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Life Advice Every Graduate Should Know


In 2013, George Saunders, a New York Times bestselling author, gave a commencement speech, but something about it resonated with non-graduates as well, and the video soon went viral.

It’s worth watching if you haven’t seen it, or you can read the transcript here. Either way, this is what he says in a nutshell:

Kindness is what we should aim for.

“Since, according to me, your life is going to be a gradual process of becoming kinder and more loving: Hurry up. Speed it along. Start right now. There’s a confusion in each of us, a sickness, really: selfishness. But there’s also a cure. So be a good and proactive and even somewhat desperate patient on your own behalf — seek out the most efficacious anti-selfishness medicines, energetically, for the rest of your life.”

He recalls the things in life, the moments he regrets the most are “failures of kindness” and encourages the graduates that in everything that they do, to “err in the direction of kindness.”

Love is the most powerful force. It is what drives our careers in the first place: providing for our families, making the world a better place, using our skills to serve others. Without love and kindness, we are simply going through the motions of life without fully living it. We are missing the fact that we live in relationship to those around us, not just for ourselves and by ourselves.

Father Moon, founder of the Unification faith, says, “even the absolute God cannot have love by Himself. Since love is found only in a mutual relationship, no matter how all-knowing and all-powerful God may be, He cannot possess love alone.”

It’s in relationships with others that love exists, in fact, the Divine Principle tells us that there are four distinct kinds of love, or “realms of heart”.

There are many schools of love.

Children’s Love- A child’s love reciprocates that of loving parents, and grows throughout a lifetime to develop into a deep sense of gratitude, comfort and security. Through children’s love we learn to appreciate the sacrifices of others for us and strive to do the same for our children someday.

Siblings’ Love- We grow up with siblings and peers, going through the same course side by side. Siblings’ love can be a profound friendship, a bond that will last a lifetime.

Husband and Wife’s Love- Perhaps one of the deepest experiences of love is that with our spouse and soul mate—the one with whom we will raise a family and teach love to them. A couple embodies God, and by building our marriage to a level of unconditional love, we can grow tremendously as people.

Parent’s Love- People often say they didn’t know true love until the birth of their first child. To hold another human in one’s hands and guide our children through life is the ultimate level of love, one that we prepare for as we progress through growing our love as a child, a sibling, and a husband or wife.

Just like Mr. Saunders says, all of the degrees and successes, all of the accomplishments are great, but the thing that matters most, and what we will remember in the end, is the love that we have given and received. We will remember those who have shown us the most kindness, and if we do our part, that’s the way we will be remembered too.

Think of three people you know, right now, who could use a little kindness. They may need someone to reach out and talk to them, or they may need a little help around the house. In what little ways you can, bring that kindness into their lives, and see how those simple acts changed yours.