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  • Writer's pictureSumbella

Life lessons from a wise friend: keep it simple, know what you like, let love happen.

Updated: Oct 4, 2021



A good teacher is hard to find.


And for however long teachers have existed in the world, people of all generations and times have travelled across the world just to spend time with a good one.


They will often travel far and wide for a good teacher, to absorb their energy, and learn from them.


In many traditions, just to be physically close to such teachers is in and of itself a learning.


A couple of years ago, I was sipping a coffee in the company of a father-figure who had lived for almost a hundred years.


I consider him one of my greatest, most important teachers.


He was born in the 1920's - a time we will never quite be able to know like he did, especially now that most of this generation has passed on.


He was of an ilk who were frugal, determined, and steady: and very much toughened up by the effects of war.


And I asked him: 'What makes a good life?'


At the time, I wrote his answer down. He thought for a moment, and then answered just three things. They were simple enough to remember, and I've recalled them easily ever since:

  1. "Keep things simple."

  2. "Know what you like."

  3. "Let love happen."

These three things he shared are word for word what he said to me in response to my question.


And as I was writing this article, it became more and more apparent how wise the three things are.


Here's what I learned from how he walked his walk, and showed us all how to live true to these three things:


1. 'Keep things simple'


His key approach was that less is usually more than enough - both of possessions, and of mental baggage.


In his physical space, he had just a couple of pairs of everything - nothing fancy, or over the top.


But in the mental side of things too, he also kept things simple.


He bore no grudges against anyone.


He didn't overthink things.


He had a healthy outlook on life that allowed him to have deep tolerance and a forgiving temperament towards others.


Instead of immediately sharing an opinion, he'd usually listen first and then say, 'Ok. Okay.'


A simple word, that gave him time to think, and showed the other person he was processing.


What beautifully simple ways to keep things simple.


He never rejected or pushed them out, rather just let them be: a simple attitude of 'live, and let live'.


2. 'Know what you like'


'I am a creature of habit', he would say.


He would choose the same places to visit, the same coffee to drink, they same people to sit with, the same brand of shoes to buy, the same, the same, the same.


He would, of course, occasionally venture out to new or unusual places or destinations.


But time and time again he would spend time on the same hobbies and activities and master them, doing them over and over.


And the point was, he was quite content with every bit of it.


For me, 'Know what you like', is not just about knowing the habits or hobbies you like to do, though that is a huge and important part of life.


But he showed me how important it really is to understand yourself and your core values: to simply know what it is you really like to do and how you really like to be.


Simple, yet profound.


3. 'Let love happen'


There are so many things that sap our time, our energy, our focus.


There are also a great many things that prevent us from doing what we'd love to.


Sometimes those blocks are in our mind, sometimes in our environment.


Often, of all the things we know we really love, we sometimes hold ourselves back from doing, having or being them.


We don't let love happen at all.


So this may be the most important part of his advice:


To take all the things we would truly love to do, be and feel, and to let them happen.


Summary


I believe everyone around you is a kind of teacher.


They are all there, showing you something, teaching you how you react, what you like, don't like, agree, don't agree with.


This person was one of the most remarkable souls I have ever had the privilege of knowing.


His three pieces of advice are like a little roadmap for life:


Simplify things. Understand what you truly love to do. Allow it all to happen.


Or, in his own words:

  • Keep it simple,

  • Know what you like.

  • Let love happen.

Thank you, Uncle Len.

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