Friday, 24 January 2014

Lessons for a new year

Third week of a new semester ... and a -30 degrees outside. They say words can warm up the heart, so here I am, writing this, hoping they'll warm up more than that. (Okay, no one actually says that, but it sounds good, and it's also true, so there.)

January is not over yet, so it's still acceptable to share newly acquired wisdom and call it lessons for a new year. Well, newly acquired ... or freshly turned up, like good earth.

Lesson number 1:

If you discipline your body and your mind and strive for excellence, chances are, you will make better sense of your life ! And, find happiness in so doing. Working hard, but more importantly, consistently, towards what you think you want is the best way anyone could spend their time. Life is a long, messy business I think, and you can never be completely certain of what you'll want a little ways down the road, but you can have an inkling of what you want now, and focus on that. And there's no more satisfying rest than the one that's well deserved. Isn't that a small fraction of happiness in itself ? I think it is.

Lesson number 2:

 Focus is very good, but don't lose sight of what's happening on the periphery ! Taking a minute to enjoy the small things in life is a great way to let go of your stress and make your day better. Over the holidays I would wake up early, stretch my limbs and crack my toes, and go outside and breathe properly for a solid 5 mins. With my eyes closed, I would listen to the birds chirp and the distant rumble of the vehicles, and feel the wind on my skin, smoothly blending the urban and the rural noises of the morning. And I'd think, how beautiful life is and how blessed I am to be able to feel and experience this small but oh so magical moment !
(To all you cynical people snorting at this point, I'm a romantic soul, and it suits me well, thank you very much ! )

Lesson Number 3:

Live in the moment and value your friends and family. I find people tend to focus on things that are going wrong in their lives. Well, how about you try this: stop and think about all the good things in your life, all the people who are there for you and all the things you want to do in life. As Calogero said, on est riche que de ses amis. I think he got it pretty much covered, but I'd like to add that our treasure also lies in the quality of our thoughts, our sense of self, and our aspirations.

Lesson Number 4:

There's a lesson to be learnt from everyone, and everything that happens to you. Be sure to learn it. During the break, I had a nasty altercation with my favourite pet, and felt more angry than I had felt in months ! My generally pacific self was severely thrown off balance, and I found terrible thoughts creeping into my head. Wow, Amanda has a temper, who knew ! Once I calmed down, and caught a very firm grip on the handle again, I contemplated the situation, identified my mistake, and chose the path of repentance and forgiveness. That I guess, is another lesson in itself. The best way to rid yourself of an enemy is to make a friend of him. And sometimes it may mean letting go of your ego.

Lesson Number 5:
Take risks ! Explore ! Try new things ! You never know where it'll all take you. For instance over the summer I discovered that I was a fair cook and seamstress. I'm less of a fair dancer and drawer, but I still thoroughly enjoy it ! And sowing is an extremely undervalued skill I think. So much fun !

Lesson Number 6:

Be kind but stand up for yourself.
Life is not all roses and butterflies unfortunately. It's just the way things are. People have their own agenda, not everyone will be considerate, and kindness can end up being misconstrued for weakness. You just have to know when to put your foot down, while staying true to your values. In other words, if the camel wants to get more than its nose in the tent, just say no.

And lastly, Number 7:

Relax ! Take it easy ...
Life may feel long and messy, but our days are all numbered. So if things don't work out the way you want them to, don't let yourself get bogged down by disappointment and bitterness. Sometimes, adopting the happy go lucky attitude is the healthy option ! So you did not get that dream job, or you just got dumped, or you did not get that thing you really wanted for Christmas. That's too bad and I'm sorry ... but tomorrow is another day and you're still alive and you can still work towards something new.

Here ends my short and rather imperfect list of lessons. They are more personal reminders than anything, but I hope that whoever reads it can take something away from it.