“Everything has been figured out, except how to live.”
“Promise me that you will live and love to the point of tears. That you will do something every day that moves you. That you will become an expert at what truly matters,” my grandmother said to me just a few days before she passed.
Although she never clarified, specifically, what she wanted me to be an expert at, this advice has always stuck with me. And over the years I’ve learned that, at the very least, it includes the following:
1. Being unapologetically YOU.
To imitate others is to never truly live. It’s like YOU never existed.
From now on, forget about what everyone else is doing. Forget about what kind of person you think they want you to be and just be the most authentic version of the person you are. Let who you are and what you believe shine through in every word you speak and every move you make.
Figure out which people you genuinely like, instead of which ones you want to like you. Hang out with people you think are cool, instead of those you’d like to be considered cool by. Get to know people by telling your own true stories and listening to theirs. Do things because they interest you, not because you think they make you look interesting to someone else. (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the Self-Love chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
2. Living through love.
Every human thought, word and deed is based on fear or love. Fear is an inner energy that contracts, closes down, draws in, hides, hoards and harms. When you live through fear, you pull back from life.
Love is an inner energy that expands, opens up, sends out, reveals, shares and heals. When you live through love, you open to all that life has to offer with passion and acceptance.
Love is risky. Love is unsafe. Love isn’t for the faint of heart. Love takes courage. And most importantly, love and fear can’t coexist. Love means giving life the opportunity to break your heart, but knowing that there are far better things ahead than anything you’ve left behind. (Read Daring Greatly.)
3. Learning from mistakes.
Mistakes are part of life’s natural course. Everyone makes mistakes; you are not immune. The only question is: Do you want them to help you or hurt you? This decision is one of primary factors that defines your character.
If you lie about having made a mistake, then it can’t be corrected and it festers. On the other hand, if you give up just because you made a mistake, even a big one, you will never get anywhere worth going in life.
Successful people learn from their mistakes. By doing so, an error becomes the raw material out of which all future successes are invented. Failure is not a crime. The failure to learn from failure is. Ultimately, mistakes are the price you pay for a full, rewarding life.
4. Forgiving your past.
The practice of forgiveness is your most important contribution to the healing of YOUR world.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean you’re erasing the past, or forgetting what happened. It means you’re letting go of the resentment and pain, and instead choosing to learn from the incident and move on with your life.
You have to forgive. You don’t have to like what happened, you don’t have to cherish the memories, you don’t have to hold on to the people and circumstances involved, but you do have to forgive them, let go, make peace with your past and move on with your present. Because if you don’t, you are strapping all the weight from your past to your back, which is far too heavy to comfortably carry. (Read The How of Happiness.)
5. Creating your own happiness.
As Abraham Lincoln so profoundly said, “We are just about as happy as we make up our minds to be.”
Happiness is the result of personal choice and effort. You fight for happiness, strive for it, switch careers, build relationships, and sometimes even reinvent your lifestyle entirely as you uncover it. Why? Because you have to actively participate in the manifestations of your own joys and good fortunes – they are not ready-made for the taking; they are available for the making.
Ironically, a big part of this is simply doing your very best and then letting go and trusting that things will work out the way they’re supposed to, without trying to control every little detail of the outcome. Instead of expecting to always get what you want, you appreciate the journey enough to want what you get. The joy of the freedom this brings gradually becomes more pleasurable than the outcome itself.
The floor is yours…
What would you add to the list? What truly matters in life? What should we all be proficient at? Please leave a comment below and let us know.
Photo by: Cornelia Kopp