Insight and advice: 20 quick hits from two decades of lessons

Joey Garcia’s guide to survival

Love, marriage, honesty and heretics. Some quick-hit wisdom gleaned from 20 years’ worth of questions and answers.

1. Reality is the least popular kid in the School of Life.

The popular kids are denial, blaming, mind-reading, victimization and all-or-nothing thinking. But if we befriend reality instead of these troublemakers, we heal faster and gain wisdom that initiates real change.

2. Marriage is a journey, not a destination.

Getting married isn’t the end of loneliness, childhood wounds or financial woes. Marriage is the trip of a lifetime. Our problems—and our partner’s troubles—travel with us.

3. Being “nice” is too often an excuse to avoid being honest.

Withholding the truth is lying, and that’s not nice.

4. If more of us were at home in ourselves we’d have fewer homeless on the street.

The people living on our streets are struggling with mental illness, addictions and poverty. A lack of affordable housing isn’t the underlying problem. This is: the trauma evicted them from their bodies. They’re homeless because they’re not at home in themselves. And, if we nonstreet dwellers were at home in ourselves, we could see that truth. We must house people living on the street because residential stability allows us to more easily deliver the healthcare they need to return home to themselves.

5. When someone is suffering, compassion is more important than curiosity.

Kick questions to the curb if you want to help someone who is heartbroken. Instead, listen to what he or she needs to say.

6. Adults lie to kids about life, but shouldn’t.

Here’s the lie: Good grades grant admission to a good university and a university degree guarantees a good job, the perfect spouse and a happy life. Why pressure kids to squeeze into a formulaic life that subverts their native genius? Let’s value good grades as a measure of learning, but start admitting that there are many paths to personal, social and financial success.

7. Heartbreak is a national epidemic.

A citizen who kneels during the national anthem does so because he is heartbroken by how he and others have been mistreated. Heartbreak isn’t just an emotional wound suffered in romantic situations; it’s a national epidemic.

8. Our bodies speak our minds.

If we deny emotional or spiritual pain, loss, or deep longing, stress roots in our bodies and contributes to chronic illness.

9. If you only do things you’d say “Hell, yes!” to, you’ll miss your call to adventure.

The thing we don’t want to do is often the life-transforming, soul-defining, heart-opening, mind-expanding act that vaults us into the next level of our lives. Ask any hero.

10. Everything is personal but very little should be taken personally.

It’s not about us, except when it is. So instead of getting offended, let’s get curious about why we’re triggered so we can discover a way to be free.

11. Solitude and silence are powerful organic nutrients.

The soul is nourished when we are alone and quiet. Solitude and silence are vitamins that keep us woke.

12. Real listening aligns our mind, body and soul.

When we’re really listening to someone talk, it feels like sitting in silent meditation. We become witnesses to reality and channels for the Divine.

13. When we force ourselves to fit in, we lose what makes us stand out.

The trick is to live in the world and enjoy it, but not be completely of the world so we retain our uniqueness. It’s difficult, but worth it.

14. Religion is not the moon; it points toward the moon.

Religious people may not realize it, but at times they worship their religion instead of worshipping their God.

15. Spirituality is not parapsychology’s twin.

Spirituality is not about psychic powers or near-death experiences or reincarnation. Spirituality is not a synonym for religion, either. Spirituality is the experience of union with God.

16. We are never alone. We have God, each other and every living thing.

We all get lonely. Some of us even fear living alone or dying alone. But on a planet that’s home to more than 7 billion people and more than 8 million species, we’re only alone if we persist in feeling disconnected from all of creation.

17. Everyone struggles in relationships.

Our partner brings us joy but we can’t hit the sweet spot with co-workers. We have a more loving connection with neighbors than with family. Or we get along perfectly with everyone because all of our relationships are superficial. The relationship struggle is real, and it always encourages personal growth.

18. The world is our soul mate.

Instead of trying to find the world in one person, why not let the world be our true love?

19. Wanting love to be unconditional is a condition.

It’s popular to write marriage vows promising to give and receive unconditional love. But without spiritual maturity, the attempt to love someone unconditionally inspires codependency, or worse.

20. Awakened people speak the truth, take a stand for others and do what they love. They don’t do what they are told to do.

Let’s celebrate heretics, whistleblowers and radical thinkers. It takes courage to speak truth to power with love, so we should stand for the rights of those who do it.