Wisdom and Dads

Updated on
May 3, 2024

by Riley Collins

My close friend’s dad passed away unexpectedly, and at his celebration of life we talked about all the things she learned from him. Everyone there was sharing different stories about him, and it became clear that he had a set of core values that he lived out in every relationship he had. 

That got me thinking about the immeasurable value of having a great dad or a good role model and how much they shape us as humans. And it’s not just dads—it’s more about recognizing and appreciating that person who has given you a lot of tidbits of wisdom and helped you craft the unconscious habits you have and live out on a daily basis. 

So here are 10 tips and household phrases from my dad that have changed me:

1. Be embarrassed for two minutes or thankful forever.

AKA you won’t know until you try, and who cares if you think you look like an idiot. A lot of the things we want are right on the other side of being embarrassing for just a moment. 

2. It ain’t nothing but a thang.

Don’t take yourself (or most things) too seriously. 

Embrace the silly. Be willing to laugh at yourself. There will always be certain things that warrant being treated seriously (alas, not everything can be fun) but odds are you’re overthinking and hyperfixating on much more than you need to. Trust it will work itself out.

3. Make every person you talk to feel like the most important person in the room.

Listen well. Be present. 

Show as much interest in the doorman as you do the front man.

Kindness matters, and people remember it, even if it’s just a moment.

4. Eat the f*cking ice cream.

Life is short. If the sweet treat will make you happy, then go get it. 

“I am not lactose intolerant so maybe this is bad advice, but there are a lot of alternatives out there now, right?”

5. Keep it level, kid.

Anger might feel good now, but it hurts later–know when to bite your tongue. 

Don’t panic.

Be honest about your feelings. 

Keep yourself accountable.

6. Stop and smell the roses…and don’t outgrow that.

Recognize and appreciate the little moments of joy. It’s not a waste of time to lay and watch the clouds roll by, or pull over for the sunset.

Slow down. Be still.

Practice intentional gratitude.

7. When your finances allow it, pick up the tab.

Morning coffee with your parents, a catch up with a friend over lunch, whatever it may be. This can be literal or figurative.

When you can, take care of the people in your life and they’ll take care of you, too.

8. Leave the world a little better than you found it.

You can decide what that means for you. 

You don’t have to win a Nobel Peace Prize. But if you do, that’s cool too.

Or you could just be nice and not litter or something. 

9. Be where your feet are.

Wherever you are, be there completely. Don’t worry too much over the future and what might be, or dwell too much on the past and what could’ve been.

That doesn’t mean don’t plan for the future or don’t learn from your mistakes. The balance is being able to do a little of both without being preoccupied by either.

10. Let ‘em fry their fish.

Live your life in a way that makes YOU happy and without fear of what someone else might think—they have their own fish to fry. 

Paths to happiness look different for everyone. Be yourself, be proud, be confident. Do your best to love yourself, love those around you, and love life, and things will fall into place.

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