I’m certain you’ve had moments looking back on life, wondering what you’d advise your youthful self about the future. You might tack a trip back to your twenties to inform yourself that all those illusions of grandeur you had about being President or the head of Apple might be more challenging than you realised when young.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting one sells out on the dreams; rather that you take a more realistic approach to the steps involved in realising them. Youth is something we feel we’ll hold onto for the rest of our lives. Unfortunately nature reminds us in no uncertain terms that this is not the case as we contemplate the days ahead are getting shorter.
I was thinking about this topic the other day while out riding recently. I thought it would make for an interesting blog article. Below is a list, in no particular order that I wish I knew back in my twenties. If I could advise my youthful self of these points of wisdom, I’m certain life would’ve been much more tranquil in its unfoldment.
1. Life never unfolds according to YOUR plan or schedule
Whilst you have an expected outcome of how things will play out while young, they rarely coincide to your schedule. The law of detachment suggests one cast their line to the universe and wait in anticipation to see what comes back. The quote “life is what happens to us while we’re busy making other plans” couldn’t be more accurate.
2. Less is more. The more I removed from my life, the happier and content I was
In my twenties, I looked to material gains as the source of happiness, believing ‘things’ would make me happy. I discovered that people, service to others and mastery of self were the ultimate tools for happiness. When we reflect on the fact that the happiest people in the world are generally those in poorer countries, we realise that mankind has all he needs to be content.
3. There is a rhythm and energy to the universe.
When you tap into the universal energy which governs all living and non-living things, you realise that it is forever working in your favour. Rather than resist this energy, working with it becomes a source of joy and inspiration. You are the expression of nature. When you live in accordance with natures laws, prosperity and abundance become your natural expression.
Some of natures laws include; timing, detachment, karma, giving and receiving and least effort. These are just to name a few universal principles.
4. My worst moments always turned out to be greatest seeds of opportunity
At the time when you’re ensconced in turmoil, you believe that you’ll never navigate your way out. Life takes on a dark and bleak period. You own the negative state. Then sure as the sun rises, you begin making progress and transition to a place you never thought possible. You may look back on this period in your life many months or years late and be thankful for the opportunity and personal growth gained. The key is to accept your suffering at the time and move through it, knowing that like every footpath in life; there is a corner ahead in which to start afresh.
5. I am the master of my destiny. I am responsible for my thoughts and emotions
I recall the most used phrases during my twenties were: “you made me feel this way” or “you made me do it.” I discovered that in my thirties “I” and I alone am responsible for HOW I feel, despite how others behaved. I am the master of my life; my emotions and thoughts. I cannot allow others to control nor influence my state of mind or emotions. Wisdom teaches us that we are accountable for the way we engagein the world.
6. What other people think of me is none of my business
Why is that we strive in vain to have people like us when we’re young? It’s usually the people we seldom like that we most want to impress. As is often the case, we find out the hard way that such people are not worth pleasing and so our lesson is cemented.
Your sole responsibility in life is to think highly of yourself; to know yourself and own each aspect of your character. Forget what others think of you. People are continually mirroring back what you think of yourself. They’re looking to see how you treat yourself in order to treat you accordingly. You are their barometer. Change the reading on your forehead by sending out a stronger signal.
7. Actions speak louder than words
In your twenties you believe what most people tell you – why wouldn’t you? If someone tells you they love you, then presumably they love you; otherwise they wouldn’t tell you.
Through trial and error you discover that what people say and mean are entirely separate. I don’t think we become cynical as we mature, I believe we orientate ourselves to another’s actions as an accurate reading of their character. Perhaps being let down or rejected teaches us to look to people’s actions as an accurate reading of their real intent.
8. The present moment is all that there is.
Oh how I used to wish the future would arrive sooner to get me out of the present state. Whenever things got tough, I recall wishing myself into a future state. I wanted to escape the pain of the moment, no matter what the experience. Personally, it was being in a job I disliked or an emotional state I didn’t understand.
Here’s an experiment to understand how to live in the present moment. Spend a few hours with a child under four years of age and observe how you interact with them. Note your thoughts and emotions at the time. Note the child’s behaviour. You’ll be pleasantly surprised that being around children is the quickest way to understand and experience oneness with time and ourselves. There is no such thing as a future event or the past to a child, other than enjoying what is happening NOW.
What current wisdom do you espouse now that you may offer your younger self? Perhaps in doing so, you’d rewrite your life’s path and be less concerned with a destination as much as enjoying the journey.
Wherever you are in your life right now, take stock from the lessons you’ve learned from the past. You are continually writing the future pages of your life’s memoirs in the present moment. Every thought, every emotion and every action has the potential to shape how you will be living life in years to come. The beauty of life is that it’s never too late to wipe the slate clean and begin writing a new chapter of your life.