24 Life Lessons In 24 Years

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Life is full of lessons. Some of them we learn early on in our lives whilst others take a certain amount of time, a varied amount of experiences or many mistakes to accomplish. During my twenty-four years of life I have realised that there is still so much to learn about this crazy thing we call life. However, I can also confidently say I have already starting to create a long list of lessons that I have already learned and will continue to use throughout my life.

1. Life is too short to be unhappy.
If you are unhappy with something in your life, it doesn’t matter if it is a relationship, a job or even the place you live, change it. One day, you will look back on your life and realise you wasted a lot of time doing things that you don’t enjoy. Only create space in your life for the things that matter and the things that make you happy.

2. Travel if you can
Now I haven’t even started on my long list of places I want to travel to around the world but external circumstances have prevented me from doing so. Once I am able, I will travel to India, Thailand, Spain, France, Germany, Finland, Japan, New York and all of the other amazing places on my list. Despite the lack of funds in the last few years, I still managed to visit Dublin, Edinburgh and Vienna. I can’t wait to travel the world with the one I love and one day it will, I just know it.

3. Surround yourself with the right people
This is an important one. I have had many people leave my life as quick as they entered it because I didn’t want to be surrounded by negative people. It’s hard to push away family members or friends but if they don’t support, respect and love you in the way they should, you will be better off without them. Your happiness comes first. Surround yourself with people who lift you up, not tear you down.

4. Believe in the impossible
Remember when you were five and you believed that the moon was made of cheese and fairies really did live at the bottom of your garden? Who says you still can’t believe what you want to believe? When we grow up and become adults, we kill this part of our brains. We start to only believe what other people tell us to believe and we no longer have our own individual beliefs. I believe in mermaids, magic and aliens. Laugh at me all you want, say I’m acting like a child or that I need to grow up but it’s what I believe. I want to believe in a world where anything is possible, this mentality definitely helps me make decisions in my everyday life.

5. You only get one body, look after it
I sometimes reach for the doughnut instead of the apple and I really should go to more than one exercise class a week but I never give up on trying to live a healthier life. I want to be fit and healthy, not to look good but to really take care of my body. As the years pass and I get older, I’m starting to realise the importance of looking after myself physically. It may take me a while to reach my goal of eating healthy and exercising three times a week, but I’ll get there.

6. Don’t neglect your mental health
I have had many issues with my mental health in the past few years and I know how hard it is to accept the fact that you might need help. But your mental wellbeing is just as important as your physical wellbeing. I’m never going to get rid of my anxiety disorder, it’s part of me. I just have to hope that in time, I learn new ways to manage it. I now know the signs to look for when it’s time to seek help from others.

7. Learn to laugh
Life can feel pretty serious when you’re an adult. Bills, work, families and money. It’s an endless stream of stress and responsibility. It’s easy to get caught up in it but don’t forget to smile. Laugh until your stomach hurts. Pull funny faces. Learn to have fun and really enjoy yourself.

8. A good cup of tea can solve most things
Bad day at work? Cup of tea. Problems with your family? Cup of tea. Feeling a little unwell? Cup of tea. Now, I know there is no magic in a cup of tea but it somehow makes you feel better. It feels comforting to hold a hot mug of tea when you are tired, stressed or sad. Look for the smaller things in life that bring you comfort.

9. Find time in your life for peace
It’s a hectic life and sometimes we forget to be still and enjoy some real alone time. Meditating has been life-changing for me. Whenever everything starts to build up, a few moments of meditation can bring me back to earth, make me calm and in control again. You don’t have to meditate to find peace in your day, read a book, have a long bubble bath or do some yoga.

10. Set yourself goals and work hard everyday to reach them
It’s important to set yourself goals in life, it gives you something to focus on and work towards. I like to set myself big dreams that will take years of hard work to achieve but I also give myself mini goals every day. It could be something simple such as: exercise twice a week, eat three portions of fruit a day or read more books. Goals and dreams are the foundations of a good life. Never lose your ambition, you are never too old to dream a new dream or learn something new. Remember that failure is a big part of success and if you do fail, pick yourself up and start again.

11. Find the beauty in life
It’s easy to race through life without noticing the small and beautiful things that happen every single day. No matter how bad my day is, I try my best to take a moment to appreciate my beautiful surroundings. Enjoy the colour of the sky, the trees, flowers, sunrises and sunsets.

12. A negative attitude will give a negative life
I have struggled with a negative mindset for most of my life. It’s hard to think positive and see the good in every situation, it’s taken me years or practice and sometimes no matter how hard I try, negativity wins. I try to surround myself with positive people, positive messages and regularly watch inspiring videos and listen to inspiring speeches to lift me up when I’m feeling down.

13. Don’t compare yourself to others
One of the many negative ideas that social media presents us with is that other people lead perfect lives. People only share the good moments in their lives and when your newsfeed is bombarded with happy families, holiday snaps and promotions, it can make you feel bitter about the lack of stability or progression in your own life. I have experienced this many times but I am learning to focus on myself and ignore everything I see on Facebook.

14. Love is happiness
Love is the most beautiful thing in this life. When the perfect person walks into your life, cherish them and tell them you love them every single day. I met the love of my life and my best friend when I was just eight years old. Years later we started dating and we’ve been together even since. Every day we tell each other how much we love one another and I never take him for granted. There are so many forms of love in life: relationships, friendships, family. Grab every opportunity to love and to be loved.

15. Don’t live with regrets
You don’t want to reach the end of your life and look back at all of the things you wish you had done with your time. Regret nothing. Always do what you want to do. Ignore what other people think and embrace your authentic self. Life is far too short to be hesitant. Do whatever it takes to be happy and successful, your future self will thank you for it.

16. Always learn something new
Education doesn’t end when you take off your school uniform. Life is a classroom, never stop learning and always encourage yourself to try something new. Travel the world, learn new languages, learn to paint and draw, learn to play the trumpet or the guitar, buy some books and learn about Greek mythology or Astrology. You’ll never know whether you’ll like something until you try it.

17. Not everyone in life is going to like you and that’s okay
You can’t please everyone, no mater how hard you try. I have this uncontrollable need to please people and sometimes I have to remind myself that not everyone in this life is going to like me and I have to accept that. Not everyone will have the same heart as me, I’ve come across many selfish and narcissistic people in my life that don’t see the world the same way that I do. We’re not all the same, that’s what makes life interesting. Just remind yourself that if people don’t like you, that’s their problem, not yours.

18. Plans don’t always work out
Life is unpredictable. I have learned to accept that things don’t always go my way. Unexpected things happen that I have no control over, the best thing to do when this happens is to deal with it and learn from the experience. Sometimes things happen for a reason and failure leads you to another path to success. I learnt that after years of rejection, that I was chasing the wrong dream, picking the wrong career for myself. This experience lead me to discover my passion for teaching.

19. Stand up for what you believe in
When we’re young, we think that our voice doesn’t matter and what we have to say is invalid because of our lack of life experience, this isn’t true. If you have a strong opinion about something, speak loud and proud. Stand up for what you believe in and don’t let anyone make you feel inferior. Be yourself and never let anyone negatively influence your faith, your opinions or your perspective on life.

20. Learn to forgive others and yourself
A lesson I have definitely learned in the last few years is that forgiveness never comes easy. Holding onto poisonous emotions such as hate, anger and resentment can send you spiralling down a road of unhappiness. As well as learning to forgive others for the way they have mistreated us, we must also learn in this life to forgive ourselves and be at peace with our past mistakes.

21. Enjoy the journey
It’s so easy to live in the past or focus on the future but if you don’t live in the moment, you miss all the wonderful things that are happening in your life. It’s good to focus on your big dreams and goals but don’t forget to enjoy the journey. I am learning that giving myself a few moments during the day to take a deep cleansing breath and allow myself to be in the present moment really helps me to focus on the journey, rather than the destination.

22. Believe in yourself, no matter what
If you don’t believe in yourself, then nobody will. People will treat you based on what you think about yourself. If you have no confidence in your abilities to succeed, then no one will give you the opportunity to reach your full potential. If you don’t believe that you are worthy of a good and happy life, then you will never achieve one.

23. Good things take time
I’ve learned in the last few years that good things take time and that patience really is a virtue. It’s frustrating when you life isn’t going the way you planned or the goals you want to achieve are still our of reach. However, timing is everything. Sometimes things happen for a reason and we are actually where we need to be, even if it doesn’t feel like it. I have to admit, it has taken me a long time to accept that the timeline of my life isn’t going to be how I imagined it. But I have to trust myself and know that if I want something badly enough, it will happen.

24. Gratitude is the key to happiness
When you don’t have a lot in life, it’s easy to feel bitter about it and shout from the rooftops that ‘life isn’t fair.’ However, there are a lot of things to be thankful for in your life; having a home, a wardrobe full of clothes, fresh food and clean water. If you think of a three things you are grateful for every day, it will enrich your life and bring you more happiness. The more you express your gratitude, the more things you will have to be grateful for. I believe in the law of attraction, that it is up to us what we choose to focus our attention on, think of the negatives and you will life a negative life. Choose positivity!

 

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Nothing Lasts Forever

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Credit: Jacob Munro

The thing about life that I am learning is that nothing lasts forever. I’m starting to realise that despite my best efforts, I can’t control everything that happens to me and I can’t predict what will happen in the future.

This might be easy for most people to accept, but for me, it’s hard to let go of the ideologies and expectations I have for myself and other people. My anxiety is taking over a lot these days. I thought I had control of my insecurities and worries after doing weeks of therapy but sure enough, I’m slipping back into old habits.

I sometimes wonder what I would be capable of if fear did not exist. I would be unstoppable if I didn’t have my anxiety holding me back, reminding me of everything that could go wrong in a situation and all of the bad things about the world. I try to be positive and I’m bouncing back much quicker than I used to, thanks to the therapy.

However, when something out of your control happens and throws you back into the bad situation you were in before, how do you deal with it? I got fired last week and although I hated the job with a passion and didn’t want to be there, it was keeping me financially stable. Now I feel like I’m in deep dark waters once more, trying to keep my head above the surface and feeling tired from constant effort required to keep going.

After university, I thought I had it all figured out, I wanted to be a paid writer. Now I want to go into teaching, I’m currently volunteering at a primary school once a week and will hopefully be doing more days now I don’t have my office job tying me down.

I’m exciting about the new career path but at the same time, I’m terrified. The days I’m in the school, I feel overwhelmed because it’s new but happy because it’s a place where I want to be. The days when I’m not at the school are long and sometimes I slip into depressive moods and feel like I’m going nowhere.

Nothing lasts forever. I knew the job in the office I had was going to be temporary but I didn’t expect to lose it and be forced back into unemployment. Maybe this is life’s way of pushing me in the direction of a new career? I was getting too comfortable and I needed to be vulnerable again to really go after what I want.

The problem is, I have lost my motivation. After so much rejection and disappointment, I have no burning desire any more to fight for a purpose. That’s how I feel on what I call a ‘bad day.’ On a ‘good day’ I feel positive, ready for whatever life throws at me and content with the ways things are but those days are few and far between.

I want to believe in a bright future, I only have to see beyond the grey clouds and some days this is easier than others. I’m sure I will get everything I want in life but it will take time. Life is full of tests and I believe that this is just another test, a chance for me to prove that despite how bad things get, I can find the strength to be positive and keep on going.

 

 

 

 

Reaching A Mental Health Milestone

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During the past few years, I have struggled with my mental health. I have General Anxiety Disorder (GAD), which means I constantly worry about everything and experience high amounts of anxiety for no reason at all. It took me a long time to accept that my anxiety was part of me, something that I couldn’t erase, something that couldn’t be ‘cured’ with a prescription of pills from the doctor.

A few months ago, when I reached a dark place with my anxiety and depression, I finally admitted to myself that I needed help. I would go days without leaving the house, I would sometimes sit and stare into space, pondering on the bad things that have happened in my life or bad things that ‘could’ happen in the future. I felt like I was trapped by my own mind, it’s a horrible feeling and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.

Having an anxiety disorder is unpredictable. You may go through periods of time without any anxiety at all and then all of a sudden, it’s back and suffocating your thoughts like a dark cloud. I thought I was strong enough to battle my mental health issue on my own and convinced myself that I was ‘in control’ and my anxiety would get better over time, but it didn’t.

I had tried all of the ‘self-help’ options and nothing worked. I was crippled by anxiety, always worrying about the future or feeling sad about the past. I reached a dark place, where I thought medication was the only option for me to proceed. Then, a shining light appeared and everything changed for me. I found the strength to ask for professional help. It was a waiting game but I finally got on the list for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

I have to be honest, I was sceptical at first. I had convinced myself that my natural way of thinking, the negative way I approach life and every situation couldn’t be reversed. After a few weeks of therapy sessions, I started to notice a change. I had unconsciously started to think more about my ‘unhelpful thinking style’ and started to rationalise with the voice in my head when negativity surfaced. The great thing about CBT is that it strips back to the bare bones of how you think, how this effects your behaviour and how you can change this in the future.

David, my therapist was amazing. He was honest, critical and helpful in our sessions. Always sending me home with ‘homework’ to do, such as thought diaries and weekly schedules, he discovered what my triggers were and how to remove them from my life. For me it was during my alone time that I experienced more anxiety and more depressive thoughts. The answer for me was to always keep myself busy and distract myself by colouring, reading, doing yoga or simply doing some meditation.

Ever since I started CBT, I managed to pull myself out of the depressive state that I found myself in for months, started to fight against my negative thoughts and made small changes in my life that were going to improve my overall wellbeing. I am going to do yoga as often as I can, learn how to meditate, practice mindfulness and make sure I find time to relax each day. I’m going to still have bad days and now I realise that it’s okay to feel sad sometimes and it’s normal to worry, as long as it doesn’t take over your life.

I feel like I am reaching a mental health milestone. I have learnt in the past few months that anxiety cannot be ‘cured’ it can only be ‘managed.’ I have discovered that if I give attention to my anxiety and say to myself that I am mentally ill or there is something wrong with me, it only fuels my negativity and it will probably erase any progress that I have made.

I feel like I have reached a pinnacle of understanding. I accepted my anxiety was a problem, I asked for help and now I no longer feel alone on this journey to achieve a positive mindset. I have a long way to go but I finally feel like I can see the light at the end of a dark tunnel of worry, insecurity, anxiety and doubt. Like a butterfly, I feel free to go anywhere I want to go and do anything I want to do. I want to believe in hope instead of fear. I want to see the glass as half full instead of half empty. My anxiety will never ‘go away’ but I’m confident that I’m now in control of how I think, how I feel and how I behave.

 

Waiting & Wishing

I’m always wishing for something or thinking about something I want. I know that I should appreciate what I already have but sometimes, I find myself stuck in an endless cycle of negativity and hopelessness. I’m tired of struggling. I just want everything to happen. Right now. I don’t want to wait any longer. I’m still waiting for the day that changes everything.

Why is it so difficult to see what is right in front of me? What is this selfish need that all humans have to always want more? I feel like I have fallen into the same trap that everybody else falls into. I have it imprinted in my mind that the only way I am ever going to live a happy life is to get everything I want. But I know deep down that none of it really matters.

I have a long mental list of things that I want to complete, I want to have lots of money and own expensive possessions, get my a dream job, be able to travel the world and possibly have a family of my own one day. But do I really want all of that? More importantly, do I really need all of that? Or is society’s influence so strong that I don’t know the difference between what I really want and who I want to be and what society expects of me?

Dreaming is an important part of living. There’s nothing wrong with hoping for a better life and wishing for good things to happen but when they start to control your overall happiness, it becomes a big problem. And it’s starting to become a big problem for me. I’m only twenty one years old, why do I feel this pressure to achieve everything and have everything I want right now? I blame society. I blame social media. I blame the high expectations that are set by others. I also blame myself for succumbing to this toxic way of thinking. I don’t need to follow any guidelines, my life is not going to be the same as anyone else’s, I need to start believing this.

I try and switch off and embrace the day, live my life and stop worrying about the future but it’s hard. None of us know how much time we have and I think that urgency causes this need to want everything right now. I want so many things. Maybe I should start focusing on what I need? I already have everything I need. I have amazing friends, a family, a loving partner and a home. I am more privileged than most but I fail to see how lucky I am on a daily basis. I am surrounded by love, I experience happiness every day but I don’t realise it because it is clouded by the pressures of the future and everything I have yet to achieve and material possessions I have yet to own.

I need to stop thinking of happiness as a goal. Life is a journey and finding happiness is part of that journey. I’m not always going to be happy. I’m going to have days that I feel so bad about my life that I won’t want to get out of bed in the morning and that’s okay because there are plenty of days ahead of me that I will experience joy and contentment. I might not be where I want to be right now but I need to start enjoying the present and stop fretting about the future. I’m not perfect, I’m going to make lots of mistakes, I’m still young and I still have so much I need to learn about this crazy and perplexing thing we call life.

Lost At Sea

I feel like I’m lost at sea and I am barely keeping my head above the water. I kick my legs to stay alive and I can see the sun on the horizon but no matter how hard I try to swim towards it, the waves take me in a different direction. Some days, I feel the warm sun on my face and I believe that I will make it, to where I want to be and other days I feel like I can no longer stay afloat.

Clear blue water, I can see everything around me, the past, the present and the future and the images blur in my mind. I try to look forward, to stay in the moment and forget the past. Why does it feel so difficult to think of it all? My legs are tired and my heart is beating quickly in my chest. What’s the point of all of this? I try and nothing happens. I want to swim straight. I know where I am going but I don’t know how to get there. The waves are taking me away from the control I thought I had. The sun is disappearing and soon it will be just me and the night sky.

When the sky is dark, my feelings are too. Everywhere I turn I see nothing but black water, it swallows me up and I feel so small and insignificant. The moon is high in the sky, it seems so far away. I know that there are people in the world struggling to survive and I should feel happy that there is breath in my body and life in my eyes but sometimes I lose that spark, I lose my light and I give into the temptation of negativity. Wouldn’t it just be easier to not care? To bob along in the waves of life and see where the wind takes me? Why can’t I be free from restrictions? Why can’t I close my eyes, picture a place and be there? The answer is simple. Life is unpredictable like the sea, the waves can pull me in various directions but as long as I keep looking at the horizon, I will be okay.

The waves carry me into morning and the light from the sun gives me hope again, I smile, all I can do is hope that the day will bring me some happiness.

A Journey Of A Thousand Miles Must Begin With A Single Step


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‘Peace comes from within.  Do not seek it without.’ – Buddha

I have heard many things when it comes to yoga and meditation and I have to admit it, I was definitely a sceptic. I refused to believe that sitting down and focusing on your breathing for ten minutes could release all of the toxins and the bad energy from the body.

Today I decided to stop talking about yoga and start doing yoga. I have always had an interest in yoga and meditation but never really pushed myself to actually do it. I am so glad that I finally motivated myself. I have suffered with anxiety for numerous years, it crept up on me one day when I was at college and it has lingered over my head ever since. It only takes something small to trigger it, whether it be the stresses of university work, family worries or relationship struggles – my anxiety takes over. My heart beats increases, my chest tightens and I feel like I lose control of my positive thoughts. I sometimes get frustrated because I can still get anxiety symptoms when I don’t have anything stressful on my mind.

Here is where yoga comes in. I didn’t expect a permanent solution, I just wanted an outlet. I also have a hip condition so the idea of yoga has always seemed like an impossible achievement for me. I decided to give it a go anyway and in the process of experiencing yoga, I found meditation. I struggled to let go of the tension that built up in my mind and my body. I didn’t believe that meditation would work, but it did. I entered a trance-like-state without even realising it. I focused on my breathing, inhaling and exhaling. That’s all that I needed to think about. I cleared my mind. My eyes closed. I felt at one with myself. When I had finished I felt revitalised and free of anxiety and tension.

Amazing right? The lesson I have recently learned is a journey of a thousand miles must being with a single step. You have to try new things and find your true self. Take that first step and you may discover something great. I just hope that I stick to my yoga and meditation. I frequently go through phases of doing things. I learn a new subject or skill, I am fascinated by it and for a while it is my new favourite thing until it fades into obscurity. I get bored easily but I feel different about this. I believe that yoga and meditation will help me in every aspect of my life and I am determined to carry on doing it. It is a discipline that I feel that I need right now. I am going back to University in a few weeks and I don’t want the ghost of my anxiety to return. I haven’t had an attack in about six months. University is the number one trigger but now I have my new tools to help me cope. Yoga and meditation will hopefully help me control my worries and my anxious thoughts. I am confident that this is the beginning of a new spiritual journey, something great, something peaceful, something new.