6 lessons I’m unlearning about life

Keep your focus on the now, rather than looking to the future.

Keep your focus on the now, rather than looking to the future.

Hard work is the only way to succeed

Doing smart, innovative and game-changing work is critical for success, but hard work? Not so much. You can work hard all of your life but if you are going about your tasks with an end-result-is-all-that-matters approach then you’ll never find the true success in life, which is learning how to appreciate the current moment. Future successes don’t exist and can never bring you satisfaction. Being able to get right into the present moment and really wiggle your way into the task you’re currently doing so that everything else becomes irrelevant for that time? That’s the way to succeed. Approach your work with joy and success will naturally be a by-product of that.

It is better to give than to receive

This is actually an abbreviated version of the original saying, which was: it is better to be in a position to be able to give rather than be in a position where you have to receive. This talks to tapping into the abundance of life and understanding that there’s never going to be a shortage of anything; not money, not lovers, not jobs. Giving is great, of course! But, there’s much to be said for being able to gratefully receive. I recently heard someone say that those who don’t know how to receive attract those who don’t know how to give. It’s so true. Everything in this beautiful universe of ours is always in perfect balance, so open your hands and heart, and start saying thank you to the things that come your way rather than brushing them off and playing small. If someone compliments the way you handled yourself in a meeting, don’t dismiss it. They saw something great and took the time to share their praise. Don’t brush them off. If we can’t learn to receive the small things in life, how will we ever be able to receive the really big things?

You should tolerate others 

This smacks of fear. Tolerate them? How about love and accept them! Being able to step back from your ego and carefully constructed sense of the world in order to see people for what they are (which is a connection of yourself, in case you were wondering) is so important. All of us are living our lives in the only way we know how. We’re all doing our best and interacting with the world in a way that minimises our pain and helps us to grow. There are no exceptions to that. You don’t have to agree with what someone is doing but trust me when I say that your life will be so much smoother if you let people be what they want to be.

If you don’t have a clear plan you are setting yourself up to fail

Every time something amazing has happened in my life it has been when I’ve stepped off the edge of the cliff without knowing what was next (except for that time when I actually did step off a real cliff and ended up in a bit of a pickle. Here’s a little jingle for you all to remember this crucial rule: if it’s a real cliff, proceed with caution. If it’s a metaphorical cliff, jump! OK, so I suck at jingles. Never mind. You get the idea). The point is, your only job is to take that first step and then focus on the next one. Sure, occasionally glance up to check you haven’t wandered into the abyss but don’t fret if what you see looks different to what you imagined. Giving yourself room to move in the direction that feels right is so much more fulfilling than putting on your blinkers and doggedly clawing your way to a goal you set ages ago and never reassessed to see if it still felt right to head in that direction.

You should take other people’s advice seriously

One thing us humans are fabulous at is giving (often unsolicited) advice to each other. Receiving advice is a bit of a double edge sword though. While it can be helpful to get a range of opinions from people you respect, it can also be damn confusing because they are speaking from their experience of life and are often overlaying their words with their own fears. Ever been excited about a new business venture, travel plan or change in education direction only to share your plans with someone and have them lay out all of the risks and downsides? Well meaning they may be but remember to take their opinion with a very big grain of salt (make sure it’s pure sea salt). Ultimately, you’re the only one who you have to answer to. If it feels right, go for it. Don’t let someone else’s fear scare you off from doing what you know your heart wants you to do.

If everyone else is doing it something you should be doing it too

This is probably the biggest life lesson that I am unlearning. I used to be so worried that I wasn’t doing life right, that my passions were the wrong ones because no-one else seemed to care about them, and that I was propelling myself in the opposite direction to everyone else. The older I get, the more I realise that there is no everyone, there are just people making the decisions that feel right for them. Sure, in some circles I’m in the minority for being vegetarian but in others, that’s the norm. And, yes, some people look at me like I’m crazy when I gush about how much peace meditation has brought to my life but that does nothing to diminish the peace I’ve found. What I’ve discovered is that the more true to myself I am, the more I see those authentic qualities in everyone else. This isn’t about labelling behaviours and choices as right or wrong because those labels only exist in minds; rather, it’s about recognising that part of you that says, “Yes, this is the right thing for me.”

Laura

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