I don’t know if it’s necessarily important for people to have mottos.
I mean, I am sure that there are millions of folks out there who live their whole lives never having had “words to live by”…
But I find that having a couple of simple statements that I can repeat to myself when things are tough really helps me move past problems (well, or sometimes things that I see as problems, because, let’s face it… with all that’s happening in the world today, my “problems” look pretty sweet to a lot of folks out there).
I have two mottos that I pretty much live by.
Illigitimum Non Carburundum
The first one… Illigitimum Non Carburundum… is a fake Latin phrase that, if it were actual Latin, would translate to “Don’t Let the Bastards Grind You Down”.
I first discovered this phrase when I married the SB… I believe his father was the first mentioner, but I could be wrong, it might have been him.
Either way… 15 years later and I still think it’s the best piece of advice ever.
People are assholes.
Yes, even the ones we know and like, even the ones who are sweet as pie and twice as nice as cake, even me, even you, (sorry if you really aren’t, but I’m generalizing here), we all have the capacity to be assholes at the very least, even if we rarely exercise it.
So when someone does something asshole-ish. a) It should come as no particular surprise and b) you really can’t let it bother you.
“Don’t Let the Bastards Grind You Down”… to me, it’s the best way to say. Hey… you are going to have to deal with assholes all the time. Try not to let it bother you too much. Don’t let it get to you. Don’t take it personally. Don’t stoop to their level. Don’t become an asshole to fight against the assholes.
I think you get the idea.
Basically, it’s a reminder that I may not be in control of how other people act. Scratch that. I AM NOT in control of how other people act, but I am 100% in control of how I react to them and how I allow them to impact my feelings and emotions. If I let them grind me down, they win. If I let them make me act like an asshole, they win. If I react with calm and grace and dignity (and maybe a little passive-aggressive revenge that they will never know came from me), then they do not win.
So I keep that one in mind.
The second one… Hakuna Matata… is probably, I think, more familiar to you, what with the song and all. And, yes, that movie is the first I ever heard of that phrase, and I liked it then, but I didn’t adopt it as my motto until 2004.
2004 was a pretty bad year. You know… in life, we have good years, we have bad years, we have normal years… well 2004 was difficult one for me, and that’s when I decided that “Hakuna Matata” was going to be added to my life as a way to get through.
“No Worries” or “No Problem” is the literal translation, but from the movie, I also think of it as Pumbaa (yes, it’s his voice too) saying in my ear… “You gotta put your behind in the past!”
Because that’s important for me to keep on going.
Stuff that happened has happened. You can’t do anything about it, you can’t change it, you can’t go back and make it un-happen… so you gotta let it go.
Childhood issues? Well, I’m not a kid anymore… let them go. Mean kids in high school? High school is over… let it go. That first terrible job I had where my bosses set me up for failure then blamed me for failing? I don’t work there anymore… let it go. Bitch cut me off in traffic? Well, she’s ahead of me now… let it go.
“Behind in the past” counts for everything… things that happened years ago, and things that happened yesterday.
Now, that’s not saying I don’t want to try to improve things in the future, but dwelling on the past, on things I have no control over, things I can’t change… well that’s just gonna make me sad and crazy. So I don’t. Yesterday is gone, but today and tomorrow I can work with… let’s see what happens.
Those two sayings have helped me do a lot in my life. Living by them (among all the other things in life, yes) certainly helped me grow from a low self-esteem, negative self talking, down-on-me, generally depressed kind of a person in my 20′s to the person I am today.
I really grew up a lot in my 30′s (so far). I’m not saying it wasn’t work, mentally, and I’m not saying I don’t still have a ways to go on the crazy train. But I can look at myself today and I actually like me. I think I’m good at stuff. I think I am a worthwhile person. It takes work to get there, but I’m happier now than ever and I think that it’s at least in part due to the adoption of these two mottos.
The reason this all came up, BTW, is these have now officially gone on the “the list” of tattoo ideas, so I’ve been thinking about it more now than usual.