To me, 2016 seemed to pass in a blink of an eye. Many things happened last year: the roller coaster of emotion, the stress over work and personal relationship, the moment of priceless happiness, some great adventure, my annual holiday, and so on and so on. And before I knew it, 2017 was approaching. That one sunny morning when I woke up, my phone told me that another year had passed.
This year, I will turn 31. Young enough to work really hard, but too old to do silly things and being insecure. If there are things that I am proud of about being 30 last year, it will be my journey to maturity, personal development, and self improvement.
Maslow (1970) suggests that all individuals have an in-built need for personal development which occurs through the process called self-actualisation.* But in order to get to this stage, the top of the hierarchy of needs, one needs to fulfil her basic needs such as biological, safety, self-esteem, cognitive, and aesthetic needs first. I was lucky because I had them fulfilled. I was lucky because I had found my way to survive in this cruel and unfair world. I had the privilage to sit in a comfortable couch at the comfort of my home, with a full stomach, and read a good book about self empowerment.
So, I grabbed my analogue notebook and took some notes on 10 things that I gave up and started doing last year to develop and empower myself.
First of all, I gave up talking too much and started doing more. I used to be very talkative and very straightforward when it comes to giving my opinion. But life gave me a big lesson that not everything needed my comments. I eventually learned that it was better to listen to others and to actually think before I opened my mouth. I said things in the past that I regretted later on. I realized that some words I said had hurt people I cared about. It shouldn’t have happened if I had known to be quiet sometimes. I learned my lesson the hard way. So last year I decided that I would stop talking too much and do more good deeds, instead. It turned out that silence was gold many times. By being a quieter person, I got a chance to do more useful things with my life. I focused more when I worked, I complained less, and I learned more.
Second, I gave up blaming myself, people, and the whole world for what went wrong in my life. Just like many of us, I had my own struggle in life. I got hurt so much as a child and a teenager. It turned me to be a bitter person deep down inside. I was once really angry at life and people. I thought that the pain I felt was never going to heal. Not only that I blamed people around me for what happened to me in the past, I also hated a part of myself. I regretted things I said and did. I regretted the way some people treated me. I regretted many things. But one day I realized that our past doesn’t define who we are now. So, I began to read a lot about anger management and how to be a more positive person. I finally learned to forgive myself and others. I learned that my past shouldn’t define who I am today. I have changed. A lot. I evolved. For the better. For good.
Third, I gave up whining too much and I started to become more grateful. My mood used to change so fast like a roller coaster ride. Everything seemed to affect me and how I felt every single day. I felt down when it was raining hard. I was feeling gloomy when I had a bad hair day. I felt terrible when I read someone’s status about things that I didn’t like or agree. I was feeling frustrated when I was stuck at a traffic jam. I was stressed out when I looked at my full work schedule. I whined. I cried. I frowned. So much. In short, I let things control my emotion. I was a very reactive person.
So, I did a little research on how to deal with this issue. I learned to be more proactive. Being proactive means not to let outside things control my emotion. I learned to seperate facts and opinion. I learned that there were always many ways of seeing things. Then I began to change my perspectives. If it was raining, I could always choose to be sad or just enjoy the sweet sound of the water falls to the ground. If I had a bad hair day? Hey, it was just hair anyway. I am not a famous actress who should always look good, right? 🙂 If the traffic was bad, wasn’t it the perfect time to finish the book I was reading? When I heard someone talking sh*t about me, I wasn’t too disturbed anymore. I now know that when someone talks bad about us, it doesn’t define who we are. It defines who they are.
Fourth, I gave up worrying, thinking, and imagining what people think about me. People are welcome to have their opinion about me and basically everything else. What they think about me isn’t necessarily true and it’s none of my business, anyway. So why worrying over something I can’t control? I started to focus on what really matters in life, instead. I decided to work harder, be more useful to others, be more loving, and be kind.
Fifth, I completely gave up compulsive shopping and I began to invest my money more wisely. There were times in the past when I would go to department stores and spent some amount of money to buy things I didn’t even need at the end of the day. I had too many clothes. Too many shoes. Too many bags. I looked at my bank account and started thinking about how much I could have saved if I hadn’t been that wasteful. So I picked up a good book on investment and started doing a serious browsing on investment. I read about mutual funds, stocks, property investment, gold, government bonds, etc. Mamat helped me a lot with this. We had actually talked about how we were going to invest our earnings with the most appropriate instrument before we got married. But only after we got married and made some new investment together that I began to really grasp the idea of investing your money wisely.
Sixth, I gave up making things overcomplicated and began to really simplify my life. I now have much fewer clothes than I used to have. I only buy things when I need them. I now automate the way I pay my bills every month. I keep my words short and simpler. I eat much simpler and healthier food (no more too much Padangnese food, please!). I have a really small wardrobe. I stopped worrying too much about what I wanted to wear. I even plan to buy many t-shirts with the same color so that I don’t need to think about what to wear every single day, like Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs do and did. I don’t want to add extra load to my brain to think about this small stuff. I want to make things simpler and easier. It may sound extreme to some people. But hey, we gotta do whatever makes us happy! 🙂
Seventh, I gave up being lazy and I now learn new skills whenever I can. I realized that there were too many simple things that I didn’t know about. For example, I didn’t know how to troubleshoot my laptop when something crashed. Instead of whining, I now always google it before I ask anyone else to help me with it. The chance is, people have experienced the same issue and fixed it. I just need to find a solution to my problem and try it. In the past, I was such a low-tech person. But now I can proudly say that I am reading an e-book on how computer works. I also tried new recipes once in a while. I learned many new things last year. Little by little.
Eighth, I gave up phone apps. I went back to the old me, a reader of books. I now have less than 20 apps on my iphone (please count how many you have ;)). Getting rid of useless apps have helped me manage to read more books and focus more on works. It’s needless to say the importance of reading books. It’s one of the best things you can do with your life. It’s empowering. It will definitely make your life so much easier. It will open your mind. A lot.
Ninth, I unfollowed most of my friends on social media and started to reach some old friends and meet them in the real world, instead. I didn’t unfollow them because I hated them. But let’s be honest, I don’t feel comfortable with the world that never stops talking like today. People will comment on whatever topic they want, say whatever they feel like saying, regardless how others might feel about their opinion. Some say very foolish and mean things. Some complain too much about their personal life on Facebook. Some like to play victim by acting holy and hurt by others just to get some attention. Some like to spread lies, fake news, and hoaxes. Some write too much hate speech. Some people just love to dramatize everything.
We feel free and much easier to write negative things on social media because we don’t have to say them directly to the person we hate or dislike. We have become a generation of cowards who cannot deal with our own problems in the real life and take them to Facebook and Twitter, instead. I just don’t need to deal with this too much insecurity, immaturity, and drama. I don’t have time for this. I have many other important things to do. My life is too beautiful to be ruined by what people say on the internet. So, I unfollowed many of them to restore my faith in humanity. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.
I began to know who my real friends were and I tried to meet them as often as I could. I appreciate relationships in the real life more now. By meeting people directly, in person, face to face, we can look them in the eyes, figuring out if they are being real and honest. We also tend to think twice to say ugly things when the person we are talking to is in front of us.
Finally, I gave up looking for happiness and began making peace with my life. I used to clinging onto the idea of pursuing the “ultimate happiness”. But I was wrong. Even scientists and philosophers never get to understand what happiness really means. Maybe happiness is merely a product of our DNA. It could also be just chemical reactions and sensation our body creates and feels. It could be our moral values which tell us what happiness is. It could be a certain ideology that leads us to happiness. It could be what we think about what we have achieved in life. Or it could be a balance of light and darkness. Happiness and sorrow. It could simply be an illusion. It could be anything. I decided that I didn’t need to try to define ‘happiness’ and put standards to it. I found out that all I needed to do to be happy was to make peace with myself and my life. I am not perfect. People are not perfect. The world is far from perfect. It makes us sad once in a while, but that’s okay.
I still whine and complain sometimes, though. I still make mistakes. Some people still don’t like things I say or do. As I said, I’m not perfect. But I have definitely made some progress. I evaluate myself, from time to time. I watch myself grow as an individual. I admit my own mistakes and I am willing to apologize and change. That’s the most important thing. You could sin as much as one can imagine, but that shouldn’t stop you from learning to be a bigger, happier, more positive person. 🙂
*Find more at: http://www.skillsyouneed.com/ps/personal-development.html#ixzz4Wb0ZOInq