“Annual income, £20.00, expenditure £19.95, result happiness; annual income £20.00, expenditure £20.05, result misery.” ~ Mr. Micawber from Charles Dickens’ “David Copperfield”

Learn how to budget. With the economy and growing world wide debt, it is important that we keep our personal debts in check. It is time to distinguish between wants and needs. If you have a partner, then you must figure this out together. A cupcake may be a need to one while it may be a want for another. Figure out the best way for you to pay off your debt. Always live within your means. Learn to save up money for things you want. Avoid the “buy now, pay later” mentality, because when the payment comes, you will probably be unprepared. Know what you have and limit yourself within that. When you do so, you will realize that you will always have all you need, eve if you don’t always have all you want. And in the end…it is what you need that keep you happy. Because, when we really look at it, many times in regards to material things we don’t really want what we think we want.

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“Above all, be true to yourself, and if you cannot put your heart in it, take yourself out of it.” ~Hardy D. Jackson

I finally have some time now that I’ve settled in London. I chose the above quote not so much to talk about being true to your feelings and whatnot, but more about being true to your goals. I’ve been asked recently, frequently, why I have the friends I have. Some of them seem a bit “different.” Some wonder why I keep the friends I do even after they’ve put me through a lot of hardship. Why don’t I give up? Well, I just won’t. When I was a child – nearly a teen – I had decided that I will never let anyone feel like they don’t have a friend in this world. I don’t want anyone to feel the loneliness that I’ve felt before. I don’t want anyone to feel like an outsider or to feel awkward because they don’t quite fit in. I’ve struggled with those things as well and I don’t want anyone to have to feel those things when it’s unnecessary. And quite frankly, those “weirdies” that I call my friends are lovely people. So, I’ve made that goal years ago and I intend to keep it up. So if you have a goal – you keep it up. It doesn’t matter if people question your motives. It doesn’t matter if they disagree. If you’ve made a goal and you know it’s right for you, then you go for it.

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“Getting to know someone else involves curiosity about where they have come from, who they are.” ~ Penelope Lively

Take the time to really get to know people. Now, the way I stumbled across this thinking today is due to a bit of a strange situation. Growing up in Taiwan, the teachers are very strict and often very mean. I mean, really really mean. Well, I’m leading a group of Taiwanese kids with their two teachers right now. I don’t pick at the kids for little things, but I do let them know firmly when they misbehave and let them know what appropriate behavior is. It’s funny because as I was sitting there, a teacher was yelling at them for something that is not a big deal at all. Now, this same teacher has been a family friend for about 20 years and she is a delightful person to be around. So, I got to thinking about how I really didn’t like most of my Taiwanese teachers, because they were so mean! But, if I was to see them in a different light, like I do the teacher here that yelled at the students, I might’ve liked them. I believe that when we get to know people for who they are, we will like them. We will understand them. We will be much happier about who’s in our lives.

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“I love you, and because I love you, I would sooner have you hate me for telling you the truth than adore me for telling you lies.” ~ Pietro Aretino

Endure the truth. There are times that we have to hear something that we don’t want to hear, but we needed to hear. Sometimes we put up our guards while other times we listen and change. I recommend the latter one, though the former is much easier. Or, if you prefer, do both (which I often do, the former is almost a reflex of mine). No matter what, it is better to live on truth than on lies. I’d rather be told that a dress makes me look like a hippo in the original Fantasia by a friend at the store rather than pay the money and discover it through children wanting my “hippo autograph.” I’d rather be told that I am being unnecessarily mean with my comments than go on sounding rude and hurting others (and myself) in the process of doing so. People who tell you the truth love you. Similarly, you must endure the truth when you love others. Tell them what’s happening that they cannot see, or that they used to see but have forgotten. Although some truths are hard to tell, it is important that you let those out before lies or illusions hurt those you love. It is possible that they may be offended. It is even possible that someone can be so offended that they don’t forgive you for a long time. However, when they realized that you told them the truth for their own benefit, they will appreciate it. In any case, when you speak truth with love, you will know that you are doing the right thing no matter what. So, endure and enjoy.

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“Sometimes it isn’t where you’re going, it’s who you’re with.” ~ Mayday Parade

Choose your friends wisely, and once you do, love them without fail. No matter where you’re at or what you’re doing, you can be happy and enjoy yourself if you are with the right people. Sometimes our friends offend us and sometimes we offend them. Sometimes they over-analyze and sometimes we do. Perhaps some of our friends have short tempers or perhaps we do. In any case, once you have carefully selected who you want to be with, then forgive their shortcomings and love them all the same. Of course, that means there might have to be some evaluating to do right now. Why have you picked the friends you have now? Are you willing to keep being the best friend you can be and hope for the same in return? And if you don’t feel that the people you have right now can make you happy in “difficult” circumstances, then make yourself that person that others will feel happy around no matter what.

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“That was the greatest thing about her: she had a knack of making me feel important, of making me feel useful and responsible.” ~ Christy Brown

Take responsibility of yourself and make others take responsibility of theirs. It is vital to be accountable for your actions. Many of us lose ourselves and become less of what we are by becoming lazy. Too often we blame others for our own circumstances and actions. To truly feel happy, we must take responsibility for our own lives. We will appreciate it much more if we do. I have a short story to tell: My friend and her husband have just moved to Arizona for PA school and met a couple that went (okay, my friend’s husband and the wife of the couple, just to clarify). Since the graduate program is $100,000, my friend’s husband has a tendancy to ask how they financed the program. Well, the woman’s parents paid the full amount and she is no longer practicing. In fact, since she hasn’t practiced for so long, she’d have to go back to school to get her license again. It’s astounding to me (and my friends) that she would waste all that money and effort. But, because she didn’t pay for it, she didn’t appreciate it. Of course, that’s not the same for ALL people, but it’s just an example. To really love and appreciate our lives, we must be the ones to be responsible for it. Furthermore, we must not enable people to be lazy. We must help them feel responsible in this world, because when you feel useful – you feel happy.

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“By swallowing evil words unsaid, no one has ever harmed his stomach.” ~Winston Churchill

Hold your tongue. I personally think that too often we are too quick to criticize. Usually, what you think is constructive criticism is actually destructive criticism. There are just some things that are better left unsaid. I’m not saying that if someone is making the biggest mistake of their life and they are oblivious to it that you should be quiet about it, but I am saying that there are some things that don’t need to be brought up. I find that often times, people already know what they are doing wrong. Many people are painfully aware of their shortcomings and they really don’t need someone pointing it out for them. It only adds salt to a wound. So let it go. Give yourself a break and save someone from hurt feelings. Enjoy each other’s company and overlook little things that don’t matter. When they’re ready to change (and they might be working hard at it), then they will. And you can hope that others will do this for you, too.

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