Advice to my favorite person
Take it or leave it, just know it comes from a loving place
I should probably start off by saying to not trust advice. It tells more about the person giving them than about you. However, I promise I’ve kept you in mind throughout this.
I should also congratulate you. For finally hitting your head against the what-the-hell-am-I-doing-with-life wall. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.
for “the unexamined life is not worth living”
(I promise that will be all with the quotes!)
You came and said you’ve lost your drive, your fire. Claimed the purpose was not there anymore, and that you had no idea if the direction you are headed was right. Hell, you don’t even know if you have a direction, do you?
For that, I am truly happy for you.
You see, when we’re young, we tend to internalize the opinions, perspectives and expectations of the people around us. Be them friends, family, teachers or even fictional characters. We hear them so much that the voice in our heads starts to reproduce their speech, as if it were our own.
The thing is: it’s not.
. . .
Remember when we were kids and no one had to tell us how to have fun? All it took was a blanket and some pillows and we had a fort. An open window would turn into a hole in our spaceship where the aliens would crawl in to eat us and we had to shoot them all (how the hell we were still fighting with a hole in our spaceship, I don’t know). My point is: we didn’t need much to be happy.
Along the way, we started to add up what was expected of us. Get into a good school; pursue a career that will makes you money; find a good relationship; be pretty; be busy. I’m not saying those things aren’t nice. I just want you to question where does your ambition come from. Is this something you want? Or is it something you thought you had to want?
Alright. Alright. I’m not here to fill you with mind-boggling questions . I am, though, trying to get you to realize that when you question “where am I going with life?”, you’re taking the first step to renouncing the expectations of others.
Be glad. You’re behind the wheel now. Be glad and rejoice with the freedom inherent to this state.
Yes, it’s scary. Yes, you’ll won’t feel better immediately. Yes, you’re still lost. But now you know it. So, go take a breather. The real race is about to start.
Remember your retreat
Whenever things seem a bit overwhelming, take advantage of that fort-building-alien-shooting mind of yours and seek refuge in yourself. People will talk you into travelling in order to finding yourself. Maybe to the coast, perhaps the country or even the hills. Now… that’s not practical, is it?
Why would you travel when you can have the type of mind that let’s you dip in there to a peaceful and trouble-free environment? It takes practice, but we must learn to be our own safe haven.
I want you to do something for me right now. Stop reading and notice your surroundings. I’ll wait.
. . .
Did you do it? what color are the walls? How did your back feel against the chair your sitting on? How fast was your heart beating? What were the sounds you heard?
Notice that in spite of everything that’s going on, you’re fine.
Look inside yourself
Remember I told you we internalize people’s opinions and expectations? It gets worse. They all will specifically tell you what’s good and not good for you. No one will care if you’re out to find your own answers, they want you to believe theirs.
I’m telling you to stop gathering information from the outside.
Just give a chance for the dust to settle and you shall see for yourself. Everything you’re looking for, you already know. You’ll never need anything else to be happy.
If you fall into the habit of believing there’s a conditional clause leading to happiness, you’ll never achieve it. There will always be a different “if this happens”, “if I get this done” or “once I have this” preceding your “I’ll be happy”.
. . .
Keep in mind we experience the world in our heads. So, one can say the whole sensing mechanism is quite biased, right? Not so hard to conclude that our perspectives do have an impact on the experience — a vital one. In a way, our lives are what our thoughts make of it. That leads me to the next point.
Fuck caution. Procede with enthusiasm
There’s no greater skill I with for you to develop. Wisdom will come with time, I know you to be fair already, and courage presents itself for those willing to do without it. That’s why I wish you enthusiasm. Zest.
The ability to face life with a smile, even when it’s out there holding a bag of lemons.
You have to do the dishes? Great! You’ve spent so much time sitting down your legs could use a stretch. The dog pooped in the living room again? Awesome. You get to train your patience while you train it, for it does not know what a living room is. Car broke down? Wonderful. You do need to improve your biking skills anyway.
It’s not about being passive and accepting whatever comes. It’s about actively choosing your response to whatever gets thrown your way. If you have a course of action that might change the situation, do it with enthusiasm. If you don’t, well — you’re already stuck there — enjoy the ride.
Stop trying to find ‘purpose’
Life’s a mystery. No one will figure it out. No one ever has. And, honestly, I don’t think we’re meant to. Here’s a piece of my mind: stop wasting your time actively trying to find it.
It’s paradoxical, but I think you’ll only have an idea of what the purpose is when you stop caring about it. When you find yourself completely immersed doing something for others, that’s when you know you’re close.
In some weird way, I believe we’re all connected. And it feels right to think that whenever we do something helpful to this ‘net of life’, we get to feel good. To feel peace of mind.
I’ve seen you going out of your way to help others in different situations, and my dear, hats off to you.
But Pedro, how do I find what to do?
Take a deep breath. Drop everything that came from outside yourself and listen closely: your gut already knows. Your intuition knows how you should be spending your time.
Time is the currency of your LIFE
I read a study that said people tend to spend more (and more stupidly) money with credit-cards than with paper money. That’s because of the abstraction of the concept of money. Sounds pretty reasonable, right? But what if we change money for time?
How cheap are we with our money? Don’t we think twice before spending on something silly? We claim to be mindful of our time, only to waste an entire Sunday afternoon claiming we’re “bored”. (I don’t see how one can get bored in today’s world. But sorry, I digress)
Every night, before going to bed, write on how you spent your time that day. Use it in a way you’re proud of yourself.
DO NOT think on where you should have gotten by now. Compare yourself today only to your yesterday self. Make sure you’re getting better at something, doing things for other people, and living according to your principles.
Picture your ideal self. Take some time doing it. Make a journal entry of that person. Make it so compelling, you want to be her. Get closer to her each day, and not to whatever pops up on your Facebook feed.
Invest time getting to know you.
All in all, be compassionate. You might not be as good as you wanted at one thing or other, and that’s OK.
Happiness is the way up the mountain
So, whenever you’re not feeling great at something, make a decision: learn and improve with enthusiasm or drop it. We tend to feel bad if there’s something that could have been learned, but somehow we haven’t. Well, I’m here to make your life easier. Whatever is not important for you, drop.
For the rest of things, find the love in the uphill climb. Remember that action precedes passion. So, start performing whatever needs doing with all your heart. The commitment will turn into engagement which, in turn, will slowly build up a passion. You know the drill, I’ve seen you do it before.
Also, find strength in humor. Specially towards yourself. A good honest laugh at your own expense will teach you to handle your weaknesses.
. . .
Finally, you told me you wanted to feel more proud of the things you had done, because you don’t.
Well, good. Don’t!
Be proud of what you are. The person you have become. Keep the fire burning in your eyes fueled by nothing but your being. Not by a job, a grade or a project. Be the person you want to be and no matter what gets thrown your way, I’m sure you’ll handle with grace.
. . .
If you take only one advice from this, please: make a journal.
So, go wash those red eyes and know that I couldn’t be more proud of you.