We can always improve ourselves in small ways. But when we stop believing in our ability to make a change, we begin to suffer. If we try to live a life detached from reality (usually characterized by a false defeatist mantra of “life sucks”), this can translate into trying to live vicariously through others (i.e. parents’ expectation for their children, friends expectation of friends, etc.) because we relinquish accountability for ourselves. Sometimes, we expect so much more from people other than ourselves, that we forget that we are the only person that we have the most over. The foremost person we should expect anything from is ourselves, and the rest is just icing on the cake. We all have the infinite potential to create an inspired, joyful life; but only if we believe that there is more to life than our current difficulties.
Quote: Tom Bilyeu
Whenever we revisit the past, we must make sure to enjoy the good moments as much as we scrutinize our bad moments. It’s easy to spend time scrutinizing every mistake you’ve ever made – who else besides us knows every mistake we’ve ever made? But for some reason, it’s so easy to forget the things we do correctly: the good decisions. The decisions where present-day you would be proud of younger you for making that choice. Most of us (when invited) would easily celebrate the victory of a good friend or someone else we care about, but why do we forget to celebrate our victories as greatly as we scrutinize our pain? Perhaps we’ve contlditioned to look for the faults in others, instead of improving ourselves, because the former is much easier than the latter – judging others is easy, yet changing ourselves requires a lot of failure, pain and introspection. Is there a painless way to learn? No. Pain is an integral part of the human experience. Suffering however is optional. What we choose to do with the pain is what ultimately transforms us into the person we want to become. We’ve learned to become who we are from the pain of our mistakes. Pain is guaranteed, but suffering is optional.
Whenever you have a lot of big changes happening all at once, the most important action is to focus on one thing at a time. If you try to focus on everything, you focus on nothing; so we have to prioritize. This is difficult because everything right now may seem important. But when we get overwhelmed, usually its a reminder to take a step back and remember your major goal right now. And then focus on that thing first. And then knock it off the list. The other things further down on your goal list will be there if they’re meant to be there. You won’t regret prioritizing your goals over them.
One of the things that many of us have in common is a past we cannot change. We’ve often heard many life coaches and motivational speakers talk about continuing to work on the present and moving forward, that we should keep the past behind us. As appealing as this advice may be, I feel that ignoring an important part of ourselves isn’t really complete advice. Ultimately at the end of the day when we are by ourselves and we become introspective, where does our mind go? Often to the past.
Since the past isn’t something we can change, it’s important that we look at it from different perspectives. Just like with people and situations in our lives, if we can’t change them, it’s important to change our perspective. As I sit here, I think about all of failures I’ve had in the past. For some, reflecting on things that’ve gone wrong might be debilitating and discouraging. But with the right perspective, it can be liberating. Each time we’ve failed at something, it means we’ve displayed courage and took a risk. And most importantly that we’ve survived.
We fell down seven times, but something made us stand up an eighth time. What was your reason for continuing to keep trying? And can we cultivate that into a passion that keeps us interested in life?
When I used to work as a cashier, occasionally a parent would come up to the counter with their child and have them pay (usually from the parent’s own money, sometimes from the kid’s own allowance). But regardless of where the money came from, wisdom was being shared with the child on how to ask and communicate.
So many of us grow older, but we might not have learned the correct way to ask for things; we are afraid to ask for help because maybe we feel like a burden to others. Sometimes we don’t feel like owing anything to anyone. Or maybe asking might make us look weak and unable to provide for ourselves. Often times when we go through difficult moments in our lives, we know that we should ask for help, but we don’t know how. No one person has everything figured out, yet we have this exceptionally high expectations of ourselves that we should have it all figured out.
But this is mostly ego. For some reason, there seems to be no price tag high enough of being fiercely independent – be it depression, self-isolation, financial constraints, or one of many other reasons. There appears to be a lot of respect and demand for appearing capable and stoic. But those who do a lot, may also suffer greatly in private. Is it worth it to assume that people will think less of you for asking them for their time? Is it worth it to suffer in private rather than risk being vulnerable and connect with someone who might also need encouragement to speak?
There is nothing glamorous and stoic about being trapped in the mental prison of our minds. By working together and communicating, we can surely begin to heal. Maybe we didn’t have anyone to teach us how to ask, but maybe the “how” won’t matter if we learn “who” we are. Are we slaves to the ego, or sentient beings who favor growth?
Muhammad Ali was one of the greatest athletes of our time, but his opponents extended far beyond the boxing ring. We too can be the champions of the battles we fight each day if we are adaptable and courageous.
Being a black Muslim in the 1970’s produced its own challenges in the forms of racism and Islamophobia. One of the characteristics that made Ali so remarkable was his ability to stand firm in his beliefs, regardless of who was opposing him. If you look up any video today, you’ll see ferocious confidence in his self-expression.
Being unique today requires tremendous courage to challenge the status quo. Heroes are scarce in our generation because most of us have been taught to limit our critical thinking for a paycheck; by fitting into society like a standardized cog in a machine. Ali found courage within himself and became an individual. You can also cultivate this courage for self-expression.
In nature, a butterfly is able to float because it is light, agile and curious. On the other hand, a bumble bee has similar capabilities but different mindset: workers that’ll defend the queen and hive with their sting. Humans however are not restricted to any particular pattern, because self awareness allow us to change our perspective when presented with new information.
When Muhammad Ali’s saying, “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” was also a comment on how humans can adapt their nature. We can be light on our feet and observe like a butterfly, but change and strike with purpose like a bee. We are not restricted to nature’s patterns, but to recognize and change them requires self-awareness and that courage deep inside you. Adapt, and you will overcome anything.