For some of us, every day feels like a ladder. We start at the bottom— wondering how we’ll ever get there. We don’t even know what there means. The ladder just goes up, into darkness. We don’t see the top, just the floor beneath us. If we’re not careful, we can forget the most important truths.
For starters, there is no top. And no bottom, either.
We don’t want to do anything until we actually start doing it. We don’t want to climb out of bed, until we do —following that familiar pull into the bathroom. We don’t want to make coffee until we smell it in the air. Even if you don’t dwell in this state, you’ve driven through it.
Everyone goes through the motions a few times in their lives, thinking there’s something wrong with them. Maybe there’s not. Maybe we just forgot how to live, and need a masterclass in the basics.
1. Love what makes you different
Some of us came into the world with nonstandard hardware — brains and bodies that don’t conform. We hardly ever think about how normal became normal. Worse, we missed the memo that upgraded normal to completely perfect. Then we did one of two things: we killed ourselves to conform; or we just accepted outsider status and let the bold, beautiful, fake-tanned, or just plain loud have our lunch. But abnormal is the real normal. Nobody can live up to the standards we’ve set, or even our own reputation sometimes. Anyone who seems normal (or perfect) is just pretending. Don’t let their fake normal trick you into wanting less. What makes you weird or different could be something to show off, to take pride in.
2. Go through the motions, if you have to
Life is full of things that we’d rather not do. It’s full of chances we don’t want to take, vacations we don’t want to go on, parties we don’t want to attend, dinners we want to skip, and busywork we wish we could shovel onto someone else. Sometimes you just have to force yourself out the door, because that’s where your life awaits — not your phone, not some game, not another hour of Netflix. All of this can wait. Your life waits for you in the very motions you’re trying to avoid, because you think they’re all supposed to light you up with a warm glow. Sometimes you’ll sit in dread of that meeting you think is going to be pointless. Go there anyway, and volunteer for something that sounds halfway important.
3. Think about yesterday for a minute
If today feels impossible, think about yesterday, or last week. Something turned out better than you expected. You stashed your snark and pessimism in a locker, for just a couple of hours — and you had a good time. You did all the chores that were piling up, then you got to relax. You did one thing you’d been putting off for weeks, and relief washed over you. You aired out your foul mood by going through the motions and then got to work on your passion, and the outcome was beautiful. See, you know how to live. You know that sometimes it’s not fireworks and champagne.
4. Chase the answers you don’t want to hear
Nothing in life comes without risk. We know that, and yet we fear nothing like an injury to our egos. Half the time, we’re not even scared of rejection — just how we’ll react. We’re worried we’ll lose our tempers, our steam, or just our self-esteem. But you can’t live your life hiding from answers you don’t want to hear. Those answers are the ones you need most. Those are the ones you should be chasing after.
5. Always go after what you want
Few things make us feel as good — as alive — as going after what we want. You can call it the zone, or a flow state, or peak performance, or whatever else you want. These are the moments when you let go of all your expectations and fears. You’re just doing in the present moment. You’re drawing on all your skills, and it’s the closest we ever get to true flight. It’s the headspace most artists and entrepreneurs live for. Every successful person spends their time warming up and cooling down for the next one. So can you.
6. Exorcise your phantom dreams
What we wanted as kids isn’t what we wanted as teenagers. And what we wanted in our 20s isn’t what we want now — not really. Some of us think turning 25 cemented our status as mature adults, simply because that’s when our brains stopped developing. We keep trying to satisfy that 20-something, achieving all the dreams that brain contained, including leftovers from the 8-year-old boy who wanted to be an astronaut, or the 9-year-old girl who wanted to be an Olympic gymnast. Dreams are healthy, but phantom dreams will do nothing but haunt you, until you yourself become a ghost. Maybe it’s time to perform an exorcism on yourself.
7. Put your friends and loved ones first when it matters
No single person should live at the center of your universe, not even you. All of us orbit a sun. We have 12 months out of every orbit, and 24 hours out of every globe spin. Some of them belong to you — for whatever you want. A meaningful life by definition means you spend some of those hours on other people. That’s what makes a friendship, a business partnership, a marriage, and a family. Otherwise, you’re just meaningful to yourself. Another term for that is first-degree narcissism.
8. Quit anything that makes you unhappy
It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about a job, a relationship, or a subscription. We only stay mired in what makes us unhappy because we think we can’t do any better. Fear of unemployment, or loneliness, doesn’t qualify as a valid reason to keep doing something that shrivels your soul. This doesn’t make us smart. We’ve just confused life preservers and anchors. There’s lots of jobs, and lots of people on the planet. It’s not always about trading up for a higher salary, or a prettier face. It’s about finding something or someone you enjoy, that you look forward to every day.
9. Give up on universal approval
Right now, someone out there is thinking about you, and how much they can’t stand you. But most people aren’t. A handful of trolls will hate you for the exact same reasons someone else loves you. Your own parents might cringe at some of your quirks. You’re not going to sell yourself to everyone. You’re not going to win over all your critics. In your weakest moments, you’ll find yourself brooding over an insult — or pining for a seal of approval on the assumption it means something. Truth is, some people just aren’t worth it, and gaining their support means pawning off a part of yourself that’s too valuable to let go.
10. Make consistent, daily efforts
Overnight success is a dangerous lie. Nobody who actually earned it rushes into their skill, fame, or fortune. You didn’t hear about someone until yesterday, but what they built took years — out of the public eye. For the few who do luck into dreams, they don’t stay there long.
11. Think beyond happily ever after
You’re not a book. You don’t have a last page that says, “The End.” You have more of an expiration date — a day you’ll go sour. You might satisfy all your ambitions well before that day. Then what? You have to keep living. You have to find new targets on the horizon. They don’t always have to be selfish ones. You could devote yourself to a cause. None of us simply live to satisfy our own wants and whims. We live for each other.
12. Learn your own blind spots
As it turns out, we think we’re most right when we’re most wrong. We make our worse decisions when we’re angry, but also when we’re euphoric. We all fool ourselves. We give into biases and prejudices. On any given day, we think we’re doing better or worse than we actually are. The antidote to this plight? Plain self-awareness. You can build it in a diary, a journal, through meditation, in therapy sessions, or just by calling that friend you know will always tell the truth. You can write down a list of your own personal fallacies, and stick them on a wall.
13. Save yourself from dumb mistakes
A gremlin lives in our brains, a little monster that just can’t help but screw everything up. That’s why we don’t buy an external hard drive, even if we know we need one. We leave for work five minutes later than we know we should. We make that bad joke on a first date, despite our better judgment. We don’t pack for a big trip until the night before. Why? A part of us just wants to see what we can get away with. It wants to insist that simple habits don’t matter — because it doesn’t want to believe that a good life is that easy. This part doesn’t want to give a killer job interview. It wants to see if we can get hammered the night before, and somehow survive. So, learn to call yourself out a little. It makes a difference.
14. Focus on what you can control
There’s always a hundred what ifs waiting to take you down. They’ll swarm, blinding you to everything — including what you actually have power over. You can’t predict much of anything. Even our best friends surprise us, and not always in a good way. We can’t make anyone do exactly what we want, how we imagined them doing it. On the best days, we struggle just to hold our own elected officials accountable. We see unfairness and injustice everywhere, on global and deeply personal levels. Beneath all of this lies how you react to it, how you perceive it, and what you can actually do about it. Pretending to have control over something you don’t, or obsessing over it, only leads to epic misery. The more honest you are about all of this, the better. Besides, managing your own house is plenty of work.
15. Remove debris from you life
Maybe your life recently exploded, or it’s about to. Maybe you even lit the fuse yourself— you needed to for some reason. Maybe your life just caved in quietly over years and years of neglect, until a fatal collapse. Now there’s rubble, and you have to deal with it. You can’t rebuild until it’s gone. So stop crying, and pick up a shovel. Clean yourself out, from your closet to every chamber of your heart. Anything can count as debris — a sweatshirt from college, a friendship, or a promise you can’t deliver on. Getting rid of these things might hurt, but not as much as looking at them every day. Our lives are a series of controlled demolitions. You have to knock down worn out parts of yourself, so you can keep growing.
16. Learn how to say nothing
Nothing is what you say to someone after everything else. It’s what you say to someone who never listens, or never hears. We waste endless hours on the same old arguments with the same people, raising the same complaints at meetings, and making the same overtures to friends who see us as expendable. You don’t have to keep fighting and struggling for their attention. You can move on. You can let silence do all the hard work.
17. Learn how to do nothing
Nothing is what you do after exhausting every possibility. It’s the hardest decision. We’re built for doing. We want immediate action. We want closure. We want resolution. But sometimes, you can’t do anything just yet. The closure will come — just not today, or tomorrow. Patience means you have to sit in the waiting room of your boldest ambitions and deepest desires. It’s the cold creature comfort of a space between trying and giving up. Patience doesn’t feel good. It’s not passive. It’s a mental workout.
18. But don’t wait around forever
You can wait on anyone and anything for as long as you want — but probably not too long. Maybe the person or thing you want most in the entire world isn’t coming, or barely knows you exist. You don’t have to grandstand or give a speech. You can just get up quietly and leave. You can pick from thousands of other people and opportunities out there, who might show you a little pinch more of the respect you deserve.
19. Keep yourself in check
We all feel like shit some days. We all think nothing is going our way. Someone slights us, or cuts us off in traffic, or misspells our name on our five-dollar cappuccino. A friend shares big news about a promotion, reminding us that we haven’t gotten a raise in three years. There’s nothing wrong with feeling overlooked or under-valued. What you do about it, that’s what matters. It doesn’t always mean you have to burrow down and work even harder. It doesn’t mean you have to throw your friend a party. All you have to do is keep yourself in check. All you have to do is not flip off that bad driver. All you have to do is smile and tell your friend congratulations, without any passive-aggressive asides. All you have to do is tell the barista thanks and enjoy your drink, without correcting the mistake. You keep yourself in check because, while these things may irritate you, they don’t matter. Overreacting will just turn you into a meme.
20. Draw your own lines
Most of our decisions happen in the fog between laws and sins. Nobody can decide for you what’s right or wrong. Nobody knows whether it’s okay to cheat on your fiance, or quit your job even though you have a family to support, or whether you should’ve been there for a friend. Plenty of people will pretend to know what you should do, and even more will tell you what you should’ve done. Everyone considers themselves an excellent judge of character, and we all think we’re right — even when we do terrible things. True remorse is a small miracle. Thing is, nobody is you. Nobody has lived through or seen what you have. So barring big no-nos like murder and fraud, develop your own ethics. Don’t give anyone the pleasure of judging your actions without wearing your skin.
21. Always try to outdo yourself
Sure, you’re fine the way you are. But you can also become better. You don’t need to imagine a perfect, unattainable self. You just need to imagine a you that knows a little more than today, a you that manages their emotions a little better. Just pick one thing you can improve on, and then concentrate on that. You inch forward in life. You climb one rung at a time. When you feel tired, or jaded, remember how many inches or rungs you’ve come so far. Don’t worry about the ones ahead. You don’t know where the top is. You’ll never reach it, and that’s probably a good thing.
» Source » By Jessica Wildfire