Hello my friends.
There are 3 things I am constantly trying to remind myself. I would like to share those with you. Some of you might not agree, some of you might see these points as being so obvious that they hardly bear repeating to yourself over and over again. But I hope that a few of you find these quotations as important as I have in my life.
You see, I think we can underestimate the power of inspirational quotations sometimes, their ability to define us, how much words that we consistently repeat ourselves in our heads can shape our thoughts, our lives, and our actions.
Many of you, already do this on a regular basis. But not all of you. And the three quotations that I’ll share may not mean much to you, and that’s ok. But I encourage you do find words that do. And try as much as you can to live by them.
So here is the first.
“Everyone must learn this lesson somewhere. It costs something to be who you are.”
Most things in life require a certain degree of sacrifice. Everything has a price. And a big part of the price we pay for something is our time. This simple fact is obvious in some areas. For example, most of us understand that a perfect GPA cost us hours of time studying, or that most sports achievements required hours of training. And there are few shortcuts.
But sometimes we forget this in other aspects of our lives. For example, most of you that are very popular spent hours talking and spending time with other people. And those that have artistic talent spend hours with that art. And many people that are good cooks spend hours in the kitchen, and history buffs spend hours watching the history channel and so forth.
So because we each have a limited number of hours, we can’t have everything, and we absolutely cannot be everything that we might want to be. So we are constantly giving up pieces of who we might have been. For everything we gain, a friendship, children, degrees, careers, learning to play a song, vacations, gardening skills, video game accomplishments, knowledge about other people, we are losing something. And for everything we lose we gain something. And we don’t always understand at the time what we are gaining or losing.
Some of the most successful people didn’t always have a lot friends growing up or a family that spent a lot of time together. Some of the greatest artists had hard childhoods. Even the time we spend suffering matters. So every time you miss out on something you would have liked to have think about what you might gain instead. Because you are going to have unfortunate things happen to you in your life and you are going to have to decide how much time you want to sit around feeling sorry for yourself and how much time you want to spend turning that experience into an opportunity to learn something new, or meet someone new, or become someone new.
The late Steve Jobs, the genius behind many of Apple’s greatest innovations, once said, “You can’t connect the dots going forward; you can only connect them backwards.” There are things you might learn today that you might not use for years. But eventually it might help you in ways you never imagined. It’s just so important to try to get the most out of every experience.
Think about if the way you are spending your time is worth it. Think about if it is getting you closer to where you really want to be. Never forget the cost.
The next bit of advice I’d like to give you is this. “Always remember what your true values are and be conscious to whether or not the life you are living is consistent with them.”
And when I say your values I mean YOUR values. These may not be the same values your parents have. These may not be the same values some of your friends have. They may not be the values you were taught growing up, or from a religion, or the same values you had two years ago. Of course, they may very well be, but the point here is to decide for yourself what your true values are and to understand that as you grown and learn and have new experiences these may very well change and that’s okay. What’s not okay, is when deep down your values haven’t changed, but you have, and you start behaving in a way that is no longer consistent with what you really believe in.
When I ask you today what you want out of life, most of your answers to could be translated to, “I want to be successful.” But what does this mean? Doesn’t this mean different things to different people? I don’t think success is about particular goals or achievements. I think that true success is living a life that is consistent with what you truly value.
Having this kind of success is not easy. Because first of all you have to know what you truly value. Sometimes this requires digging deep inside your soul, asking yourself difficult questions, questions that may be painful, questions that may take days or months or even years to answer. And you can never stop being conscious of how the answers might change over time, because what you truly value at 25 might not be the same as what you truly value at 50, and you have to accept this, you have to be willing to grow. No one else can do this for you, or can tell you what your heart believes in, and although wiser people, or culture, or religion, can help guide you to what the answer is, you must not depend on them to give it to you. Because there is no “one size fit all” answer to what you should value, and the only “right” answer is the one you find by searching your soul.
And then, once you have some idea of what’s truly important to you, you have to remember it. This might be the hardest part because so many things, so many other obsessions, and distractions, and people, and jobs, and family, and obligations, and day to day life can get in the way. But if you fail to remember, you might find yourselves working to become “successful” at the wrong thing. It is so easy to get caught up in other lifestyles, to be influenced by those around you into believing that happiness can be found in something else. And it’s not really a good feeling to find you’ve succeeded at getting something you thought you wanted but still not being happy because you let yourself forget what you really value.
So please, find a way to remember every day, maybe through meditation, or reading, or solitary walks, or appreciating nature, or listening to certain music, or through conversations with certain people, or going to a church, or a graveyard, or the sea, whatever is you need to do to remind yourself.
So after you know what you value, and remind yourself of it, you need to make sure you are living a life that is consistent with it, and when you find that you aren’t, you need to have the courage to change. Because sometimes this means walking away of from things, a career you may have been successful at, people that you love, places in which you were comfortable. It might mean having to take risks, having to give up a certain level of security, and perhaps having to deal with failure, uncertainty, criticism, and poverty. So no, I’m not telling you that it will be easy. But I promise you that it will be worth it.
Finally, the final quotation I would like to share with you today is by author Rainer Maria Rilke.
"Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day."
Learn to live with uncertainty. The way you deal with uncertainty and the amount you are able to handle without going crazy will define you in a lot of ways. Sometimes taking the initial plunge the easy part, but learning to live with immense uncertainty day in and day out and to stay in the water long enough for something to happen is what will set you apart. Good luck.