Advice is easily given and rarely taken. Often unsolicited or unwanted, and usually vague. We ask “what’s the best advice you’ve been given?” in the hopes that someone else’s tested advice will be our new found wisdom. I find that question itself revealing: asking about what has been given, not what we took to heart and used to change and grow.
I believe sharing that knowledge to help someone else be happier is intrinsically human. We want to be connected to one another, and we want to be of service.
So, how to share what we’ve learned so it is truly helpful? The best advice is advice that helps us change, resolves something personal and is given without expectation. Often small, good advice creates positive ripples throughout our daily lives.
The best advice I’ve taken came from one of my best friends. While on maternity leave, I’d been finding half-drunk cold cups of coffee around my house and even in the microwave. I had a theory you could only reheat the same cup of coffee three times before you’d ruined the coffee. I told her I was disappointed that the mom-memes were true. Apparently, having a kid and hot cup of coffee were mutually exclusive. And, I’d never appreciated a hot drink as much as I did when home full-time with a newborn.
Her advice? Get a travel mug.
Of course. The simplest solution and it already existed! Cold coffee wasn’t just a new parent problem, it’s a busy people problem.
And man, did having hot (or warmer) coffee every day make me happier. I appreciate a cup of coffee more now than I ever thought possible. I am grateful for warm coffee every day. And I think of my best friend over many of those cups of coffee. How fantastic is it that she didn’t make fun of my new mom-ness, or tell me to get a travel mug while laughing at my inability to solve such a small problem? Especially since we actually had no less than 3 travel mugs in our house at the time! The solution was literally in front of my face.
Those small, possibly forgotten moments of sharing wisdom with each other are some of the most powerful points of connection we have with one another.
My lesson from the Travel Mug Advice is to give advice only when you aren’t invested in the outcome, when it’s something the other person can do, and when it’s solving a problem the other person has already identified themselves.
So, tell me about the best advice you’ve taken recently?