3 Heartfelt Lessons Life Has Taught Me
Over the past year, I have been on my own a lot. Traveling from one place to another, embracing the freedom that I created, I’ve gotten so deeply in touch with myself — in a way I never have before. I’ve become much more aware of my own consciousness. My ‘me’ time has become a sanctuary to process my thoughts and feelings. I’ve begun to genuinely enjoy solitude again. As the oldest child with a strict mother, I used to really enjoy being alone. I would escape from the negative outside world of noise into my own little world of art, music, thoughts, and dreams. My imagination and dreams were my sanctuaries, my therapy, my meditation, and my best friends. Since I’ve been on the road a lot, I’ve had to navigate my emotions alone, with only my inner voice as a guide. Here’s what I’ve learned about life during this time.
1. Life constantly asks us to close one chapter in order to move onto the next.
It is easier said than done, isn’t it? But in hindsight, every disappointment happened for a reason, whether it’s to push you in a different direction or to encourage you to move on. But the process of letting go is never easy, no matter how many times you’ve gone through it. It hurts. It really hurts — even though you eventually get better at taking control of your emotions. Even though you’ve mastered meditation and filling up your time.
Letting go is never easy, but maybe it is not meant to be easy. But when you close one chapter in order to move onto the next, at least the pain makes you feel alive. A life without pain is probably a life without the feeling of being alive. There is no Yin without Yang. There is no light without darkness. There is no pleasure without pain. Letting go has not gotten easier for me, but at least it’s taught me that I have not lost the ability to be vulnerable. It is only when you allow yourself to become vulnerable that you have a shot at feeling the greatest pleasures in life - though that also means you risk feeling life’s greatest pain. After all, no great creative work has ever been born without pain. Pain makes you feel alive.
2. You can’t control time. But you can choose to understand the virtue of time.
As you go through various phases of life, you might notice that life is about timing. When it comes to the timing in our own lives, we don’t usually feel resistance. But when it comes to the timing in the lives of those we love, feel connected to, and deeply care about, resistance occurs—especially if their timing doesn’t match ours. Suddenly, life doesn’t flow like water anymore. Something feels wrong. Something hurts. Sometimes, you build a strong bond with someone, only to realize later that the bond has to break because you are moving at different paces in life. Suddenly you have to learn to accept again - to accept the virtue of time, to accept that people’s lives are not going to be the same as yours, and to accept that you have to let things go. The key to mastering this is learning to “understand” life’s truth. Because with understanding comes acceptance and unconditional love. With understanding comes the ability to relax and feel more secure.
When life feels painful, focus on “understanding” and the pain will be eased away.
3. You cannot change people. Only they can change themselves.
I’ve never been one to try to change people. Everything I do is to inspire change. For some reason, I seem to have the ability to inspire those around me to become better - through my own actions, energy, and words. But I have learned that if people are not ready to change themselves, no matter how hard you try, they will not be able to truly see themselves in the mirror. We all have egos that prevent us from seeing our weaknesses and flaws. It’s hard to accept that sometimes it’s our own fault that certain things happen - and that we have the power to change that.
I believe that when an unfortunate event occurs, it is important to sit with ourselves and look into our own shadow. Have we behaved in a way that may have caused the event to occur? Have we been too controlling or pushy? Have we been too negative? Have we complained too much? Have we been too selfish or self-absorbed? Have we lost the ability to be understanding and empathetic?
Sometimes we’re so caught up in our own emotions, needs, and insecurities that we forget to realize the impact our actions and words have on others. Sometimes we forget to care about the other person’s needs. What the other person needs might not be what we need. But the best solution is to be understanding and to accept the fact that the other person has different needs. You cannot change people—only they can change themselves. At the same time, you cannot change yourself unless you let go off your ego and reflect honestly on your patterns and behavior. The ability to accept fault and work toward self-improvement is crucial for happier, healthier living and building beautiful long-lasting relationships.
Life does not always go as planned, but the beauty of that is that it can surprise you with the most splendid moments of serendipity. The key is to keep moving, knowing that the universe has your back and that life will get better—as long as we internally feel grateful, strive to become better, and experience the feeling of being alive.