What My Mother Taught Me About Life
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Do you take your mom’s advice?
Me? Not all the time. I love my mom dearly but I’m beyond relieved I didn’t become an accountant, a doctor, or a pharmacist like she wanted me to.
Given my terrible math skills, I’m pretty sure I would have wreaked havoc on someone’s taxes—or worse—killed somebody by now.
So you see, I’m not convinced “mom always knows best”.
Although She may have been off the mark on that one, I do have to admit, my mother’s been right about a lot of things. And the older I get, the more “mom was right!” moments I have. She once told me I would come to see the value of her words one day—and she was right about that too.
Here’s a collection of the best advice my mom gave me about life.
7 Remarkable Life Lessons My Mother Taught Me
1. You Have to Accept Life is Not Fair
If my mom wanted to whine about life being unfair, she certainly has enough material to go on for days.
She grew up in the era of the Cultural Revolution in China where life was a blend of unrest, poverty, and fear. When she was 11, her family was forced to move from the city to a remote village to work on a farm.
Her marriage was no better. My dad had a wandering eye and a fierce temper underneath his gentle demeanors. She endured years of emotional and physical abuse no woman should ever experience in a relationship.
Then when she finally became free, a serious illness struck down her only child—me. She spent years being the sole provider and caretaker of a cancer patient.
And just when she was beginning to build a peaceful and happy marriage at last with my stepfather, he passed away weeks before my wedding.
So you see, life hasn’t been exactly fair to my mother. Anyone else might have turned bitter, raised a fist in the air, and asked: “why me?”. But not her.
“You have to accept life is not fair” She would always say. “That’s how it is. No use asking ‘why?’ You just have to get back on your feet and keep going.”
She taught me rather than fixating on how “unfair” life is, focus on what I can do to overcome the challenges in front of me. Life may be unfair, but you can still make the best out of it. You just have to accept what’s happened, get up and keep moving forward one step at a time.
2. Independence Earns You Respect
Ever since I was little, my mom made sure I understood the importance of being independent.
She taught me to value education and work, and encouraged me to become self-sufficient from a young age.
Her philosophy is:
If there’s something you don’t know how to do, learn it. If there’s something can do yourself, do it yourself—unless you have a good reason to ask for help.
She always used to say:
“If you expect people to do everything for you, you become lazy and ignorant. And people don’t respect lazy and ignorant.”
My mom also believes every woman should strive to be financially self-reliant in a relationship. She views financial independence as the key to maintaining a healthy balance between couples.
“If you want to be treated as an equal in a relationship, don’t rely on the other person to provide for you forever. Financial independence earns you respect. ”
3. Focus on the Things You’re Meant to Do in Every Season of Life
My mom always says:
“Do the things you’re meant to do in every season of life”.
Life—according to my mother—is like farming. There’s a season for everything. Some will be for sowing and others will be for reaping. If you focus on the things you’re meant to do in every season, your harvest will be bountiful.
When you’re a toddler, play and explore your surroundings. A child who doesn’t know how to play loses their sense of wonder and creativity as an adult.
When you’re at school-age, focus on learning and sharpening your skills. A student who sacrifices learning and development for other pleasures will miss the most important periods of intellectual and personal growth.
And when you’re in your 20’s and 30’s, establish your career, find love, and build a family. A young adult who wanders from job to job without a goal in mind, or from one meaningless relationship to another, may find themselves empty, with little to cherish later in life.
Then when you reach middle age and beyond, slow down and enjoy the fruits of your labour. Use this time to reflect on the lessons you learned and share the knowledge you know.
Follow the natural path of life and focus on the things you’re meant to do in every season. You will find your way to peace and fulfillment.
4. Words Said are Like Spilt Water. You Can’t Get It Back.
“Words that come out of your mouth are like spilt water on the ground. You can’t get it back. So when you speak, choose your words with the same attention and control you would have when pouring water from a jar into a glass.
This was one of the first lessons my mom taught me when I became old enough and my words began to carry more weight than the babblings of a child.
She taught me if you talk more than you listen, or speak your mind without any filter, you’re going to say something you shouldn’t have. And once your words are out there, they have the power to inflict a world of hurt.
So use your ears more than your mouth. And when you speak, speak thoughtfully. It’s ok if your words hurt somebody—it happens. But when it does, ask for forgiveness right away.
5. Good manners will get you farther than your looks
When I was growing up, I was obsessed with looks. I used to envy the girls who were considered beautiful by convention—with gorgeous hair, trendy clothes, a slim body, and stunning features. I hated myself for not having any of these things.
But something my mother told me helped change my thinking.
“A beautiful but rude person loses their beauty in seconds. They may get ahead with their looks now but they will not get far.”
No matter how we look on the outside, it’s our actions and behaviours that influence the world around us. A rude and thoughtless person will attract the same rude and thoughtless people to them like flies to rotting meat. Their relationships with friends, family, and colleagues suffer because of their rudeness. And worse yet, they have a hard time finding love that is more than skin deep.
Even if they obtain all the riches of the world they won’t find true happiness.
So instead of expensive jewelry and makeup, adorn yourself with good manners, and show people the respect you hope to gain from them. People will love you for who you really are.
6. Exercise and good food cures many ills
Even at 60 years old, my mom hardly ever gets sick. She has an abundance of energy and radiates the kind of youthful glow you’d see on someone 20 years younger.
She credits her good health to two things:
Exercise and good food.
My mom loves walking outdoors. She’d often go on these 2-hour walks on the weekend, rain or shine.
Walking is not only an excellent low-impact cardio exercise, walking in nature is also a great way to rejuvenate the lungs.
“If you feel tired, sick, or down, take a long walk outside. You’ll heal faster when you move and get your blood flowing.”
My mom also enjoys eating good food. She eats a variety of whole, natural foods and never cuts out any food group from her diet.
The only diet rules she follows are the principles of Chinese dietary therapy which emphasizes the importance of balance and harmony in our diet. On the rare occasions when she does get sick, instead of the pharmacy, she looks in her pantry and fridge for her “medicines”.
“Food is the best medicine. The most important thing we can do for our health is learn how we can use food to heal.”
7. Your Thoughts Determine Your Fate
“Your thoughts determine your fate.”
That’s my mom’s motto.
She believes the thoughts you have in your mind have the ability to impact your body, your surroundings, and even your reality.
If you think the world is full of cheaters and liars then everyone around you will seem selfish and dishonest. You’ll drive good people away with your cynicism and wonder why you’re alone. On the other hand, if you think people are naturally kind and generous, then people around you will appear friendly and caring. You’ll make genuine connections wherever you go.
It’s the same with obstacles you encounter in life. If you think you’ll never get over a hurdle, you just might stop trying. But if you tell yourself you can overcome the challenge, you’ll keep going until you eventually succeed.
The secret to a good life lies in your thoughts. If you believe you’ll be happy no matter what you encounter, you will be.
Now your turn! What’s the best advice your mom gave you? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!