Sunday, January 26, 2014
1. Pain is part of growing.
Sometimes life closes doors because it’s time to move forward. And that’s a good thing because we often won’t move unless circumstances force us to. When times are tough, remind yourself that no pain comes without a purpose. Move on from what hurt you, but never forget what it taught you. Just because you’re struggling doesn’t mean you’re failing. Every great success requires some type of worthy struggle to get there. Good things take time. Stay patient and stay positive. Everything is going to come together; maybe not immediately, but eventually.
Remember that there are two kinds of pain: pain that hurts and pain that changes you. When you roll with life, instead of resisting it, both kinds help you grow.
2. Everything in life is temporary.
Every time it rains, it stops raining. Every time you get hurt, you heal. After darkness there is always light – you are reminded of this every morning, but still you often forget, and instead choose to believe that the night will last forever. It won’t. Nothing lasts forever.
So if things are good right now, enjoy it. It won’t last forever. If things are bad, don’t worry because it won’t last forever either. Just because life isn’t easy at the moment, doesn’t mean you can’t laugh. Just because something is bothering you, doesn’t mean you can’t smile. Every moment gives you a new beginning and a new ending. You get a second chance, every second. You just have to take it and make the best of it.
3. Worrying and complaining changes nothing.
Those who complain the most, accomplish the least. It’s always better to attempt to do something great and fail than to attempt to do nothing and succeed. It’s not over if you’ve lost; it’s over when you do nothing but complain about it. If you believe in something, keep trying. Don’t let the shadows of the past darken the doorstep of your future. Spending today complaining about yesterday won’t make tomorrow any brighter. Take action instead. Let what you’ve learned improve how you live. Make a change and never look back.
And regardless of what happens in the long run, remember that true happiness begins to arrive only when you stop complaining about your problems and you start being grateful for all the problems you don’t have.
4. Your scars are symbols of your strength.
Don’t ever be ashamed of the scars life has left you with. A scar means the hurt is over and the wound is closed. It means you conquered the pain, learned a lesson, grew stronger, and moved forward. A scar is the tattoo of a triumph to be proud of. Don’t allow your scars to hold you hostage. Don’t allow them to make you live your life in fear. You can’t make the scars in your life disappear, but you can change the way you see them. You can start seeing your scars as a sign of strength and not pain.
Rumi once said, “The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” Nothing could be closer to the truth. Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most powerful characters in this great world are seared with scars. See your scars as a sign of “YES! I MADE IT! I survived and I have my scars to prove it! And now I have a chance to grow even stronger.”
5. Every little struggle is a step forward.
In life, patience is not about waiting; it’s the ability to keep a good attitude while working hard on your dreams, knowing that the work is worth it. So if you’re going to try, put in the time and go all the way. Otherwise, there’s no point in starting. This could mean losing stability and comfort for a while, and maybe even your mind on occasion. It could mean not eating what, or sleeping where, you’re used to, for weeks on end. It could mean stretching your comfort zone so thin it gives you a nonstop case of the chills. It could mean sacrificing relationships and all that’s familiar. It could mean accepting ridicule from your peers. It could mean lots of time alone in solitude. Solitude, though, is the gift that makes great things possible. It gives you the space you need. Everything else is a test of your determination, of how much you really want it.
And if you want it, you’ll do it, despite failure and rejection and the odds. And every step will feel better than anything else you can imagine. You will realize that the struggle is not found on the path, it is the path. And it’s worth it. So if you’re going to try, go all the way. There’s no better feeling in the world… there’s no better feeling than knowing what it means to be ALIVE.
6. Other people’s negativity is not your problem.
Be positive when negativity surrounds you. Smile when others try to bring you down. It’s an easy way to maintain your enthusiasm and focus. When other people treat you poorly, keep being you. Don’t ever let someone else’s bitterness change the person you are. You can’t take things too personally, even if it seems personal. Rarely do people do things because of you. They do things because of them.
Above all, don’t ever change just to impress someone who says you’re not good enough. Change because it makes you a better person and leads you to a brighter future. People are going to talk regardless of what you do or how well you do it. So worry about yourself before you worry about what others think. If you believe strongly in something, don’t be afraid to fight for it. Great strength comes from overcoming what others think is impossible.
All jokes aside, your life only comes around once. This is IT. So do what makes you happy and be with whoever makes you smile, often.
7. The best thing you can do is to keep going.
Don’t be afraid to get back up – to try again, to love again, to live again, and to dream again. Don’t let a hard lesson harden your heart. Life’s best lessons are often learned at the worst times and from the worst mistakes. There will be times when it seems like everything that could possibly go wrong is going wrong. And you might feel like you will be stuck in this rut forever, but you won’t. When you feel like quitting, remember that sometimes things have to go very wrong before they can be right. Sometimes you have to go through the worst, to arrive at your best.
Yes, life is tough, but you are tougher. Find the strength to laugh every day. Find the courage to feel different, yet beautiful. Find it in your heart to make others smile too. Don’t stress over things you can’t change. Live simply. Love generously. Speak truthfully. Work diligently. And even if you fall short, keep going. Keep growing.
Saturday, January 18, 2014
In a democracy as nascent as ours, the purview of political bickering, crude scheming and untold insanity is limitless. The elongated ordeal of Rivers state governor, Rotimi Amaechi, speaks volume of how elementary our politics remain. Without sounding sycophantic, you have to have a seamless gut and great courage not to have cowered if placed in the storm Ameachi has been through. The genesis of how the governor fell out with the president is already public knowledge. However, what is most intriguing, is the many forces Ameach hashad to and is still confronting. Make no mistakes about it, Ameachi is not a saint, and I still have my doubts on whether he has come to equity with clean hands. However, one thing you cannot deny is that Ameachi has remained a fearless leader that has chosen to dare our demonic system.
One of the things Amaechi’s detractors cannot turn a blind eye to is that he has remarkably changed the state in the past six years. Success is comparative, and when one compares the Rivers state of Peter Odilli with that of Rotimi Ameachi, it is worlds apart. This is the opinion of an average Rivers man. In a clime where being a politician is synonymous to being the CEO of the world; Ameachi is yet to be dragged in the mud. In all truism, if Ameachi’s hands were not clean, he will certainly have been nailed. He might not be entirely perfect in this regard, but we are yet to hear of how he has built fifty five star hotels scattered all over the world. Moreover, if one should sieve sentiments away, the question is: what exactly have been Ameachi’s cardinal sins?
What is more? The impunity that the Nigerian police have unleashed upon Amaechi and the Rivers people since this struggle skyrocketed leaves a lot to be desired. Try as hard as he may, Joseph Mbu cannot convince any rational Nigerian that he and his team are not partisan in this struggle. From the blockade at the government house, to the mayhem unleashed upon the planned rally of the Save Rivers Group, the police have been clearly compromised. It is difficult to understand how the president will think that we don’t all know that it is the voice of Jacob, but the hand of Esua. Having said that, Amaechi himself has not been without blame. In some ways, his politicking has been extreme and raw in most cases. It betrays reason how he and his camp will always seize on any slightest opportunity to cry foul. The distractions he is currently enmeshed in makes one wonder if he still tenders to his primary role of development in the state.
Saturday, January 11, 2014
Focus on the activities and people that make you happy, and filter out the avoidable opposites. Truth be told, we often make our lives complicated when it’s really quite simple: Find what it is that makes you happy and spend more time doing it. Find who it is that makes you smile and spend more time with them.
Living your dream is really just a matter of proper lifestyle alignment. It’s about being true to yourself, and realizing that where you are at any given moment is exactly where you want to be. Thus, happiness and success in life is simply the gratifying combination of liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking who you do it with.
2. Negativity and those who create it.
When other people treat you poorly, keep being you. Don’t ever let someone else’s bitterness change the person you are. Don’t let the silly little dramas of each day get you down either. Stay positive when negativity surrounds you. Keep calm and carry on. It takes one positive thought to overpower an entire array of negative thoughts. People who are able to find the one positive point in negative situations are the ones who never give up.
3. Insensitive thoughts.
Always be kinder than necessary. What goes around comes around. No one has ever made themselves strong by showing how small someone else is. Whatever can be done, can be done more effectively when you add kindness. Whatever words are spoken, will always be more compelling when expressed with kindness.
The kind deeds you exert in just one moment can have a positive impact that lasts a lifetime. Your days will be brighter and your years fuller when you add kindness to your purpose. Choose to be kind every day, and you’re truly choosing to live in a better world.
4. The belief that you’re too flawed.
Accept your humanness. You can stop pretending. It feels good to own up to stuff… to admit that you’re human – a work in progress – a beautiful mess. Wanting to be someone or something else is a waste of your beauty. You’re fine. If you feel like you aren’t, you’re blowing things out of proportion. Having a little anxiety is fine. Being a little fearful is fine. Your secrets are fine. You’re a good person. You’re intelligent. You’re fine just the way you are. (Marc and I discuss this in more detail in the “Self-Love” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
5. Your desire to win everyone’s approval.
Your ideas and choices don’t have to be on everyone’s “approved” list. Regardless of the opinions of others, at the end of the day the only reflection staring back at you in the mirror is your own. Make sure you’re proud of who that person is. Approach others with the belief that you’re a good person, whether they respond positively or not. It’s normal to want people to like you, but it becomes a self-imposed burden when too much of your behavior is explicitly designed to constantly reassure you of their approval.
6. The big expectations clouding your mind.
Whatever you’re waiting for – peace of mind, contentment, grace, an inner awareness of abundance – it will surely come to you, but only when you’re ready to receive it with an open and grateful heart. So be as grateful as possible, for small things, not just for big things – for the simple act of breathing, the time together, the conversations, etc. Every moment counts. Every second matters. Whatever is given is a gift. Make the most of it.
7. What you don’t have, and may never have.
Focus on the resources you do have access to. It all begins and ends in your mind. What you give power to has power over you, if you allow it. Too many of us are hung up on what we don’t have, can’t have, or won’t ever have. We spend too much energy being down, when we could use that same energy – if not less of it – doing, or at least trying to do, some of the things we really want to do. So focus on the opportunities you DO have and exploit the resources you DO have access to.
8. All that stuff for sale you don’t need.
Too many people buy things they don’t need with money they don’t have to impress people they don’t know. Don’t be one of them. Stop buying stuff on impulse! Avoid the mall! The mall is not a source of entertainment. It’s a source of personal debt. There’s no reason to tease yourself by staring at a bunch of brand new junk you don’t need. And as you know, the novelty of a new purchase wears thin long before the credit card bill arrives.
So as I’ve said before, live a comfortable life, not a wasteful one. Do not spend to entertain yourself or impress others. Do not fool yourself into thinking wealth is measured in material objects. Manage your money wisely so your money does not manage you. (Read The Total Money Makeover.)
9. Old, comfortable routines.
Remember, the way you’ve always done it isn’t the only way. It’s unlikely that one of the things you’ll regret when you’re 80 is not having consumed enough beer in your 20s, or not having bought enough $9 lattes in your 30s, or not having frequented the same chain restaurants for your entire 40s, etc. But the regret of missing out on opportunities is a real, toxic feeling. You’ve figured out drinking and going out. You’ve had enough lattes. You know what the hamburger at Applebee’s tastes like. It’s time to figure something else out. Every corner you turn or street you walk down has a new experience waiting for you. You just have to see the opportunity and be adventurous enough to run with it.
10. Senseless busy work.
Incessant busyness is often a sign of ineffectiveness and laziness. Because it’s easy to be busy – just partake in a bunch of random activities that drains all your time. Doing so justifies never having enough time to clean, cook for yourself, go out with friends, meet new people, etc. Right? Wrong. Don’t just get things done; get the right things done. Results are always more important than the time it takes to achieve them.
11. Illusions of safety.
You have to take risks. You will only realize the full potential of your life when you allow the unexpected to happen. Living itself is risky business. Every decision, every interaction, every step, every time you get out of bed in the morning, you take a risk. To truly live is to know you’re getting up and taking that risk. To not get out of bed, clutching to illusions of safety, is to die slowly without ever having truly lived. Be a little risky and realize the full potential of your life.
12. Fears of defeat.
A fear of being defeated is what warrants your defeat. A fear of not being good enough is what guarantees that you never will be. If you never pick up that keyboard, or pencil, or paintbrush, or whatever instrument you use to craft your work, because you’re afraid that someone else might do it better than you, your prediction will automatically come true.
Remember, defeat is not the worst of failures. Not having tried at all is as bad as it gets. And as far as failure itself is concerned, you’re not obligated to succeed or fail. You’re obligated to keep trying – to do the best you can do every day. That’s all. And you’re always good enough to do that. (Read Start: Punch Fear in the Face.)
13. The dream that everything should be easy.
The ones who fall and get up are so much stronger than the ones who never fell. Often it’s the deepest pain that empowers human beings to rise and grow into their highest selves. The ones who win the race in the long run are usually not the quickest or slickest, but the ones who have endured the most.
14. The way you expected things to be.
Life is about laughing and learning through good times and bad. It’s about growing through whatever comes your way and looking back with a smile. You’re stronger because of the hard times, wiser because of your mistakes, and happier because you have known sadness. The same is true for everyone else.
So stay strong. Even when it feels like everything is falling apart, you can either let it define you, destroy you, or let it strengthen you. Things change for the better. Just believe and roll with it. It won’t always be easy, but it will be worth it in the end. When you finally let go of the past and what did or didn’t happen, something better comes along. Oftentimes what you’re looking for comes when you’re not looking at all.
15. The excuses for why you haven’t started.
The feeling you get from taking the first step is far better than the feeling you get from sitting around thinking about it. So get up and get moving. Take the first step this year – just one small step forward. The greatest miracle of your success will not be that you finished, it will be that you had the courage to begin.
It is that time of the year when everyone will be preoccupied with making resolutions and vows on how they want the next twelve months to pan out. While resolutions are not bad in themselves, it will be foolhardy to always wait till the beginning of every New Year to change what needs to be changed. Moreover, it has been proven beyond reasonable doubt that most New Year resolutions made on January 1st, do not survive beyond the end of February.
Having said that, the year 2014 is one that holds many promises for most individuals and even our country as a whole. As a nation, it is the eve to the much anticipated general elections in 2015. Traditionally, this is the year when all the ills that follows our transition are perpetrated. Incessant political assainations, political betrayal, bickering and scheming, are all characteristics of this period. However, it is hoped that this year will be an exception. Though our democracy can still be excused as being very nascent, it is the belief of many that our politics should have transcended crudity.
However, beyond the national brouhaha, we as individuals must have definite goals and objectives. Perhaps, for some of us, 2013 did not turn out to be what we exactly wished for. We might not have been able to achieve our some of our set targets, or by our standards, we might have fallen short of many things. Whatever be the case, it is time to look ahead in pure optimism.
Reminiscing over what might have been has never changed anyone for good. It is not time to throw in the towel and pack in life. It is not time to call time on your pursuit. It is not time to retreat in the race of life. Don’t be deluded, everyone is in the battle of life. Everyone is fighting something. Thus, never let the devil con you that you are in this battle alone. it is time to look into 2014 with renewed zeal and a new belief.
The year is still in its infancy, and it is sacrosanct that we get about doing what has to be done. While it is good to have plans, they will be futile and remain ‘plans’ if we don’t start getting them done. If there is one lesson that time has taught me, it is that it waits for no one. Remember that no one has your genuine interest at heart as much as yourself. When push comes to shove, when all is said and done, when the scorecard is opened, it will be about you and what you did with your one precious life. Never allow the noise from outside deter the determination you have inside of you. Make no mistakes about it, over the course of the year, you will face obstacles and disappointments from people and life itself. Events and circumstances will test your resolve to succeed. However, you will win if you refuse to be swayed, and stick to the fight to make the year count.
Without exaggerating the bounds of truth, it is worth saying that your efforts alone will certainly not make 2014 as a successful as you anticipate. There is a God that can make all the difference in the life of a man. Never forget to put God above all you do in life. Let no man deceive you, there is a God that rules in the affairs of men. It should be the aspiration of everyone to build a more solid and personal relationship with Him. Hence, in 2014, may it be a case of less work and more grace for you.
Make a choice today to make every minute of the year count. It’s a choice that will ensure that you are productive and conscious about your growth. Remember, the world makes way for the man who knows where he is going. Be optimistic, everything good will surely come.