105 Ways to Give a Book

Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything

Is 42, the age I turn today, and I am taking that milestone to share my wisdom from this journey so far. I’ve come to learn that I don’t have an answer for the Why of life, but I’m coming ever closer to the How to live it. Lately I’ve come to realize that saying four specific things has the power to change the nature of your closest relationships, and in that, the way you experience your life.

Please
This word turns a demand into a request. It also validates our reliance on others and a need to be treated with respect. Saying, “Could you please do the dishes?” gives the person being asked a chance to do something for the asker, and respect for that person’s time and energy have been conveyed. It’s become a rote word, but upon reflection it conveys so much more.

Thank you
This phrase is the simplest expression of gratitude. Used frequently, it rewards and uplifts not only the people being thanked, but those doing the thanking, who must acknowledge their own gratitude. Whether it is expressed for washing the dishes, listening to a rant, or accepting a gift, we create harmony in our relationships and ourselves in our gratitude.

I’m sorry
This phrase isn’t uttered enough. Its power is in acknowledging our own imperfections as human beings and forgiving that imperfection in ourselves and others. It shouldn’t be saved for big things, but used instead to remind our loved ones and ourselves of our desire to do better. “I’m sorry I snapped at you. It was a bad day,” gives both parties a chance to move on — and when conveyed to a child, gives them the tools to understand and reciprocate.

I love...
This incomplete phrase captures the order from childhood to “say something nice.” It gives us the power to express passion, caring, and joy. To compliment, encourage, or uplift. It goes from the simple yet powerful, “I love you,” to the seemingly mundane, “I love brownies.” In telling others what we love, we remind ourselves how much there is to love.

The dynamics of my household, with four artistic personalities and two tween/teen girls, has been saved by the power of these words. Practically used, without any other agenda, they will change the way you interact with the ones closest to you. But as you dig deeper, you find that they reflect greater truths of relationships, humanity, and personal growth. Take it from someone who knows. Or at least, someone who has arrived at the answer to life, the universe and everything.1

  1. With acknowledgment to Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

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16 comments:

Jules at 7-Imp said...

Good advice, all that. Happy birthday!

tanita davis said...

Thanks for all the fish.
Happy birthday, sweetie! xo

Lady S. said...

Happy birthday! Sound words there, as usual.

Amy said...

Happy birthday! And all very great advice, well worth sharing.

aquafortis said...

Amen. Love this. Happy birthday, MR!

Coincidentally, it is my experience when traveling that if you make a point of learning to say at least "hello," "please," "thank you," and "excuse me" in the local language, people will really appreciate it and be more willing to help your sorry butt. :)

Sort of a tangent, but it backs up your argument, I think, about the importance of please and thank you....

As the Crowe Flies and Reads said...

Wonderful post! and happy 42nd birthday--42 is my favorite number after having read Adams.

The Pen and Ink Blog said...

You are so right on. My children taught me that. (Especially the importance of the word "sorry") Happy Birthday! The journey only get's better.

Suzanne Casamento said...

Happy Birthday!

What a beautiful post. I think you're so right. Learning HOW to live life comes closer as we get older.

Gaining this kind of wisdom is what makes getting older so rewarding.

KHAIRU DHANANI said...

Happy Birthday, dear.Love ur post. God Bless you . www.khairusworld.blogspot.com .

Charlotte said...

Happy Birthday Pam!

Thank you, so much again, for the reading challenge! And please do it again next year so that we can keep celebrating our love of books and community!

(and I'm sorry I didn't read more)

AMY L said...

great list. happy birthday. thank you for your words.

web said...

Happy birthday! Sounds like really know where your towel is.

Alex said...

Good advice, and a very Hhappy Birthday to you.

Anne said...

Great post. I am also 42 and a mom of two teenagers- it is definitely a challenge. Happy Birthday!

Joanna said...

Bit late, but Happy Birthday Pam, and these four truths can indeed transform relationships at home, at work and even with strangers. Thank you.

CurliSu said...

That was beautifully written. I may have to hang those words on a wall in my house. Thank you, and happy belated birthday!