These are eight lessons I want to teach my daughter. I have learned these through many mistakes, periods of introspection and learning in my life.
My hope for her is to live authentically, passionately and gracefully.
1. If someone hurts you, don't take it personally
Chances are, they have been hurt themselves. In fact, never take anything personally. Don't let compliments get to your head and don't let criticism get you down. It is a known fact that most people can only give others what they have received themselves.
All your actions and words should come from a place of love. But not everyone will be loving back. And that is OK.
As Miguel Ruiz explained in his book The Four Agreements, when you do not take anything personally, you are in a place of liberation. You can interact with the world through the lens of an open heart, not having to worry about what others will say.
2. Keep a portion of what you earn for saving and another for giving back
Learn to see money as a tool with which you can achieve your greatest dreams. But it is also a tool that can be used to do tremendous good in the world. If you are blessed with a lot of money, do not waste this opportunity. Use it to change a social condition, to uplift a community and to inspire others.
Someone once gave me some great advice about money:
With every dollar that you earn, keep one third to spend, one third to save, and one third to give back to the world.
3. Live every day as if it was a Friday
Speaking of money, do not trade money for meaning in your life. Hopefully you will find a career that gives you meaning and all the money that you need. Finding meaning is the only way to live every day as if it was a Friday.
You cannot live your life just waiting for the weekend. Find something that excites you. As Dr. Wayne Dyer once said, "Do not die with your music still inside of you."
Your job in this life is to find your music and go about the business of sharing it with the world.
If you have not found your music yet, keep searching. Do one thing everyday that makes you happy. Make it a Friday, every single day.
4. You do not need anyone's approval
The need for approval is like an addiction. If you base all your actions on the approval of others, ultimately you will sacrifice your own happiness. Don't put the key to your happiness in someone else's pocket. Learn how to say "no" to people and obligations that do not add value to your life.
Your time on this earth is precious. You must invest your time like you invest money. Invest in people and activities that uplift you. As the saying goes, "What you do today is important, because you are exchanging a day of your life for it."
5. In every tough situation, try kindness first
People may make ugly comments. The airline may lose your bags. Another driver may cut you off. These situations will happen everyday. How are you going to respond?
Although your first response like many others will be to get angry, why not try a different approach? Anger in these situations rarely solves problems. People are more likely to respond to kindness. And you can be kind and be firm.
Get your point across without sacrificing your integrity. It is the only response that you will not regret later. No matter how upset you are, always treat others with respect. You will be surprised at how much can be accomplished with kindness.
6. Do not complain unless you can suggest a solution
Do not be a constant complainer. No one likes that person. If you do not like your current situation, work towards changing it. But don't sit and complain about it. Complaining will get you nowhere. In fact, it will only make others not want to be around you. Be someone that looks for the positive in every situation. And if you do find a problem, be someone that can suggest a solution.
You will never get to where you want to be by complaining about where you are now. Each step in your life is preparing you for the one that comes after it.
7. Learn to be present
While technology can be life-changing in many great ways, there is an aspect to technology that interferes with our relationships. Do not be so addicted to a screen that you miss enjoying real life happening in front of you. Learn to disconnect everyday.
Learn to slow down. Give people your full and un-divided attention. Do not seek mindless stimulation on a screen and learn to make real human connections.
8. Don't let the world make you bitter
The world can be a difficult place. You may experience suffering, heartbreak or the loss of a loved one. All of these things can take a toll on your soul. But do not lose hope.
Think about the Yin and Yang in Chinese philosophy, which states that opposite forces are often interconnected. In suffering, you can find great strength, in heartbreak you can find resilience and in loss you can find a renewed appreciation for life.
Life comes with Yin and Yang. The two opposites are interdependent and interconnected. And you do not need to be afraid. In every difficult situation, you are being tested. If you become bitter and angry, you have lost.
Stop to notice each flower, each weed that is breaking through the cement to find the sun and each butterfly that has found it's wings. Learn to see the beauty around you.
Iaian Thomas wrote:
Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard.
Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let bitterness steal your sweetness.
Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree,
you still know it to be a beautiful place.
Keep your sweetness. Be soft. And know that the world is a beautiful place. Always.
You can follow Smita on Facebook here
CORRECTION: In a previous version of this post, the Iaian Thomas quote was incorrectly attributed to Kurt Vonnegut.