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Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. – Colossians 3:12-14

Maria Popova writes a weekly online digest of ideas, something she has been doing for the past thirteen years. Below is her list of thirteen things she has learned through that process. They are worth pondering as we navigate our path through life.

  1. Allow yourself the uncomfortable luxury of changing your mind. It can be disorienting to say, “I don’t know.” But it’s better to understand than to be right, even if that means changing your mind about a topic, an ideology, or yourself.
  2. Do nothing for prestige or status or money or approval alone.
  3. Be generous. Be generous with your time, your resources, with giving credit and with your words. To understand and be understood are among life’s greatest gifts, and every interaction is an opportunity to exchange them.
  4. Build pockets of stillness into your life. There is a creative purpose to daydreaming, even to boredom. Without this essential stage of unconscious processing, the entire flow of the creative process is broken. Most importantly, sleep.
  5. When people tell you who they are, believe them. Just as importantly, when people try to tell you who you are, you don’t have to believe them.
  6. Presence is far more intricate and rewarding than productivity.
  7. Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time. The flower doesn’t go from bud to blossom in one spritely burst and yet we’re disinterested in the tedium of the blossoming. But that’s where all the real magic unfolds in the making of one’s character and destiny.
  8. Seek out what magnifies your spirit. Who are the people and which are the ideas and books that magnify your spirit? Find them, hold on to them, and visit them often.
  9. Don’t be afraid to be an idealist. E.B. White was right when he said that the role of the writer is “to lift people up, not lower them down”.
  10. Don’t just resist cynicism — fight it actively. Fight it in yourself and counter it in those you love and engage with, by modelling its opposite. Unlike life-expanding doubt, it is a contracting force. Unlike critical thinking, it is corrosive. Cynicism is easier and lazier than construction. Live with sincerity and continual bending toward growth. This remains the most potent antidote to cynicism.
  11. Question your maps and models of the universe and test them against reality. The map is not the terrain.
  12. There are many kinds of beautiful lives.
  13. Forgive, forgive, forgive, and then forgive again. The richest relationships are lifeboats, but they are also submarines that descend to the darkest and most disquieting places, to the unfathomed trenches of the soul where our deepest shames and foibles and vulnerabilities live, where we are less than we would like to be. Forgiveness is the alchemy by which the shame transforms into the honour and privilege of being invited into another’s darkness and having them witness your own with the undimmed light of love, of sympathy, of understanding. Forgiveness is the engine of buoyancy that keeps the submarine rising again and again toward the light, so that it may become a lifeboat once more.

Tim Watson