I write this sipping a chilled glass of white under a crisp blue sky in wine country. Celebrating what does feel like a milestone birthday has made me reflect.

I know young people (don’t I sound old?) have a reputation for being impatient. But I’ll let you into a secret: us oldies can be, too. So I’m going to offer you this advice in under 140 characters:

Be kind to yourself and others. But most of all be kind to yourself and the rest will follow.

The longer version goes like this.

Always Swirl The Glass

In this part of the world, wine connoisseurs pause before tasting. They swirl the wine around the glass, picking up aromas, preparing their palate and allowing the wine to breathe.

When I did this the other day I offered my son – who is 20 just like you – the chance to smell it to see what he thought. He closed his eyes and smiled. He said he could smell elderflowers, which enhanced my experience of the rich floral notes and buttery taste. He could appreciate “the nose”! (Yet he still hated the taste.)

"You will learn a lot about yourself if you stretch in the direction of goodness." - Cheryl Strayed

And that seems to me the point of life – slowing down, appreciating and noticing. When we free ourselves of expecting a certain outcome, we allow ourselves to enjoy every experience for what it is rather than what we get.

Break Rules, Not Hearts

Already you’re questioning “the way things are”.  Keep that up; the world needs more rebels and heretics. Have the courage to turn that questioning into action; keep marching, keep speaking up, keep helping and caring for others.

Don’t dismiss those that care for you. That guy you met your first week at school or the one you’re about to meet this year – they love you. Love doesn’t have to feel difficult or like a fight. Accepting love is as important as giving it.

Have the courage to turn that questioning into action; keep marching, keep speaking up, keep helping and caring for others.

Accept A Compliment

You can learn from feedback and compliments. At the moment, you’re probably a natural with the former and terrible at the latter. I still am.

Change that.

If someone tells you that you’ve done something well, thank them. And believe them. Let that belief sink into your skin and your soul. Let that belief envelop your inner critic in love and kindness and belief in yourself.

Cling To Your Courage

This might seem strange for you. The things that come easy to you, you don’t yet value. I know you decided to stand as President of your student body on a whim and you got it.

Keep that fearlessness. It’s easy to lose it in your thirties and forties. I feel it coming back now, but what if I’d kept your twenty-year old heart?

Perfection Is Overrated

In fact, I now know it’s a life-stealer. It’s good to care and to get things right but don’t let “good enough” stop you from moving forward. Know that everyone’s insides are a great deal messier than their outside appearance may lead you to believe.

Accept your imperfections and it will be easier to accept the beautiful flaws in others.

This is your life. So live it well.

Compassionately yours,



Moyra Mackie has an MSc in Executive Coaching and helps leaders and teams to work with greater courage, compassion and creativity.  She is currently writing her first book, The Quality Conversations Playbook, which distills her experience into a practical guide on how to re-ignite the kind of quality conversations that lead to more meaningful work and more sustainable success. She blogs weekly and you can follow her on Twitter or Instagram.

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This article is part of our series on the theme of Compassion.

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