Retrospective Wisdom and What I Have Learned
1) Gratitude is an instant happiness trick
When we focus on what we do have in life and what is good, negativity does a disappearing act. Default mode tends to be to focus on what we don’t have but when you realise that all through your life there will be constant additions to the “Still need/want to get” list, you start to chill and become more satisfied with what you do have. Don’t get caught up in the cycle of always wanting more-it leads to more unhappiness than contentment.
2) Attitude determines altitude
Be aware of what you are focusing on. If your attitude is one of cynicism and mistrust you will be far more likely to be miserable. Sure, we all have cynicism and mistrust within us but place them in context. See the world in a balanced way and adopt a “can do” attitude. As Henry Ford stated – “Whether you believe you can or you can’t, you are probably right”.
3) Happiness is a choice
This one can be harder to maintain but we do choose what we wish to focus on. I choose whether to look at everything that is going wrong and ‘catastrophise’ about the awful things that go on in the world, or I can choose to focus on more balanced thinking and make an effort to keep my chin up. Sometimes it is impossible to feel happy, but just being aware of our choices and focus is a good start and helps empower us.
4) Mistakes help you to learn quicker
Adopt a healthy view of failure. The more mistakes you are making, the more you are trying and living. Those that don’t make mistakes are often the ones who avoid life and they are often miserable too, despite erroneously thinking that avoidance will help them.
5) Mistakes can increase confidence in the long run
The more you get out there and live, the more confident you become in your abilities to cope with life. It’s a no-brainer.
6) Don’t compare
You are on your own life path, it’s not a race. We are all learning and living at our own pace. Compare your progress – where you are now and how far you’ve come. That’s far more useful.
7) There’s no need to be so self conscious – everyone else is too busy worrying about their own perceived defects to notice yours
Learn to be less self conscious. You are probably far more critical of yourself than others are of you.
8) Self belief is the key to success
Qualifications are important but without self belief, you’re far less likely to reach or discover your true potential. Believe in yourself even when others don’t. There are countless stories of talented people not being recognised by others. Self belief is powerful and gives you the edge.
9) Honour your differences instead of trying to fit in with the crowd. Be true to yourself
Be glad that you are unique and different. Why fit in? Stand out – the more you stay true to who you really are, the more others respect you and the more confident you will feel.
10) Life isn’t linear
We are all subject to societal conditioning – go to school, go to uni, get a job, find a partner, get married, have children blah blah…make your own agenda. I have had numerous clients tell me that they got married because eveyone else was getting married and they felt they should. Many of these same people were unhappy in their marriages.
11) Being happy today is key, yesterday and tomorrow aren’t under our control
Enjoy the present moment, it’s all you have.
The more we focus on the present moment, the less the tend to worry and become anxious.
13) Taking personal responsibility is important in order to make changes
If we don’t accept that where we are in life is due to our past decisions, we never really accept responsibility for where we are. Don’t blame others, take full responsibility for your life. When you take this on, you also acknowledge that you are powerful and can make choices.
14) Money and possessions don’t matter nearly as much as people and experiences do
Oxytocin is released when we connect with others – this is the tru source of contentment, not material goods.
15) Worry, as Gabrielle Bernstein has stated, is a prayer for chaos. It gives you something to do but it won’t get you anywhere.
Avoid rumination – going over the same thing without using productive thinking, problem solving.
16) Ask for what you want
Don’t expect others to know what you want. It is your responsibility, and your right, to ask for what you want. Get it out there, express yourself.
17) Don’t take things personally
Often, when people are mean or rude, it says more about them and very often indicates that they are unhappy in themselves.
18) Thoughts are not facts
Don’t believe every thought you have – you will have many millions of them. Become more selective about the thoughts you take seriously.
19) You teach people how to treat you
Whether you are assertive or passive, you are teaching others what you will and won’t accept. Never let consistent bad behaviour from others go unchecked.
20) Never make work your number one priority
Maintain work-life balance. ALWAYS.
21) Maintain a sense of humour. Life doesn’t have to be serious
Be able to stand back and see the bigger picture. I try not to take life too seriously. Have a laugh, see the funny side. Humour can minimise stress in life and it’s free!
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Photo by Neville Wootton Photography