Advice & Decisions

What’s the best advice someone has given to you? What is the best advice you have given?

Giving and receiving advice can be tricky territory.

Alan Levine

Giving advice

How to give advice: Use your own experience. Your experience is the best advice you can give.

Here’s something I had not thought about — why you might not want to give advice:

  • Advice can be seen as a form of judgment over support.
  • Giving advice stops others from learning and growing.
  • The advice that might seem right to you is often wrong for another.
  • Advice closes instead of opens communication.
  • Advice is often selfish and pushes people away.

Who thinks this way? Doesn’t sound quite right. I don’t think I will be asking them to help me with anything. However, I do agree advice you would use yourself might not work for another.

To counteract the above, here’s what’s advised:

  • Listen properly
  • Ask good questions
  • Create a space of acceptance and non-judgment
  • Learn to empathize instead of sympathize
  • Give your ideas in an open-ended way and only when they are asked for

Having said this, it doesn’t mean people will take your advice.

My Advice

The best advice I have ever received came from me: Do not take things personally. Do not take things personally. It can’t be said enough.

This piece of advice has been floating in the ether for years. Then one day I connected with it. Amen.

I wish I had chomped down on this little ditty when I was younger, but maybe I had to grow into it. It is so freeing — at last, I’m not responsible for someone else’s bad day or moment.

I finally realized people have their own stuff going on. It’s not about me . . . YAY!

It is not my issue if someone comes across as demanding, disagreeable, or difficult. We are human. It happens.

It’s important to check in with myself on how I choose to feel if I’m thinking about taking something personally.

I accept there will be occasions when things transpire that I might be inclined to take personally. I’ve learned, however, there are times when it is not me who needs to make a little adjustment.

My second favorite piece of advice to myself is: Don’t let the turkeys get you down. I don’t know where or when I first happened upon this. It’s so true.

They’ll do it to you every time if you let them. Maybe this is a form of bullying. It can also be applied to someone who carries around a lot of negativity. I’m not entering their sphere regardless.

Just recently, I happened upon a different way of saying this: Nolite te bastardes carborundorum. In Latin it means “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.” — as expressed by Margaret Atwood in her book, The Handmaid’s Tale.

Watercolors by Bet

At any rate, on occasion people will mess with you. You get in a bad or sad mood because of these turkeys. Basically, you have given them your joy.

Advice from others

This brings me to another best piece of advice, “Don’t let anyone take your joy.” The man who told me this worked in the Facilities Department when I worked for the big law firm.

Many mornings while making his rounds he would walk by my desk. Oftentimes he would stop for a quick chat. We discussed different kinds of things, and sometimes they were of a holy nature.

His relationship with God was strong. I enjoyed the mini Sunday school lessons he sometimes shared. It was then that every now and then he would say this.

What a guy he is, and I thank him for his support. His words live in me still.

Another piece of quasi advice comes from a dear relative. It wasn’t given as advice. We were in an e-mail conversation and he said it in passing. It caught my attention and stuck. Don’t be preachy.

It was around the time I was thinking about blogging. I thought it would be a good rule to live by — blog or no blog. So there’s another guiding principle I try to abide by in writing and in living, although I do slip up.

A lawyer I used to work for and for whom I have great admiration and respect gives sound advice. His many life experiences give him a lot of material to work with when it comes to advice.

He advises: Keep your chin up, no one can hit it when it’s down. I love this. I take it to mean keep your confidence up, stay in the game, remain steady and positive.

Advice from my parents

Not much of anything here. The only thing I remember my mother ever ingraining in me was, “If they’ll lie to you, they’ll steal from you.”

Not necessarily upbeat advice, but I think she was cautioning me about being wary of who to trust. It’s rarely been needed, thankfully.

My dad’s only piece of advice was: Life’s too short to go around being mad all the time.” Sounds like he learned this by living with my mother. It’s so true, though.

It wasn’t advice, but it was a wonderful sentiment my dad used to say to me as a young child.

For whatever reason, I don’t remember, but sometimes I would go to bed without eating. He would come in and say, “What are you living off of, love?” Yes, love was my sustenance. Isn’t it for all of us?

Surprise Lilies up close – kyls

Advice I give

Not much, I hope. I may say what I might do in a situation but I generally end a conversation like that by adding, “But what do I know?” And that’s true.

I do offer up my don’t take things personally, the turkeys, and the joy advice. As mentioned above, this works for me but maybe not for others.

The other day I gave a piece of unsolicited advice to someone I dearly love. She was going through a difficult time: Be careful to whom you open your heart.

This advice usually comes too late. I probably should have let the moment pass, keeping the thought to myself.


After all this talk about advice, do we go with it or pass on it? I think some advice may affect what I decide, but probably not much. Or am I, in reality, asking someone to make a decision for me?

Tips for making decisions

  • Monitor your stress
  • Allow time (if possible)
  • Weigh the pros and cons
  • Think about your goals and values
  • Consider all possibilities
  • Talk it out
  • Keep a diary (are you serious?)
  • Plan how you’ll tell others
  • Rethink your options

If I’m deciding whether to have a cheeseburger or sushi for dinner, these tips don’t apply — unless I’m considering having a dinner party for 100. As with a lot of tips, take them with a grain of salt, eh?

I have not made too many decisions that bear much weight in my lifetime. My best decision was marrying Paul. Stopping smoking was another.

I’m impulsive with immediacy issues so I’m not inclined to think too long when making a decision.

Think about your goals and values — hmmm. I am not a goal-oriented person. I’m just trying to keep up with what’s going on today.

Even as I progress through life — no goals. Guess I’m a slacker. I probably have some, but don’t think of them as goals.

I do get it that goals are a positive for a lot of people. I can’t deny they aren’t a good idea and goals are necessary in tons of areas.

Tile Mosaic with Mirror – The grass in the middle is actually behind me. kyls

Charles Darwin

Here’s an example of decision-making:

In 1838, he was contemplating proposing to his cousin, Emma Wedgwood. He worried that marrying and children might impede his scientific career. He considered:


  • Loss of time
  • Perhaps quarreling
  • Cannot read in the evenings
  • Anxiety and responsibility
  • Wife might not like London


  • Children
  • Constant companion and friend in old age
  • Home and someone to take care of the house

Beneath his list he wrote: “Marry, Marry, Marry QED.” (meaning “thus it has been demonstrated” — mathematical/philosophical abbreviation)

Osama bin Laden

I figured former President Obama and his intelligence and security advisors sat around a conference table discussing how to kill this madman. This may be what they did. However, their decision was made in a nuanced way.

The decision to raid bin Laden’s presumed compound in Pakistan was based on “decision-science.” This is a research field at the intersection of behavioral economics, psychology, and management.

So much for the thinking, “Let’s just kill the guy next Thursday.” I would love to know all that is involved in “decision-science.” It might come in handy.

My source for the Darwin and bin Laden history is the January 21, 2019 edition of The Art of Decision-Making. The article also discusses Benjamin Franklin’s decision-making process. Great article.

Old Collage – kyls

And finally …

Advice and decisions — can’t live without them and sometimes it’s difficult living with them.

I am so thankful I’m not responsible for making complicated decisions and/or advising when the final decision impacts people, country, planet, or world.

Making decisions is how we handle our lives — some big, some little. Decision making can be serious. Decisions can be deadly. I hope we/they are getting it right most of the time.

In every success story, you will find someone who has made a courageous decision.
–Peter F. Drucker

Thank you so much for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or ask a question. All comments are posted and replied to.

Did you know?
Artist Salvador Dali would get out of paying for drinks and meals by drawing on the checks, making them priceless works of art and therefore unable to cash.

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