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Eleven Things I Know as an Adult That I Wish I’d Known Sooner
Nothing important comes easily.
If you want to really be good at something, whether it is your profession, your parenting skills, being a partner, or helping others, you really have to work at it. You need to be willing to put your heart and soul into whatever it is that you decide that you are devoted to.
Always do the work that you love.
You spend lots of time doing it. For the past 33 years I have jumped out of bed each morning to work as an acupuncturist and Qigong therapist. I know that I will have the opportunity during the day to develop my compassion, spirituality, equanimity, and understanding to support individuals in their healing. During the day, I witness how energy that was stagnant and stuck can easily go back to a more natural flow toward creating health and happiness in a person. And then when a few of the people start to do Qigong exercises to move their own Qi, I feel like I am empowering each person in ways that allow them to be in concert with their true essence.
Find a creative way to express yourself that you can practice. It will be useful with all of life’s trials and tribulations. When my brother was sick, and later when my mother was sick, I danced all the time. I performed two to three times a month and had lessons and rehearsals in between. I’m a very physically expressive person. Dancing made me feel free.
When I was in my late 20s, I painted a lot. I was surprised to notice that I painted shadows behind my figures. Thanks to the paintings, I realized I was dealing with something that I’d held onto like clouds around me that I had to either integrate or release. I couldn’t have defined it better than the picture did. We are a culture that relies to some degree on words, and that’s wonderful. But we need other outlets as well. Creativity is a necessary part of your being. If you’re not finding a creative aspect of your life, then you’re really not living fully who you are.
Don’t dwell in loss.
Always have a sense that any loss opens the field of possibility for you. Let it go and open up to the unknown. My father passed away twelve years ago. Even before he died, I lost key parts of him and our relationship to his dementia. But through my journey with him through his illness, I walked the narrower path of being awake to the present moment. I had the opportunity to see and hear him differently, and that became the avenue for many unexpected gifts. The struggles were real and I still miss him. But I don’t dwell in the loss.
When you think your life is exceptionally hard, start helping other people and you will understand that things could definitely be worse. It gives you the opportunity to do more for someone else.
Love is always the most important thing in your life.
Making any decision without the heart takes you on a false path. Sometimes making the best decisions involves balancing the idealized and the pragmatic, or the left and right brain. But I would give the heart and love much stronger weight than any practical considerations.
Being shy just keeps other people from knowing you.
We all have a special part within us that is rich, valuable, precious and brilliant. It is necessary and fulfilling to pause to know your own deeper self and spirit. And just as necessary to share that with others. Not everyone will understand or appreciate your uniqueness, but being shy never keeps you safe or removes the sense of vulnerability.
Relate to nature as much as possible in how you live your life. If weather permits spend time out in nature, observing the trees, plants, skies, wild life, rocks, water. Notice how the wind blows. With our fast paced work life I find that more often than not, I’m on my way to the next thing. I glimpse to the side to notice what flowers are blooming and which are fading. If this glimpse could change to a pause, what would really change? Would I be late? Would I need to work a shorter day? I would be more grounded to nature and to the earth.
We grow from learning to handle and resolve conflicts. When conflicts arise, mostly what you see are other people’s fears and illusions about where they are. But I also think that the people that you have the most conflict with are teaching you a lot. Be grateful that you have some opportunities for growth in your life. (At least you aren’t boring.)
When you have conflict, remember that this can be your greatest teacher. Try to resolve conflict as often as you can, whether it is in the family or in the community. An unresolved conflict holds you back from making progress and creating more in the world. And remember that everything doesn’t have to be done your way. Even if you believe that your way would be the best.
Forgiveness is the key to healing.
Forgive yourself. Living with anger and rage imprints it on your immune system. Forgive yourself for not knowing. Forgive the situation. Realize that it isn’t personal. Use it as a fuse to enhance your life, rather than diminish it. Forgive the offender or perpetrator. There needs to be a reason to forgive the person; a need to heal at the level of a spiritual person. If you are blaming God, you need to forgive God. If you are saying, ‘God, how did you let this happen to me?’ then you are imprinting that on yourself and your immune system. The last step is having an appreciation for the experience. It is about the lesson you learned. This is a key to great joy and unconditional love. It’s what you do with the experience that determines how you create your story.
Place the important things on the front burner.
Whenever you put things on the back burner for a while they cease being important in terms of your growth and your desires. Mostly you don’t do them. What change will you make today?