Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Therapeutic Value of Dispensing Advice

Take a minute (or five of them, plus four seconds) this afternoon and listen.

I remember this song coming out shortly after I graduated from High School.  (Somewhat inconsequential fact: the message was actually written in 1997 - the year I graduated from High School.)  It was written by a Chicago Tribune columnist who was wistfully pondering what sage snippets she would impart, if ever she were invited to be a graduation speaker.

It made me tear up then (I don't really know why), and having stumbled upon it again (thanks to Alexandra's excellent blog), it still does.  In fact, I think some of the wisdom is just as (or more) applicable for worn-out thirty-somethings than it was for me at barely-twenty ("You are not as fat as you imagine.").

But it makes my heart swell differently now.  Because I have lived fourteen or so more years of life and can commiserate with the lyrics ("Oh yes, definitely!).  Maybe we've even said something similar to a child, a cousin going off to college, a wayward sibling.

Why does it make us feel good to give advice? 

I don't think it's ego.  The opposite, in fact.  Giving advice makes us feel like, for all the things we've messed up, we've gotten enough right that we have something useful to share.

I've been so weary from sleep-deprivation and so irritated-raw from my toddler's backtalk, that when someone pays me the extreme complement of asking for my advice, I nearly sent them flowers as a thank you.

So today, I want to give you a pick-me-up: what's your best advice?  On life.  Nutrition.  Mothering.  Running a business.  Hit me!

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