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I guess this is what I am doing: “I write to discover what I know” –  Flannery O’Connor 

Finally, I took a step back and reflected on my thoughts for 2021. Here are the 8 life lessons I’ve learned:

The hard times are the best motivation for self development

Most of the time we suffer when we encounter something that changes our lives drastically. To adapt ourselves to the change or the new reality seems terrific at first glance. However, changes are inevitable, and we don’t have any other choice but to learn how to deal with them.

No doubt the pain we feel is an absolute fact, but we shouldn’t forget that suffering is our choice of reaction. While some people ‘choose’ to feel miserable and helpless in any challenging situation, some people consider it as an opportunity to transform their lives and experience their greatest potential.

I am a big fan of the famous Persian poet Rumi, and he describes the state of suffering as a “wound”.

“A wound is a doorway to a higher state of consciousness, towards enlightenment; it is indeed the very point where ‘light’ can gush into our lives”

I admit this mindset is indeed very difficult to obtain. However, once we obtain this mindset it will enrich our lives and expand our minds.

You cannot control everything

Sometimes we feel like a victim toward the situations that happen to what we don’t even have control over.

Somehow, since the pandemic began, I have immersed myself in my philosophy books, which I had left untouched and dusty on my bookshelf. I become more and more intrigued by the philosophy of stoicism which serves different perspectives on how to perceive our life

One of the famous Stoic philosophers Epictetus wrote:

“Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things not. The chief task in life is simply this: To identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control”

So, concentrating on our strengths and our attitude in dealing with these situations will definitely change our lives for the better.

Stop overthinking everything

“There are more things that frighten us than injure us. We suffer more often in imagination than in reality”-Seneca

Anxiety is a real pain the**. In many cases, the negative chatter is conducted by our imagination, by the voice in our head, which prevents us from being our true, right, and honest selves.

However, that quote above from the world’s most interesting stoic Seneca does remind me that sometimes we underestimate ourselves and overestimate the situation. Don’t you think so?

Don't try to be happy. We're programmed to be dissatisfied

“Don’t try to be happy. We’re programmed to be dissatisfied” – Frank T McAndrew

That hit hard, didn’t it? Well, according to research that I have recently read says that happiness is something that is about to happen. In fact, dopamine increases just before we get what we want and drops right away when we get what we want. 

I feel as if we all get caught up chasing the instant feel-good rush by buying more and more things. We are exposed to the concept of “I will be happy if I get that.” So, each of us has become more and more hungry and unsatisfied individuals. In fact, the world today faces humanity that is more dissatisfied than ever before. 

So, my personal goal was to rid myself of those consumer-focused ads (I mean, you can never completely get rid of them, that’s for sure). I unfollowed many of those influencers telling me that my life could be better if I buy this or that.

Finally, I felt kinda relieved because focusing on the present moment and practicing appreciation makes life easier, happier, and healthier. 

Let go of negative people

Among all the self-development quotes I read so far, none  of them impacted my life more than this: “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with” – Jim Rohn

The people we surround ourselves with determine the way we are perceiving the world and ourselves. You are very likely to think and behave like them at a certain point.

“According to research by social psychologist Dr. David McClelland of Harvard, [the people you habitually associate with] determine as much as 95 percent of your success or failure in life.” That’s a big percentage.

Therefore, I try to be more conscious of who I surround myself with. In some cases, people literally choose to be unhappy, helpless, and depressed which causes you to feel exactly the same. One of the best things to do for ourselves is to allow people to let go and free ourselves.

Never take things for granted

“The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world, and never forget the drops of oil in the spoon.” – The Alchemist

Again, we always think that things that are about to happen will bring joy and happiness. We have this tendency of thinking the future will be better than our present.

The world is full of wondrous things, which we generally overlook or unconsciously ignore. Most of the time we start recognizing and valuing things, once we lose them. That’s why I am practicing to be more and more present and enjoying the actual moment. Otherwise, moments just keep passing by, right? 

Conscious media consumption

We are constantly invaded either by the news that gives this certain illusion of everything in this world is going tremendously bad and you are in the midst of chaos, or either we get lost in this loop of social media thinking everyone’s life rocks and you clearly fall behind in life.

Well… I’ve been there. I didn’t know how constantly being exposed to invasive ads could harm my mental health. One thing is for certain, we all need to be conscious of the information we consume. 

So, I decided to diligently cut the excess distractions of my life which later helped me focus on things that really matter and on what really makes me happy. 

There is no such thing as a perfect time

It has always been my dream to have a blog where I could freely express my thoughts. I had trouble deciding when it would be the best time to launch my website or start posting on my new social media accounts.  To get started, I was so hesitant, as if the right moment had not yet arrived. Another quote from one of my favorite female authors:  

“A plan executed imperfectly now is better than a plan executed meticulously never” – Elizabeth Gilbert

The truth is, whether we want to admit it or not,  there is no perfect moment to start something new. You know what, that moment never arrives! At the end of the day, you are going to be the one who decides for yourself that the time is right, without depending on the outside circumstances. 

Curious to hear what are your lessons learned from 2021? Feel free to comment below.