Tuesday, June 3, 2014

If I were 22...

I will hit a birthday milestone which ends with a "zero" this month and such a milestone does put one in an introspective mood - there are lessons learnt (and re-learnt)...priorities set and experiences gained. Some lessons I learnt in the last 18 years that I would love to share with my 22 yr old self are below (but as I tell myself you live and you learn!)
#1 Don't Hold Grudges - It is better to forgive and forget than to let negative feelings crowd out my positive feelings. Holding a grudge has a lot of detrimental effects on my well being, including increased depression, anxiety, and stress. For all I know the person who has done me wrong might be totally unaware of my feelings -- so I let myself feel strongly for that instance, express my emotions if it makes sense and then just let it go...makes me feel a whole lot lighter and better.
# 2 Eat Well and Exercise- I didn't start exercising till I was 30 (yikes!) and filled my body with a lot of junk food. The last 10 years have taught me good habits of eating organic, whole foods and making exercise a part of my daily routine. I feel this has a huge positive impact on my mental health, my productivity at work and my ability to spend more energy and time with my young son.
#3 Don't sweat the small stuff (so hard!) - This is so hard for an eternal planner like me - I am anal with To-Do Lists and Organizing stuff -- I have learnt that sometimes things just resolve themselves...things that seemed huge problems a month back seem non-trivial now.
#4 Express Gratitude - There are so many things going right in my life...I would rather take the time to appreciate all that is going right with my life vs. lament the things that don't seem to be working out.
#5 See Problems as Challenges - A problem is viewed as a drawback, a struggle, or an unstable situation while a challenge is viewed as something positive like an opportunity, a task, or a dare. Whenever you face an obstacle, try looking at it as a challenge. I won't say the path forward has been the easiest however once I changed my mindset - that things were not being put in my path to create roadblocks but were opportunities -- I was able to achieve more success
#6 Never seek approval from others - I used to be so "needy" of approval from my parents and close friends. What I realized over time is that it is impossible to please everyone. My mother still feels I should stay at home and take care of my family vs. have a career. I do listen to what the people who matter in my life have to say, but I always forge my own path forward...seeking approval from one source and one source alone - myself.
#7 Live in the Present - I don’t dwell on the past much or worry about the future. Losing my father taught me one important lesson - Life is fleeting, savor the present. I have let myself get absorbed in what I am doing at the moment. I do plan for the future but with broad brush strokes...I know I have a path mapped out but I am enjoying what I have "right now" vs. thinking of what "I can have tomorrow to enjoy"...my father told me something in Jan 2013 which rings true every day after - You live only once, don't make the mistake I made of waiting for retirement for all the vacations and relaxation to happen...enjoy every day like it is the last one that you have on this earth...then you will really live!" Living life for me today was about standing in my backyard for 10 minutes enjoying the antics of a squirrel...made me ready for any curve-ball or challenge that this day had to throw at me!
As Lao Tzu said it - If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present!

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