Life Lessons from Anne Frank’s Diary

Happy Monday All

Hopefully you’ve been out enjoying this amazing spell of good weather we’ve been having here in Ireland. Or if you’ve been stuck in work, school or college, hopefully you got to bask in it over the weekend. It would be great if it could stick around for a while longer, because there is nothing better for a mood boost in Ireland than some good weather. I know people in other parts of the world probably think we are crazy, given that we go a bit daft at the sight of a few rays of sunshine. But we so rarely see it, so we have to take advantage of it while we can.

I had some reading to catch up, some writing to do, and college work to try and tackle, so I decided to spend the day in the garden trying to get some of it done, with some Belgian chocolate ice cream (It is sunny after all. Or that’s how I’m justifying copious amounts of ice cream), and my little dog Ruby keeping me company. Or craving attention more like, but it’s nice to be loved. I finished reading the last couple of pages of The Diary of a Younger Girl, famously written by Anne Frank, a Jewish girl forced into hiding with her family during German occupation of The Netherlands in World War 2. A couple of people were surprised I hadn’t read it in school. I guess I missed the memo on that, but I wish I had read it back then.

I love reading books like this that give insight to a time gone by. World War 2 is relatively recent history, and I always get a shiver down my spine when I think about Anne writing in the secret annex that was her home for two years, and me now, reading those writings over 70 years later. And I was amazed at how articulate she seemed for such a young girl. But then again, she did have to live through some harrowing times before her horrific death, so it’s fair to say she had to grow up fast.

It’s amazing to see the progression in her throughout her years in hiding. When she first started writing in her diary, she didn’t think much of it, as in her view, nobody would want to read the “musings of a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl” (it was quite surreal reading this, knowing how huge this book has become all over the world). But by the end of this, she talks over her desire to be a journalist and to have the diary published when she is free. Sadly she will never know how successful it became.

This is one of those books that everybody should read, to make us realise just how lucky we are and that most of our problems are trivial by comparison to some of the hardships others have to endure. And, surprisingly, it is filled with life lessons applicable to all, delivered by a 13-year-old girl. Here’s a few that caught my attention:

“As long as I’m happy and healthy and not too cheeky, they’re satisfied. If these three things are all right, everything else will take care of itself”

Anne was writing about her parents approach to parenting in this line, but it is something we should all think about more. The world today is more fast paced and competitive than ever and it can be easy to get caught up and stressed out trying to do too much at once. But it’s true that if we concentrate on being happy, healthy and polite, as well as making a substantial effort, everything will fall in to place.

“Don’t be modest and retiring Anne. It will get you nowhere”

This was something that Anne was told that always stuck with her, and it is a line that resonates with me to. The older I’m getting, the more I’m realising that you need to be assertive in this life and not let people walk all over you if you want to get to where you are going.

“I don’t intend to shrink from the truth, because the longer it’s postponed, the harder it will be for them to accept when they do hear it”

Anne wrote this during a time when she and her parents clashed during their time in hiding. But, it’s a strong message for everybody to keep in mind. In some cases, honesty is the best policy, and nothing is gained by holding back the truth.

“Cheer up, keep your spirits high, things are bound to get better”

Given that Anne and her family were driven into hiding and eventually killed for being Jewish, it is amazing that she was able to keep this type of outlook. But it is essential advice for surviving. Sadly, things didn’t end up getting better for Anne, but it is important for all of us to think like this when we encountered bad times. Positivity is the only way to weather the storm.

“Calm down, he’s not worth getting so upset about”

Anne tells herself this when another inhabitant of the secret annex infuriates her to the point of wanting to smack “his ugly mug so hard he’ll go bouncing off the wall!” We all inevitably meet people throughout our lives, through work or otherwise, that really grind our gears; I know there are a few in my life that I would rather see the back of. But it is important to tell yourself this when ever they get on your nerves. After all, anyone who tries to bring you down, is already below you. Remember that!

“Anyone can put on a charming exterior when they want to”

You know that saying: “Anything that sounds too good to be true, usually is”. Well I think that applies to people as well. Now, I’m not saying that everybody is out to take advantage of you. But it is always beneficial to be wary of people and consider their motives. Especially those who don’t really know you, but act like you’re best friends in order to get something from you.

“Oh nobody will notice. That’s how every act of carelessness begins and ends. No one will notice, no one will hear, no one will pay the least bit of attention. Easy to say, but is it true?”

This is so right. It is easy to say nobody will notice something but it’s definitely not true. You may find that you’re under pressure to meet a deadline at work or leave something out of an important email that has to go out, and nobody will be any the wiser. But unfortunately, somebody will always pick up on it somewhere. You don’t get to the top of your game by cutting corners, so always check and double check everything you do to make sure it’s right.

“Crying can bring relief, as long as you don’t cry alone”

Sometimes life gets hard. But the worst thing any of us can do is suffer in silence. And often times there is nothing better than a good cry to release all the tension and get some clarity. But it’s true what Anne wrote, you shouldn’t cry alone. There will always be someone there to reach out to in times of need, so do it. They will be more than happy to help. I think us guys should really take heed of this advice. Often we are not as forthcoming with our emotions as women are. But, guess what, men are human too, and there is nothing wrong with having a cry now and again when you need it.

“The world will keep turning without me”

A sign of Anne’s modesty, this line is something that everybody needs to be aware of. We all know people who think they are God’s gift to the world, when really we are all just tiny fish in the massive ocean called Life. You’re no better than anyone, and there isn’t anyone better than you. The world existed long before us and will continue on long after we are gone. Just do your thing and treat everyone with respect.

“People can tell you to shut up, but they can’t keep you from having an opinion”

Inevitably, we will all meet people in our lives that will try to silence us. Let them. They can scream and shout you down, but they can’t ever change your views and opinions.

“Riches, prestige, everything can be lost. But the happiness in your own heart can only be dimmed; it will always be there, as long as you live, to make you happy again”

We can all be too hard on ourselves sometimes. I know I am. We may think that we aren’t earning enough, or haven’t reached a point in our careers that we thought we would have reached by now. All of these are important aspects to consider in life, but we shouldn’t let them consume us. Because at the end of the day, they can all be lost. And we can’t take them with us when we go. Being happy in life is the most important thing.

“You never realise how much you’ve changed until after it’s happened”

This kind of follows on from the point above. When we strive to reach our aspirations and goals, it can seem sometimes like we are going in circles and that nothing is ever going to turn out right. I know I’ve felt like this in the past. But it is true, that you never really realise how far you’ve come until it has happened. So, relax! Everything will become clear eventually.

It’s safe to say I loved Anne Frank’s diary, and the lessons contained in it. Have you read it yet? I’d love to hear your thoughts as always, so leave me a comment.  And of course, don’t forget to keep in touch on social media. Have a good week. 😊✌🏻

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