Life is too short to be wasted, we all know that. Yet, most people live a default life, forcing themselves to think they are happy even though they are not. Why? Because, we let the society dictates how our lives should be lived and what success and happiness should be like. Things like money and prestige are given too much importance to the detriment of focusing on what is really essential to us: living a life in line with our inner values, accomplishing valuable things.
If I had to give an advice to anyone starting a life (my future child for example), these are the 10 commandments I would strongly encourage him/her to follow:
1/ Don’t compare yourself to others.
From the day we enter school, we are stimulated by the spirit of competition through grading, forgetting that the primary purpose of education is to learn. Parents want their children to be the first, or to be better than X because they want to be proud when meeting X parents at the school door. So we grow up with this mentality of wanting to be better than others, instead of wanting to become a better version of ourselves.
2/ Only surround yourself with brilliant and positive people.
Negative and mediocre people are everywhere and their influence on you can be devastating. You might be a positive person, but if you let yourself listen to pessimism all the time, you might end up the same one day. Thus, the best way to avoid any negativity get to you, is to eliminate these gloomy people from your life. Of course, if you care about them, then you owe it to yourself to transmit your positive attitude to them.
3/ Don’t be afraid to fail, failure is the best thing that could happen to you.
In the eyes of society, failing is the worst thing that could happen to you. Personal fact: I failed once, very hard. It could have had disastrous effects on my life, but instead, it made me much much stronger, not just twice as strong but in proportions you cannot start to imagine. The truth is that failure builds character, it makes you think about what went wrong and what you can change in your life to never ever be in that situation again. It is so easy to content yourself in a status quo, when things seem to be going well for you . Failure challenges that. If planes are as safe as they are today, it is because they have failed in many situations in the past. Similarly, if you look at all the great men and women in history, you will find that they have all encountered a severe failure at some point in their life. So don’t be afraid to try things and fail.
4/ Find your vocation and have pleasure doing it.
Everyday, I hear stories about people studying or working in a field they have no interest in at all. Most of the time, it is the result of the pressure exercised by their parents to choose a path that they thought was prestigious in the eyes of society. They wanted to be able to say: My daughter is a Doctor or My son is a lawyer. On a more general note, we are living in a world where appearances are all that matter, so we keep doing things we don’t like to be able to appear more successful in the eyes of our friends and family. Does it make us happy? I doubt it. When somebody asks you what do you do for a living, their intention is always implicitly or even explicitly to figure out whether you are doing something prestigious or not. How about just asking this very simple question: « Do you like doing what you do?« . This is the only thing that matters, because the only way to achieve something substantial in life, is through real passion.
5/ Be careful when listening to people.
Pretty much, similar to the previous point. People like to give advices based on their own experience, but their own experience will likely be different than yours, so don’t always listen to them and follow your own instinct instead.
6/ Be generous, share when you can.
There are many proven researches that demonstrate a direct correlation between generosity and happiness. The basic idea is that by helping others we are shifting our focus off of ourselves which makes us less vulnerable to our critical inner voice, by seeing the positive impact of our actions on someone else. This is a good article to read on the subject.
7/ Stay healthy, eat healthily, exercise and balance your life.
This is a no-brainer. It is in your best interest to stay healthy, in order to be able to accomplish more of your goals in the best possible conditions. Although, there are certain things we can’t control in life, it is obvious that we can avoid plenty of diseases by keeping good eating habits and by exercising regularly.
8/ Don’t be afraid to disappoint anyone.
Because if they love you, they won’t be. Some people are more fragile than others and tend to go through mental breakdown when facing adversity or any kind of pressure. Sometimes this is due to the fear of disappointing someone they care about in case of failure. Failure is good as stated above, and someone who cares about you will never blame you for trying. Similarly, don’t be afraid to disappoint your parents by choosing your own path.
9/ Don’t watch TV and don’t follow the media too much.
Their job is to frighten you, that’s how they make money. Besides, their second job is to manipulate you and distract you from real problems. If you don’t know them already, the 10 media manipulation strategy by Noam Chomsky is always a good read.
10/ Have strong values and stick to them, no matter what.
These are the values that will make you happy in life and be successful. Society values money and social status. Let’s change those rules and let’s teach our children new values based on happiness.
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