After reading Zainab’s article: “30 Lessons Life Taught Me “, I was excited to write my own take on it. Now, I’m not as brave as she is so I won’t be sharing exactly how old I am. I don’t claim to be the wisest, and I don’t think I’m particularly “mature” (even my wisdom teeth still refuse to come out!). However, as the years pile up, we tend to sober up and learn a thing or two about how things work on this planet. Some of these “tips” I am still learning to master and haven’t gotten there yet. Regardless, I still hope you find what you’re about to read to be somewhat useful.
1.“Be like water, my friend!”*
It’s amazing how much your world can shift when you show less and less resistance. It is such a relief to allow people to be and things to unfold as they are without your intrusion. Expectation is the mother of all disappointment! More often than not, reality can be grand and much more beautiful than the ideals you had in mind; just let it be!
2. Listen more, talk less.
In the age of distraction, people are craving to be heard more than ever. Your full attention is one of the most fulfilling gifts you can give to someone. You already know what you’re going to say, so give others a chance and you’ll understand them better. It’s a win-win situation.
3.Your daily habits shape your life.
You are the result of your routine, so make sure it’s a good one! Take practical steps for turning your dreams into a reality.
I try to do at least a couple of productive things a day that pour into the “goal” category. Do it now! Don’t wait; time goes by faster than you think. Yes, there are times when you need to grind, but I generally try not to overwhelm myself so I don’t burn out.
4.Take good care of your health.
There is no better investment I can think of than taking the time to improve your health. Find an exercise you enjoy (or at least tolerate!), and do it daily. It doesn’t have to be Olympic gymnastics or Cross Fitness, just something you know you can commit to. I personally love dancing! I think it all boils down to the little choices we make in our daily life, like choosing a salad over that croissant, or choosing to walk and sit with good posture over slouching. Oh, and oral health is crucial, too. It is said that the state of your teeth is an honest mirror of your overall health.
5.Keep a journal and make it yours.
“If you think it, ink it!” That’s what my instructor always used to say. Good ideas can easily float away and be forgotten.
I always keep a little notebook and enjoy filling it with my thoughts, sketches, and things I’d like to do; it’s like planting seeds. It’s always wonderful to look at my older notes and see how many of the dreams I fantasized about earlier became a reality today.
6.Sometimes, it’s good to keep your opinions to yourself!
We live in an age where everyone has a very strong opinion about everything without it being necessarily backed up by facts or studies. And you know what? That’s fine, let people express themselves and grow in the process. You don’t have to voice out every single opinion you have; you don’t have anything to prove. Especially if it’s an opposing opinion, you could end up either being labeled a bigot or infidel, or break many friendships. Remember that unfortunately, you are not always right!
7. Reverse psychology really works!
I learned this one from watching my sister deal with her children! People love it when you give them the freedom to choose, even if it’s an illusion.
8. Know thyself.
Who would you be and what would you do if you were completely free from social expectations and pressures? What would you do if the neighbors wouldn’t say anything? Really worth thinking about. You are not your title, nationality, marital status or anything else that society forces you to be. Take the time to know yourself deeper, away from social conditioning.
9.Inspect your motives.
Why do you want what you want? Why does that certain subject upset you so much? Are you trying to impress someone with your behavior? It is really worthwhile to inspect yourself and all those motives that can be hidden even from your conscious self. It can be very uncomfortable to face yourself, and that is why many people repress these motives and blame others. But, I can assure you that it’s a great opportunity for growth.
10. Don’t burn too many bridges.
In a small town like Kuwait, burning bridges makes for very awkward future encounters. Even assuming you don’t live in such a small city, life has a very funny way of uniting you with people you had a conflict with, sometimes even affecting you in getting well-deserved opportunities. Some bridges are meant to be burnt, but it is generally a better idea to leave in peace.
11.Be an asset, not a liability.
Whether you are in a one-on-one relationship or a group, always think to yourself: what can I give? Because let’s face it: human relationships are built on the exchange of services; the good ole’ give and take. If you are always a taker, you will eventually notice your social circle shrinking considerably, because no one wants another liability in their life. P.S: Your giving doesn’t have to be material.
12. Don’t take yourself too seriously. (keep a sense of humor)
I love joking around and spreading joy (I’m way funnier in Arabic, I promise!). Fun, playfulness, and laughter make our days a little more tolerable and build our resilience as well.
13. Take Opportunities. (even if they don’t exactly match what you have in mind)
You’d be surprised to see what doors they could open for you!
14. Be gentle with yourself.
You probably aren’t exactly where you want to be right now, and that’s alright. Try to love yourself regardless. It’s okay to make mistakes, we are not perfect, or else why are we here on this earth?
15. Be gentle with others.
The world needs more compassion and empathy. If you look closely into people’s eyes, you will see that many harbor a lot of pain. Be an oasis to others where they can relax and feel free.
16.Privacy is the best policy.
In the age of over-transparency and over-sharing, it is best to keep your secrets to yourself. You’d be surprised to see how that one thing you said many years ago could come back to haunt you. Yikes!
“I did not blame someone for revealing my secret, because I could not hide it myself”- Imam Ali
17. Filter your input for better output
What do your eyes see every day? What do you listen to? What do you eat? And who do you hang out with? If your input is mediocre, then don’t expect spectacular results. Hanging out with certain people really made me focus on shallow and pitiful matters, while being in the presence of some wonderful friends has encouraged me to read and create a lot more. It’s nice to declutter your social media every now and then, too!
18. Stay in touch with your mother tongue.
Language shapes the way we see the world. If you are lucky enough to live in a multicultural city where you can actively use 2 or more languages, then, by all means, do so. Contribute to your culture by using your language. Imagine a German who barely speaks German, or a French who experiences grave difficulty reading a paragraph in French… it’s not very cool, is it?
19. If you want the truth, then get ready to take it!
If you have people often lie to you, then you might have a hand in that situation. Practice acceptance, even for the things you really don’t like. Create an environment where people can feel safe to open up to you without regretting it later on. Oh, and accept that it is their right not to share a thing with you, even if you provided such space.
20.It’s okay to conceal the truth sometimes.
The truth can be overwhelming to some, and not everyone can take it. It’s naïve to always say the truth, and it’s good to choose the right time to say it, but sometimes the time is never.
21. Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.
..And they can do a lot of harm if not occupied with something worthwhile and nourishing to the soul. I always say that the cause of problems on this planet is two things: lack of love, and too much free time.
22. There are no victims; only volunteers.
It is so much easier and more comfortable to blame others for our pain and misery. And yes, they could be mistaken to an extent, but focusing on their shortcomings and forgetting your own won’t serve you. Study the situation and see how you can prevent it from happening (to begin with) in the future.
23.When conflict arises, try to mend things ASAP.
The longer you wait, the harder things can heal. Do your part and get in touch, provide a sincere apology if needed. But if it’s not working, then give it time, or perhaps just let go.
24. Befriend your pain.
Pain is a wonderful catalyst for growth and inspiration, use painful experiences as fuel. My best works always come after a painful incident, so perhaps it is a blessing in disguise. Don’t deny it; allow yourself the time to grieve, but eventually, move on with your life.
25. Open your heart.
I see so many people living with very rigid and closed off hearts, and I get it; it can be pretty painful, but I doubt it’s any fun to live like that! After painful experiences, allow yourself to recover and be open to life again, but don’t be stupid! Learn from your past mistakes.
26. Trust is earned, not given.
Take all the time you need before deciding to open yourself up to someone, and then take some more. When you finally do open up, do it gradually. Good relationships and friendships could take years to bloom, so no rush.
27. Have a pet.
One of the most magical and intimate connections I’ve ever experienced was with my cat. Having a pet really made me a more patient, nurturing and loving person, and it brought so much joy into my life. They really are better than humans! If you’re planning on getting one, then please adopt, don’t shop!
28. Allow yourself to stray a little!
Don’t be too uptight, you’re not a saint! Every now and then it’s good to cross some red lines and to indulge, experiencing your desires in the flesh… even if it was for a fleeting few minutes. Just don’t blame me for any repercussions! (You’ll develop a good sense for it with practice!!)
29. Play with art.
You don’t even have to be a talented artist to take some brushes and experiment with painting. And you don’t have to be a professional to sing or dance for the fun of it. I think many of us don’t meddle with art because we are so afraid of being ridiculed, but it’s a wonderful way to get in touch with yourself and let loose.
30. Ditch the phone.
…You know you use it way too much. Take a good few hours away from the phone every day, you will regain your creativity and your intuition will sharpen again because you will be more aware of your surroundings.
*Quote by martial arts master, Bruce Lee