Last fall, a reader named Amanda asked me some fun and thought-provoking questions for an interview.  The one that really gave me pause was this: “What is the best advice you have ever received?”  Not just the best advice I’d read, or the best advice I’d given, but the best advice I’d received

A lot of sage bits swirled through my mind before I finally land upon a piece of advice I’d been given—and then I wondered why I hadn’t thought of it sooner. 

But I loved how the question got me thinking.  And I decided I’d like to pass Amanda’s question on to all of you. Comment with your answer!

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given? 

My mother always told me that her mother always told her: it is selfish to be self-conscious.

I have always struggled with being self-conscious.  Maybe everyone else does, too.

But I’m always slightly jealous of those who appear so self-confident.  Because I myself am feeling self-conscious about not being self-confident!

It’s all about self.

Whenever I actually make the conscious effort to be others-conscious, I feel at ease making them feel at ease.

And I’ve found that the easiest way to start is with a simple smile.

The Bible says, “A joyful heart is good medicine” (Proverbs 17:22).

And after all, “Never frown: you don’t know who’s falling in love with your smile.”

32 Comments

  1. I think it’s far too easy to be self-conscious and focused on our selves these days…

  2. One nugget I have received recently is: “People act the way they do because of who they are, not because of who we are.”

    1. That is so true…. we reveal ourselves and who we really are. It doesn’t have much to do with other people. πŸ™‚

  3. Thanks for the good post and all the amazing comments! The best advise that I have ever received was from my dad. He would always tell me, “In everything you do, act in Gods grace”.

  4. β€œIt is better to say, β€˜This one thing I do’ than to say, β€˜These forty things I dabble with.’” ~D. L. Moody

    This quote was in the book Becoming a Woman of Simplicity by Cynthia Heald.

  5. My Daddy always says “What’s done is done and cannot be undone.” In other words, no use crying over what you can’t change. When we’re saved by grace through faith, we can press on regardless of the past. Same goes with how we treat people and they treat us. Whatever is behind us, let’s keep it there and keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, not the former things.

    My Mom and I were just talking the other day about how self esteem and self consciousness are really just a form of selfishness! So very, very true. Most people who have an appearance of self confidence don’t always personally feel that they are – but rather have come to terms with the fact they’re not perfect and it’s really okay! πŸ™‚

  6. Having just gone through a difficult situation in a wich I recieved more advice then I ever thought possible, your post really got me thinking. Sometimes, like right now for me, it’s easier to just turn your ears off to what others have to say rather than listening and seeing what you can glean from their words of wisdom. I struggled with this last year, and even a little bit now. But after reading your post and thinking about, the one piece of advice that stands out in my mind has been repeated to me by almost everyone in my life this last year is this:
    If you your lips
    Would keep from slips
    These things observe with care:
    To whom you speak,
    Of whom you speak,
    And how, and when, and where.
    This past year I have seen words do more damage in peoples’ lives than anything I’ve ever seen before. This little quoat serves to remind me that my tongue is quite capable of really hurting those around me if I am not careful.

  7. I can’t exactly pin down where or from whom I first heard this, but I think the best advice I have ever been given is to not take myself too seriously. In other words, not to exalt my own needs, feelings, and opinions above those of other people. It’s easy to live as though our own needs are dreadfully important, but in the context of eternity, they’re really not. It’s actually a relief to know that I don’t need to push to get my own needs met or my opinions listened to. God will take care of all of those things.

    The worst advice I’ve ever been given? To be more pushy, forward, and vocal about my wants, needs, and opinions. To “express myself” more. Ladies, don’t go down that road. It leads to a very unhappy ending.

  8. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Best advice I ever received: Trust is a choice not an feeling – choose to trust God!

  9. I’d have to say that mine came from my father. He told me, Whatever you do, don’t borrow an offense.

    As someone who has been active in many different churches and in working with young people, this is been priceless advice. The more you speak with people, hear opinions, etc… the easier it is to borrow someone else’s offense. It is so vital to keep yourself in check.

    Natasha

  10. There was one quote that my mom liked to tell my sisters and I as little girls when we would primped in front of the mirror. She said,

    “Never spend more time looking in the mirror each morning than you spend looking into the face of God for your morning devotions.”

  11. Wow! I struggle with being self-conscious too, so this really struck home πŸ™‚

    My pastor is always saying this: Get the small things right, and bigger things will be given to you. (E.g. being consistent and faithful in turning up to church early each week to set up, even when you really, really don’t feel like it. The people on my church’s leadership team now are those who were faithfully serving in church, seemingly unnoticed, for a very long time.) You have to get the basics right first.

  12. Gretchen, I heard similar advice about self-consciousness, and oh how I needed it! :O) Much better these days, thanks be to God!

    A piece of advice that sticks in my mind is my mom’s: “Never say no to Jesus.”

    1. Similarly, I was told once that it’s a “sin” to be shy. While I’m still processing that bit of information, I agree about self-consciousness. My way of dealing with feeling nervous or upset is to remain quiet. But I noticed that it upsets my friends when I space out. So I’ve been trying to catch myself and ENGAGE, even if it is just making eye contact or nodding.

  13. Oops, that was supposed to be “two” not “three”!

    1. Hee hee, Megan, I was like, “What’s the third thing? I HAVE TO KNOW!!” πŸ™‚

  14. This one came from my high school senior girls’ group leader, a woman whose kids I know well and who I respect very much.

    There are only two choices you make in life that you can’t change. Where you live, what you do, what school you attend- all of that can be changed. But the choice to follow God and the choice of who to marry, those last a lifetime. When you do choose who to marry, there are three very important things to remember. First, make sure you really like him. You’ve got to stick with him forever, and life isn’t always easy, so marry someone you enjoy. Second, make sure he is worthy of your support and respect. To respect and stand behind your husband is part of the duty of a wife, so make sure it will be easy to do so.

    She says she’ll keep telling us that all year, so it will stick with us. Obviously, it’s working!

  15. Never doubt in the dark what God has told you in the light.

  16. Live each day purposefully – if your goal for a day is just to get through it, that is all that you will accomplish. This especially helped me when I was a camp counselor, but I imagine when I’m a mom, it will come in handy again! Of course I wanted to accomplish more than just surviving a day, despite exhaustion. I was there to reach girls’ lives, so I had to set higher goals for my individual days.

  17. wow… i’ve received so many pieces of good advice over the years – i don’t know where to start!!! lol
    πŸ™‚ very nice post Gretchen.
    Although those are all very good pieces of advice, I think our best advice comes from God’s word – my favorite piece of advice there (at the moment :)) is 1 Corinthians 10: 31: “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. ”
    Blessings!!

  18. ~ Whatever we put our trust in, from that we expect our happiness. ~

    This thought has stayed with me from the moment I read it in the works of the Rev. William Romaine (18th Century). It tends to correct my perspective and bring the compass back to north! For instance, if I trust for happiness from my family or friends, then I put so much pressure on them that they are bound to fail. But rather than blame them out of pride, I should see instead my trust misplaced and that the failure is really mine for forgetting that the world doesn’t revolve around my happiness : ) So much better to expect all from God and put *all* our trust in Him.

    I think that such words which send us straight to our knees are truly worth remembering! I hope they bless someone else : )

  19. I really like that advice because I too have really struggled with being self conscious. And being at ease with someone that I don’t know really really well is always difficult for me.

  20. My dad always said, ‘if you have a kind heart, nothing else matters.’ He always stopped to talk and joke with homeless guys, give away money, etc. I work with homeless people now and his influence is all over that.

  21. The piece of advise that comes to my mind first is from my mother as well. Not as profound as yours, yet it has had a very positive influence on my life!

    “If you’ve lost something, clean up until you find it”

    Instead of getting frustrated when I lose my cutting shears or my journal or a receipt, I have learned the best thing to do is to clean up until it’s found. Sometimes it only takes a few minutes of putting away clutter for the lost item to be found – other times you may spend an hour, or a day (!) tidying while you search, but in the end you will have a clean house AND your found item! πŸ™‚

    I like your mom’s advice, too, and will have to remember it.

    1. Ooh, that’s a good one! *makes mental note to remember that next time*
      πŸ˜›

  22. I think mine came from my Mom too – she’s always saying, “Have a teachable heart.” Don’t be stubborn, seek wise counsel – don’t let your pride get in the way!

  23. I love the last sentence. The whole exercpt is true. You never know who is watching.

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