As a human being, there are tons of things you learn at all stages of your life. Some you learn willingly but most are just thrown at you out of nowhere.
A friend of mine joked the other day about these life lessons successful people, adults, teachers, and even random people keep tossing at us- in TED Talks, in Self-Help Books and from every possible nook and corner of our being. He said, “Now that these people have achieved certain milestones in their lives, they think they have got the license to preach? It is frustrating at times, seeing a handful of people lecturing the rest of the world on how to live.”
Well, no one’s got it all figured out. You are just hanging in this universe like everyone else, trying to make sense of life and those unanswered questions- Why are you here, What is your life’s purpose, etc.
It is up to us to take those lessons or not. There is no denying that we learn from our own mistakes, but we learn more from other people’s mistakes and their experiences.
I am up for all the lessons that get my way to get a better hang at life. But I do hate the times when I don’t even know what is happening to me (no one does), and I look up and say to whoever is up there- “Why God Why? Why are you doing this to me?” Okay, that is just Joey. I binge eat, watch all my favourite shows and movies, shop, and crib incessantly. I know this is not the ideal way to deal with anything, but hey, no one’s perfect and I am working on it.
Now, there are a lot of things that I learned, especially over the course of the last three years. I have taken a bunch out of all those and in trying to make sense out of it all, have written down, analyzed, rewritten, and edited the following lessons a few times before hitting publish. Some of them are so simple that I wonder it took me such a long time to notice them.
Below are 25 small yet powerful things that everyone eventually understands or realizes at one or the other point in her/his life. Now, learning new things or lessons don’t necessarily mean that you have to implement all of them in your life. Use what applies to the situation. After all, there is no point in watching those motivation videos or reading the self-help books if you are not going to implement any of the lessons in your life.
1. Do Not Let Your Emotions Dictate Your Life. What should happen at a particular time needs to be done at that time only or else you are only going to keep deferring it (you did it once, it is highly likely you will do it again, who are you kidding?). You can’t wait for motivation every time you have to do something, or you will never be able to do anything.
Do the thing even if you don’t feel like doing it at the moment. Because no one ever succeeded while working out of one’s whims and fancies. It is the discipline and routines that will sail you across the oceans.
2. Procrastinating One Thing For A Short Time Leads To Procrastinating It For A Longer Time. If you are thinking you will start working on your project tomorrow, next week, next month or even next year because you are busy with your daily chores, social media scrolling, searching about celebrities’ weddings and their Cannes’ appearances today, you probably aren’t going to do it for a really long time or maybe ever.
When you procrastinate on a daily/regular basis, you begin to think that those things are going to miraculously happen themselves, or you will become such hardworking individual “tomorrow”, that you will do it all in this one magical day.
What you don’t know is- The things you procrastinate today are going to take a lot of space in your life in the near future and your head is going to be filled with unnecessary anxiety, which could have been avoided, had you have done those things in the first place.
3. Don’t Think, Just Do It. If you are procrastinating something for a long time and not discarding it, it obviously is important to you.
If you are struggling with waking up early, don’t think when the alarm ring – just get up, go to the bathroom, to the kitchen, out in the balcony- basically following your morning routine, and you will be awake in no time.
The Two-Minute Rule: If you decide to spend 2 minutes on a particular task, you are going to end up spending more time on it. To begin is the hardest. However, once you have begun, you will become super engaged and motivated to even finish the task in that one sitting.
4. Action Precedes motivation. It isn’t the other way round. This one was an eye-opener for me. I always thought one needs motivation in order to do something and one can’t possibly do something if one is not showered with motivation.
But, guess what? You can push yourself to do anything, even without motivation. The feeling of accomplishing one task, at the time when you were feeling too lazy to do it, will make you feel so good that you would want to tick off rest of the things from your list too, because of the stimulus and happy buzz that the completion of the first task gave you.
So, instead of dwelling on things over and over in your head, take one small step at a time and the rest will follow in due course of time.
5. Go For The Delayed Gratification. It means resisting the temptation of a smaller but immediate reward for a bigger reward later, i.e., not letting short-term gratification win over long-term gratification. You will thank yourself for this when you are 80.
Thinking of skipping exercise because you want to watch television is probably not a good idea. Eating junk because you are feeling cranky right now, will only make you feel better for a few hours, you will feel crappier later.
6. You Don’t Need That Extra Sleep. If you go back to sleep after your alarm goes off, you are going to wake up feeling groggier and irritable. And you are probably going to feel unfocused and unproductive all day long.
Your brain tricks you into believing that you need more sleep, but you really don’t.
(Doing it once in a while is okay, but don’t make a habit of it. It will start affecting other areas of your life adversely before you know it and it will be difficult to deal with it later.)
7. The Law Of Attraction. What you think, you bring into your life.
Are there forces of the Universe which make it happen or does the direction of our planets play a role in this affair? Call it mystical or spiritual, it will still remain a mystery as to how it happens.
You can’t be Unicorns in today’s world, which is full of anger, hatred, narcissism and all the worst things possible. It is difficult to have faith in this world, where millions of bad things happen every day. The negative frequencies from these things vibrate, manifesting and creating larger negative vibes in the universe.
In the process, we receive some of these negative energies in our lives too. Directing our energy and precious time towards these negative thoughts will only bring more negative experiences in our lives.
Stop feeding rubbish to your brain. Practice focusing your thoughts on what you want from the universe instead of thinking that you don’t deserve something. Believe in the power of positive thinking and you will attract positive experiences into your life.
8. Taking Care Of Your Mind Is As Important As Looking After Your Body.
(i) Exercise: Well, move that lazy butt. I have written more about exercise here- How To Get Out Of A Rut?
(ii) Eating Right: Stop putting garbage into your body. The foods that we eat, don’t just affect our bodies, but it also has a direct relationship with how we feel. Eat right to keep those happy hormones buzzing and to keep your energies full.
(iii) Meditation: “Words about meditation are just words, take the time to actually sit down to experience the benefits.” Pause and listen, look around you, observe, and be present with yourself and the world around you. This moment will never come back.
My experience with Meditation- Checklist For A Healthier Life.
(iv) Daily Affirmations: If you consciously or unconsciously engage in negative-conversations with yourself regularly, you might want to try doing affirmations. It is sort of like ‘The Law of Attraction.’ It isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, I understand, but it deserves to be given a chance.
It helps build a positive mindset in the mind full of clutter, millions of thoughts, self-pitying chitchat, and over analysing and overly active head. When you are feeling anxious, overwhelmed, self-doubt, or low confidence, you can strike off all the negative chatter by writing or saying affirmations, like- ‘I am happy’, ‘I am calm and peaceful’, ‘I am positive’, ‘I am present’.
Basically, saying in your mind or out loud, the opposite of how you are feeling will do the trick. It sounds corny, nevertheless, effective.
9. Mental Disorders Are Real. It includes a whole range of diseases including but not limited to- Depression, Anxiety, Schizophrenia, and Eating Disorders.
Some battle it on a regular basis and it affects their life in such a volume that they go in a deep spiral of self-doubt, loss of interest, irregular appetite, social anxiety, insomnia, poor concentration, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, low energy, etc. They are unable to do anything, even the things they once loved so dearly.
Give love, support and encouragement to the ones suffering around you. And if you are the one dealing with it, don’t just go to a doctor and be dependent on medicines, do your own homework about it too.
A few things that might help you: doing what you love, being actively engaged in something- work or hobbies, going out more, spending time with family and friends, pushing yourself out of your current zone.
10. Social Media And Television Are Doing You More Harm Than You Think. Using Instagram or Facebook mindlessly throughout your day and binge-watching every so often might just be the reasons why you feel lonely and stressed.
You escape into the reel world when things get boring or difficult and you don’t want to deal with them. Which is why you are more confused and zoned out than you ever were. You are hooked to your phone, laptop and TV all day long. You would much rather stay inside than go out and talk to real people and have real conversations.
Do Digital Detox, i.e., don’t watch shows or movies for some days, delete all those messengers and apps from your phone for a while. Have this time to reconnect with yourself and nature, it will do wonders for you.
11. Travel. It Will Change You. You need to travel to expand your horizons, to open up your limited borders of life, and to live outside the box you are currently in. It will give you a rush. It will try you, measure you, teach you about yourself and the world in ways even books can’t do.
Go see those oceans, beaches, mountains and borders. All the weird and amazing, from foods to people, that you can’t get here. Go and experience and capture the endless beauty there is to see in this world.
12. Change. I always thought of change as something I had no control over, like- ageing, future, weather.
Until a while ago, I thought we are all silent spectators in our lives and good things will happen when the “time” comes. That change is always hard and everyone dreads it.
It is crucial to have a sane life. If you don’t want to live the same day every day, stay in the same place, with the same routines and schedules, eating the same food, be the one behind the steering wheel, where you can turn your life in any direction you want.
Change your ways, to change your days.
13. Cleaning Is Therapeutic. Your surroundings have a big effect on your mind and overall health. It also reflects how you treat yourself. Having a clean space helps our chaotic monkey mind to relax.
14. Have Something To Look Forward To, i.e., Make Plans, A Lot Of Them. Sitting at home like a hermit, just carrying out your responsibilities and thinking that you shouldn’t go out will lead you to become crankier. It is unhealthy.
15. Try New Things. But, Old is Gold, right? Why isn’t ‘New’, ‘Gold’, or even ‘Platinum’? Probably because ‘New’ doesn’t rhyme with either of the two.
We get so stuck with the old that we hold on to it, even when it is no longer serving us or even if it makes us feel crappy. Let go of anything that is not serving you, make space for the new things in life.
Get out of your comfort zone, go to different places, learn new skills, spice up your routines by adding more things and subtracting a few old ones.
16. Meet New People. There is no dearth of people in this world – 7.6 billion. In India alone, the number is 1.3 billion.
Where having a closely knit circle of friends is good, it also builds up huge expectations on that particular set of people, especially when the same group isn’t available sometime and you feel bad. As children, we are excited to meet new people, but as we grow up, we become busy and are less interested to interact with new people.
We are social beings, i.e., it is our basic need to socialise. So, go out there, run into someone, look up and start a conversation.
18. People Do Not Have Time To Think About You. It is time for the hard talk.
Everyone is busy thinking about themselves. You are living in your own head, thinking that others are thinking about you and judging you. The world is far more different than the one you have created in your little head. The story in your head is imaginary. And no, the universe doesn’t revolve around you.
19. Advocate For Yourself. Noone should do it for you, but yourself.
What do you do, when a good friend, a family member, someone older, or someone superior or older makes you feel small? Would you keep quiet to save your relationship or would you speak up to save your integrity?
Stand up for yourself and be unapologetic about who you are.
20. Walk Away From A Relationship, If It Is Getting Toxic. It is so oversaid and underdone.
Choose your friends and company wisely. Pull the strings right where you feel it is not working out for you. Waiting for the other person to turn around would only hurt you. Know that the person who made you feel bad about yourself isn’t worth it.
Do not let anyone demean you, diminish your light, or make you feel less about yourself. Walk away, if the friendship is getting toxic and no longer serving you.
21. Stop The Pity Party. Stop feeling sorry for yourself, for whatever bad and ugly has happened to you. It is in the past and crying over the same thing for months doesn’t make any sense.
Do not resist or push back your feelings, let them flow and let them make you feel vulnerable. Give yourself some time to deal with the emotions and to heal. And then do whatever it takes for you to get out of that miserable state.
Everyone goes through tough times, but you just can’t spend your life cribbing about bad things all the time. That is not the way of living your life.
22. It Is Very Important To Think Before You Speak Or Act (it isn’t just a fancy saying). Better to be responsive than reactive, or stay silent on the subject for the time being until you know you are thinking rationally about it.
23. Show Up. They say, you can win half the fight by just showing up and it is true. Most of the people are too afraid to show up. By not showing up, you just decrease the competition for other people.
24. Find Humour In Every Situation. It makes everything seem lighter and easier. Smile without any reason, make jokes, laugh more often.
25. We Are Creatures Of Habit. Habits can make us or break us.
Bad habits won’t change in a day. They won’t go anywhere unless you replace the bad ones with the equal number of good ones. And you can only ingrain the good ones in your system with regular practice and consistent efforts.
Most people believe that there is a different timing for everything in everyone’s life, that some people learn and experience a few things before others do, and what you want will come to you when you are ready.
But, are we ever ready? Are we ever really prepared for the godly occurrences and uncertain circumstances? The situation comes and we have to face it. Oh and the good news? We can’t even postpone these events like we skillfully defer most of our tasks, we just have to handle them.
So, why are we not told these “hard truths” when we are young so that we are better equipped for our future? Why are we denied these valuable lessons? After all, children are way more willing and more open to grasp things than when they become adults.
But then, better late than never, right?
In the end, they say, everything happens for a reason. If you believe in this quote, you will see the reasoning behind all the random events and the unprecedented things in your life, sooner or later. And despite whatever shit you had to go through in your past, you will then be able to connect the dots and know why it happened the way it did, for you to understand the important lessons of life.