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MIKE MASTERSON: Lessons from life

For my grandkids

Note to readers: The original message to my three grandchildren was initially published in 2007. The content has been updated.

With the births of my second granddaughter and first grandson, I realize more than ever how fleeting is the period of awareness that allows us to expand the essence of who we are. With that in mind, I hereby offer some sincere notes about what to expect as they mature into adulthood and beyond for Keirston, Elizabeth and Trenton from their grandfather, who continually falls short of his own well-intentioned messages.

There are many lessons we all must learn. We are destined to repeat them for as long as it takes to master these truths. The most relevant is to always treat others as you want them to treat you.

Never forget that to anyone else, you are not the most important person in life; they are. Everything you choose to disclose or discuss is continually being filtered through their lens and how your information affects them.

Others will use words to convince you to do what they want you to do, so make your decisions based solely on their actions. The same is true with what you hear and read. You can never know the motives behind those who seek to influence you.

Educate yourself until your final conscious moment.

Only make and keep close friends with those who have proven values and a strong sense of right from wrong. Seek direction from those who have your best interests at heart and from the enduring and divine truths found in the Bible.

Genuine love is not the same as hormonally inspired infatuation. It also is not the same as "making love." While the word is the same, the experiences are far different. Real love always willingly gives at least as much as it takes.

Rely on prayer. It calms your soul and I've found it's most effective when offered in selfless surrender.

You will find happiness only within yourself. Others cannot provide it. And it's unfair and unwise to place the pressure to make you happy on another fallible person.

Make solid choices rooted in facts. As life progresses, you invariably will become the product of your choices. If you wouldn't want your parents knowing, it's likely a poor choice.

Find ways to laugh often, including at your own mistakes and shortcomings. Appreciate life for all the remarkable beauty, balance and color it offers, and rejoice in such wonders.

Try to stay balanced in all you do. It's when we lose balance in our lives that troubles take root and grow. Avoid the extremes. You, too, will make mistakes and poor choices despite your best attempts to avoid them, because you are human. Forgive yourself. Then face and root out the inevitable problems as they arise.

Worry never changes any outcome, except to drain you. So refuse to do it.

Never be afraid to speak for what you believe is right. Your soul is never tested by always agreeing with--and appeasing--others. History is made by those who follow their hearts and consciences.

Never be mean to animals, children or the elderly. The aged, like you, also once were youthful, vibrant and seemingly bulletproof. God willing, you will arrive at that point one day as well.

Appreciate all you have and everything you receive. Remember that none of us truly "deserve" anything other than what we earn for ourselves. It's true that we only get to keep what we're willing to give away. You will understand that lesson in life later on.

When respect and/or trust vanish, a relationship will crumble. Take nothing for granted, especially those you cherish. Always try to keep your word to others. Your promises are the essence of all you are and everything you represent in the eyes of others.

Your actions carry either positive or negative consequences. When you know you are at fault, don't blame others. Accept full responsibility for all you say and do. A sincere apology can work wonders. Such intellectual honesty with yourself is how you gain credibility, and how you preserve your self-worth.

Expect to fail many times before you succeed. When you stumble, never quit. Get back in the game. The successes will come. And you will develop vital character in the process.

Never allow others to determine the way you perceive yourself. All that matters is how you view the person you know yourself to be. Self-respect and esteem are the finest gifts you can give yourself.

Filling your conscious moments with activities (electronic or otherwise) leaves no room for others, or for your creator to offer guidance. Such diversions also can keep you from making truly informed choices.

Along life's pathway, recognize that what might seem to be coincidence (or serendipity) is actually the guiding hand that continually opens life's doors and pathways.

Finally, sweet girls and my little man, always seek confidence in everything you undertake and do. Realize this life, which feels in the exuberance of youth as if it will last forever, instead passes in virtual the flash of a firefly's tail.

Always know ol' grandpa loves each of you.

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Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist. Email him at mmasterson@arkansasonline.com.

Editorial on 06/12/2018

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