My brother is 17 years old, and he is my best friend. While I moan and gripe about how difficult and annoying he is, I don’t know what or who I’d be without him. Over the years I’ve learned so much from him, it’s incredible!
I spend a whole bunch of time with my family, more than most young adults, but that has its own set of reasons. One of them being that I help homeschooling my brother, which let me tell you tests my patience on a daily basis.
In addition to being all of the amazing things he is, my brother is developmentally delayed, has ADD (or ADHD, or both), is somewhere on the Spectrum and has learning disabilities. Life has not been kind or gentle to him, and it certainly hasn’t been easy. Even though he faces a gazillion challenges, that most of us have the luxury of not understanding, he still wakes up with a big smile (on most days) and lives each day fully.
So here are the 11 Life Lessons I’ve learned from my brother:
- Lead with love.
One of the things I so admire about my brother is how loving he is. If there’s any person who’s as full loving as my brother, please introduce me to that person – I’d love to meet them! (And I’m sure they’d get along wonderfully with my brother. My brother doesn’t prejudge and decide who’s worth his love and respect, he just treats every person the same way. While some people take advantage of his good-heartedness, I love that I never have to second guess if his intentions are good or not. He never wants to harm anyone, and that is so unique in today’s world.
2. Simplicity is key.
You guys, I have plenty of off days, and occasionally I’ll go to my brother for advice. For some situations his advice is perfect. He doesn’t overcomplicate things, like we typically do. He just sees everything the way it is. Not grey, but pretty straightforward. And that very simple advice is extremely grounding, and just what I need when it all just gets too much and my brain is throwing me into loops of thoughts. Like someone and don’t know how they feel? Ask them. Don’t like how someone’s treating you? Tell them. Miss someone? See them. Really life doesn’t have to be so complicated, so looking at things from a very simple and basic point-of-view can seriously improve your life and happiness.
3. Be the most enthusiastic person in the room.
My brother wins at enthusiasm, no matter who he’s surrounded by. He puts his all into whatever he’s excited about doing. Really – you can’t win. His enthusiasm becomes so infectious, you can’t help smile about it. So whatever I’m doing, I try to be a little more enthusiastic about it, regardless how little I want to do it. Not only does it help with general happiness, but I guarantee you that more people will want to hang around you if you’re in general good spirits and are exuding enthusiasm.
4. Lighten up!
Some people might call me uptight (I’m looking at you, Mom and Dad!). There are reasons for that, but I’m not going to make excuses for not being more relaxed in day-to-day life. It is, after all, up to me if I’d like to change that! However, something my brother demonstrates on a regular basis is that life is so much more fun when you lighten up. Now that’s easier said than done, am I right? But pushing those thoughts of what others might think, or what might happen in various scenarios could possibly be the most productive thing you do for yourself. What are the chances that what you fear is actually going to happen? What’s the worst thing that can happen if you lighten up? Have too much fun? I think I’ll take that risk and see what happens!
5. Don’t be afraid to ask.
Have you ever heard of the rejection game? If not, watch this Ted Talk here and you can purchase it here. However, you don’t have to necessarily pay for a game to teach you how to get rejected and overcome your fears of rejection. The easiest way to practice that is by simply asking for what you want. My brother does it all the time, and while I’m sure there are more reasons for that than him just having the courage to ask, it sure helps! My brother has gone to Starbucks before and asked for a milkshake and told them he only had $3 with him. Yes, you guessed right…they did it for him! This happens to him all. the. time. He has no fears for asking what he wants and he more often than not gets it. What could you get if you just asked for it?
6. Be persistent (with the things you love).
If you looked up the word “persistence” in the dictionary, you’d find a picture of my brother staring back at you. (Scary, right?) If my brother loves something or wants something, he won’t stop until he gets it. If you don’t like him, that’s fine. But if he likes you – oh boy, you might as well give up now. I’ve seen this happen plenty of times, where he will repeatedly talk to someone who has ZERO interest in conversing with him, but by the end they love him. Now THAT’S persistence! (Does not mean you should harass people, kids!)
7. Forget the haters.
This coincides with #6, but just ignore the hate and those who spew it. There are people all over that find pure delight in making somebody else’s life miserable, and love to take them down. Just because you have haters does not make you in any way special and unique. EVERYBODY gets hate at some point or time, not just you! And believe me, I thought I was the only one who had people who didn’t like them. My brother simply ignores the haters (or confronts them), and either way he gets some sort of resolution. If he confronts them, he gets the answers to his question (What did he do wrong? Why do they have a problem with him, etc.). If he ignores the hate, then he treats them like everyone else, and often end up liking him in the end.
8. Be yourself fearlessly.
I don’t think my brother could be anyone besides himself, even if he wanted to. I struggle with this personally. I try to be what I believe everyone else wants me to be. But in the end I’m not sure if they actually wanted that, and it hinders me from forming any deep, meaningful connections. It’s really just hurting me rather than helping me. Regardless of that, it’s much more fun and uplifting to just be yourself, and WAY less complicated.
9. Laugh, as much as you can. (Especially at yourself!)
Something some people might not know about me is that my personal mission is to get as many laugh lines as I possibly can. Only way to get them – laugh a lot! I love laugh lines. They tell stories and show the joy that someone has had in their life. I really don’t understand why people get botox in order to get rid of them, but hey, if that’s you – you do you! My brother spends the majority of the time laughing, and I think it makes him have a healthier outlook in life. He could be spending time extremely frustrated with whatever limitations he has (and sometimes he is), but he chooses to spend a good amount of time laughing. I admire that!
10. Having hobbies is EXTREMELY important!
My brother doesn’t have all too many hobbies. His hobbies include singing, playing instruments, and playing video games. Maybe one could include watching TV on that list, but nothing more than that. And if you ask my parents or I, his singing isn’t terribly good. Because of his lack of hobbies, he’s really isolating himself from others, since he can only connect with those who are as passionate as him about those few things. It’s not so fun to watch, and we encourage him to find an interest in other things as well (but nothing has stuck so far). Hobbies help with having engaging conversations, meeting new people, improving yourself, having a purpose, and learning more about yourself (in terms of your likes and dislikes), all things that my brother could benefit from. Crossing my fingers that we’ll find something that he likes soon! But if you personally have an interest in something, try it out! Worst case scenario you find out it wasn’t everything you thought it was, and you have some experience in that department and know what you dislike.
11. Stay curious!
My brother asks people a ton of questions (and then also talks a ton about himself and his life). He wants to know things (often not the things I wish he were curious about!), and often I’m too lazy or annoyed to answer all of his miniscule questions. Questions like why the sky is blue or what exactly is rain or how many planets are there, are all learning opportunities that could help with #10, but that I often plain don’t have the patience for. But do YOU know the answer to all of those questions? I know I don’t! Maybe I should, but 80% of the times when my brother asks me a question, I don’t know the answer to it besides “That’s just the way it is.” What questions aren’t you asking, and what questions could you be asking?
That’s all for now!
Questions for you:
- Do you have a sibling? If so, how many?
- What have you learned from a sibling/friend/family member that’s been valuable to you?
- What kind of hobbies do you have?