A note for my little sister about lessons I’ve picked up along the way
- Be unusually kind.
High school example: If you see someone who is shy or left out, go talk to them and be their friend.
Adult example: Before you meet up with a friend to catch up over drinks, brainstorm 5 ways you could potentially help them — in life or work. The ideas could be a friend to introduce them to, a professional connection, inviting them to a social event, or even a book/podcast recommendation that would resonate with them. You could also shoot them a text, “I was thinking of you recently and had some ideas for you — let me know if you’re interested in any of these!” Most people reach out when they need something — reach out to give something.
2. Always look for the miracle
High school example: When a situation makes you angry — for example, when someone less skilled than you in soccer gets more playing time than you do — flip the situation around. Reframe it as, “I realize what a miracle it is to have a strong body, make varsity as a freshman and spend time with great girls. I am lucky regardless of how much I play.”
Adult example: If you find an ant in your apartment (ladies), instead of freaking out and killing it, recognize what a miracle it is that little guy made it that far. Put it outside so it can go on its way. Seriously though — here’s 10 Miraculous Facts About Ants
3. Be PROACTIVE instead of REACTIVE (“still your waters”)
This is one of the biggest challenges of our generation.
High school example: Instead of waking up and checking snapchat or instagram, try not looking at your phone for 20 minutes until after breakfast. Teach yourself how to pause, think and relax. Don’t always be subject to alerts, likes, snaps, and status updates. Treat this as mental training, to pause and disconnect from social media, as serious as you train for soccer. It’s even more important!
Adult example: THE SAME AS THE HIGH SCHOOL EXAMPLE!
Why is this third lesson so important? Because happiness derives from presence in the moment. This moment. This moment. Yes, this moment too. When you are constantly reacting and responding to things, especially alerts on your phone, or on snapchat or facebook it trains your mind to always look forward to something else. Your mind craves the friend updates and social affirmation. If you don’t pause and disconnect; you might not notice a friend’s smile, the cool wind on your face, the color of the trees, the taste of your meal, time with family.
Every time you check a status and like a picture, your mind actually releases a little of the chemical called dopamine that makes you feel good temporarily. This makes you ADDICTED to the feeling of likes, shares, and posts. It gives you a craving just as strong as smokers crave cigarettes. That craving to always be checking and checking and checking pulls you away from your happiness and alertness of the moment you are in.
DON’T GET ME WRONG. SOCIAL MEDIA IS AMAZING. ITS GREAT TO STAY CONNECTED. HOWEVER, YOUR WHOLE LIFE YOU WILL BE UNSETTLED, FULL OF ANXIETY, AND NEVER HAPPY WITH THE MOMENT YOU HAVE RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU, IF YOU DON’T TRAIN YOUR MIND TO PAUSE AND BE STILL. Note:
I recognize the irony that I am posting this blog post to Facebook.
I recommend you google “awareness” or “mindfulness” or “meditation” and start to learn about these topics. Ask your teachers, friends, and family about it. In Yoga they teach you about this stuff too!
So little sister, try to remember these three lessons…
- Be unusually kind
- Find the miracle
- Train your mind to pause without reacting or obsessively checking updates, in order to experience real life