* Naughty language ahead.
Birthdays are the best time for self-introspection.
Six months ago I celebrated my 34th birthday.
I cannot claim to have lived a guilt-free life but I know that at this point in my life, when I am not too old and not too young, I am certainly wiser and more sensible than before.
For the past three years I have been living my life as per these 10 commandments.
I only wish I had followed them much earlier in life to save some crucial years that I spent unnecessarily pleasing others and doing things just for the sake of it.
1. I set my life goals.
“When writing the story of your life, do not let anyone else hold the pen.” ~ Unknown
I had long committed the mistake of letting others write the story of life. I studied the subjects my father wanted me to. I dressed the way my mother wanted me to. I lived my life they way others wanted me to. I understand that they wanted the best for me—the sad truth is, they could never know what I wanted for myself. So I decided to set my own goals for life.
2. I become the company I keep.
“Why do you have to be so annoying sometimes?”
“Can’t help it. It’s the company I keep.” ~ Kamila Shamsie
I learned the importance of good company only recently. I always thought of myself as the lotus flower—blossoming in a murky pool.
It took me many years to realize that I’m not a lotus. I am a human being.
People around me do influence me—positively and negatively.
I am now conscious of who I spend my time with. I choose people who bring out the best in me instead of the ones who are draining with negativity.
Having said that, I don’t intend to stop being with people who are having a bad time. I will still lend them my ears and I will listen to all their problems with empathy, but I will not internalize their words anymore.
3. A no goes a long way.
“Sometimes ‘no’ is the kindest word.” ~ Vironika Tugaleva
This is another lesson I have learned the hard way. I have been a yes woman.
I have taken risks to help my friends and I have gone way out of my way to help others. In the mean time I had become a people pleaser. With time and with better understanding of people, I have come to understand that that “yes” is short lived. “No” has a longer life. Saying no was initially difficult for me —I didn’t want to be mean and unkind to people.
Saying, “no” has become a good friend who saves me from difficult people.
4. Love and Marriage (and everything else) are just a part of life.
“A spouse is not a destination but a fellow traveler.” ~ Sadghuru
I have lived more than half of my life dreaming and planing about love and marriage as if nothing else existed in my life. Now that I am happily married, I can profess that life is much bigger than love and marriage combined.
Life includes friends, family, hobbies, travel and solitude!
It is important to focus on love as it is one of the basic needs of life, but my life doesn’t revolve around it. I still live my life for the love that I have in it, but I have fallen in love with many things and not just the people.
I love books and movies. I love writing and reading. And I love myself, above all.
5. No decision is always right or wrong.
“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
I used to spend a good chunk of time over analyzing how if I had done X, my life would have been Y.
In over 30 years of life, I have now learned that no decision is always right or wrong. What we make our decisions is what determines whether the decision was right or wrong.
How do I view my decisions now? By focusing on a good outcome.
I now try to make the best decisions with what I have to work with and the result—a good intentioned decision.
6. Outward appearance is bull sh*t.
“How would your life be different if…You stopped making negative judgmental assumptions about people you encounter? Let today be the day…You look for the good in everyone you meet and respect their journey.”
~ Steve Maraboli
I have never judged people primarily on looks because I know how it feels to be judged by others. I have dealt with a bit of inferiority complex about my looks and the most important thing I have learned about appearance—the hype about beauty and looks is nothing but bull sh*t.
Physically beautiful people may have more admirers but sustained attraction occurs only when the person is intellectually stimulating, kind and clean. That is all.
7. Good health must be the greatest priority.
“A fit, healthy body—that is the best fashion statement.” ~ Jess C. Scott
We live in our bodies but sometimes we take notice of it only when it starts decaying.
I started noticing the health of my body in my mid-30s. It is a stage when our body parts begin to wane. No one can help us if our body stops supporting our mind and soul. Good health must be our top priority.
No boy friend, no children, no career—health comes first.
8. Never trust a betrayer twice.
“If you spend your time hoping someone will suffer the consequences for what they did to your heart, then you’re allowing them to hurt you a second time in your mind.” ~ Shannon L. Alder
This is about being careful and cautious. I have been bitten many times only because I wasn’t careful when my friend first betrayed me. Now I am twice as cautious. I forgive and trust again if the person apologizes and promises to never repeat the same mistake. If the person betrays me again, I simply keep my distance.
9. Act a little selfish.
“To be happy, we must not be too concerned with others.” ~ Albert Camus
And never feel guilty about it. Since we all dwell in our bodies, we must act a little selfish at times—do some good for ourselves.
Women have been conditioned to put their family ahead of themselves—this is extremely foolish.
How can we take good care of others when we can’t care for ourselves first?
I now think of myself first and I do not feel guilty about it.
10. A changed person is a better person.
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” ~ Barack Obama
Hearing the words, “You have changed” is a compliment. Change is a natural process and it helps in personal growth. We all change. Change helps us to grow—following our dreams and desires.
We are not meant to remain in a box never outgrow it. We are human and are meant to evolve.
These rules help me to live the life I have always dreamt.
Author: Surabhi Surendra
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock