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20 of life’s little lessons

I was chatting today to an old friend in Nairobi. We come from different backgrounds and different cultures. We disagree about many things, but we have remained steadfast friends since early adulthood.

We started to talk about the advice we would offer our younger selves. We began to make a list. Here are a few of the items we agreed upon:

  1. Don’t lend money to your family. Give it.
  2. Never shake someone’s hand while sitting down.
  3. Stand up when someone enters the room.
  4. Smile.
  5. Stop telling people more than they need to know.
  6. Never eat the last piece of something you didn’t buy.
  7. Never throw someone under the bus to impress someone else.
  8. Never insult the cooking when you are the guest.
  9. Don’t use the urinal next to an occupied one.
  10. Don’t take out your phone during a conversation.
  11. Never take credit for work you didn’t do.
  12. Listen, nod, and listen again.
  13. Don’t make fun of your friend in front of their family.
  14. Praise in public. Often. Admonish in private. Quietly, but with conviction.
  15. It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed.
  16. Never kick a person when they are already down.
  17. Courage is underestimated. So is compassion.
  18. Flush.
  19. Doing the right thing often means courting unpopularity.
  20. Say thank you. Often.

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