American researchers Robin Kowalski and Annie McCord asked a large number of workers who were at least 30 years old what advice they would give to their younger selves. The most common responses involved relationships, e.g., “Do. Not. Marry. Her.” Other advice included: continue with your education, save money, let go of regrets, and be kind to yourself.
Declan Cashin, a man living in the U.K., created a tweet that went viral when he posted a list of 38 lessons he had learned in his 38 years of life.
His life lessons include: “Appreciate good bosses. Tell them they are good bosses.” “Stop avoiding the dentist.” “Try to be on time for things.” “Stop telling yourself that you’re not good enough for that job in your field. Look at the people who are in charge. Trust me, you’re good enough.”
I asked a 20-something friend of mine what advice she would give her teenage self. She said she would say that things will get better in many ways.
As a psychologist I liked that answer. Thinking that things will get better is both pleasing and motivating. There is no better antidote for suicidal thinking.
I asked my Mind Matters Facebook group the same question. Here are some of the responses: It is OK to feel however you feel. Slow down and enjoy yourself more. Grow up. Take opportunities that arise.
One member said that she would not give her younger self any advice. She said that her choices in life made her who she is, and she is happy with that.
I would give my teen self this advice: Stop fearing what peers will think of you — act boldly. Also, don’t be a wise guy with teachers.
I wonder whether my teen self would take advice from the future me. Would I rebel against myself?
I also wonder whether my younger self, if able to look into the future, might offer the older me advice. I reckon so. The advice: Never grow up all the way.
What would you tell your younger self? How would your younger self respond?
In reality, we cannot communicate with our younger self. But we can communicate with others in the here and now. So tell your children and grandchildren what you have learned in life. Tell your friends via social media.
Then ask others what they have learned.