I recently looked back at the last two years of my life and contemplated the lessons I've learned. I wasn't bored, wasn't in search for myself, and I wasn't reeling after a defeat; I simply wanted to improve and reflect. I think this is important - to appreciate our wins, losses, new passions, insights, etc. Not reflecting on our lives and experiences is, well, a wasted chance for growth and learning.
At first I was going to jot these lessons down in my diary but then remembered that we are in the age of information sharing and collaboration. So I thought that sharing them here will extend their meaning and benefit beyond my own personal gain and that's a great thing.
So without further adieu, here are some of the more profound things I've learned recently:
Focus on the process and not the outcome
This thought was beautifully summed up by Srikumar Rao. He explains how we fail because we focus our energies on the outcome (the object or circumstance we desire) rather than the process itself. When a child learns to walk, she never focuses on the outcome but solely on the process. Success is then an unthought but very probable outcome.
Failure is a lead not a stop sign
When you hit a wall and things don't turn up the way they were intended, no one is saying to you: "This is where you stop because you failed". If you do, you are reading the wrong information. Failure tells us, "this method and the intended result do not match. Try another method".
Rejection is a booster not a downer
When you get that metaphorical slap in the face (or literal one) after your job application, idea, project, invention or proposal has been rejected, don't waste time feeling bad about it. Stop taking it personally; it's not about you. That slap in the face is a wake-up call for you to pick up your things and keep on moving. Things get rejected every second. So stop the fuss and move on!
Happiness is not the destination but the journey
We think that happiness is a result that comes after having acquired or achieved something we don't have. The problem is that we are creating the wrong model in our mind in which we link happiness to something that is still to come. This brings eternal dissatisfaction not happiness. Happiness is when we accept and enjoy everything as it is. It's about stepping back and enjoying the ride rather than expecting it at your destination point.
Mind vs. Heart = Turbulence, Mind + Heart = Wisdom
Let your heart talk more; it's wiser than you think. You can be as knowledgeable and clever as one can be but if your mind is out of sync with your heart you are losing a lot of energy in internal conflict. Wisdom is really having reached a stage where you balance all your knowledge and intellect with your heart. Purely and simply.
If you want to be creative stop trying to create
Creativity is understanding that sometimes you are not the creator but only the medium of a transcendent creative force, bigger than you or I. This is something I have written about in the past where I compared the creative process to the Yin & Yang duality. It has generative side - the brainstorming & playing with concepts. This takes action and effort. But there is also the receptive part which we very often forget. This is passive, intuitive and entails no action but plain receptivity. If you stop at the generative part of the process you will have an incomplete creative cycle and the more you try the more incomplete it is. so stop trying.
Gratitude is the energy-drink of the soul
Say thank you to the universe every morning. Appreciation and gratitude are instant soul-lifters as angst, contempt and disdain which weigh you down and make you dull. Try it out. Be thankful to at least one thing in your day. It will nudge you into appreciating the delicate equilibrium of life with more depth and perspective.