I’ve seen a few friends writing about their past year lately. A lot of them have written about how many parties they managed to attend, what countries they visited, the new car they bought or were given. It all seems shamefully shallow. I thought I’d give you a review of my year, but not from a work perspective, more from what I learnt from the situations I found myself in.
I’ve never been the type of person to go on leave at the end of the year and spend my energy and money trying to get into parties or finding parking at the beach. Its always been a time to reflect, get some down time, some alone time and gain understanding and acceptance as to what I’ve been through during the past year. So, here are 5 things I learned and have reflected on:
# 1. Life Isn’t Fair
One of the biggest lessons I learnt this year: Life just isn’t fair. No matter how much you push, how hard you work, or how nice you are to people in your personal or working life, there will always be something that happens to throw you off course and put you down. Sometimes its when you least expect it. Sometimes its when you know for sure that you’re going to get the thing that you’ve worked for…and then you don’t.
What I’ve learnt is not how to feel better about life being unfair, but simply just accept that it is. I am but one person in a world of billions. I have very little power over fate, destiny, plans, whatever you want to call it. The only element of control I have is to accept my situation.
# 2. People Are Fickle
This has always been a sensitive topic to me. This year I found myself in a few situations where people were just so unreasonable due to their own selfishness and greed. No empathy whatsoever. All they were concerned about, was how they would fare in the situation (be it good or bad). I’ve seen a lot of people say on blogs: “Look after yourself first”, “Do what you want, always” – yes, there’s a certain level of truth in these statements. But, you have a responsibility to others as well. Its fine to do what you want and when you want to do it, but for the most part, you’ll just come across looking like a giant asshole if you consistently put yourself before everyone else.
It took me some time to get my mind past this one. Sometimes you have to look at yourself. Harshly. Did I ever act the way Im describing above? Without a doubt, yes. If you asked yourself the same question and removed your ego – you’d probably come across a similar answer. The reflection here is that none of us are perfect. But we shouldn’t take people actions against us so seriously. The greatest gift in life, above happiness, wealth and even love – is to realise that every person you look at is no different to you. They all have problems, insecurities, bad points, good points. Don’t judge them on their actions especially if you are guilty of the same action. More importantly, if they treat you that way, remember what I’ve said and behave with understanding. You don’t have to like it, or agree with it, and unless they do something mortally wounding to you, walk away or continue to be in their lives, but still do it with empathy and understanding.
# 3. Don’t Buy Into Peoples Beliefs, And Don’t Force Yours on Others
Don’t let people dictate to you their beliefs. I have a few friends on Facebook that post a lot about Christianity or they boil everything down religion. When you ask them for advice with something you struggle with, they bring it back to God or their religion. I’ve often thought this was so invasive, sometimes I’m even offended. Theres a clash of belief happening. You simply do not agree or for the most part its not that you do not understand the religion or the morals of the stories, its that you don’t understand the person. Thats okay and it must be left at that. Always.
Ive realised that for whatever you choose to believe in, thats your right and yours alone. I may not be as religious as I once was, life and experiences have pushed me in another direction, to be more spiritual, seek enlightenment, understanding and find acceptance in the modern day world. Thats also okay. Its exactly the same for the other person that believes in another religion or path. Maybe they don’t believe in anything, again its not your right to challenge it. It works both ways.
# 4. You Live Life Once
This old philosophy seems to be creeping up more and more with people. The world we live in has become very “easy” by which I mean, we no longer have to take a set path – we can go work on yachts, travel overseas, blog and earn an income and so much more. Hell, there are people earning a living from selling coupons. There are so many opportunities waiting to be taken up, that young people really don’t have a clue what to do, whats the right path to take or how it will effect their future. Its damn scary. So, many escape – they go find the adventure they want by working oversea’s or they totally reject the conforms of modern day society.
The truth is, there is no right path. Society outlines a right path, so do your parents or mentors, but its whats right for you at the end of the day. Unfortunately, you don’t know what the right path is until you’ve travelled the wrong path – which is unfortunate. This is where many people drop off – life becomes about having as much fun as possible. If you look at Buddhist principles – its explained that the essence of having a life is suffering. We suffer. Everyday. By avoiding, ignoring or even trying to escape that simple truth by surrounding ourselves with material things or people, drinking, ignoring our health, and buying into the invincibility syndrome we just cause more suffering for ourselves and for others. Its a giant concept to understand, and I only really came across it when I was visiting Thailand earlier this year and speaking to Buddhists. Face the suffering. Learn how to live with it, not ignore it. Going out and partying every night doing drugs and drinking is not fun, its really just another form of suffering that you have managed to add to your collection.
# 5. Take Advice
I’ve always considered myself to be a well-rounded, grounded individual. I am a web developer after all. I look at problems holistically and find a well-rounded solution that check’s all the boxes. I’ve come to apply that concept to my life as well. When I come across situations that I have little to no experience I look to my elders. Having humility is an invaluable trait. Don’t make decisions with so much impatience. If you’re young, you’ll want to buy the first thing you come across, but speak to someone whose done what you’re doing before, even a few times before, and you will start uncovering the real value of experience which you couldn’t possibly get anywhere else.
You don’t know everything about everything. In fact, depending on how old you are, you probably know very little. The reasons why so many ancient civilisations survived and came to great power was the handing down of knowledge through village or city elders. Today, we have modern elders. Your parents or grandparents / family / mentors. They are a wealth of knowledge. Chances are they have been through what you are going through, they’ve felt the impatience, and (maybe) there was someone there to advise them. They are just returning the favour. Be patient. Collect the information and make an informed decision about what you’re doing.
Those were my lessons for the year! 2015 wasn’t the best year for a lot of people. Friends and family became ill or passed on. Finances got tighter, life became harder, terrorism gained a major point in the wrong direction. Make 2016 count for something.