Our minds, even our lives, are a jumble of experiences. Both good and bad. Both exciting and dull. These experiences are often turned into life lessons.
Through time, I have learned that hardships teach us a lot more about life than great accomplishments, so on the basis of those hardships and failures, here is what I have come to realize:
1. Don’t compare yourself to others. You may think that you are not doing enough to catch up with other people’s pace and you may think that you are lagging behind. You are not. No one is happy with their share of the cards, and interestingly enough, other people may think that you are doing great in life and that they are the ones lagging behind.
2. Mind your own business. Similar to number one, if you are busy doing your thing, you will have no time for comparisons that are gradually intoxicating your mind.
3. People see the bad only. It is easier to focus on the negative, so everybody sees only the negative. The sooner you realize that – the happier you will be; free of other people’s judgment and free of their image of you.
4. How you see yourself is all that matters. It is your life, so it is your opinions that matter.
5. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake or ask a silly question. Mistakes can teach us so much more than achievements. The same goes for failures, we all experience them.
6. Share your stories. You will be surprised to know how far your stories can travel even after you leave this world. So, tell your stories – you can inspire more people than you can imagine. Yes, even with your simple blueberry pie recipe.
7. Aging is normal and natural. You have to learn to love your body and accept it because it is going to change through time, and that is perfectly normal and understandable.
8. Treat yourself. To a good wine, to some expensive dish at a restaurant. Get a massage, go see that movie that caught your eye the other day even if no one else is available to go with you. Don’t miss out on the things you want to do even if it means doing them alone sometimes. Life is short.
9. Less focus on the past, more focus on the present. You can’t change the past, so why bother. You can only learn from it. That is all.
10. Time heals everything. Not revenge. Time soothes your “wounds,” and time gives you wisdom and the blessing of understanding why something happened the way it happened.
11. Don’t listen to other people. In fact, listen to what they have to say, but then do the exact opposite. You won’t regret it.
12. Let go. Let go of something that is causing you pain. Let go of fake friends, let go of all that which stifles your possibilities for growth and prosperity. You are stronger than you think.
13. Don’t, and I can’t stress how important this is, don’t try to please others. They will never be fully pleased; you will be miserable, and that is not how you want to spend the best years of your life.
14. Don’t chase after someone that does not show interest in you. Make sure you are surrounded by people that appreciate your worth, not people you have to chase to get their attention.
15. Fake it until you make it. Literally. You will learn in the process, so the phrase go with the flow carries a heavier meaning than we actually think.
16. There is power in silence and silence in power. Practice each one carefully.
17. Apologize and be forgiving. There is grace in both of these, so before saying that someone hurt you and that they don’t deserve to be in your life – think twice. Maybe you have hurt them too and maybe you need to listen to their side of the story. It is easy to jump to conclusions, but as Robert Frost says: Take the road not taken in his poem of the same name.
If we all try to be more understanding not just of our own pain, maybe one day we can wake up in a brighter, friendlier world.
Photo of Ali Macgraw by Edith Young.