The last two months have been a complete rollercoaster for me physically, mentally, socially, and academically. There have been a lot of changes, challenges, and failures in my life recently which have afforded me the chance to grow personally. From these challenges I have identified four key principles which I have found to hold true in times of difficulty and change. The point of my authorship of this article is not to portray myself as some highly enlightened guru, thought leader, or life coach. I am not even close. I simply want to share what I have learned to be true for myself in rough times as it may help someone else along the way. Here’s what I learned:
Doing the right thing is always the right thing
I am a firm believer in karma. I have seen it time and time again that what goes around comes around. Some people say that good guys never win and I don’t agree with that. I strongly believe that if a person is honest, self-aware, and portrays the best version of themselves, good things will happen. Now, even the best version of someone is never going to be perfect. No one is. For example, some people may tell you that the best version of myself is still a little too honest and overconfident at times. But that is what makes me who I am and I refuse to apologize for it. Nevertheless, if you make the right decisions enough times, people notice despite such personality quirks and flaws. Pretty soon these decisions become a part of your personality and the person you are at your core, or at least that is my working theory. By no means have I always done what is right. In fact, I screw up royally quite often. But it is something I am willing to admit and something I continue to work at. I guess what I am trying to say is that no matter your personality or the situation, choosing to do the right thing always ends up being the right thing, even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time. However, it is also important to note that the right thing differs based on the person, scenario, and the perspective of the person evaluating the situation. Do what you think is right and let the chips fall where they may.
Move forward. Don’t cry over spilled milk
Shit happens. That is all there is to it. You need to learn how to deal with the consequences of a situation and move on. Sometimes we make bad decisions. Sometimes other people make decisions which deeply affect us. In either case, what is done is done. There is no sense crying over spilled milk. Remember sunk costs from your Economics 101 class? However, I know first hand this is easier said than done. We are only human. We oftentimes dwell on our losses. We are nostalgic creatures by design. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging a loss. However, it is when you enable a loss to dictate your confidence and future success that this dwelling becomes an issue. This snowball effect of negativity can be devastating to your personal and professional life. Own your losses, respect them and move on.
Perspective is everything
If there is one thing I have learned since starting college it is this; perspective is everything. It is the root of all success, failure, and disagreement. People see and interpret the world differently. We all have our views, opinions, and belief systems. There is no right or wrong. There is only different. Life became much simpler when I learned this. There is nothing wrong with (or so it is my perspective) trying to interpret your perspective for someone else, enabling them to see the world through your eyes. However, problems arise when you try and force this perspective on that person. People do not take kindly to such forcefulness. As commonsensical as this may seem, I see it so much. Certain people simply can not fathom the idea that someone else does not interpret a particular situation the same way they do. While I do not agree with everyone’s perspective, I would like to think I do my best to respect it. Again, this respect seems theoretically simple, but at times it can be quite challenging. You don’t want the entire world to see things as you do. That’s boring.
Do what makes you happy (within reason)
I have read a large portion of Tim Ferris’s Four Hour Work Week. The most important thing I have taken away from the book thus far is a simple, mental exercise. Think about this, carefully. Most people want large sums of money and wealth. In fact, they go to school and pay thousands upon thousands of dollars for the gamble that this education will land them a lucrative job ( I am currently doing this). But then what? After you have the job and the amount of money you desire, what is next? What are you going to do with that money? It is often thought that money solves everything. However, wouldn’t it be better to identify what it is you actually want first and then reverse engineer a way to get it? It isn’t money you want. It is what this money can afford you. Money, by itself, is worthless. It is what money is traded for which is valuable. It is very difficult not to fall into the rat race. It is so easy to chase the dollar just because it is what everyone does. However, I think it is important to chase happiness instead. If you are doing what makes you happy, the money doesn’t matter, or at least it matters substantially less.
I say “within reason” because sometimes what we want isn’t always what is best. I am specifically talking about health here. I have not done a good job of taking care of myself physically, lately. I have not eaten quality meals, slept at the appropriate times, or exercised properly and when I do I have been highly inconsistent. The consequences of this are incredibly detrimental both physically and mentally. I have been constantly on edge lately and often snap at certain people for seemingly no reason at all. We only have one body and depending on your religious beliefs, one chance at this life. That life is too short already and these kind of habits are not sustainable. Eventually, something has to give. I am working on doing a better job in this area, but it is not something that just happens overnight. I am going to have to work at it. Additionally, a close friend of mine informed me of his recent breakthroughs in meditation. He claims to be feeling incredible and says he sleeps much better. He takes around 10 minutes out of his day to stop and meditate using an app similar to Headspace or Calm. I have since downloaded the app and am going to give it a shot. Results to follow.
I appreciate those of you that have read this far and made it to the end of this article. Hopefully, you have enjoyed my thoughts and perhaps my insights can help you in your own life. Live long and prosper, friends.