I could probably write 100 life lessons but, I’ll save that for my future book! I love learning about myself, about others and about this thing we call life. And, I love teaching and sharing my lessons with anyone who’ll listen. If you’re up for listening, without further ado, let’s get on to my top six life lessons:
1. Your childhood determines your adulthood
What’s between your ears (your brain, in case you’re wondering!) was 90% formed by the time you were 5 years old. Whilst genetics helped it along in its growth, it largely developed in response to the environment. This means, the first few years of your life were massively influential in the life you experience now, as an adult.
Whilst neuroplasticity means the brain continues to change, creating major, self directed change of your psychology and thus your emotions and behaviour, tends to require conscious effort. The reality is that most people don’t put that effort in. They are simply running off childhood patterns – we all are to varying degrees, I’m not sure it’s totally escapable.
If you’re seeking to become more self-aware and develop yourself and your life, always start with reviewing your childhood. Some things to consider are:
- The quality of your childhood relationships: Children who experience abandonment, neglect, parental divorce, continued movement around foster homes etc. are likely to have impaired attachment relationships which in turn, impact their ability to form healthy adult relationships.
- The emotional connection and nurture you received from adults: Your ability to regulate your own emotions as an adult is based on how they were handled in childhood.
- Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs[i]): Experiencing these impact your psychological conditioning and affect your adult life, particularly if they induced trauma.
The map is not the territory. Your childhood mind created a map of the world based on what it experienced. My experience is that the territory of the world is much greater and better than my map. As an adult, I can explore new territory and change my map. So can you.
2. Seek inspiration not motivation
Much of mainstream personal development content promotes motivation. Motivation is when you need pushing towards something from outside. In my experience and observation, this either doesn’t work at all, only works for a short time before relapse, produces a painful and unenjoyable process and, produces mediocre results. New Year Resolutions are a prime example of this.
Inspiration however – the origins of the word denoting ‘breathe life into’ – comes from within. Your inner driving force towards something is much greater than anything pushing you from outside. If I stood next to you and pushed you, your natural response would be to resist. But, if I asked you to move, you’d go freely and easily.
All the successful people I’ve studied from the likes of Oprah, to Elon Musk and Warren Buffet, have followed their inspiration. Some tips on finding and maintaining inspiration:
- Live to your values: Each of us has a unique set of values and living in accordance with these is key to happiness, wellbeing, success and resilience. The free Value Determination tool on Dr John Demartini’s website is a great way to help you understand your values. A simple way to increase self-awareness around your values is to notice when you find yourself saying ‘I should’ or ‘I must’ do something. You’re likely trying to motivate yourself towards an extrinsic value. Contrarily, ‘I want’ or ‘I’d love’ to, indicates you’re inspired to deliver on what is intrinsically valuable to you.
- Find your flow: My favourite state to be in is flow, which usually comes when I’m creating personal development content, teaching or having expansive conversations about life. I lose track of time, I forget to eat and drink or go to the loo! It’s a sure sign of inspiration.
- Use your strengths: Similar to values, we all have our strengths. Those who are happiest and most successful tend to know what theirs are and focus on them, rather than worrying about or trying to improve their weaknesses.
- A simple litmus test: If it’s not a ‘hell yeah!’ it’s a ‘no’. Whenever you’re making a decision, big or small, if you’re thinking ‘maybe’, ‘I could do’, or any kind of mediocre response, take it as a no. Put it down and move on.
3. Trust the timing and the process of your life
Steve Jobs is a bit of a controversial figure if you know what his was like in the workplace but, I can’t deny this wisdom he shared: it’s only when looking back on life that you can connect the dots. These words sing to my soul.
Everything I’ve experienced makes sense when I look back. The hardest times ended up leading to the greatest gifts and lessons and, the right things always happened when I was truly ready for them. Everything has its place and purpose, you just can’t always see it at the time.
At 35 years old, I can see 35 years of evidence of the dots connecting in my life. For me, that’s enough to convince me that they will connect just as beautifully in my future years. So, I can relax. At least a little!
4. There is no ‘right’ way to develop yourself
When I teach my resilience model, I cover 5 aspects: the environment around you, your thoughts, your feelings, your behaviour and your core self/ soul. This is because firstly, we are multidimensional beings – therefore so is my training and secondly, there is no one size fits all. Some people are drawn to psychological work, others want to get spiritual. A person may want to work on their behaviours but later, they may be inspired to dive into their emotions. We’re all on a unique path. There is no one way or, right way to do this.
The litmus test for me is, whenever you receive personal development information ask yourself: does it make you feel empowered or disempowered? Always go with what empowers you, leave the rest.
5. Don’t stop having desires but do evaluate what you’re desiring
One of my favourite spiritual teachers Sadhguru, said something that totally flipped a mainstream self-help teaching on its head and, resonated with a deeper truth I had always felt. A lot of mainstream thought says that our desires are the source of our misery, if we could just stop wanting stuff then we’d be much happier. But, Sadhguru asks: what would happen if you didn’t desire anything at all? Nothing at all. Not even food. Or water. Or breath. Clearly, without any desire, you’d die! To desire IS life. It’s totally natural and necessary.
However, there’s an important distinction that many of us miss. The true desire of human consciousness is for our soul to expand, to become boundless, to experience its limitless nature. Somehow, instead of expanding our souls, we decided to look for material expansion. We want stuff in our life and we want knowledge in our brains. But, by their very nature, these both have boundaries. Therefore, they will never satisfy our true desire, which is to be limitless.
The desire is perfect, it’s the method that has gone awry. A spiritual journey is the only cure here.
6. Above all else, trust yourself
Most of my woes have been caused by putting other people’s opinions and advice above my own or, ignoring my own inner wisdom. This was a major lesson I learned in the first two years of my entrepreneurial journey. I started with a very clear, inspired vision of what I wanted to create in terms of teaching personal development. However, I soon got lost as I looked to other people to tell me how to do it, and what to do. I’m not saying we shouldn’t learn from others, I wouldn’t be where I am if I had not benefited from other people’s knowledge and wisdom. But, when it comes to living your life, only you know what’s best and you have to trust that. How do we do this?
· As above, follow your inspirations, values and strengths. These come from within and are authentic to you. They won’t mislead you.
· Follow your intuition. I call intuition ‘the thought before the thought’. It’s that sense of knowing that you get instantaneously. It may not be logical, it may not come with a big plan or lots of details, it may not be something you can explain with words – it’s just something you know. Whatever it is, sense it. And trust it.
I hope at least one of these has resonated with you. I’d love to hear your top life lessons, do share them in the comments below.
About the author: Pinky Jangra
‘We Are The Positive Psychology People’
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