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It is the human way to not quite get it the first time.
Or the second, third, or fourth time, for that matter.
Why is it that we must come to the same conclusions over and over again? Will any of us ever relearn enough life lessons to actually make changes or finally think differently?
There are some themes that rise to the surface repeatedly—realizations we need to remember:
1. Less is more. Always. We purge, we buy. We buy some more, then we purge again. We declare to the world that we will live as minimalists, and we try to let go of what doesn’t serve us, yet the lure of shiny, new “things” keeps us coming back for more. Why can’t we learn to just say no to excess stuff?
2. Money solves (almost) nothing. Most of us think money will solve some of our problems. It certainly solves our care and keeping issues, such as food on our tables and roofs over our heads. But once our basic needs are met, money doesn’t do a whole heck of a lot except “enhance” our lifestyle with material clutter. Having extra things doesn’t solve depression, or a lack of motivation.
We can’t buy our way into a lasting relationship. Money doesn’t alleviate waning passion and it doesn’t feed our creativity. It may make us feel secure, but it can’t be exchanged for happiness.
3. No other person will ever love us better or more than we love ourselves. And we shouldn’t expect them to. We live in our own bodies and minds. We are born alone, and we die alone. It is important to cultivate a quality relationship with our true self because it’s the only one that lasts from birth to death. Prioritizing emotional and physical self-care is the key to prosperity, but we must be reminded to do so.
4. We cannot fix other people. We think we can, but we can’t. We may love them above and beyond. We may push them to get treatment, or make them aware of unhealthy patterns and choices. We may choose to stay, or we can leave, but neither action will fix a broken person. People “projects” are total energy sappers.
5. Being blunt is always better than being passive-aggressive. Even if it hurts a little. Being direct is the respectful way to communicate, because it doesn’t waste anyone’s time. Making people guess how we’re feeling is selfish. It’s better to rip the Band-Aid off clean than to slowly and painfully peel it.
6. If you eat sh*t, you will feel like sh*t, and then you will look like sh*t (eventually). Why must we learn this one over and over again? Crap goes in, crap comes out. Of course, we all want the unhealthy stuff occasionally, but if we are consistent with clean eating habits, other habits like getting enough sleep and exercise tend to fall into line.
7. Art, in every form, matters. Expression matters. Being “moved” by art leads us in new directions. It sets the stage for new perspectives. To indifferently walk by an artist busking in the street, sharing his talent and spirit with all who pass by, is to dismiss humanity. Edgy, interesting, ugly, beautiful, unique—art matters because it feeds human emotion. Appreciating creative expression is a mindful practice.
8. Lies are poison. Lies do not serve anyone in the long run, the short run, or anywhere in between. Something we seemingly need to learn throughout our lifetime is that the truth is our most valuable resource. And if we live it, we can teach it too.
“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” ~ Winston Churchill
9. Truth requires courage. Telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth is the scariest, bravest thing we ever do throughout our lives. It doesn’t matter if our truth is big or small. When we are truthful with ourselves and others, we live authentically, and with integrity.
Amy Schumer said something in one of her bits about her husband being on the autism spectrum and the fact that he cannot lie, ever, about anything. He simply blurts out the truth, and that’s what she finds most endearing about him. Truth is a powerful lesson, and we realize it repeatedly.
10. Our soul stays hungry unless we feed it. Hungry for adventure and experiences. Hungry for enlightenment and peace. For savoring the present moments and not dwelling on the past or pining for the future. What we outwardly crave the most is vitality and connection, and learning to feed our hunger again and again fuels what we clearly seek as human beings: happiness.
11. We don’t need a bathing suit to go swimming. In other words, we don’t need much at all to do the things we love or want to try. We don’t need special equipment or boots to go for a hike. We don’t need music or candles to enjoy some yoga. And we don’t need to go out for fancy dinners to catch up with friends. Waiting for moments of perfect timing and/or having everything we need in order to do what we want is a waste. The clock keeps ticking, and we don’t get to turn it back.
Can you name a few lessons you’ve learned again and again throughout your lifetime? The enlightenment we seek is often found in the realizations that rise repeatedly, right in front of us.
We would all be a bit wiser (and perhaps happier too!) to commit some of them to heart and memory.