I have been reflecting recently on how much my life has changed in the last year. How much better things are… how many years I’ve wasted coasting safely through life. I wrote an article last year on my Instagram page (@towhomitmayconcernnz) in which I acknowledged 2017 as being the year I truly found myself. I still believe that to be true. Furthermore, I believe 2018 has so far been the year I really started living. I do more, see more, meet more people, make more hard decisions and reap the benefits of believing in myself, loving myself and having the confidence that has come from doing this all on my own.
This brings me to a summary of 5 stark life lessons that have taken me almost 33 years to learn.
1/ Life is all about perception.
It’s so true. The way we view the world, the way we understand it and interpret it, directly influences our beliefs and the way we live our lives. Our perception and deeply ingrained thought processes create biases and blind spots. It creates fear and curiosity.
I have up until recently lived a very narrow version of my life. I had my beliefs and I stuck to them. Anything outside of that was risky.
I realize now I want more. I want to follow the human tendency to craft paths and go in unknown directions. I want to learn and discover and sit outside my comfort zone with calmness. I want to be wrong sometimes and I want to make mistakes. I want to feel pain and fear, I want to prove my new belief that with a perceived negative emotion or event, comes strength confidence and a new found passion for living openly.
How do you perceive life? I can say with some certainty that if you perceive life to be a constant threat that requires managing, you’re not really living.
2/ Be present.
I’ve spent time in life depressed (living in the past) and anxious (living in the future). It is only recently that I have found a peace, which comes from being grounded in the present. It is an ongoing skill to master but it makes for a far superior quality of life. I believe everyone should learn the practice of mindfulness. I could write endlessly about its benefits.
Why let moments from the past, hinder your life. Why let fears of the future pull you away from what’s happening around you right now. Worrying is not productive, it’s draining. For me, it has ruined many days that should have been great and many relationships that could have been amazing.
With practice, you can allow yourself to reflect on life, have dreams but spend most of your time in the present. Mindfulness has been a life-changer for me.
3/ Love yourself first.
I wrote a complete post on this topic – FALL IN LOVE WITH YOURSELF FIRST. This has been for me, the hardest lesson in life. I took happiness form possessions and people, more so, partners. I needed someone to tell me I was doing a good job to feel worthy, I needed someone to tell me they wanted to be with me to feel loved. When these things disappeared I was left with a feeling of emptiness. I would then take usually a year minimum to feel good again. The cycle would repeat, over and over. The amount of time I’ve wasted feeling unworthy due to someone else’s inability to return what I’d given is mind-blowing. I still catch myself feeling those empty, helpless thoughts sometimes when a message is not returned or when something goes a way I did not expect.
Over the last few years, I made a point of staying almost completely single. I have lived how I wanted to live. I have done things I never thought I could and built a life that I am truly passionate about. I get up every day excited and I go to sleep every night feeling content with my life and the people who have remained in it.
In allowing myself to be alone, to process all the negative emotions and to then rebuild on my own accord has given me a sense of accomplishment that will remain unmatched. I’ve done it alone. I am my true self, and the world now knows me, and I believe that when the time is right, a significant other will crash into my life, not to disrupt, but to compliment.
If you’re unhappy, look within, Find the deepest darkest most honest place and ask yourself what you honestly want and need in life. If you answer truthfully and with conviction, you will find happiness.
4/ This too shall pass.
Things go wrong in life, sometimes very wrong. The emotional scars we are left with can last a lifetime. I have felt deep loss, disappointment, and fear, I remember thinking numerous times in life that I’d never feel good again, that things would never get better, that everyone would eventually leave me and that I’d never find happiness. These thoughts and feelings haunted me relentlessly.
I now know life is a huge series of ups and downs. I am now thankful for all of it. I am thankful for the lessons, I am thankful to those who stayed and those who left. I remind myself daily that in life’s most testing moments we build character and strength. I now know and trust that even in the darkest times the light will break through eventually, the days do get better and before you know it, your you again.
Holding this belief close has given me the confidence to know that even when things go very wrong, the resulting turmoil will eventually pass.
5/ Everyone has their struggles.
I will make this final point, short and sharp. After years of comparing myself to others, of wishing I was more like someone else or had what others possessed, I’ve learned one thing. Everyone, from every walk of life, has a struggle, or two, or three…. Through my writing I have connected with hundreds of people, some of whom I believed to be really winning at life, most were but still had there long nights and dark days. Everyone you pass on the street has hardships and demons. I don’t believe there are any exceptions to this.
I will close by saying, be kind, always. Forgive and forget. Let those who’ve left, go. Let life take you at its whim and see where you end up. Live every day with an open heart and make the most of every opportunity presented to you. If you’re unhappy, do something about it. If you’re happy, help someone who’s not. Make your life about amazing moments, memories and people. Surround yourself with everything that has ever lit a spark inside you and pursue it forever with passion, commitment and courage.
Tim is the Founder and Creative Director at Fuel Media Limited, and the passionate lifestyle writer here at To Whom It May Concern. He resides on the beautiful North Shore in Auckland, New Zealand.