What advice changed your life?

September 9, 2007 | 18 comments

As I enter into what I think of as my own personal Mommy Boot Camp, the adventure that is having three kids under three when you know nothing about kids to begin with, I think of two bits of wisdom I learned over this past year that have been a tremendous help to me and have brought a lot of peace to my life. I thought I’d share in case anyone is interested:

1. Don’t worry about the future
The first piece of advice that really changed my life was the idea of carefully discerning what is really worth worrying about. I originally wrote about this here. Thanks to a brilliant homily by my priest, I realized that I often spend more time worrying about how bad something is going to be than I do actually being in the bad situation — if it even comes to pass at all.

With practice, I’ve been able to catch myself when I start stressing out about future events. I resolve to do whatever I can do to improve the situation, and then I let it go. I take it to prayer, put my trust in God that it will play out according to his will, and pray that I’ll have the grace to handle whatever happens in the most Christ-like way possible. (I should note that I do not do this perfectly every time, and I do still worry unnecessarily, but I’m much better than I used to be!)

2. God’s will is this moment, right now
In order to be able to let go of worry, I first had to learn to trust in God, to truly be able to say “thy will be done”. To do that, I had to learn a thing or two about God’s will. I got so much wonderful advice in this department from the book He Leadeth Me, which I wrote about here. I believe that it was no accident that I came across that book earlier this year, since the insights I gained from it were much-needed preparation for the road to come.

Before reading that book, when I sought to discern God’s will for my life my thought process was something like, “Is it God’s will that I write a bestselling book or that I receive status and acclaim through my field of work?” My pridefulness led me to overlook that fact that maybe God’s will for me is something much more humble: to simply, lovingly accomplish the tasks and challenges that are set in front of me each day; to not fixate on whether the future holds grandeur and glory for me; to not burn mental energy on how tough this or that situation is going to be; but to wipe the runny noses and load the dishwasher and clean up the spilled milk — with love. If God wants me to do more, he’ll lead me to it.

Thinking about this has made me wonder what advice other people have found to be life-changing. So I ask you guys: what is some of the best advice you’ve ever heard? It could be anything from housekeeping tips to discipline tricks to spiritual guidance — just some bit of wisdom, about matters big or small, that you were actually able to put into practice in your life. I’d love to hear what others have to say.


  1. Denise

    “Think Positive” from my Dad. Totally changed my perspective as a kid.

    And “Bloom Where You’re Planted” from a plaque on a fellow military wife’s wall. Has helped me over and over again to make the best of wherever I am in life (physically and emotionally).

  2. Anne Kennedy

    I was really happy to hear that ‘I’m not that powerful’. In other words, I’d have to really set my mind to it to really ruin my kids. The average day to day mistakes in parenting are not going to be devestating for my children’s overall well being. I’ve taken it as liscense to royally screw up and trust God for the fixing.

  3. WSG

    The number one piece of advice that I got, which came from my father, is that it doesn’t matter what other people think. I’m fine just the way I am, I’m not fat or ugly or stupid, and the only person I need to impress is myself. If you have girls, especially, they need to hear this.

  4. Kate

    “This too will pass”.

    I think this is a quote from somewhere. I don’t know where I picked it up, but it became a personal mantra when I was about 11 and undergoing really rough treatment at school.


    “We cannot save anyone. Christ saves.”

    I read this somewhere (again, I can’t for the life of me remember where) as a teenager, but didn’t understand what it meant until I had to find my way out of a not-so-healthy friendship later. I still want to save people, but it is easier to keep some perspective (and emotional health!) when I remember that I cannot save anyone – I need to bring them to the cross to meet Jesus (through intercessory prayer or through sharing my faith) rather than put myself on the cross!

  5. Colleen

    My husband told me some advice that I fall back on time and time again.

    “Don’t compare your insides to other people’s outsides.”

    I think this is especially important for mothers to remember when it seems like your house and/or kids are a mess and everyone else’s are perfect. We are usually way too hard on ourselves and need to remember that other people have struggles, too, even if they are not visible on the surface.


    My mother told me to remember (about homeschooling, but also applies to raising lots of little kids) that it’s impossible. Once you realize that, you will be much more gratified when you think of how much you’ve accomplished.

  7. Abigail

    My ninety year old aunt recently died and at her funeral my cousin Amy shared a story that helped me find perspective on aging. She asked my aunt once what things she “missed about being young.” My aunt thought carefully for a moment and then said, “I just miss one thing- Jumping!”

    I hope to be that happy with my life at age 90, with no regrets but wishing to “jump” more with the great-grandkids.

  8. Duffy

    Two things:

    1. Life isn’t fair. A common response to my whining that something wasn’t fair. Once I realized he was right things were easier

    2. The head rules the belly through the heart (CS Lewis). I must master my passions to refrain from gluttony.

  9. cordelia

    a crazy dominican once said in relation to things out of our control…”it’s not your cross to carry” i always think of that when i’m trying solve other people’s problems and am in danger of getting sucked into other folks delusions.

  10. Jennifer F.

    LOVE these!

    Some of your comments reminded me of one of my all-time favorites that has been an immense help to me, especially since I’m kind of neurotic.

    My husband has a saying, “It’s never about you.”

    Meaning, when you think that a friend is irritated with you because he/she has been bad about returning phone calls or emails, or is acting aloof, it’s never about you. 99% of the time it’s because they have something that they’re dealing with that’s stressing them out. I’ve found this to be true over and over again.

  11. aldebaran

    “Don’t worry until you have something to worry about.” — my husband

    My husband is the calm one in the relationship, while I tend to worry if I don’t have anything to worry about! I try to remember that before I get too mentally involved in worrying about something that might (or might not) happen.

  12. Catholic Bibliophagist

    “If you like what you have, you’ll have what you like.”

  13. Kristen Laurence

    I love these.

    Simple, but so key to daily peace of mind: “Have a good sense of humor!” 🙂

  14. Kristen Laurence

    Truly life-changing:

    “The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
    for children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
    So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
    I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.”

    From an old poem, author unknown.

  15. Tienne

    Great post and great comments! Two things that have really helped me adjust to our recent move and motherhood are:

    “God doesn’t give you a cross if he doesn’t think you can carry it.”


    “In Him all things are possible.”

    They go together to give me hope and keep me focused on the end result instead of getting bogged down by the little sufferings of every day.

    The other one I really like is “Be the change you want to see in the world.” I’ve always felt it encapsulates so well what we need to do: stop focusing on what’s wrong with the world and just be a better person.

  16. el-e-e

    The best advice I ever got came from a high school boyfriend (wise beyond his years), when I was trying to make a big decision.

    “Whatever decision you make, is the right one.”

    Meaning whatever you choose at a given time, is the path you’re meant to be on, for whatever reason.

    I love that. I remember it all the time.

  17. Carolyn29Sheppard

    Some time ago, I did need to buy a house for my business but I didn’t have enough cash and couldn’t order something. Thank God my friend adviced to try to get the loan from trustworthy bank. Therefore, I acted that and was satisfied with my term loan.

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