Shortly before she turned 61, activist and author Anne Lamott penned down a list of things she’d learned from life and writing, and shared her wisdom at a TED talk. Read on to know her take on family, god, writing, and more.
1. “All truth is a paradox”
Anne starts off by stating that life is both, beautiful and ugly. She says, “It’s filled simultaneously with heartbreaking sweetness and beauty, desperate poverty, floods and babies and acne and Mozart, all swirled together!”
2. “Everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes – including you”
Just as machines need a break every now and then, so do you. Even though we are all outrageously busy, we have to make time to rest and reboot.
3. “You can’t buy, achieve or date serenity and peace of mind”
You have to figure out how to get rid of your problems by yourself, and this goes for the people in your life as well. As she says, “It’s an inside job.”
4. “Everyone is screwed up, broken and scared, even the people who seem to have it together”
Thanks to carefully curated social media profiles, it’s natural to think everyone is doing better than you. Anne advises, “Try not to compare your insides to other people’s outsides.”
5. “Chocolate with 75% cacao is not actually food”
Our generation tends to eat unhealthy, and chocolate has become a staple food for many. Anne’s hilarious reminder is hard to forget: “Its best use is as bait in snake traps, or to balance the legs on wobbly chairs.”
6. “Every writer you know writes really terrible first drafts, but they keep their butt in the chair”
Persistence is key to getting a book out of you. No matter how scary it gets, do it. Otherwise, “You’re going to feel like hell if you wake up someday and you never wrote the stuff that is tugging on the sleeves of your heart: your stories, memories, visions and songs.”
7. “Families are hard, no matter how cherished and astonishing they may also be”
Loved ones will hurt you, but you have to learn to forgive them. She elaborates, “Earth is a forgiveness school. It begins with forgiving yourself, and then you might as well start at the dinner table.”
8. “Grace is what heals us, and heals our world”
Grace comes in unexpected forms, not necessarily one you’d expect. Anne finds it in laughter. “It helps us breathe again and again, and gives us back to ourselves, and this gives us faith in life and each other.” Ask for grace and you will receive it.
9. “God just means goodness”
Anne thinks that there is no need to be frightened by God. She also shares an insightful analogy: “My pastor says you can trap bees on the bottom of mason jars without lids, because they don’t look up. So they just walk around bitterly bumping into the glass walls. Go outside. Look up.”
10. “It’s so hard to bear when the few people you cannot live without, die”
Anne believes that death doesn’t mean they are gone forever, and that with age, you learn to accept the truth and cherish the company of those around you. She says, “The person will live again in your heart if you don’t seal it off.”
So there you go – keep your heart and mind open to new people and experiences, to be able to live more fully.
Which lesson was the most eye-opening for you? Share your views in the comments below.
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