Archive for November 7, 2012

I Wish I Had Known!?

 

Spiritual and Physical Evolution

I’ve learned many lessons in life, and every single one of them I am grateful for. So without further ado; here are things I wished I’d known when I was younger:

I wish I’d known that failure was an option. I wish I’d known there’s a difference between friends and drinking buddies. I wish I’d known honesty, in all situations, is always, always, always the best policy. I wish I’d known how to grow a pair and be more assertive. I wish I’d known how to feel comfortably weird about being a little weird. I wish I’d known how much my mum and dad really loved me, and all the warnings I got came from a place of love. I wish I’d known that my thoughts don’t have to dictate my life. I wish I’d known that home really is where the heart is. I wish I’d known that intelligence is not something you’re born with; it’s something that can be worked on. I wish I’d known that being positive can really change your thoughts which can indeed change your life.

I wish I’d known that the jacket of life could be altered to suit me. I wish I’d known how to say No! I wish I’d known that the phrase ‘just try it’ should apply to everything we do in life. I wish I’d known that not being perfect is okay, and, in fact, striving for perfection is an impossible task. I wish I’d known that not being ‘well off’ didn’t mean I didn’t have a rich life. I wish I’d known that losing myself in a book wasn’t a substitute for living. I wish I’d known that my thoughts actually control how I feel, and how I feel affects the way I see the world. I wish I’d known that sex is a physical act and that love is something different altogether. I wish I’d known that formal education was only one option in life and not the only, or best, option.

I wish I’d known never to settle for second best, whether it be in relationships, product choice, or employment. I wish I’d known that loving yourself was a pre-requisite to truly loving others. I wish I’d known that everything I ever stressed out about would not matter one year later. I wish I’d known that TV numbs the mind. I wish I’d known that my mistakes would define me as the person I am today. I wish I’d known that perfection is never going to happen. I wish I’d known never to actively participate in gossip; it’s the black death of the soul. I wish I’d known that nobody can be changed, no matter how hard you try to change them. People change because the pain of changing is less than the pain of not changing. I wish I’d known how to express my love more. I wish I’d known that my regrets in life stopped me from moving on. When it’s done, forget it and move on. I wish I’d known that helping others was the real path to helping every area of my own life, professional, and personal. I wish I’d known that change is inevitable, and rather than fighting it, I should have befriended it.

I wish I’d known not to waste my time and mental energy on people who didn’t matter in my life. I wish I’d known that life is a balance and I dictate the ratios. I wish I’d known that it’s okay not to know everything. I wish I’d known to live in the moment, and not in the future or the past. I wish I’d known that trusting myself would allow great things to happen. I wish I’d known that not all people are bad, but not all people are good either. I wish I’d known that what’s right for me is not necessarily right for others. I wish I’d known that although responsibility can seem scary, when embraced it gives understanding acceptance and choice. I wish I’d known that one of life’s skills is to be able to spot genuine people. I wish I’d known that things have to come to an end to be able to experience new, exciting things in the future. I wish I’d known that learning doesn’t finish when you leave school. I wish I’d known how to trust my instincts more. I wish I’d known that the world is as big as you allow it to be.

I wish I’d known that I had choices, and my route may need to change but perseverance always got me through. I wish I’d known that the world does not owe you any favors; you have to step up to the plate and be counted. I wish I’d known that happiness is not defined by financial wealth. I wish I’d known the importance of working out what was right for me. I wish I’d known that all actions always have a consequence. I wish I’d known that my needs and desires would change over time. I wish I’d known that doing what I wanted to do was not necessarily me being selfish. I wish I’d known that where you are born does not dictate where you will end up in life.

Is there anything you would add to this list from your own perspective, I would love to hear it?

Spiritual and Physical Evolution

 

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When you look at the people around you, or your own life, what do you normally see? Is there joy, passion, happiness, a zest for life, and balanced flow? Or is there uncertainty, regrets, indecisiveness, drama and pain? Every single one of us gets many, many lessons and opportunities to grow in every single lifetime. Each of these propels us forward in our spiritual and physical evolution and while I believe that everything happens for a reason, and at just the right time, one cannot help sometimes to think how much different, and easier life may have been if we only knew certain things earlier on. While I have no regrets at this time, I think it can be fun to think how different things would have been, had we known what we know today, earlier on in our lives. Thus, allow me to share with you here, some of those things for me. Sure people tell us this, but does it really sink in when we are young? I often find that it is easier for people to be anyone else, but themselves. In fact, in many ways our society promotes that. We tend to fit to our situations, instead of having our situations fit to us. How many ‘negative’ things could be spared, saved and avoided, if we were only ourselves to begin with. We would have a much better chance at attracting the right mates, the right jobs, the right friends, etc.…But as long as we choose to be someone we are not, we can never be truly happy. It feels amazing to be myself today!

As teens it seems to matter what everyone thinks of us, especially our friends. Throughout our lives this does not necessarily go away for most of us. We care what our parents think of us for some right into their ripe old age, our co-workers, our friends, partners, etc.…But as most of us know – this can be both draining and like chasing our own tail. We cannot ever make everyone around us happy – and the truth is, we shouldn’t. Each person has to find their own inner happiness. We need to be allowed to be who we are. This goes back to point number one. Because my thinking and lifestyle is so different from the mainstream, I had a choice – be myself regardless what others think, or stop being myself to fit in and make others comfortable. Well, I think you know what I chose. It feels so good to be at a point in my life, where I know who I am, and my confidence allows me to be “me” without adjusting myself to fit in with others.

Thinking back to my teen years especially, I think “wow, did any little upset ever feel like the end of the world!” A girlfriend break up, parents being mad, a lower grade than expected, and on and on the list goes. Each of these events could have easily brought on tears, pain, fear, and anguish about the future. Today I know that life is far from serious, and that nothing is the end of the world. Everything is just an opportunity to declare who we are, to grow, to expand and to love. No matter if a house burns down, or we lose all our money. No matter what – things always work out when we approach them with a calm mind, a conscious state of being and faith in the abundant and loving Universe. We can get through so much more than we realize. And even those events that seem to not work out, are part of the perfection of it all and part of a much bigger purpose than we may be able to understand at the given time.

In our society the word “love” gets thrown around like the word “walk”. There is just one big difference. As soon as we are about 2 years old, we have a clear understanding of what “walk” is, and yet some of us at 90 years old still are not sure what love is! It would have been awesome, to earlier in my life, be able to decipher between selfish love, possessive love, desperate love, guilty love and the list goes on and on. Today I know that true love has no strings attached – no expectations – no conditions. Whether it is between parent and child, lovers or friends; true love can exist. It is called unconditional love and it is who we truly are when we remove the rest. Too often, and by too many, for most of our lives we hear that life is hard. Well, I like many others believed it. Until one day I didn’t. Life is only as hard as we make it. Every thought, every choice and every action dictates how “easy” or “hard” anything will be. In the end, it is all relative. It is all our choice. Had I known earlier that life need not be a struggle; many more things would have gone much more smoothly and with much more happiness along the way. So today, I get to experience every moment and finally stop judging each one as “hard” or “easy”. Life just is.

Once I learned about the Ego, it is like the lights got turned on and so much made sense. I owe so much of this to the work of Eckhart Tolle whose material was the greatest teacher for me about the Ego and the Pain-body. Once I learned about both, I could identify them within me and stop living out of them. Being a conscious observer of my thoughts, it is delightful today to live the majority of each day from my conscious higher self, and less and less from the fear-based Ego self. To finish, one of the most powerful lessons I have learned in my life and wish I knew earlier was that Heaven is not some magical, mystical place in the clouds – but a state of being. It is possible to remove the pain. It is possible to feel salvation here and now. It is possible to live out our highest selves. It is all possible. We simply need to wake up, remember who we truly are and be. Life can be and is beautiful. We need not wait for Heaven when we die. We can die to our false selves any time and experience the beauty, the joy, the peace and love of Heaven right within ourselves, and give others around us a glimpse of inspiration that they too can be there right now.

In the end, as I mentioned before, I know that everything in my life, just as in yours had to unfold as perfectly as it did to bring us all to the place we are right now. And as much as I know I can name many, many more things that it would have been nice to know earlier, it is all in the learning of them that we become who we are. At the same time though, it never hurts to learn through other’s paths – or ‘mistakes’ as some may call them. We can help each other learn and grow, and even avoid some of the ‘pitfalls’ by sharing together.

You Will Be a Decaying Cadaver in No Time

 

To really answer some questions, I needed to take a walk through time and bring with me the collective experience, knowledge, and lessons of all the mistakes I’ve made over the past 30 years of my life. The point of this exercise wasn’t to see how I could have done things differently, but rather to see how I could have been more prepared for the situations I would face in life. I don’t wish I had done anything differently. I believe that accepting our mistakes and loving oneself is vitally important to continued inner growth and who I am today is a culmination of everything that has happened in my past. I believe we should build on our existing foundation, not leave behind an empire of half-finished castles.

Sitting in a comfy rosewood armchair on the second floor of a cafe in Bangalore, India, surrounded by the noise of cars, the whirring of a latte machine, the delicious aroma of espresso, and the sweet background of Indian sitar music, I closed my eyes and opened a dialog with the 10-year-old version of Anil Jain talking to the three year old version seemed too unrealistic. Here’s the advice I brought back through time to give him.

When something isn’t changing, it will likely continue not changing. You got to take action and do something about it, even if that means getting uncomfortable, even if that means pushing your limits, even if that means making mistakes and even if that means risking it all. Wasting time — the one precious thing we all have a limited amount of — is just not worth it. If you feel like you’re stuck in a rut; if you feel like life shouldn’t be this way; if you feel like there’s more out there for you; take action and do something about it. It’s going to feel like the entire world is working against you. It’s going to feel like they’re all afraid of change and that they want to convince you that change is bad and too risky. That’s when you need to take a stand, hold your ground, and believe in yourself. There is only one person you can count on and that person is you. Don’t let him or her down. Seriously, life is just way too short to waste it.

Once your baby teeth are gone, you’re stuck with one set of real teeth for the remainder of your life. If you neglect those adult teeth, you’re screwed. Sure, you can have cavities filled and you can even get teeth replaced with fake ones, but there is no substitute for original healthy teeth. Unlike other aspects of your health, you cannot restore neglected teeth! Some people are born with softer teeth than others and they need to spend more time taking care of them. Whatever your case, spend a few extra minutes every day taking care of your teeth. Your long-term health, peace of mind, bank account, and your future self will all thank you.

You cannot control the outcome of a relationship. All you can control is your half of the relationship. If it’s not working, don’t be stubborn and think that with enough time, effort, and patience things will magically change. Like the previous lesson, when something isn’t changing, it will likely continue not changing. If you’ve made your best effort; which means communication when it comes to relationships be prepared to move on. While we’re on the topic of relationships, remember that communication is life blood of a relationship. If communication is lacking, the life of the relationship is dwindling. Communication ensures that both sides clearly understand the motivations, beliefs, and expectations of the other side. If both parties are constantly unclear, the relationship will stagnate and not move forward — you will be wasting time.

You cannot own anything. You’re just the caretaker. Think about this for a moment: Your life is on rental. You won’t have this body forever. If you don’t even own this body, so how could you possibly own anything in the physical world? You rent everything, your car, your house, your TV, your phone, your life. Let go of that part of you that wants to own things; that part of you that wants to possess things. There is nothing wrong with having a house, a car, a phone, or even this life. But when we think we own them, we forget how temporary everything is and we become attached. Attachment leads to a never ending desire for more and an inability to be satisfied. Instead of being happy and recognizing the value in what we have, we look for something else to attach ourselves to; something else to “own”. You own nothing. The illusion that we own things leads us to spend so much valuable time in the pursuit of possessions that have no intrinsic value to our lives.

Time is a currency that appreciates in value and simultaneously decreases in quantity over the course of your life. There are only a few things really worth spending time and money on in life. Family, education, and more time are some of them. Yes, just as you can spend time you can also buy time. You can pay for time through getting rid of things in your life that require your attention. Your family, your friends, your children, your education, your health — they all require your attention and therefore you pay for them with your time. You also pay for your time with your car expenses, your home mortgage, apartment rent, cable subscription, phone bill, and even your daydreaming. To buy more of the things you love, you need to stop spending time on things that are of less value to you. If you consider your family or your health to be more valuable than your expensive car or deluxe cable TV subscription, then reducing those expenses so that you don’t have to work so much should be a no brainer.

Fulfill your crazy childhood dreams as early as possible. It’s often the acceptance that we’ll never achieve our childhood dreams causes us to accept mediocrity in life; it causes us to settle and accept the status-quo. We don’t feel driven to really achieve anything substantial in life because we’ve accepted that the thing we want most, we can’t have. Imagine you’ve already done everything you really wanted to do in life. You would feel so content and so at peace that it would be difficult for anything else to upset you. You’d feel motivated to use the remainder of your days being happy, truly enjoying life, and helping others do the same. You would feel so content that time wouldn’t scare you. Death wouldn’t scare you. Death would simply be — as it is — a part of life, not something to fear. Following your heart is worth every risk! Fulfill your dreams as early as possible. Once they’ve been fulfilled, you may discover new purpose and new meaning in life. Or you may continue living those dreams. Either way, if you’re not following your heart and living life on your own terms, you’re wasting your life.

Use your free time wisely. If you’re working a boring job that involves you sitting around for hours, instead of staring off into space daydreaming, why not spend that extra time studying, learning, or otherwise doing something that improves your chances of doing something you love? Remember what I said about things not changing unless you change them? You don’t have to quit your job and struggle to survive doing something you love. Keep your job and use your free time wisely. If you cannot read at work, turn off the TV or skip the bar after work and spend a few hours every day learning what you need to learn to live the life of your dreams. Every minute that passes is another minute you don’t have. Most of us have less than 20,000 days left to live. Think about that for a moment: your body will be a rotting corpse in less than 20,000 days. That’s about 480,000 hours or 1,728,000,000 seconds. By the time you’re finished reading this, you may only have 1,727,999,880 seconds remaining to live. Are you spending your time doing something worth living for?

This was an incredible exercise for me and I encourage you to take a few moments, close your eyes, and travel back in time to visit that younger version of yourself. What advice would you give him or her that would better prepare them for the life ahead?

You Are Extraordinary

 

You are an extraordinary being.

When all is said and done, you are part of me. That’s the way it was meant to be. People are brought together for a reason, everything happens for a reason. I believe the reason that you and me were brought together was because we complete one another. We fill in each other’s missing spots with love and if someday God decides to tear us apart, I trust that there is a reason. Because if there is a reason for love, there is a reason for life beyond it, taking a step back in time to something that happened something which left me questioning.

Those college years a time for many things, it all started simply enough: a visit to my sister at college, to celebrate a birthday. I was home for the weekend, and would ride up with my parents. It was all good. Then, later in the afternoon; time to go back home a couple of hours. I would drive, on this nice late winter day and in an instant, everything can change. Looking back, it’s so easy to think about how it could have been different. There I was, driving down the freeway out in the wide open spaces, light traffic, sun shining in and I felt myself getting tired has that ever happened to you? I could drive through it, though and I continued on down that highway, except I wasn’t becoming any more awake.

The next thing I remember…Well, it’s kind of a blur, especially after all these years. I was leaving the road jarred back to the present by the sounds, then by the world flying by me. What a scary feeling. Not knowing exactly where I was headed, driving way too fast, especially at that moment perhaps our life is sometimes like this…As it turns out; it was a flat, grassy median. We came to a stop. Everyone was okay. We were able to drive away, everything intact. No one hurt.

Perhaps, except for my dignity and I couldn’t help but notice, as we drove the rest of the way home, how much worse this could have been. Spots where there were steep drop offs other roads groups of cars. Why me? Why was I spared? Why this moment which could have been so much worse, why wasn’t it? What does that all mean? Is there some purpose I have here, which hasn’t yet been fulfilled?

All thoughts that came up right after all of this happened. Perhaps we’ve all had these moments. Maybe more than we even realize. Where a few seconds have made a complete difference and yet, we never know what could have happened. Where our doing one thing has completely altered what might have been. Life is precious. We each have within us amazing good that we can give to the world. We don’t always realize this. I haven’t always realized this. For a few moments, nearly twenty years ago, I did and off and on throughout the years there have been moment of this clarity of purpose.

Does it always have to take moments like this, though, to really make this settle into our souls? Or can it become a part of our being, of our soul, of our living? Life here on this earth is a wonderful and amazing gift. I do not take that for granted today this beautiful gift called life. My hope for each of you as you read this is that you take a moment to reflect on you, and on the amazing gift it is be here and traveling through this journey of your life. Your life is an extraordinary life. You are an extraordinary being.

Few Fundamental Facts

 

Throughout my relatively short life – I’m 30– I’ve learned a few fundamental truths that seem to govern our lives. They’re extremely powerful and, to an extent, have changed my life for the better. I can only sit back and ask myself, “What if I learned these things earlier in my life? How amazing would I be now?” They’re that fantastic, and, today, I’m going to share my best life lessons with you.

Be careful who you get close to. I’m not advocating paranoia, but be very careful with who you make your close friends, especially if they have any destructive habits, like addiction. If they’re a control freak, if they have ridiculous mood swings, or if they treat you poorly, do not feel bad about cutting them out of your life entirely. You have to be ruthless in this regard. If you let them get close to you, you’ll get burned – it’s only a matter of time. Be understanding, but when you cut ties with them, do it in an understanding, tactful way and don’t burn bridges if you can. Just distance yourself from them, and don’t have regrets about it – it’s your life, and the company you keep has a tremendous effect on your emotional state.

Your time and energy are finite. Even though I hate to admit it sometimes, I can only do so much. You can too. Choose how you spend your time and energy wisely – if you’re burning out all your energy on something that doesn’t leave much of an impact, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Spend your energy on the necessities and the things that you love the most. That’s it.

Today’s tragedy is tomorrow’s comedy. If you’re going through a rough patch, remind yourself that, at the end of it, you’ll still be alive and nothing totally catastrophic will have happened. Over time, the wounds will heal, and you’ll, at the very least, have an awesome story of survival and perseverance to tell around the proverbial campfire.

Reading is the single best habit you can cultivate. Read everything that interests you – from Wikipedia articles to books. Reading makes you smarter – it helps with your memory, it helps with your writing, and it helps with your speaking skills – all things that are incredibly important. You’ll be exposed to more ideas, and increase the size of your vocabulary. It keeps your brain in great shape. I seriously can’t say enough about it!

Exercise daily. Okay, not really – I’d give yourself one day off per week, but exercising for at least 45 minutes as a general rule per day does wonders for you. You’re not meant to be sitting behind a desk all day – your body is built for movement, and you should use it. Hit the gym. Go for runs. Find some form of exercise that you love and do it as much as you can and, please, don’t give me any excuses about your work schedule – if you want to exercise, you can work it into your schedule. Make it a priority. It makes you feel better, stronger, and more clear-headed. It’s too awesome to ignore.

Keep an open mind and meditate! Just because an idea is foreign or appears ‘wrong’ to you at first glance, don’t dismiss it outright. Sure, you might be right – but you could be wrong too. For example, I initially dismissed meditation as self-delusion, something that kooky yogis sitting in their caves invented as a way to delude the New Agey people who were bowing down to their god, Eckhart Tolle. Not so. As it turns out, I love both Tolle and meditation, after giving them a try at the recommendation of a few people I respect. Meditating is another awesome habit that I make sure to do daily.

Focusing is so powerful. For years, I’ve followed something like this – “Focus + Action = Success.” It’s a pretty great formula. When you focus on what you’re doing fully, instead of multitasking and dividing your attention, you do things much faster and with much better quality. Do what you love. Life‘s too short to sell your soul for money. Don’t do it. Instead, do what makes you feel the most alive and find a way to do it, every single day. If you’re good enough, you might be able to make it into a job. If you can’t, just make it a priority to do it whenever you’re not working.

You have to give in order to receive. If the world isn’t giving you what you want, take a step back and reconsider what you’re adding to the world. If you’re not contributing anything, the world doesn’t owe you anything. Do well, help people out in any way you can, and generate good karma for yourself. If you keep doing it, after a bit, you’ll earn the reward that you’re looking for – but take the time to enjoy the efforts you make to do good.

Have fun with life. It’s too easy to get caught up with work, philosophizing, and money matters. Take a step back and realize that you, quite literally, live for the times when you’re having fun, the times when you’re enjoying yourself. Start making everything fun. Express yourself more often, and, if something amuses you, do it! Don’t hold yourself back from enjoying yourself. To be honest, sometimes, I used to act deliberately unhappy or apathetic because I was afraid of answering people’s questions about why I was in such a good mood. Don’t be like that. Be unabashedly happy.

Be willing to admit when you make a mistake. If you own up to your mistakes and are honest about it, you’ll earn a lot more respect from yourself and the people around you. Admitting that you’ve made a mistake is the first step to getting better, as they say. Along the same lines, don’t be afraid to ask someone for help with something, no matter who they are. If they’re the type of person you want to associate yourself with, they’ll be more than glad to lend you a hand. Realizing that you’re flawed is just a way to realize that you’re human.

Fear holds us back so much, but it is always an illusion crafted by our minds. It makes a very real scenario of failure appear in our heads and replay over and over again, but it’s fake. It’s all in our heads. It doesn’t exist. While the failure that we fear can and does happen some of the time, it doesn’t mean we should obsess over it. Rather, we should let go of the fear and let what will be, be. We can’t let something that’s fake hold us back – press on in spite of fear. Go towards what you fear. This is the single best way to expand your comfort zone and to realize that fear is an illusion. The funny thing is, if you do what you’re scared of enough times, you won’t be scared of it anymore. Do one thing you’re scared of per day if you really want to expand your comfort zone quickly.

Don’t be afraid to stand out. As the saying goes, “You were born an original. Don’t die a copy.” Wise words, for sure. Never compromise yourself with the world – be yourself without apology. If people start telling you to stop doing what you’re doing because you’re challenging the status quo, you’re doing something right – keep going. Stop caring about what people think and do what you think is right. Be sovereign and do not let other people stop you from being you. Some people will hate you no matter what; some people will love you for you. If you’re truly being yourself – like full-on authenticity and free expression – you’re going to rub some people the wrong way and you’re going to have haters, wherever you go. It’s a fact of life – you better get used to it now. They just won’t like you, for whatever reason. Like the proverb says, “To avoid criticism do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.” At the same time, for every person that hates your guts just because you are who you are, there will be ten people not a scientific figure who absolutely adores you for who you are. Surround yourself with the people that love you, but listen to some criticism from time to time to keep you grounded.

Savor the challenges that life gives you. They’re an opportunity for you to enjoy yourself and put your skills – whatever they may be – to use. Don’t shrink from them – welcome them. The fuzzy feeling of fear that you get before you’re met with the challenge is actually adrenaline. Get excited about them rather than trying to avoid it. As they say, what you resist; persists. Make an impact. Focus more on making an impact and doing things that matter instead of useless busywork. You can be busy all day, but not be getting anything of value done. Put your whole heart behind what you’re doing instead of holding yourself back, and remember that your mission, no matter what your job is, is to change lives for the better. That’s what you get paid for, ladies and gents. Remember that, and act accordingly.

Things go in cycles both bad and good. We live cyclical lives. We get rolling on good streaks, then we hit a rough patch, then we break free and turn things around, only to hit bottom again… It goes on and on. The trick is to try and make the good parts last as long as possible while minimizing the bad parts. However, don’t resist the bad. Just try to regroup and bounce back by doing what made you feel and perform so well in the first place.

People make mistakes all the time, and if you show them a bit of forgiveness, people will smile upon you when you make your mistakes. You wouldn’t yell at fire for burning you, would you? Even though mistakes can be avoided, they can’t when they’ve already been committed. Let go of the need to chastise people. Change is a fact of life; you can resist it all you want, but you won’t be doing yourself any good. However, if you adapt, you’ll be much better off than the people who try to go against the flow of nature. You can’t change the change; you can only decide to go with the flow or not. Don’t resist. Let go, and let the change be what it is. It may hurt you for a bit, but you’ll get used to it in time.

You can feel happy all the time, if you choose. Ultimately, your emotional state at any given time is a conscious choice. You can either choose to focus on all the things that get you upset and flush your mood down the emotional toilet, or you can focus on the positives in life and feel happy nearly all the time, for no apparent reason. You can be happy by just being you – but you have to realize that first. Do what makes you happy, say what makes you happy, and think what makes you happy as much as possible, and you’ll soon find that you actually feel happy. It’s all your choice.

Any life lessons I missed? I know I missed a bunch, but these are my favorites…

A Life of Purpose and Meaning

 

A Life of Purpose and Meaning

I’m not going to take the approach some of the bloggers have of writing a letter of advice to my younger self, because I’d have ignored it the same as I ignored sound advice from parents, family and friends when I was growing up. I simply wasn’t ready for anybody to tell me anything of value much before I got into my 20s, I was too busy being a realist pessimist and telling anybody prepared to listen how hard life was. So for what it’s worth this is my advice to you, rather than a younger me. The sheer fact that you’re reading here means you are far more open to it than I would have been 10 years ago.

The whole gratitude thing has been done to death over the last few years and there’s an absolutely brilliant reason for that. It’s because gratitude is one of, if not the, most powerful and empowering states for you to be in. It’s impossible to be in a state of genuine gratitude and be feeling depressed. You cannot feel grateful and be anxious at the same time, and a sense of gratitude will kick the ass of a victim mindset until the cows come home. There is an abundance of scientific research that demonstrates the power of gratitude. Grateful people are healthier, happier and live longer than people who think their lot in life sucks. Read that again. Grateful people are healthier, happier and live longer than people who think their lot in life sucks. That’s pretty powerful stuff I think you’ll agree and if that isn’t a good enough reason for you to focus on what’s right in your life, then I suspect you’ll never have one.

Regrets serve no purpose, none whatsoever. Unless that is, you enjoying feeling miserable because that’s about the only thing they are guaranteed to accomplish. With the benefit of hindsight we all have things from the past that we would do differently if we had our time again. We’ve all looked back incredulously at some poor decision and thought, “What the hell was I thinking of?” The reality is every decision you make and action you undertake you do so with the best intentions at that particular moment in time. Unfortunately though, best intentions are not always enough and if you are short on information, in the wrong frame of mind, sick, angry or just blind drunk, you are less likely to make great decisions. However, as long as you learn from your errors you can use that information to avoid repeating your mistakes you can move through your life without the millstone of regret on your shoulders.

We all have crap to deal with in our life no matter who we are. Yes we can look at other people and think they have life figured out better than we do, but it’s often not the case, it just seems that way. Even in your darkest hour there are millions of people going through similar and often worse situations. I say that not to belittle your issue, but as a way of saying we’re all in this together and you’re not alone. Every thought you have and conversation you take place is a communication with yourself. It’s impossible for it not to be. Therefore, every negative thought you have helps build up a pattern of negative thoughts. Every time you tell yourself you’re not good enough, rich enough, intelligent enough, attractive enough you cement that belief, so don’t do it!

A couple of months ago, I said to one of my patients something along the lines of “Look, you can either do this or not do it, it’s up to you. In any event you’ll be dead in less than a hundred years so in the great scheme of things it doesn’t really matter.” This didn’t work quite as well as I had imagined as the lady promptly burst into tears. I never found out for sure whether I had just delivered the biggest spoiler ever, and she previously had no idea the icy hand of death is awaiting her, or if she just liked to live in denial and presume it’s possible to put everything off for as long as possible. Hopefully, you’ll be inspired rather than deflated by knowing you’ll be dead in 100 years because it gives you something to work to. Imagine the procrastination possibilities if we all lived for a thousand years. That eating healthy regime really could go on hold, and not until just after Christmas either, you could put it off for a century or two. Death gives us an opportunity to live a life of purpose and meaning. It isn’t the enemy it’s made out to be even though few of us would rush to cuddle the Grim Reaper. Many people wait until they start to approach middle-age before they evaluate their life. The gradual realization that they’re probably past the half way mark and they’re still in a job they don’t like, a house they can’t afford and with a partner that doesn’t understand them, can be a sobering experience. Today is the best day ever for you decide what is really, really, really important to you and then going and doing it.

I wish I had?!

 

A dear friend asked me to write my thoughts about this in a post and at first I thought, thanks but I’ll get to it when I can. Then I started reading the collection of bittersweet thoughts and sentiments from a few brave souls who took on this seemingly subtle but intense challenge and a burst of inspiration showed up, unannounced, uninvited and unexpected and not taking no for an answer. It shoved my other priorities aside to make room for the urge to write from the heart.

Oh how stubborn and selfish the heart can be, how unreasonable on an idle day afternoon, and in this case, how ironic, dropping all else to take a trip down memory lane to recount its own silly mistakes, its near regrets, its long wishes, and its sincere apologies to the self.

Alas, I have learned to follow this stubborn, unreasonable, selfish heart to the end of the world and back so there’s no refusing it this small request now. But panic not, my dear readers! I will guard the flow of thoughts, keep my promised attempt at brevity in this post and rest assured I shall not be getting naked on my blog or delve into too much transparency but what needs to be said shall be said.

I wish I did not care, as I do now, what anyone thought about me, my accent and my awkward ways in high school. I wish I had never lost my childhood friends. Now that I have found them, I will never lose them again. I really wish I had started feeding my insatiable desire of traveling a long time ago….so many reasons and so many excuses but in the end, I waited. Now, I cannot seem to satisfy this famished heart, no matter what I do. I cannot stop romancing with travel in my mind and I wonder if I can ever be completely full. I wish I had picked up and gone to live somewhere far away by myself for any period of time. Now it is a bittersweet wonder thinking about the chances I never took. I wish I had been braver. Not in matters of the heart, I was plenty brave there! In matters of choosing how I live, where I live, and what I do for a living.

Now I have a lifetime of work to feed yet another famished desire on the brink of starvation. I wish I had learned to forgive earlier in my life. I wish I knew its healing powers are truly for the one who forgives. I wish I had not let family nonsense create years of distance between me and my cousins. Now it would take an army of men and an act of God to even try and separate us. I wish I had taken care of my body when it broke down in the face of injuries, rather than stubbornly pressing on. I wish I had been kinder to myself. I wish I had read more classics and less medical books after college and in the years which followed. Now I will never be caught up!

I wish I had been more patient and less judgmental of the love of my life and had given less of myself to work and more of myself to me. I wish I had reflected more often, listened inwardly more carefully and followed my heart more unconditionally. Alas, we live and learn. The most important things turned out just fine. The rest shaped the edges of my personality and gave me determination for living life on my terms now. With all this wishful thinking, even if I could, I should not be able to bear to turn back the hands of time and make adjustments to what is already lived and done with. I do not have the guts to leave this moment for even a second, lest I come back to find it even slightly changed from its perfect pure present state.

I think decisions of our early youth, no matter where we fall on the wishful thinking scale, are bound to us with a sense of longing and tenderness. We think of the young, all-knowing, all-encompassing spirit we used to be and we can hardly blame ourselves. We did the best we could at the time with best of intentions, a good heart and the tools at our disposal. If we had followed the advice of our elders, we would to this day be wondering what if we had not! If we had taken too many risks, we may be looking back with nostalgia at the safer road to adulthood and if we had followed along with less risks and safer choices, we would be wondering about the unexplored adventures we must’ve missed out on.

There is just no winning at this game. There is no way to know what would’ve been or could’ve been. Regrets are pointless. What is done is done. Whatever happened happened; yes I did steal that from Lost!! There is only a path ahead, a life to live, lessons to learn and an evolution of the mind and heart which eventually leads us to exactly where we need to be and precisely whom we are meant to become.

Share your beautiful thoughts on a topic where no one is an expert but everyone has something to add, I await your beautiful thoughts, your reactions, and wait with baited breath to read any of your own self-reflections that you wish to share in the comments. Thank you!

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