This post originally appeared on BrandMentalist.com
This year has been one of the most nomadic and itinerate years of my life. I was constantly on the road - from Sydney to Melbourne, Bangkok, Ho Chi Mihn city, Hobart, Singapore, Brisbane, and back in Sydney again. Although it has been one little loop around this side of the world, it has given more some perspective about life - mostly on living simply, having less, and doing more.
There have been some major changes in my life - both in terms of self-development as well as changes that happen in the lives of those close to me. Below are the facts I've realized about life and I'd like to share them with you.
1. Life is about trial and error.
When you're a teenager, you feel like searching for who you are is the key psychological change that's going on in your life. You seek to establish your identity and find out what you like and dislike doing. You think that as you get older you will be more sure about who you are, what you do, and what you should do. But as you get older, you realize that you're still trying and not feeling certain about the outcome of what you do. You change jobs. You move countries. Your relationships fall apart only to start blossoming again with someone new. You give something a go, you try your best, it may fail, and you move on.
Everyone is trying to figure out their sh*t just like you. Even ones that seem most assured are as confused, dazed, and unsure deep down inside as you are. They just pretend that everything is OK. Some people feel ashamed of displaying their feeling of uncertainty, thinking that it's showing vulnerabilities and a sign of weakness. Some people are open about their trial-and-error path, believing that it leads them to finding themselves more and more as they go.
Whatever your path might be like, you realize that as you get older, you still have to keep figuring things out and don't really know where you're actually going. You might think "No, this is bullshit. I know exactly what I want to do and what I'm doing." But no, deep down you still feel uncertain and unsure - you just suppress the feeling.You may have thought that as you get older, you will become more assured and know exactly what you're doing, but it doesn't seem that way. Your parents who you thought were the most assured when you're growing up are probably as confused as you are. They're still figuring out what to do with their retirements and when they should retire. They get more and more scared of illnesses that are creeping up to them. Some are also looking for new love to replace the old one that has died and are probably more confused than you are about relationships, love, and life.
When you realize that life is trial and error and that it will continue to be that way, you feel more acceptant of life and circumstances that life throws at you. No matter what comes into your life, it will go. No matter what you decide to do, it will either make your heart grow fonder or languish - you live and learn. No matter what risk you take, you will be OK.
Instead of trying to feel certain about life, you learn to embrace uncertainty. Because once you do, you will feel the most certain about yourself and life. After all, that is the only constant in life.
So take risks.... because it's not a big deal if you fail. It's just another error. You can try again.
2. Life has its own flow.
Have you heard of the saying that timing is everything? Well, that's what I'm talking about here. As you get older, you realize that you can't force time. Life has a way of unfolding at its own pace. Life has its own natural rhythms.
Every little thing in life is building you up for something bigger. Those achievements you had at school built your self-confidence and self-esteem. The junior roles you had when you first graduated prepared you for the bigger roles even though you felt like you were doing minor tasks most of the time. Those people you dated led you to knowing more about yourself, what you want and don't want, and what you're compatible with.
Life has its own pace. You can have it all but not all at once. And if you don't keep your focus right, you might not achieve anything.
3. Life has its own energy.
Everyone wants to be happy. In the path to happiness, you seek to understand who you are, where you stand, what your nature is, and what your interests and passions are. When you get to do what comes naturally to you - whether it be handy tasks, creative hobbies, or adventurous activities - you feel most alive.
Unfortunately, many people don't allow themselves to flow with life. They fight life. These people may be working hard towards some goal - maybe academic or professional success. They put aside their flowing, their natural love, and their passions in life in order to reach this goal. They haven't let life run at its own pace and fuelled by its own energy. As a result, they feel stressed, tired, worn out, and drained which leads them to find something that could help bring them back to a normal state of energy. Some rely on sports, meditation, yoga, and a moderate amount of alcohol consumption. Some have lost their souls to overindulgence in alcohol, gambling, cigarettes, and drugs.
Life has its own energy and when the energy flow is blocked or abused, you feel stressed and lost - you feel like you need control. Turning to bad influences for emotional uplifts, you feel like you're in control once again - that you can control how you feel. However, regardless of how good the emotional assistance makes you feel, relying your emotions and energy on them only leads you to losing control of yourself and your life even more.
4. Life gets easier when you can manage your emotions better.
In the early years of your life as an adult, you might feel like you're still finding your feet and that life will get easier as you get older. However, as you get older you realize that life doesn't get easier. In fact, what gets easier is managing your own emotions as your mental strength develops.
My Dad always said to me ...
Everyone was born with the ability to become successful. But on the path to that, the obstacles and challenges everyone has to face are their own emotions. The ability to manage one's emotions and develop self-discipline is what determines whether they will be successful.
On another note, if you have signed up to my mailing list, you would have gotten a prompt email asking you for topic suggestions. I have received quite a few responses and most of them are related to how to deal with stress and negative emotions and thoughts.
Life gets easier when you become more positive and more resilient - when you know how to bounce back from setbacks in life, combat negative thoughts, stay calm in irritating situations, and let go of bad people whom you may have loved.
Being self-disciplined is not easy. It requires a lot of self-control. However, I believe that when you live life in flow - when you do the things you love and are naturally good at and move at your own natural pace - you don't feel like you need to heavily rely on something that can instantly fix your energy. You just flow. You feel energized. You feel passionate - and in this case, you work hard towards your goal because your passion intrinsically motivates you. You feel happy.
5. Life's end goal is not to find happiness.
The goal in life is not to search for happiness. In fact, all you have to do is to stop trying to find happiness and just be happy. When you feel like the current state is not good enough, you're not happy enough, you start looking else where. This is when the search for happiness keeps going on forever and you wonder why you never feel happy.
It all starts with acceptance - the acceptance of self, of circumstances, and of situations.
Life will never be perfect. But life seems perfect when you've accepted that life is not perfect. Happiness comes when you accept the imperfection, the flaws, the ups and downs, and enjoy the moments in life. Realize that everything is fleeting - the good thing will pass, the bad thing will pass - just accept life as it is. Adjust and adapt yourself to situations as much as you can - if you're tight on money this month, then spend less; if you hate your job, then quit or plan to quit; if your partner is abusive, then break up with him/her; if you're prone to sickness, then start exercising and eat well.
Life is not meant to be perfect, nor is it meant to be easy.
Life is a game. You are the player. And the players pride themselves in their ability to beat challenges.
You may not realize this but we seem to constantly find challenges for ourselves to get through - whether it be getting to the top of our career, buying a car, owning a house, moving to another country, having a kid and then another kid, starting our own business, investing in businesses, learning another language, or doing triathlon.
Life has its own flow. Find your natural self. Do what you're good at. And let life take its course.
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