be posting on Twitter each month what book I’ll be reading as a reminder (so make sure to follow!).

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Makayla

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