Wanted: Advice

Just Listen.

Wisdom comes in all shapes, all sizes, and from all kinds of people.

Just last week, I burst into frustrated tears in front of the kids. (Admittedly not my finest parenting moment.) With my head in my hands I didn’t see our 4-year-old walk up to me. She quietly put her hand on my arm and said,

“Hey, Mum, it’s OK. But if you’re feeling fuss-trated, you should take three deep breaths before getting upset.”

Yes, my girl, that’s right. It’s the advice I give you very, very frequently, and here you are, bouncing it back to me when I needed to hear it.

I felt such a strange mix of pride (YAY! she does listen to me) and shame (I’m sorry, but aren’t I the grown-up?) on hearing her advice. But overwhelmingly I was amazed – because that really is a good, common sense suggestion.

Coming from my four-year-old. And offered to me.


The problem with good advice is that we so often ignore it.

Today, I want to tap into the amazing well of collective wisdom that is this beautiful community (yes, that means you!)

Can you share with us the best piece of advice you have ever been given? It can be about simplifying, happiness, or life in general.

Did you take it? Or did it go ignored?


Why am I asking this?

I am becoming increasingly aware that I know very little about many things. The advice I offer here is limited by my experience and, by default, there is only so much one person can experience in life.

However, if we combine our experiences, advice and perspective, all of a sudden we can see a lot further. As a group we have experienced so much more, and I’d love it if we could share a little of that today.

Who knows? Your advice may trigger a massive change in someone else’s life. Or it may remind you of a path long abandoned in your own life. The point is, you know things that others don’t. Please feel free to share a little of that today.


So, tell us. What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given? 

Did you take it? Or did it go ignored?



33 Responses to Wanted: Advice

  1. Many many many years ago when i was in University i couldn’t decide something (who knows what now), and a friend of mine said something which i recognized right away as being from the Anne of Green Gables books…. She said “Always choose the thing you’ll be glad you picked when you’re 90.”

    I, obviously, don’t always do this, but it gives you clarity. So many things are so important *right now*, but you realize after some life experience that all those things you lost sleep about previously never really caused the world to end. If you can manage to look at something with the perspective of the distant future, it helps. Plus, you usually pick the more fun thing. :)

  2. Hi there,

    When I was studying and working a while back I remember bringing my homework into work and doing it in my breaks. Fortunately another lady from work came in and sensed my insane levels of stress and gave me this advice:

    When you are at work, be at work. When you are studying, study. Be present with what you are doing and you will do it well. One thing at a time.

    When I follow this advice my life is the meaning of simplicity. Time feels like it slows. And I rarely get stressed. Of course I don’t always follow this advice but I am so grateful it was given to me.


    P.S. This is my first comment on your blog but can I say I have been following and enjoying for a while. Thank you!

  3. On a lighter note, the life advice my Dad gave me was that if I was going in to a bar and there were more trucks in the parking lot than cars and if the trucks had gun racks in the back window, I shouldn’t go in. The advice he gave my brothers was to never date a woman who had a tattoo of a dagger anywhere on her body. When my son asked his 100 year old grandma what wisdom she could pass on to him, she told him “life is short…live it up!”

  4. Hi Brooke,
    Great post and great idea.

    The best advice I ever received and ignored – time and time again -was follow your heart. I know most have heard this a hundred times and it sounds so basic and simplistic, yet very few do follow their heart. They listen instead to fear or conventional wisdom.
    I myself spent the most of my young adult life in careers that I had no interest in. I followed my head instead of my heart. Each time I was offered a lucrative position I would take it, even if I knew I wouldn’t really like the job. I thought if I worked hard enough for long enough I could save up a lot of money and make it worth it. It never was worth it and I blew through the money because I wasn’t happy.
    Five years ago I began to follow my heart. I still make mistakes and let fear make the choice occasionally, but more times than not I follow my heart – that voice deep inside that knows who I truly am and what will make me happy. My life is so much more meaningful now.

    Dan @ Zen Presence – Ideas for Meaningful Living

  5. I am the mother of 17yo with moderate cerebral palsy. When she was just a small child, her physical therapist urged me to “Let her fail” when she was learning to walk (at three years old). I was shocked. My mothering instincts are to save her from everything. But this advice was the best lesson because failure is the best teacher. Good lesson for all of us!

  6. I’m the classic type A, perfectionist, high academic achiever. Early in my Masters degree I told the graduate co-ordinator for my department that I wanted to upgrade to a PhD, and how I wanted to get a job in academia after that. I was speaking at a million miles an hour! He paused for a while and said, “Belinda, don’t be in such a rush to get where you’re going.” It really made me stop and think about enjoying the journey in life. I still think about his words today years later :-)

  7. I’ve often thought it but found a quote by Janice Leber that says it much more eloquently than I ever could: “I suddenly realized one day that if a friend talked to me the way I walk to myself, they wouldn’t be my friend any more. So I started being my friend and life got a lot better!”

    Also: “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.” has gotten me through some very difficult days!

  8. One of the best pieces of advice I have ever heard was not given to me directly, but by a fellow academic advisor to one of our college students where I worked at the time. The student was talking with her advisor (my coworker) about a relationship she was in that she didn’t know if she should stay in. My coworker (a brilliant student affairs professional now getting her Ph.D.) said something to the affect of “the best advice I can give you is this: the decision that gives you the most peace is the right one.” And basically went on to say that the right decision wasn’t always the one we wanted, or the one that was easiest, but was the one that brought peace to our heart/soul. I have found that to be true in my life as well. I haven’t always followed this advice, but it can be applied in so many places and so many ways…and I’ve found it’s nearly always spot on. I’m so thankful I overheard that conversation.

  9. Don’t forget to breathe. We tend to hold our breath/breathe shallowly when we become stressed, and forget to breathe deeply. It’s amazing how good it feels to breathe slowly and deeply.

  10. Two pieces of advice my mom gave me years ago still ring true today. The first one happened because I was upset that a friendship I considered close had fallen apart. She told me that not all relationships are built to last. People will come into our lives for the season we need them but we don’t have to feel sad if that season is short. The value is in the time we did have.

    The second piece of advice was over spending my time worrying about something (back then it was a bad grade on a test) she told me to ask myself ” will this matter in five years?”. If the answer is no then it isn’t worth my time now.

  11. My Mum once told me to always say “yes” when offered an opportunity. For example, take that job offer, go on that holiday, participate in the fun run, etc etc. I have followed her advice and never regretted it.

  12. Hugs hon xx

    Best life advice was from my mother “never say never” which really pushed me to stay open minded about my own journey and try to be less judgemental about other people’s choices (that was actually what prompted the advice when I was a know it all teen who swore “I would never do that” when looking at others choices I disagreed with. )

    She was right. You don’t know how anything will play out in life so never say never, stay open

  13. “Sleep on it.”

    When I felt upset/angry, for whatever reason, a former boyfriend would tell me to sleep on it. Something about the light of a new day helped gain perspective.

    (It is something I still try to do despite its being embarrassingly difficult.)

  14. When I was considering going to art school and was worrying about earning a living afterward, my Dad (an attorney) said to me, Remember this. Money is power. It is how people control you. But there are two ways to get that power: 1) Earn more money than you spend or 2) Spend less money than you earn. It doesn’t matter how much or how little you earn if you are willing and able to live under it.

  15. Fun question and great nuggets!

    My mom always said, “A failure to plan on your part doesn’t constitiute an emergency on mine.” I think about that often now as an adult. I can’t control other people’s lives, choices, or behavior, nor am I responsible for fixing them. If my kids fail to do their homework, it’s not my responsibily. If a friend needs last-minute help and I already have plans, I don’t feel obligated to rearrange my schedule to get her out of a jam.

  16. I LOVE this idea and I’m enjoying reading all the amazing advice! The best piece of advice I was ever given was “If it is something you will regret not doing for the rest of your life, then it is something you need to do right now.” I did take that advice, and I chose to take a different course in life, one that brought both the biggest challenges in my life but also the greatest joys. Don’t ever ignore a passion, go for it, we only have this life once!

  17. Never go to sleep on an argument – I know if I ignore this one I dont get a good nights sleep as Im stewing over things.

    Also – Never take a laxative and a sleeping tablet on the same night! Just dont want to think too hard about that one! :o)

  18. The best advice I got was actually from my own mother (shocking for me at least). Her advice was to never go to bed angry. I have I admit not always followed this advice and have spent half the night angry and worrying about how to confront X it made for me being a walking zombie from lack of sleep the next day. So now I try my best to follow the advice or just let it go.

  19. My advice to myself is something I formulated while pregnant with my first child after watching too many mothers with screaming children in supermarkets, but seventeen years later it seems to cover so many areas – “Never put up with something on a good day that you can’t cope with on a bad day.”

  20. “Err on the side of the angels.”

    My parents shared this phrase and live it too. They taught us that we should be generous with our money and time, and gracious with our foregiveness. I try to live it too – failing too often, but trying to succeed!

  21. Before I started traveling, a friend told me ‘If it looks like fun, do it.’ Whenever I dither because something is expensive, or scary or no-one else is doing it, I think of that advice and go right ahead.

  22. Advice from my grandpa that I have never forgotten: “People who understand interest earn it. People who don’t pay it.” This little comment reminds me how getting into debt is just not a good idea as it will cause a huge amount of stress later on.

    And from my grandma (at a time when I was mad at my hubby for something trivial): “Emily, what did you expect? You married a man.”

    Maybe their 50+ year marriage was due to good money management and letting the other person be somewhat flawed?

  23. Love this idea. Hope you are ok and what a gorgeous caring daughter you are raising!
    My nan has so many pearls of wisdom but a few I try to live by are
    Count your blessings, we have so many.
    Be gentle on yourself.
    A silent tongue makes for a wise head.
    Its easy to raise other peoples children.

  24. Gosh , what excellent advice. My best piece of advice was given to me by a colleague who was told it by her mother before she got married: remember that in any argument the other person is just as convinced they are right as you are. Over the years it has occasionally helped me to be rational and diffuse the situation from my side in an argument.!
    With love Penny L in Dorset u.k

  25. “Just love him”.
    “Live a deliberate life”.
    “Smile. A lot.”
    “Don’t let the turkeys get you down”.
    “Dont hate X (my dad) for what he’s not, love him for who he is”.
    “Everything is redeemable”.
    “Nothing tastes as good as a Size 12” (I was 45kg overweight at the time).

  26. The best advice I ever got was when I was in my early thirties and having trouble coping with various people in my work and study life. I went to visit a very highly regarded psychologist to discuss the feelings of frustration and powerlessness I was experiencing.
    She gave me homework to do – go home and research “passive-aggressive”, “borderline personality disorder” and “narcissistic personality”.
    Best advice ever! I am now able to identify (and avoid working with) troublesome types of people. I also now have a really clearly understood and internalized process for dealing and interacting with these types of people and am able to remain unaffected by them.
    I’m so thankful that this psychologist recognised that MY issues were stemming from an inability to identify ‘problematic personalities’ & interact effectively with the difficult people around me.

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