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7 Life Rules to Live By
“It’s complicated” has been the descriptive du jour – applicable to relationships, religion, politics, and life in general – since social networking exploded on the web. The dilemma of the moment is that we are increasingly leading complicated lives, despite or because of the proliferation of products and services supposedly geared towards making tasks easier, faster, better. This has resulted in the drive to “simplify” one’s life – an ongoing trend since the 1990s – relative to one’s personality, aspirations, and obligations. If you are feeling overwhelmed, and suspect that there is something missing or not quite right, the trick is to take responsibility for your life and believe that you can change it to suit your needs. The following “life rules” may be helpful in relearning what it means to live and not just simply survive.
1. Know what you want, not what others say you should want.
The first step to a fulfilled life is to know what you want, not just what is expected of you: not what your parents say you want; not what your friends want for themselves and for you; not what the advertisers and marketers try to convince you to want. Ask yourself: Am I spending most of my day doing something I love and enjoy? Do I have time for the people I love? When was the last time I felt happy – and how long did it last? Do I have enough for my needs – how much is enough? What are my priorities – and do I give enough importance to the things that make me feel happy, contented and impassioned?
2. Manage the clutter.
We live in an acquisitive, consumerist society. Do you buy more than what you need? Have you ever gone to the store and ended up buying more than you had budgeted for, outside your list? Have you ever wondered at the clutter in your house: items that have sentimental value, or stored items “for sorting later,” or objects that“may come in handy someday”? Minimize the clutter. Replace sentiment with practicality, sell or donate items that you have no current use for, or dispose of objects that no longer have any functionality. Throw out something every time you bring in something new. Make it a point to go over your stash, and create space for something new. Create space, simply because it allows you to breathe and feel unencumbered.
3. Learn how to say no.
“No” is just as powerful a word as “Yes.” “No” is most useful when you need to put your needs first before agreeing to something that would take you away from your life’s pursuit. Choose to say “no” when it means not sacrificing something important to you or to someone whom you love. Judge when to say a qualified “no” such as “I cannot accept more work right now, but perhaps next week when my schedule frees up,” or “I’m sorry I can’t make lunch today because I’m taking my daughter out, but perhaps on another day? I’ll call you.” However, also learn how to say no, no explanations owed, simply because it is the best decision that you can make for yourself. “No” also means taking control of your life.
4. Relationships take work.
Accept that you have to make the time and effort to make relationships work.There will always be a challenging time; be kind. However, investing in a relationship is rewarding in terms of reciprocated love, loyalty, and care. Love when it makes you a better person. Maintain friendships, particularly those proven through time, and be open. Learn how to be a good listener. Show appreciation.
5. Learn how to forgive.
Forgiveness means letting go of pain, whereas holding a grudge means keeping the pain inside you. Forgiveness is healing; carrying a grudge will burden you and keep you from moving forward.
6. Be mindful of work-life balance.
“Balance” and “equilibrium” are preconditions for thriving. You may apply this principle in terms of your work and your personal life, but it can also be used for dichotomies such as “me time” and “we time (for your spouse, children, professional and social circle).” Keep yourself balanced and you will not fall – or fail.
7. Create time for meditation.
Time for contemplation is just as important as time for action. We sometimes forget that we need to take a breath, take a pause, embrace serenity while reflecting on life. Meditation manages stress and fear, and eases tension and anxiety. In doing so, we avoid a spiritual and emotional crisis. Meditation is also an exercise in observation and mindfulness, a self-analysis of what is a viable course of action to take. This could prevent us from making mistakes later on; it also ensures that we learn from our mistakes. It is good to experience the moment, and meditation can also lead us to a deeper appreciation of the now. Meditation grounds us, it anchors us, it helps us through a shift of priorities and life-changing events.