I’m not the type to tell people what to do, and for the past few years I have made it a priority to not judge anyone for what they do, who they are, or what they desire. It was difficult at first, but gradually it becomes refreshing to just let people be. Life is hard enough as is. We’re all just trying to get by the best we can, and hostility toward each other only makes this harder.
However, if I could tell people how to live their lives, and if they would actually listen, this is what I would say:
- Accept yourself for who you are. This is your life. You have to get through it, and being at war with yourself will only make you ache with every step until the very end. As soon as you accept yourself exactly as you are, the sooner you will be free. Trust me when I tell you that this is one of the best feelings in the entire world, quite possibly the best. You’ll notice that things go so much more smoothly when you’re on your own team, and you are able to focus your attention on moving forward. Furthermore, the right relationships will come to you because you no longer need self-validation nor a replacement for self-love.
- Accept everyone else for who they are. Once you have learned to accept yourself and experienced the inner harmony that brings with it, it is easier to extend that toward other people. If you accept others instead of trying to change them, even if you feel it would be for the better, you will be giving them one of the biggest, most impactful compliments you can. You’ll provide them with strength and peace. In addition to that, you’ll feel even more at peace with yourself. When you judge others or mentally put them down, it hurts yourself more than anyone else. You internalize those negative emotions and they work against you. I’ve noticed that we judge others most for what we hate in ourselves. Therefore, it only makes sense that the two go together. Stop them both as soon as you can.
- Pursue happiness above everything else in life. Life is fleeting, and in the end, you can’t take anything with you, even if you believe in an afterlife. If all you have is this one life and these fleeting years on earth, why not spend every second of it as happy as you can possibly be? I know it’s unrealistic to attempt to be happy all the time. We’re going to feel quite a few other emotions, as well. It’s just part of being human. However, the more we pursue happiness, the more we will reap. Even on days when sadness overtakes you, or you feel fear or hatred, there will be that sustained, underlying happiness that will help you to hold strong until things get better. There is really nothing else in life that is as important as this.
- Make just enough money to live comfortably, and then forget about money. Don’t get caught in the upward spiral of greed, where the more you make the more you want. The goal is to unhinge yourself from money. Pursuing profits, wealth, and the material things that go with it will only leave you feeling empty and hollow in the end. You can never be satisfied by these things alone, and they only distract you from your quest for happiness. I’m not saying it’s bad to make money or that you’re an evil person if you’re filthy rich. I’m saying don’t ever, ever, ever sacrifice happiness or quality of life for wealth, and don’t ever let money be your motivation for anything.
- Learn to enjoy being alone. Like I said before, this is your life, and you have to spend the entire thing with yourself. You’ve accepted yourself; now learn to like yourself. Being alone has so many benefits to it. You are able to learn who you really are and get in touch with your inner self. You let your mind reflect on your life and formulate its own thoughts without the influence of others. Whether you’re meditating or just coloring human anatomy with headphones in, this time is crucial. It will also make it easier for the times in your life when you are feeling lonely or you can’t reach out to other people. Instead, you can reach within and obtain self-satisfaction.
- Force yourself to make connections with at least a few other people. I’m very introverted, and I have slight social anxiety. I have tried to assert that you don’t need other people, and that yourself is enough. Friends don’t matter, love isn’t necessary, and family is not a part of you. However, this is not necessarily true. Yes, you are enough for yourself, as in you can easily survive on your own, but being connected to other people will give you someone to relate to, will help you feel less lonely, and will keep you from becoming bitter. You will have someone to help you out when you feel like you just can’t do it on your own and someone to fall back on when a problem arises. More pragmatically, you’ll have someone to drive you to the hospital or airport, feed your cats when you’re away, and burn your notebooks for you if you die.
- Always be working on some greater goal. I think one of our basic human needs is to always be working on something, and busywork just doesn’t cut it. Even just accomplishing small tasks is not enough. Working toward some long term goal (and when you reach it, setting another to work on) gives our lives purpose in a seemingly meaningless world and gives us a reason to wake up in the morning.
- Get rid of your fear of death. I said earlier that accepting myself was the most liberating feeling in the world. The second was letting go of my fear of death. Once you’re dead, you’re gone. You probably won’t even know you died. If you believe in an afterlife, all the better, because you’re on your way to somewhere great. I guess if you believe in Hell or some other place of punishment, it could make sense to fear death, but I’m not convinced that such places exist, regardless of which greater being we’re discussing. If there is a god, I feel that he or she would have to let everyone into heaven because life is hard enough as it is that we should be rewarded for just getting through it. However, if this is at the root of your fear of death, rectify it as soon as possible, then let the fear go. You’ll find that it’s much easier to do the things you want, to live happily with less anxiety, and to focus on what is really important in your life.
- Get a cat. This isn’t just me abusing my power to generate more cat people in this world. Cats reduce stress, lower blood pressure, give you a sense of purpose, provide you with a connection to another living thing without having to socialize, and they are just so damn adorable.
- It’s just life. Make sure you always take a moment to breathe. Take a step back, remind yourself what is important in life and what isn’t and whether or not this is going to matter in the grand scheme of things. Don’t get too caught up in the day-to-day, and when you make mistakes, learn from them and move on. No one is getting out of this life alive, so we might as well just chill out.