5 simple life lessons that have a lasting impact

When we were younger, we were all told simple pieces of advice by people that we grew up with. For me, the importance of these life lessons has shone through as I’ve grown up, come across more people and situations, and dealt with more problems that life has thrown my way.

Here are the life lessons that have stuck with me over the years: 

1. You can’t go through life without failing

We’ve all heard this one a million and one times, but the moment you learn to accept this fact, the kinder you will be to yourself, and the more accepting you will be when you face failure. It is almost too easy to just assume that everything will run smoothly, and that we wont have to face situations where we haven’t done very well in something, but it’s not realistic. Once you start to welcome failure as something that enables you to grow and develop in a certain area of your life, you will develop as a person, too.

2. Hard work pays off

It’s simple and seemingly obvious, but ever so true. If you really want something and put the work in for it, you will reach your goal in the end. It might take years, you may encounter numerous failures along the way, but a dedicated mindset will take you where you want to go. Your determination and efforts will be rewarded in one way or another.

3. You can’t please everyone

This one often takes individuals (including myself) longer to accept. We grow up being told to be as friendly as possible to everyone we encounter, so naturally we expect other people to act in a similar way. Sometimes, people may act spiteful or rude and we can’t figure out why. The way others act can be harmful to us, and knock our confidence, affecting our well being. If this is the case, learning to accept that you cannot please everyone you come across in life can be tricky, but worthwhile in the end. You learn to be at peace with yourself, and let others think what they wish. At the end of the day YOU are the only person who knows yourself properly, and YOU know whether you are in the right or wrong.

4. Appreciate the simple things

With the rise of technology, we are often plastered to our phones, letting the beauty of the natural world pass us by. Put the phone in your pocket, take a walk, admire the scenery! Pay careful attention to the scents and sights surrounding you. We are blessed to have been born into such a magnificent world, so we must soak it all in! Similarly, appreciate that first sip of coffee, focus on the smell and the taste. Living in the present as opposed to letting your mind wander is extremely effective in allowing us to stay calm.

5. Be thankful

It is all too easy to take the endless things that our family and friends do for us for granted! Simple things like telling your parents your dinner was delicious, to letting your friend know that you are thankful for what they do for you may seem like small things to you, but leave a lasting impact on people closest to us! Tell the people you love that you love them, and that they are amazing individuals. Because why not!? They’ll be sure to smile.

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Don’t reinvent yourself- reinvent the mindset

We all have our down days where nothing seems to be going to plan, and basically- we feel pretty rubbish about ourselves. However, perhaps (in some cases), we don’t just feel down due to the issues we encounter, but because of our approach towards these issues, and moreover perhaps, our mindset to begin with.

Let me put it in simpler terms- if something is coming up that we dread, perhaps a big presentation, going to a certain place where we must interact with people who we aren’t familiar with, anything– our mindset is very likely to be negative from the start, before we’ve even set foot out the front door. It’s normal to have worries or concerns about future events, but while we’d like to say that we keep them in the back of our minds, we more often then not let these feelings consume us, until they are no longer a thought process, but become a part of our personalities.

I for one have endlessly become a victim to this all too familiar feeling, where I am worrying about something to such an extent that it affects my mood, and even sometimes how I talk to others. I don’t like that this happens, I don’t want it to happen, but it just does. So since starting my second year of College, where essays and exams are constantly on the go,  I have been thinking about a way to tackle this issue.

The way I view it, is that my worries will always be a part of me. I have well and truly accepted this. However, a vast majority of my worries regard future events, which cannot be predicted in any way, shape or form. So, to stop myself from worrying about what grade I might have gotten, I tell myself that I will find out in due time, and that’s what my grade will be. As opposed to shining a negative light on any awaiting news, I usher it to the corners of my mind, because I for one cannot change the future, that ability is far out of my reach. When having a more simplistic mindset, that essentially, whatever will be will in fact be, it enables me to get on with my daily activities without having this huge, looming monster over me.

To help with worries and nerves, living in the present is key. This doesn’t mean pretending that there isn’t a past, and definitely doesn’t mean disregarding the future, but simply changing what is able to be changed, doing what is able to be done, and acting upon what can be acted on in the present time.

So, when we have down days, worrying over seemingly nothing, and wonder what on earth is wrong with us, we must stop to realise that our negative feelings don’t define us, but are merely thoughts. And whilst we do not need to change who we are, we are capable of changing the way that we approach situations.

How do others view me?

When caught up in our daily lives, I think it’s extremely easy to forget that the way we view ourselves- our looks, personalities, everything- isn’t how others view us, at all really. It’s almost like there are numerous versions of ourselves, one that you see, one your parents see, one that your friends see, one your partner sees and so on! And I think that because we often forget that how we view ourselves isn’t how others view us, it can make us feel vulnerable, and very susceptible to self doubt and pain.

I started really thinking about this one night on a train, where my friend sat opposite me. My takeaway hot chocolate was sat on the little table in between us, and as I looked at the cup, I noticed a small dent near the top and my mind started wandering. I mean, a dent on a takeaway cup may seem like nothing significant, but for me it was a bit of a light bulb moment. Let’s put it this way- I could see the dent, my friend could not. And if you use the dent as a representative of all your insecurities, all your doubts regarding your self worth, then the outcome is quite beautiful!

Because when we have insecurities they can dominate our thoughts, manipulating us into thinking badly of ourselves. And the more negative emotions that pass through us, the more we’re almost trained into feeling bad about our appearance, personality, anything! Somehow we automatically assume that because we feel a certain way about ourselves that others must too, but this is not often the case.

Have you ever loved something about your friend- their hair, their laugh that they simply cannot stand? I have had many of these experiences, where I’ve adored something about someone, and they either think I’m joking or just ‘being nice’. Well, my friend also had a hot chocolate cup, and if hers happened to have a dent on it, I would have been none the wiser! It’s extremely likely that she hates things about herself that I love, so that’s the thought I want to leave you with today.

So next time you come face to face with your insecurities and doubts, please recognise that what you hate, someone probably loves! And next time you feel self conscious, remember my hot chocolate cup story, and realise your self worth!

It’s not the fear itself, but merely the way our mind perceives it

Everyone is fearful of something, and these fears can affect us in different ways.  But is it actually the fear that frightens us so much? I think not.

Our incredible ability to be able to think means that we can make connections between thoughts, which can then branch out even further, leaving our minds nothing short of an ever growing cobweb, our fears being the ravenous spiders, and us- well, we’re the helpless, incapable flies, caught up in the web, unable to move. And when you think about the complexity and scale of a cobweb, the spider itself almost becomes less significant.

That’s what I believe happens when we have a fear. Our worries venture far beyond a concept, travelling deeper and deeper. So essentially, it’s not the fear, but all the baggage that comes with it- all the possible consequences that could follow on from that fear, all of the endless scenarios.

A common fear that many children hold is spiders, so let’s backtrack to our younger selves.

A harmless spider is in your room, with no intention of hurting you. Unfortunately, you’ve spotted it tucked away in the corner right before bedtime, meaning that you now refuse to sleep until the spider has been removed. Now, is it the completely motionless spider on your wall that you’re afraid of? Sure, its long legs and posture can be seen as intimidating to some- but when do the hairs on our arms really stand up?

When it moves. When it travels from its comfortable position towards us. At least when the lights are on we can track its movements, and move away. But what happens when the lights are out? We have no idea where it is, what its intentions are, what it might do to us! We aren’t hugely afraid of the spider, nor the darkness- but combine the two and for some they might find themselves sleeping with the light on all night! After all, we aren’t afraid of the darkness, but what’s in it. Just how the fear itself might not be what terrifies us, but what the fear is capable of doing.

I feel that holding a fear is very much like having a spider, positioned in the corner of our minds. When you think of a fear you have, it doesn’t seem THAT scary, until you start thinking about all of the consequences that could follow from the fear, after you have come in contact with it. In fact, it turns out that we don’t even end up focusing on the fear itself, but the potential consequences. And these potential consequences can be as unlikely and bizarre as our mind chooses them to be, and that’s the incredible yet fatal thing about it.

Just how as a spider web grows and grows, capturing more and more vulnerable flies along the way- the spider, the actual fear isn’t what’s viewed as intimidating, but what turns out to be really frightening, is the damage that the spider, the fear is capable of doing.

 

 

 

The Seasons

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The seasons come and go,
And after all these years you’d think I’d grow tired of the falling of the leaves, and the withering of the trees
But this is not so
For every time I’m left amazed, dazzled by the show
As the fields are aglow
Blooming colours and freshly cut grass, why it must be spring at last!

But once spring is over, you needn’t cry
For look at the bright rays of sun darting through the sky!
Summer has arrived, greeting you like a friend
Its comforting warmth, the joy it sends!

So along comes Autumn, fresh and bright
The vibrant leaves keeping the pavements alight
Colours of a sunrise, orange and red
It’s impossible to accept that in a few months they’ll be dead

Winter is here, darkness falls across the sky
But although the frost bites, spirits remain high
The glow of the fireplace putting everyone at ease
For a new year brings chances, just as Spring brings leaves on the trees

Why it’s OK to let go

We all encounter issues in our lives with particular people, and it’s a completely normal fact that we won’t get on with everyone. But why is it often the case that we cling onto those who don’t treat us as we deserve to be treated?

It’s strange really, how we are willing to sacrifice our happiness and well being just so that things ‘remain the same’ and that nothing is ‘made awkward’ for anyone else. Like with friendships for instance- someone could be really upsetting you, even if it’s not massively obvious to others, but you just let it happen day after day because its almost too much effort to show how you actually feel. In other words, you let it slide and just continue on with your life normally.

How we think that it’s acceptable to do this to ourselves is honestly beyond me, and as I’ve grown older I’ve realised the importance of being able to let go of toxic relationships because of how much happier I could be without them.

Many of us ponder and worry over whether its worth telling the truth, confronting people, causing arguments and all the rest- well let me tell you that it is, because if you weigh up how happy and then how upset/annoyed/irritated someone is making you feel, and they make you feel more negative emotions than positive, then something is definitely up, and something needs to be sorted. I know it can be very difficult to put yourself first in tricky situations, meaning that we don’t always think about what’s right for us and our happiness, and sometimes that’s the worst part. We worry more about how others will think of us, how much tension will be created, and various other bizarre scenarios that may not even happen, and as a result we let the ‘What ifs’ hold more importance than our very own feelings. Crazy right?

Some of us ( I know I’m guilty of this ) may even be reluctant about confessing how we feel because ‘What if that person changes in the future?’  ‘What if I’m throwing away something that could have been potentially good?’                                                                        Let me tell you- they won’t and you’re not. You cannot put your happiness on hold because of something that has a small chance of happening. If you finally let go of a toxic relationship, then your happiness is pretty much guaranteed, whereas if you wait for someone to miraculously change, the truth is you could be waiting a long time, and even then your happiness isn’t guaranteed, because you’ll still remember how they used to treat you.

Whatever relationship you have with someone, if it makes you feel physically uncomfortable, self conscious, nervous or any other negative emotion being around them, then please come to realise the importance of your own happiness, because life is precious and we don’t want to waste a minute of it trying to work on something that simply isn’t there and wasn’t there in the first place.

Life is precious, time is precious – meaning that it’s not to be spent waiting around for the ‘What ifs’.

 

Language: Our finest weapon?

Language. It’s an interesting thing. So interesting in fact, that I’ve decided to write a blog about it. Bear with me, it may not be as boring as you think.

It’s only this year where the very concept of language itself has fascinated me. As an English language student who has just finished my first year of college, I must say that the subject has really opened my eyes (and ears) into the deep, and sometimes dark world of.. well… words.

The thing about language, is that it has a great influence without us even realising.

Picture this- One morning you arrive late to class,  entering the classroom whilst apologising endlessly, only for the teacher to say “No worries, take a seat” – you probably wouldn’t think anything of it! It’s almost as if they have warmly welcomed you in, next they’ll be making you tea and telling you to put your feet up! Now imagine a different scenario. You walk in late, apologising and the teacher, with pursed lips mutters “Fine. Sit.”

I can feel the shivers down your spine.

As scary as the teacher may be, they have now gained your respect, and unless you’re a ‘too good for anyone’ individual, I think it’s fair to say that you’d avoid being late to their lesson in the future. That’s the thing about language- if used in a tactical manner, it can allow people to gain power. Even if it’s just over a student, you have still made an influence, and that my friend is the power of language.

If constructed carefully, language can impact more than one person. Think about politicians, and the language that they use. Take Donald Trump, with repetition being a frequent language device used by him. An example of this is “That’s wrong. They were wrong” Due to his status, his language can travel far and wide, through all the nooks and crannies of society, influencing thousands. Repetition will allow his views to be engraved into his listeners minds, and I think this shows how when aided by a powerful figure, the language spoken by someone can become embedded into the hearts and minds of people- altering their perceptions, and their views.

Language can also be used to scare- representing groups of people in extremely negative ways, as shown by David Cameron when he described a group of migrants as a ‘Swarm’. Now, you think of a swarm and you think of wasps, pests- not human beings. 

But this is my point. Language can make or break a group, an individual, a place, anything!

If you read a negative review on Trip Advisor, your immediate reaction may not be incredibly positive. In reality, someone may just be incredibly fussy, who found a mark on their mirror so has decided to try and shut the hotel down, but due to their language you’ve already been put off from going there! Beneath that comment may be hundreds of positive ones, but forget that! You could read all of them, and still have that one negative comment lingering in the back of your mind- because the distinct and critical language has well and truly stuck in your mind!

On the contrary,  visit a hotel’s actual website and suddenly language can enable an awful, run down place to become the ideal holiday destination, which your family ‘Simply can’t miss out on!’

And that’s why language fascinates me so much. It can create long lasting images in your head, which then determine a lot of your thoughts and essentially, choices in life. Whether you’re left feeling inspired or repulsed by something someone has said, or by something you’ve read- language will always leave it’s mark.

 

The mind: Our worst enemy?

I think that probably one of the most annoying things about being a worrier is that essentially it’s a battle with your own thoughts- a Me V Me tournament where ‘Me’ never seems to win. 

When I think about all of the worries I’ve had throughout my life, a large majority of them have been made up scenarios in my mind, which I have thought- no, I have been CERTAIN would happen. And as a result of these events created by my mind, I think about how I’m going to react in the situation, how others will think of me, all of the things that will go wrong, having not even experienced the situation yet! It’s crazy, and a bit big headed really, for me to think that I have some capability of reading into the future. So I suppose it serves me right when the events that unfold are never as awful as I had planned out in my head.

That’s the strange thing though, isn’t it? We basically let our minds control our lives. We let it keep us awake at night as we freak out over things that haven’t happened and may not ever happen, which then affects our mood, which then affects the way we act, which then affects how we treat other people around us, which then.. you get the picture.

I find it both fascinating and annoying (mainly annoying, though) how our thoughts essentially restrict us in all kinds of ways. Time and time again have I sat in class, not putting my hand up in fear that my answer will be wrong. Even if I am 110% certain that my answer is correct, there’s still the fear of being wrong, and that my friend is not something worth risking. I’d rather stay quietly seated than make a fool out of myself. Stupid, isn’t it?

I do try to live in the present, telling myself that I can’t change the past and I can’t predict the future- but when my mind is whispering the sweet sound of failure in my ear like the  Ghost of Christmas Yet-to-Come (or should I say Ghost of Future Failures-to-Come),  it can be rather difficult at times!

So what’s the best way to stop worrying about the future? I haven’t quite cracked it yet. Is it to worry yourself to such an extent that you give yourself a headache and eventually fall asleep? Is it to act like all that exists is ‘The now’?

Who knows.

I mean, deep within my mind there’s probably a pretty good answer lying around, but my mind’s too busy planning out next week’s embarrassing events to tell me.

Are we all being deceived?

No, I’m not about to throw a load of philosophical quotes at you- we can ponder the existence of the world another time.

So what am I talking about? What I want to talk about today is social media. It’s all around us, day by day, encapsulating us in it’s digital world- and I’m not saying this is a bad thing. I too am a prisoner to it’s treasures, basking in the glory of how much better I look with a dog filter on snapchat, editing instagram photos until they’re just the right artsy tone of colour.. and the rest of it!

I actually think that social media brings many benefits, it allows friendships to be created, interests to be shared, and for people to become known for their talents! But- I too am guilty of looking at people’s posts and becoming envious of their looks, or wishing I too, was enjoying a milkshake in a vintage cafe with ‘the girls’. And as much as these individuals posting may be having a great time, the circumstances often involve someone going “Stop! Don’t drink it yet, I need to post it to snapchat!” The truth is, no you don’t ‘need’ to, but the constant pressure of social media makes you feel obliged to.    Thinking about it, it’s kind of strange. You wouldn’t necessarily post your macaroni cheese microwave meal for all of your friends to see, (don’t get me wrong, you might)  so why the fancy milkshake in the swanky cafe? Well, it’s obvious.

On social media you get to choose what you post, so therefore naturally, most people only post the impressive, glamorous snapchat stories. I mean, perhaps it’s a clear reflection of our lives, and how we can’t actually choose for only positive things to happen, so we use social media to make up for it!  We can’t have the fancy milkshake EVERY day, because that’s not life. We might not always be able to afford it, eventually it could make us pretty unhealthy, and we’d get bored of the same flavour! So, perhaps this is a pretty bad analogy, but what I’m saying is that we use many forms of social media to express the ‘finer things’ in life, but if every day was as perfectly crafted as a snapchat post, then it really wouldn’t end up benefiting us at all!

The bad days make us appreciate better days, bad food makes us appreciate good food!

The problem here is that whilst we scroll aimlessly through instagram, seeing endless photos, it’s extremely easy to forget that what we are seeing is actually only what people choose to post. As a result of this, as human beings we can become very vulnerable, using other people’s selfies as a reason to bring out our own insecurities regarding our looks. But think about when you last posted on social media. Was your intention to bring others down, making them envious and less confident?

Probably, hopefully not.

So, I suppose what I’m trying to say is that although social media is a great thing, we must be careful to distinguish what we see on instagram from well.. the reality of life. Of course, take all the photos you want! Post them as often as you want, it’s a great thing to be able to do, and I in no way want the constant sharing and creativity to cease happening.

Social media is an excellent thing- as long as you don’t fall into the trap of using it as a way of comparing your life to others, because the truth is, other people have probably looked at one of your posts and done the same thing. Maybe that’s the issue. Our accounts create an individual world around us, so that we almost forget that the people posting things are just the same as us, you know..

..humans. 

 

“Why do you worry so much?”

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I didn’t have the typical childhood. Don’t get me wrong, it was great- I had lovely, caring parents, funny siblings, a nice house, kind friends and my own swing! What could be better? I suppose if I could change one thing about my childhood, it would be my way of thinking. While some people’s childhoods were supposedly ‘care-free’, mine wasn’t. In fact, my mind has never been care free, and that’s really quite a sad fact. I still remember it, sitting in my year 2 classroom before our Key stage 1 SATS (which in the long term didn’t mean a lot) I mean sure they marked our progress etc, but regardless of my results I would stay comfortably seated in my primary school. It wasn’t like GCSE’s, where the results determined which college courses you’d take, or A levels where your future path was heavily determined by your results. So why was I so worried?

That, I still haven’t been able to answer.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made substantial progress. I don’t worry as much over simple things such as public transport, I approach shopkeepers more confidently, I feel I am more talkative in general. But the one issue that I have failed to shake off my back is my immensely irritating habit of worrying. It doesn’t affect everything I do, but I think the worst part is, is that I can be feeling completely neutral, or even happy, and the feeling of worry will wash through my brain in a brief moment, the after effects lingering like a bad smell, and there I will sit, my current pleasant situation rudely interrupted once again. It can literally happen anywhere over anything. I could be having coffee with a friend, and all of a sudden the fear of my exam coming up will arise, and well.. it’s really  annoying. I can control myself and not let it ruin my situation when I’m amongst others, but it still remains, and even though I continue to chat with a slightly more forced smile this time, the worry will be in the back of my mind.

If I had documented every phrase ever spoken to me, “Stop worrying” would make up a large percentage, closely followed by “Why do you care so much?” Well.. 1. I can’t and 2. You tell me! The frequent misperception regarding ‘Worriers’ is that they choose to worry, and that they choose what to worry over, and that somehow they have control over their worries. Let me tell you, if they had any control over it, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t worry so much, or at all!

Probably the most annoying thing for me is that unless you know me well, I probably don’t come across as someone who has a lot of worries. I have a laugh with my friends, I smile a lot and all the rest! I guess the thing is that the worries are constantly there, so I suppose I have gotten used to them. Depending on whether I’m in a good or bad mood, and who I’m with can obviously affect how much I’m worrying- but they’ll always be there.

I’m relatively ok with letting past worries go- if I’ve had a bad grade, or argued with someone (given enough time of course). The issue I have are worries for the future. I can sit worrying over an exam result that I won’t receive for over 2 months. I KNOW that in order to think logically I have to say to myself ‘Let it go, don’t let something you can’t change affect your present’ so you’d think that my thought process would follow on from that. Apparently not.

THAT’S what gets to me. How I know how I SHOULD be thinking in order to be logical and remain calm. I’ve told myself to stop worrying over things in the future countless times, but my brain just doesn’t learn. It’s almost as if I worry that if I stay too calm the result will turn out badly. If I come out of an exam relatively confident, my thoughts immediately backtrack resulting in my confidence plummeting in terms of how well I did.

I wouldn’t go as far as saying that my worries ruin my life. They aren’t necessarily a huge burden, they’re just.. there- like a friend that you have been trying to politely tell to leave you alone but suddenly years later they still haven’t budged.