I really enjoy fortune cookies. Not for the cookies themselves, but for what they contain.
Most fortune cookies do not, in fact, contain fortunes. Which is fine by me, since I don’t put any particular stock in fortune telling, so a mass-produced slip of paper purporting to contain my fortune would not be very interesting to me.
No, I like the pithy aphorisms that pass for fortunes these days.
I’m not sure why. I think in the effort to create simple but universal truths that fit on a small slip of paper and are unlikely to offend anyone, sometimes whoever writes these fortunes winds up creating something beautiful, profound, or at least worthy of further contemplation while drifting into a food coma.
Some fortunes I’ve collected over the years:
You should let go of negative things today.
My life consists of mostly positive things. In spite of (or perhaps because of) this beneficial imbalance, I often find myself disproportionately focused on the few negatives. This focus is neither helpful nor beneficial. This slip of paper reminds me to let go of the negative.
The biggest lies are those that you tell yourself.
It’s true. There’s no deception like self-deception. The times I think I don’t need this fortune are usually the times I need it the most.
Temptation resistance is the true measure of character.
I thought this one was especially profound. How many people talk a good game but have real trouble saying “no” when it counts? Titus 2:11-13 reads: “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope — the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” If I have trouble saying “no”, perhaps I need to be taught by God’s grace.
To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.
I am a big proponent of always doing your best. However, I also offer the caveat that only you know what your best is in each moment. I try to do my best (and be my best) not for anyone else, but for me.
Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want.
It can be hard to not get what we want. I suspect that for most of us, we are accustomed to getting what we want. You may scoff at this, but I don’t mean in a Veruca Salt “your every whim is catered to” sort of a way. I mean that in our lives, most of us get our way more often than not. Maybe I’m wrong, but I do know that for myself, I’m not very good at not getting what I want. This quote helps me be better.
Life for you is a dashing and bold adventure.
I love this one. So. Much. To be honest, there have been times in my life where it’s seemed like things are spiraling out of control. Where I’m failing at everything I try. Where things are just not going to plan and everything is a disaster. In those times, I like to just repeat this to myself like a mantra. Sometimes I’ve said it through clenched teeth, or with tears streaming down my face. It’s a good reminder that if I do want my life to be a dashing and bold adventure, I have to be prepared for some setbacks along the way. After all, what kind of adventure is it with no dragons to battle or dastardly traps to escape from or even impressively-mustachioed villains to appear at the climactic moment and run off with the treasure or the princess?
The most beautiful adventures are not those we go to seek.
This one is in tandem with the above. Sometimes I find the adventure, sometimes the adventure finds me. When I am in the middle of an adventure, it helps me to remember that I can find beauty there. Even if, or especially if, I didn’t ask for the adventure to begin with.
So, those are my fortunes. What are yours?