26 Years… What I Know for Sure- 10 THINGS

So, today marks my 26th birthday, and in honor of that occasion, I thought it would be fun to reflect on some of the lessons I have learned over my 26 years of life thus far. We all evolve so much throughout the years that it is strange thinking back to different beliefs, habits, attitudes you may have held in adolescence or even just a year ago, which might differ completely now.

With inspiration from Oprah Winfrey’s book, What I Know for Sure. Here are the top 10 things that I know for sure (thus far). Hope someone else is able to get something out of it. Enjoy!

1.       It’s not what happens to you in life, it is how you CHOOSE to react to it.

We have a lot more control over our experiences in life than we give ourselves credit for. It is easy to blame “bad luck” or pity ourselves over a certain circumstance we most likely cannot control. So, instead of succumbing to the series of unfortunate events, perhaps, CHOOSE to be positive, own your circumstances, and move forward!

2.       You are always exactly where you are supposed to be.

This is a big lesson I have especially learned over the past year or so. Being in a career I am not super passionate about can make one feel anxious and stuck. But, having adopted this new mentality about where I am vs. where I want to be. I know I am taking small actions towards where I see myself, and in that we much ACCEPT where we are right now because NOW is all we truly have. We must let go of angst and let life guide us patiently through our course.

3.      Want only what you already have.

Many of us live our lives wanting more, more money, more status, more power, more things, and lose sight of all we already have. Being grateful for what we already have and wanting only that and nothing more is extremely humbling. We being to recognize that we have much more than most, and that is enough.

4.       The power of gratitude

I have been journaling what I am grateful for every day for a couple of years now, and I will tell you that it truly does put things in perspective. Having a gratitude journal forces you to reflect on all we have and all of the blessings in our life every day. It can be the smallest little things such as just waking up, having a moment to yourself, having the sun come out today, etc. Many of these small things we can take for granted, and writing them down every day prevents us from overlooking them.

5.       Acceptance is Love

For years I always wondered why I did not feel comfortable around most people, whether it was family, friends or random social settings. I always felt like there was something wrong with me because I was not the type to “click” with many people or make instant friends. I am a self-proclaimed introvert and for years I tried to force myself into a position as an extrovert and fit it. As I grew up I started to understand why the only people I felt genuinely comfortable around was my immediate family, and it was because I trusted that they accepted me. Since I was not yet in a position of fully accepting myself, there was no way I could feel like someone else could be so accepting of me even if they were. On the flip side of this realization, I began to truly be accepting of others in my life, whether they had strange quirks or annoyances, I would still without judgment to my best ability because all they truly want is what I want, acceptance. Then, I began to understand this acceptance as love. It is the most powerful thing we yearn for in life, to be loved, but put even more simply, to be accepted.

6.       The story we tell ourselves RUNS our life, so monitor that story and change the plot if it does not serve you.

Understanding our truth is not an overnight processes. We must recognize the various beliefs and identities we have held throughout the years and assess whether they are moving us forward or holding us back. These beliefs and identities run our lives, so it is important to check in to see what is serving us and what is not. Perhaps you have always identified as being “someone who doesn’t take risks,” so you move through life without ever taking a risk because “that’s not who you are.” Can we maybe question this identity to see if this is good enough reason to never take risks in life? Perhaps we miss out on a good opportunity because we hold this identity so dearly, and holds us back from making a positive change.

7.       Develop the habit of reading even if you don’t love it. Stay curious!

Growing up I was never a big reader, and even today, I don’t love reading books more than 300 pages. But, developing reading into a daily practice is beneficial for the present and future you. Reading allows us to open our minds up into new information and even brings to life a new mindset. As we grow older, we must continue to expand and grow our minds through activities such as reading in order to prevent the deterioration of the brain. In a world where mindless television and internet scrolling in the norm (I am guilty of it to) we need to implement a practice to at least somewhat offset these mindless moment through mindful practices.

8.       Meditation works.

The meditation and mindfulness movement has been growing tremendously over the years, and its benefits have been proven effective for hundreds of years, yet there is some doubt my many (including myself at one time) of its benefits. Over the past year I have been more religious in the adoption of a meditation practice in my own life, and please take it from me, it makes a difference. Overtime, you begin to notice that your mind does not wonder, overthink, dwell or worry about things as it had prior to this practice. Meditation allows for us to train our minds to focus on the present moment and manage distractions during and after the practice.

9.      We experience life through the lens of the mindset we carry.

Perhaps this is similar to the story we tell ourselves, but here I think I am going more for a thought about attitude. If we maintain a positive attitude throughout our days, we had a great day! If we wonder through life thinking the world is against us and everyone is evil, our world will be unpleasant. We can see this sort of idea play out in a circumstance, at work, for example. We might be performing the same job, same task in the same company as another person and they hate their job while you might love it! It’s the same circumstance experienced two completely different ways. Luckily! We have control over our own mindset and can choose to have a good day or not based on that attitude alone.

10.   WE define success, not time, not others, not accolades.

For years I talked about being “successful” “one day,” not fully understanding what success even meant to me. I knew what success meant to other people, having money, cars and status, perhaps, so like many of us, I owned this as my own definition. But was it? How did I define success? What did I want? Is it possible I am already successful? Can’t be! Well, to my surprise, I came to find out that success to me is exactly where I am right now. I might not be in the profession I want to be in, being as financially well-off as I want to be, etc, but in this moment I am success because of the way I define success. I define success as being able to support myself, my friends and my family whether financially (enough) or emotionally. I define success as making progress on personal development, my goals and my skills. I define success as doing the very best I can ALWAYS. Reminding ourselves that everyone is always doing the best they can, may really evoke empathy for one another. Perhaps they do not define success in the same way, but according to your definition, they are successful all the same, whether they know it or not.

Long post and very raw but I hope even one person was able to relate and maybe gain a new perspective from this. What I Know for Sure?… There is more to come. Enjoy!

Book Ideas- A Brainstorming Session

A few months ago, I started writing a book about elderly people and technology. I got to about 50 pages in before I got bored of my own writing and stopped. I still like the topic but not sure if it’s something I am passionate enough about to rewrite and continue talking about. I have also realized that I continually try to write fiction stories when all I read and write are non-fiction things. I once learned that in order to become a good writer of any genre, you must read and write it. So, if I am not reading or writing fiction regularly, perhaps fiction is not the best genre to start this writing journey in.

Then, when I reflect on non-fiction topics, I think about my own life and if there is anything interesting I can write about that would be engaging for not only my own interest but the interest of a larger audience. I’m sure there is something unique about my life that I might be overlooking, so perhaps that is something to practice exploring to discover a non-fiction topic. I love writing and learning about the various topics that I try to present here on the blog such as gratitude, presence, development and understanding ourselves, but since I do not have all the answers to these topics, I feel I cannot write as an expert on them at all. I believe I am a practice but not a preacher at this point. Still, I hope I can provide content that can inspire, teach and motivate others from a genuine place.

One non-fiction topic I have thought about writing was taking one lesson I have learned in my life and turning it into a sort of fiction/non-fiction approach to present the lesson as a story like the Alchemist or Richest Man in Babylon. I would just have to narrow down that one lesson.

Regardless, this post alone has helped me to brainstorm I bit more about what topics interest me and what topics I could write diligently about that would also captivate an audience, so thank you for listening.

 

 

Chemistry Bonds and Valentine’s Day?

Encompassed by the walls of Hallmark cards, I embarked on a journey to select the perfect card for the loving people in my life on Valentine’s Day. I rummaged through endless lines of punny, corny and endearing messages found between the flaps of cardboard for at least a half hour before I settled. I grew impatient in my search for the perfect cards. Then, on my way out of the store I noticed one card I had left unchecked. Its top left corner peeked from behind the pink envelopes before it and seemed to give me a wink. (Weird, right?) I slid my sneakers across the carpet floor to give just one more card a chance.

It had an image of the periodic table on the cover and inside read, “You are the Sodium to my Chloride.” The former chemistry nerd in me jested at the pun. Though I found much enjoyment in reading this card, I did not select it as my chosen one, but it did get me thinking.

I began to think about the relationships between element bonds and human bonds. Was this card an accurate personification of what goes into forming real HUMAN relationship bonds? Now, I do not remember much from chemistry class 10 years ago, but what I do remember is that the entire premise of the subject is studying the composition of elements and their reactions with other substances.

If I were to translate this into the study of human chemistry, I would say it is a subject which studies the composition of personalities and their reactions to other interactions. When we say someone has “chemistry” with another person, what we typically mean is that Sally’s personality and Harry’s personality react positively with one another. The interactions between the two of them have made them feel a sort of closeness. Perhaps I would argue this is where the creation of a “bond” would come in. A bond comes out of furthering interactions between people in sharing similar experiences, having intimate conversations and going through challenging circumstances. Similar to the chemical interactions which create a bond, human bonds are then created.

I guess there is some reason to why we use terms like “bond” and “chemistry” to describe human relationships after all.

Still, chemical and human bonds can be broken if such interactions are no longer present. Maybe you and your partner do not share much anymore, you don’t trust one another, or you have given up on creating experiences together. The good news is, I believe bonds can be strengthened overtime even more simply than they can be broken. 🙂

This Valentine’s Day, I hope you took the time to look at the chemistry that you found between you and your partner and all of the interactions you both have created to manifest your unique bond. I wish for all couples, friends and relatives to keep up these interactions with the people you love dearly, and keep that bond everlasting.  ❤

 

Uncovering the Fear of Losing Control and What to Do About It

I have been battling for a solution to my life-long irritation towards sounds, and recently, I have grown intolerable to the sound my co-worker makes in the cubicle next to mine. The sound of chewing, slurping and clanging on the bowl of cheerios has urged me to flee from the building while pulling the hairs out of my head. This is not a new irritation to me, for I had always been bothered with various sounds others make ever since I was a child, always prompting the same feeling of discomfort and need to run away. Now, I have forced myself to take a deeper look at what the root of this problem has been all of these years because it is beginning to make me have disdain for people I like and impedes my ability to focus.

What I found to be the deeper issue is, not my resentments towards my co-worker or the pitch of the clank on the bowl, but it is my fear of losing control (of my life). You may be asking yourself, “What the heck does that have to do with people making annoying sounds?” right? It does sound far-fetched but let me explain with a more obvious example. Why do we get so irritated and impatient when we are stuck in traffic? It is because things are not going our way, or as we planned. If it was up to us, we would never sit in traffic, and since we have no control over it, we are frustrated when we find ourselves idling on the parkway, sitting bumper to bumper. In applying this scenario to the one I am personal struggling with, I find that if it was up to me, there would be silence in all situation and everyone would have perfect food etiquette (like the one I would be so delusional to think I have ;P). Since this is a situation I do not have control over, this same impatience, irritation and need to change circumstance grows and grows as I continue to recognize how much I am losing control over the present. I urge you to think about the times you have felt irritated by something just as trivial, a fight you got into with your partner, or quitting something when things change and became more difficult. Did you ever consider these reactions to be your fear of losing control in some way? The fear of rejection and judgment can even be under the fear of losing control, for we cannot control what people think of us or if they will like us, so this worry and frustration causes us to act in ways we would not if we did not have this need for control.

Now that I know the irritation towards my co-workers cereal chewing, for example, is an indicator of my fear of losing control, what can I do to ease this burden? Can I stop him from eating cereal every day? Can I throw a blanket over my head in an attempt to block out the sound? OR, do I have to change something within myself? Since this is an external irritant, our only viable option in conquering this trigger long-term is to change something within ourselves.

My first step in conquering this irritant was identifying it as a trigger for my fear of losing control. Next, I began to breathe throughout the duration of this occurrence and focus solely on myself and the present moment. Then, I began to affirm that my co-worker is a good person and does not deserve the disdain I am feeling towards him, so I thought of him positively. Finally, understanding that I will NEVER have control over the actions, thoughts and feelings of other people has provided me with a peace which I can apply to other aspects of my life, from my fear of being judged and rejected to my fear of losing control.

Next time you are annoyed with someone or something, take a deeper look to find out if it is because you cannot control it. Instead of acting from a place of fear, recognize it as so and let it go with actions similar to those I took on my own. My co-worker’s cereal chopping is still a bit irritating but to a MUCH lower intensity, so I call that progress.

THE ONLY RESOLUTION YOU WILL EVER NEED TO SET FOR A NEW YEAR

Resolution: Improve my self-awareness.

I strongly believe this is the SOLE and ULTIMATE resolution to be set in replace of all those in the past and future New Year’s.

By committing to a journey towards improving self-awareness, all other life improvements will come as a byproduct. We all set new goals in the New Year to try to improve our self-esteem and make our lives feel richer, right? We begin to think about all that we are not doing, what we do not have and what we want, and formulate these goals based on all of these components. Some of the most popular New Year’s goals are eating healthier, getting more exercise, saving more money, getting more sleep, reading more, getting a new job, etc.

But, what if I told you that we really only needed to set one goal that would lead to the accomplishments of all those proceeding? Sounds good, right? It is easier said than done, but by committing to a journey toward improving self-awareness, we will develop the discipline to lose the weight we wanted because of our improvement in decision making and understanding ourselves, and will also be able to save more money as we become more aware of our priorities and what is truly important.

Perhaps defining self-awareness will assist you as you craft this single goal for the New Year. Self-awareness can be explained as recognizing our thoughts, feelings, emotions and desires, which will in turn allow us to make more reasoned decisions and choices. The constant improvement in this understanding will empower us to lead healthier and happier lives as we make more quality decisions and choices as a result. There are various ways to embark on the journey towards self-awareness. Please see below for four simple practices you can incorporate into everyday that will start you on this path, and take over the New Year!

  1. Meditation
    Through meditation, we allow ourselves a moment of silence, away from the noise in our everyday life. Here, we are able to observe what thoughts have been floating through our mind, and any emotion we are experiencing, prompted from those thoughts. In performing this practice, we are more aware of the various things that may trigger us in a negative or positive way. From here, we have the power to change our reactions to these thoughts and create a new association to them. As we routinely meditate throughout the week, we begin to discover the root of our emotions and are given the power to change them as we see fit. Such awareness will then become part of our everyday encounters, allowing us to manage various challenges and obstacles.
  2. Journaling
    Journaling is another amazing way to reflect on our thoughts and emotions. By putting this into practice, we can visually observe what we are thinking in our minds, and begin to analyze our reactions. Our thoughts are now real and live on paper, as if they have a life of their own. In our journal entry, we can ask ourselves questions like, “What did I do great today?” and “What can I improve on today?” These sort of questions will allow us to reflect on the whole day and revisit when we felt positive, uncomfortable, dissatisfied and/or proud. We can then understand the moments which had been associated with these emotions, and strive to improve our reactions in the more challenging or disappointing moments going forward.
  3. Reading
    Books allow for us to gain more insight into the lives and experiences of others, which we cannot experience ourselves. Reading expands our perspective beyond, assisting us in understanding others and even learning from them. As a result, we begin to empathize with stories, experiences and people who we did not even know existed. We become aware of other’s emotions and the events that lead to these emotions to rationally determine if we wish to be in a similar situation or not. Now, these books have influenced our own decision making and our ability to understand humanity and even a bit about our place in it. We can read specifically about self-awareness and other’s experiences on their own self-awareness journeys. Please visit Books to check out the novels under “Self-Improvement” for suggestions.
  4. Feedback
    This last step is most definitely the most daunting and vulnerable of all previous steps, and quite honestly, something I need to do more of, which is asking for feedback. Who is a better observe of you, you or other people? Of course, other people because otherwise people who chew gum loudly, talk with their mouth full and make conversation with you at the gym while you’re mid-set WOULD NOT BOTHER YOU if THEY knew it was annoying. So, if this is the case, this presents us with a new opportunity to better understand ourselves from other person’s perspective. Maybe we can do this after a big presentation at work, or during a mid-year appraisal review, or maybe more personally, opening ourselves up for feedback from our partner or friend about how we are doing in following through on commitments or listening to them when they tell us about their day. Outside feedback is necessary for us to make a change, because otherwise we may never be aware enough to change it. For example, my partner has pointed out my increase in volume while telling a story in restaurants, which I had not previously been aware of. Now, I look out for it and make the effort to catch myself if I feel the volume may be on the rise (Working on it).

In incorporating these four simple steps into our everyday lives this New Year, we are sure to be on our way to improving self-awareness and making us an overall better person this 2019!

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!!

 

 

 

 

Quarter-Life Crisis

Most of us have heard about a middle-life crisis, a stage of life stereotypically accompanied by an impromptu purchase of a fancy red sports car and new out-of-character hobbies, but how about a quarter-life crisis? Since it is safe to say that the majority of us at 25 years old are still broke and living with our parents, our quarter-life crisis may not be projected with a luxury car purchase. Conversely, it can be accompanied by overthinking about the future, anxiety about achieving our goals, being unsure about making a new move, and fearing we will not have done enough with our lives by 30 years old.

The irony of having such doubts about ourselves is it can be debilitating and the exact reason we will not achieve our goals. It is easy to look five steps ahead to our ideal life, but how about all of the steps in-between? When we focus too heavily on step five, it hinders us from taking steps one, two, three and four.

So now I beg the question, “Would it be better if we did not set goals at all then?!”

I am not sure about my own response to this question. I believe we do need an objective that will drive us into action, but perhaps my response would have more to do with allowing ourselves to be flexible and do more acting and less planning to inch our way closer to reaching our objectives.

For instance, we should be open to changing our path if interests or lifestyle changes. Sometimes we are too scared to change because of the time and money we already invested in the field we are in, the degrees, the years, the relationships, and to jump into a new field of interest is often less appealing for these reasons. However, if we are not flexible in catering our goals to match our new interests, we will never be able to become that person we envision at step five.

Furthermore, planning less means taking time away from creating a vision board, writing out a five-year plan or creating a business plan, and giving more time to taking action towards our goals.

If you too are going through your own quarter-life crisis, my advice is to put less pressure on yourself, live in the moment, be flexible and focus on taking step one rather than constantly thinking about and planning for step five.

Think about the person at step five. What was the most basic action that person needed to take to get them to where they are? Take it today.

The Power of Likeability

The Power of Likeability is a concept that possesses a greater influence than often realized. How often do we go out of the way to go to a certain gas station, hair dresser or bank teller, for the sheer reason that we like the person we interact with in those instances? Does it mean that this bank teller is the most experienced of all of the tellers in the window? Does the gas station attendant at Exxon pump more skillfully than the one at Shell? Most likely not, and we do not care!

From this observation alone, we can understand what the power of likeability has on our decision making, and how we can use it to our advantage in our own lives. It is so easy to get discouraged from going for a job or pursuing a new career because you feel you are too inexperienced, for example. We have all been there. What happens next much of the time? We allow for inexperience to weight more heavily in our minds as a disadvantage than our real hidden advantage, our likeability. The reality is that we are already well-equip with all of the influence we need to land that job or make that deal as long as you commit to using it!

Likeability is comprised of authenticity, charisma, empathy and confidence. We all possess these characteristics but it is bringing them out.

5 Tips to Be More Likeable:

  1. Be present, be attentive, be yourself.
  2. Make eye-contact and open your body up to audience.
  3. Speak with enthusiasm.
  4. Engage in active listening.
  5. Mirror audience’s speech, pace and tone of voice.

For more likability tips and anecdotes check out the book How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie!

When we begin to believe in the power of likeability and use this as an advantage in our everyday lives, we will be surprised at how many opportunities will come our way and not because of experience. Try it out, and see what comes your way!