Hindsight is a wonderful thing, or so they say anyway. In reality it makes us look back to our flawed younger self and all the dumb stuff we used to do.
Life is an on-going process, a movie that just keeps moving forwards without giving us the opportunity to pause, rewind or to send the stupid thing back to the rental shop. Sometimes it’s exciting, often it is mundane but whenever we think back to what has come before, it just serves to remind us of all the things we wished we could do differently.
Life is like that. It offers us a chance to redeem ourselves by using what has come before as a way to change the present and to mould and shape our future.
It teaches us lessons like…
1. Sh*t happens, and you can’t do anything about it. So don’t worry.
The traffic is terrible and you’re going to be late for work.
Your date cancelled at the last minute because she had to pick up her brother.
Your job application was turned down because they already hired someone earlier.
You had to miss your friend’s birthday party because you feel ill.
There is a power cut just as you sit down to watch the big game.
These things happen. There is nothing you can do about it but we all fret and panic and wonder and curse our misfortune.
We do it every single time without fail.
This is life.
We all have a sense of entitlement that we carry around with us. A belief that bad things should only happen to other people and that somehow we deserve to be treated differently by the hands of fate.
The sooner we can accept that stuff just happens, the easier life will become.
But you know what, you deal with it because that is how it’s done.
Do you think NickVujicic mopes around and curses his life? Watch this video and find out.
Most of us don’t have disabilities and the majority of our supposed misfortune is, at most, an inconvenience. Yes every single person reading this will at one time go through something traumatic and it will be painful, and will be hard to get through.
But get through it you will, and the speed of which you get through it is determined by how quickly you can accept it for what it is.
2. You’re no better than anyone else.
As human beings we make snap judgments on other people. It’s just something that happens and there isn’t really anything we can do about it.
Have you ever been on a date where you didn’t know the person beforehand? Maybe you met them off the internet or you were set up by a friend. I have and just like everybody else, I made a judgement on this girl within seconds of conversing with her.
It’s ok as she made that exact same judgement on me too.
Studies have been carried out where a number of volunteers were shown images of random fictional characters and after being given a little bit of information were asked to rate them on a scale of 1 to 8, based on how likeable they thought they were.
By studying the brain scans of these participants, scientists concluded that while they dithered and thought about giving their score, the part of the brain involved in primal decision making had already lit up.
“Previous work by neuroscientists has shown we form our first impressions well within 30 seconds of meeting people. Often, our opinion changes very little after knowing them for longer.”
Basically we make a decision on someone within seconds of meeting them and that’s it, done.
Just before you go on a date with someone I could send you a text telling you that the person you are about to meet is a thief and it wouldn’t matter if it later turned out it was a lie and they actually rescued puppies from the devil, you would still struggle to change your opinion.
This person hasn’t changed, but our perception of them has.
The best part of this is we can leverage this knowledge almost like a superpower. The next time you go on a date or to a job interview, just focus on absolutely nailing those first 30 seconds and you’re good to go.
3. You can’t change anybody but yourself
All of us love passing on our knowledge to others, correcting when it is needed or just offering a bit of advice. We think it’s our given right but a lot of the time the person on the receiving end just looks at you and thinks ‘you what?’
Giving unsolicited advice is an ego thing. It makes us feel good and we’ve all done it.
I’m sort of doing it now.
You can try and change the opinions and minds of others all you want but until that person wants to make the change themselves, your efforts will be for nothing.
Take this little scenario;
You have a friend called Bob. He is your typical nice guy, he has a safe and steady job that he enjoys, a decent income and a great group of friends.
Oh he is also a major geek, painfully shy around women and cries himself to sleep every night because his teddy bear just doesn’t provide the love he thinks he deserves.
You feel bad for him so you decide to take some action.
“Hey Bob, do you want to come out with us guys tonight, hit the clubs, maybe meet some ladies?”
“Nah I think I’ll stay in tonight and play video games”
“Oh come on, you won’t meet anyone stuck inside all the time”
“Yeh I know, but I have this new game that won’t play itself”
You try and you try but Bob doesn’t want to leave his comfort zone. The only way he can make that change is if he decides to take action at a deep level. Nobody can make it for him. Yeh sure they can keep trying in the hope that one day he will relent but ultimately it is his decision.
Yet we almost feel angry at these people for not doing what we want them to do. It seems unfathomable that they choose to do something other than what we feel is best for them. But guess what?
It’s not your decision to make. It is their life and providing what they do isn’t harming anyone, who are we to make that call?
4. Follow your instincts
Your instincts are all you ever have. They are the great leveller for us all. It doesn’t matter if you are intelligent or stupid, rich or poor, man or woman, you are all blessed with the natural ability to figure out the best course of action by just using how you feel as a barometer.
The funny thing is that throughout our lives society will do its best to beat this ability out of us at every opportunity.
Your careers adviser beat it out of you by helpfully pointing out how stupid your dream job is and how you’re better off working as a factory sweeper because that’s what normal working class people do.
Your friends beat it out of you by getting married and having kids at an early age thus forcing you to feel like you have to conform to their way of living.
Your boss beats it out of you by promising you a promotion and a pay rise when the only thing you want to do is to quit and travel the world.
It seems that in every part of our lives there is something trying to make us do things against our will. It’s painful, it hurts and it makes us feel like we are somehow inadequate for not being ‘normal’.
Screw them all.
I wish I had trusted my instincts at a far earlier age and maybe I wouldn’t have spent so long in jobs that I hated.
5. It’s okay to be terrified.
I want to let you in on a little secret. The world is a scary place.
No scrap that last sentence. The world is a terrifying place.
As we can only view the world from our own eyes and experience it within our own body we can only know how we feel. Not anyone else.
We’re shit scared but does anyone else feel the same way? You wouldn’t think so because there are people out there that are so good at hiding their fears that we think they must be psychopaths.
Some are of course, but it’s only a small percentage.
Truth is, we are all scared. Yet we grow up believing that it’s only us.
The school bully puts on a front to convince the world that he isn’t being beaten up at home by an abusive father.
The guy who brags to all his friends about how he lost his virginity doesn’t tell them about the nerves and immense anxiety that he felt beforehand.
The rock star that always seems so calm in and control hides his alcohol and drug problems from his adoring fans.
It doesn’t matter who you are or what your place in the world is, you will feel just as much anxiety as everyone else.
Most of us are so wrapped up in our own thoughts that we fail to realise how other people are feeling. This is why when we meet someone new we rarely ever remember what they initially say as we are too anxious about how we come across.
This is what life is. It’s just 7 billion people doing their best to make their mark on the world as easily and as painless as possible. Some are able to cope while others will always struggle but deep down every one of us feels exactly the same.