Terry Mackin: 13 words and phrases for the Class of 13

May 19, 2013 

Sorry. I won't be able to attend your graduation ceremonies in person this season to deliver a commencement address.

Sure, no one has asked me. That's OK. I'm too busy anyway, you know. You'll find out someday. Busy, busy, busy. If we're not busy, we'll make ourselves busy. Too busy to talk so we text. Too busy to type our texts so we talk and make audio texts. Too busy to text everyone so we tweet.

So, new graduates, my first word of advice for you as you enter a new phase is learn the value of a good pause.

Turn off your phone.

Feels good, huh?

In honor of the Class of 2013, I'm going to offer you 13 simple words and sayings. Type them in your notepad. Engrave them in your memories. One guarantee: If you remember to say, or text, these 13 words or sayings often in coming years, at the right time, you'll be better off in life than if you don't.

Here goes, Class of 2013. Just keep those phones off for a few more minutes. It will be OK, really.

Say these words --- or text them -- a lot, at the right time, in your life ...

1. "Thank you."

There are no two stronger words than when you look someone in the eyes and tell him you appreciate what he has done for you, about you or with you.

Start today when you are handed a diploma.

Thank your favorite teachers.

Thank your least favorite teachers because as you get older, you'll realize they may have taught you the most because they weren't worried if you liked them or not as long as you were learning.

2. "Please."

My late Mom would ignore my requests until I said this magic word. When I said it just to say it, I'd hear, "Now one more time, like you mean it." No matter how important you may become, in your mind and others, don't forget to say the magic word.

3. "Good morning!"

When you walk by someone and say nothing, you send a message that either you're too cool, or he's not cool enough. So say "good morning" even when it's not such a good morning.

4. "No!"

When it doesn't feel right, there's usually a reason. Trust your gut. You know people like me who like to say how busy, busy, busy we are all the time? We should say "no" more often before we over-extend ourselves.

5. "Yes!"

Be positive. Raise your hand. Let people know how you feel. But don't overdo it. Say, "Yes, yes, yes," too much and you'll hear "no" more often than you want.

6. "Maybe."

Not everything in life will be clearly right or wrong, black or white, yes or no. There'll be some fuzzy gray in there. It's OK to be fuzzy gray. Maybe you'll be a doctor. Maybe you'll drive a truck. Maybe you'll teach or write. It's OK not to know. "Maybe" is a wonderful word that says something but nothing, really.

7. "I don't remember."

Many years from now, this Class of 2013 will gather for a reunion. Someone will remember a story that you had hoped everyone had forgotten by now. But somebody always remembers. Always. Five years or more have passed. It's OK to not remember it.

8. "I was wrong. You are right."

One of the best ways to earn respect is to admit when you have made a mistake. Point your finger at yourself. Everyone usually knows it anyway.

9. "I'm sorry" and/or "I forgive you."

And mean it.

10."Love you."

The words are used much too freely nowadays. In texts, tweets. You use it today like we used to say, "goodbye" or "see you later." So save it for the special people. Make sure they know it, though. Regret is a tough thing to live with.

11. "Let me help you."

Hold out your hand. Go out of your way. Share yourself. But be sure the other person wants your help. Don't force yourself on anyone.

12. "Can you help me?"

Admit when and what you don't know. Don't try to bluff. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Most people will help you, if you say "please" and "thank you."

Use when "I don't remember" doesn't work.

13. "I wasn't there. I must have a twin brother somewhere out there."

Use when "I don't remember" doesn't work.

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