The 11 most important life lessons I’ve learned so far
Well it’s been two months since I last posted anything on any of my blogs, and that post about me re-opening my dance studio was quite popular too (thanks everyone who showed their support for that article). I really wanted to write a lot more since then but life got in the way.
I remember the days before Facebook and Twitter where everyone really got into blogging and sharing parts of their day, although in more detail and depth than what we see today. I don’t see a lot of personal blogs these days where you can really get to know a person; now it’s all about microblogging and quick sharing in a stream of hundreds or thousands of people which feels superficial and shallow at times.
So here I am again, satisfying my desire to write and share stories. Not just my stories, but stories I find of interest. I have to find a way to make time for it and push myself to continue writing, for my own sanity. I write in a diary pretty much daily, but now I find there’s so much great content out there, that I’m drawn to re-telling it.
For anyone thinking about writing, or maybe not thinking about it, then I would highly recommend that you try it out, and it can be as simple as to:
Write out your thoughts for about 5 minutes
Use the old pen and paper, open a Word document or in my case, Evernote, and just write whatever’s on your mind at that time. Even if it doesn’t make sense, just keep typing. Use the stopwatch on your phone or something, but time it too. Then think about how that made you feel. I’m pretty sure your head will feel clearer a few minutes after typing, and then you start thinking about other things to type about… pretty soon it’s twenty, thirty minutes and you’ve been typing about all sorts of shit.
Here’s an example of my 5 minute writing starting from now…
“Hmmm I really didn’t know where I was going this this post when I started writing it, but I woke up at 3am this morning wanting to express my thoughts, did that then slept for another 2 hours, and now it’s 7:21am. This post started off as me rambling about how slack I’ve been with blogging and now it’s becoming a somewhat advice post. Cool.
Ok 2 minutes down. What do I have to do today? I want to write a whole bunch of shit, do my laundry, get to the gym or do yoga at home, hmmm I feel like fried chicken. Like in an hour. That’s enough time for me to roast some Maryland chicken in the oven. Mmmm roast chicken for breakfast. Why the fuck not. I’m on holiday today.
I gotta write a TO DO list after this post, got so much stuff going on at work and the studio that I’m losing track of shit. Blank thoughts. All I can think about right now is eating that delicious roast chicken. Ok as soon as I’m done here, I’m gonna put it in the oven.”
Success! Chicken is now in the oven.
Don’t worry about what other people will think about what you wrote
See, I don’t really care if anyone judges me for roasting and eating delicious crispy skin chicken for breakfast. My question to them would be, what’s so bad about that? Why can’t we eat what we feel, when we feel when it’s reasonably healthy and not expensive? I always like to have substantial breakfasts and lunches then tone it down for dinner with maybe a salad or protein shake (ok most of the time I eat roast chicken) because by dinnertime I’m pretty full from my meals and snacks beforehand. I’ve personally found this habit to be great for maintaining weight while being able to eat whatever the hell I want. It’s like magic.
So the point is, don’t worry about being judged, no one will see it unless you allow them to. When you’re ready and brave enough to share yourself then make sure you’re comfortable with what you post or share. You can even send it to me if you want, since you know I won’t judge you but I will probably laugh (with you, of course).
Keep putting yourself out there
This is something I want to write about in detail because success comes from this and most people are too afraid to do so these days, myself included. It’s applicable to all parts of your life, no matter who you are.
Whether or not it’s sharing something about yourself or applying for jobs you want but have doubts about, or talking to someone that you really want to get to know, just fucking try it. WHAT HAVE YOU GOT TO LOSE? Your dignity? Self-respect? Only if you’re a dick about what you’re doing. But if you have good intentions then just go for it.
Feel free to write up something that you want published and send it to me. I’ll put it on this blog as a guest post and you may have a (small but still important) sense of achievement. Building a series of small successes will give you greater confidence in general, just like when you see how many things you’ve checked off on your TO DO list.
Build your successes with small achievements
I’m really on a roll here, because I’m completely freestyling this post and one idea flows to another piece of advice. I lacked confidence for a while when it came to blogging, because I had stopped it for so long. Same thing with dancing. Same thing with stuff at work. So the way I got out of my slump (ok minor depression, to be honest) was to focus on small and/or quick wins. This is also applicable to anything in your life. If you wanna make $10,000, start by making $10, then $100, then $200 and so on.
Just make sure your successes are consistent with your end goal. And limit the number of goals you have at any one time.
Focus more on less
This has been my mantra since the beginning of 2013 and in that time I’ve been able to simplify my life. I decluttered all aspects, around the commitments I had, the people I spent time with, the goals I wanted to achieve, the books I wanted to read, the clothes and material things I had, memberships and eNewsletter subscriptions etc.
As a result, I have gained so much clarity on what I want out of life. To live a great life, gain clarity on what you want, then strip away all the noise until you get to the bare essentials that will lead you to getting what you want.
Meditate for even greater clarity
There are so many articles about the advantages of meditation that I won’t go into it here, but it is one of the two best habits I have ever switched to, in terms of improving my life and wellbeing in general. Again, start with small successes and meditate for 5 minutes.
I started by sitting upright on my bed against the wall for 5 minutes before I went to sleep each night, sometimes it would be when I wake up in the morning too, before I do anything else. I would close my eyes and allow my thoughts to gently fade to darkness, then take slow, deep breaths and count them. Easy. Gives me the best sleep of my life too. Good sleep usually leads to a happier mood for the day.
Practice gratitude for even more happiness
Notice how I said ‘practice’. It’s a habit. Or should be. It is something that everyone should make an effort to do more of, because we forget about the little things and never seem to be satisfied with what or who we already have.
I grew up poor and my parents even more so, until they got things going after they moved us to Sydney from the Philippines, so I can appreciate the simple things to ‘first worlders’ (I just made that word up) like not worrying about having enough food to eat, withdrawing cash from an ATM at any time, having hot showers, having your family alive and well… I could go on for hours. There are so many people worse off than you in different ways, just remember that.
So be grateful for what you have now.
Be present (also known as mindfulness)
It’s great to be thinking ahead, what you want in the future etc, but too many people focus on what is yet to come, rather than what is. So when you start experiencing the moment you’re in right now, your situation as it stands, then you will really be able to make the most out of your life experiences.
Here’s an example you can try. Whenever someone is speaking to you, PAY ATTENTION! Treat them like they are the most important thing in the world to you at that moment! This means no phones while out having a meal, no thinking about other shit at all, just focus on the person in front of you. Observe their body language, listen, actually listen to what they’re saying. Listening is not the same as hearing. It is an acquired skill.
I would take it further and suggest that you care somewhat about what they are saying. If you don’t care at all about what this person is saying whether in a professional or personal context, then don’t give them your time!
Choose the company you keep very carefully
This brings me to another point. Don’t waste your time by giving it away to people who don’t deserve it. Because you’re taking away from time that can be given to people who actually care about you, who want you to succeed in life, who want the best for you, who want to support you and overall who will have a positive impact on you.
It doesn’t mean you’re an ass for ditching long time friends or certain deadbeat family members, you’re just letting them go and reallocating your time suitably. Just remember what your time is worth. If you want to help someone, only help those who ask for it, who want to be helped. That’s how I see it anyway. I gave up a long time ago trying to help people I loved who didn’t want my help. They can learn the hard way, on their own. I shifted my focus to people who were actually appreciative of my help.
Which brings me to my final point for this post…
Learn to let go
Surrender yourself and allow things to unfold; you have control over only a few things in life, so just trust in everything else.
Be active, every day. You know you should, so just do it.
Thanks for reading!