In our everyday lives, we observe different seemingly inconsequential things like a car starting, a baby crying, a bird singing and a raindrop falling. As kids, these things fascinated us but as we grew up we became jaded by their constant recurrence.
That curiosity in us as kids made us study these phenomena ‘deeply’. We wanted to break open the radio to play with the “little people” that were speaking inside, and to go into the television and experience Winnie-the-Poo’s adventures with him side by side. Unfortunately, our yet to be developed minds were too small to unravel the mysteries behind all these and learn life lessons from them.
As we have become older now, I want to challenge us to awaken that curiosity and begin to examine those seemingly inconsequential phenomena yet again. Our minds are now developed and big enough to understand the workings of these things, as well as pull out life lessons from them.
Through my own observations, recently, I have come up with five silly things –everyday phenomena –that I believe we should learn from and adopt into our lives so that we may lead better ones that flow with the laws of nature rather than work against them, to our own detriment.
So here are five ‘silly’ things you should be. Silly they may sound but, trust me, applying the principles behind them to your life will stand you out from the silly majority.
A Postage Stamp
When you want to deliver physical mail to your friend in another town, city or country, you may go to the post office to post that item to them. In order to show that your postage has been paid for in full (and they don’t need to charge your friend the balance when it gets to them), you are encouraged to purchase a postage stamp that would be glued to your mail. The postage stamp now sticks to the mail until it is delivered to your friend. If not, the mail may be redirected or stopped from reaching its final destination.
Now, the delivery of that mail to its recipient is the mission. And the postage stamp sticks to that mission, literally, until it is accomplished. This is how we should live our lives. We should identify our mission –what we are called to do and where we are called to go –clearly, and then stick to it until it is accomplished! This is not limited to grand events like our life mission, but other smaller tasks that we are faced with daily. Don’t start what you can’t finish.
Many different keys may be slotted into a given key hole, but only the right key connects with it, and is able to sway it from its current position into one of openness and vulnerability. Now, this one key doesn’t just sway the keyhole’s position and leave it hanging there, it stays with it. The only way a key can come out of a key hole, leaving it completely, is by returning it to the spot where it met it before it entered. As long as it’s open and vulnerable, the key must stay there with it in that state of vulnerability.
What life lesson can we learn from this phenomenon? Many people may walk into your life, but be wise and only let those with the same values and ideals as yours get intimately close to you.
Now some of them may have opposite but complementary features to yours (just like a key has to a keyhole), and because of that are able to sway you onto another way of thinking –a way that involves you to open up your heart to them and become vulnerable.
Be wise again and make sure that you only open up in that way to one who would stay with you when you’re most vulnerable and if they ever have to leave you, they would make sure that they don’t leave you in that state of vulnerability for others to devour, but they would return you to a state of safety first. A good friend sticks closer than a brother.
A Thermostat, Not a Thermometer
A Thermostat controls the temperature of a room by simply switching the heating system off and on as necessary. So it turns on the heat when the room is getting to cold, and off when the room is getting too hot.
A Thermometer, on the other hand, measures the temperature of the room and tells you whether it’s too hot or too cold. This means that when the thermostat acts, the thermometer reacts.
In life, you want to be a thermostat. You want to be the leader (of your own life). You don’t want to be the one who reflects the mood of the leader. You don’t want to follow sheepishly. There are some cliques of friends that reflect the mood of the head of the clique. So, when Temisan is angry, all the other girls are angry. The other girls are the thermometers, while Temisan is the thermostat.
You should take charge of your life. If someone else controls your mood or schedule, then you are leading a reactive life rather than a proactive one. Take charge of your life today and start making little investments in developing your talents into skills, saving and investing out of your income, building meaningful relationships with people, reading more books to build your imaginative muscle instead of killing it by watching long hours of TV.
Your future self will be very thankful when you don’t have to depend on any one or system, or live in reaction to the whims of your said benefactor, because you prepared in the past for a better life in the future. If you don’t prepare, you will have to repair; and it’s almost always too late for that.
A River, Not a Reservoir
When you think of a river, the word “flow” comes to mind. A river flows. It is not stagnant. It is very generous. It gives so much but never runs dry. A reservoir is the opposite. Sometimes we store water in water tanks because we’re not sure of constant electricity to keep the borehole machine running. This tank we call a reservoir. There are periods, sometimes long, when we don’t have to use the water in the reservoir because there has been constant electricity to keep the taps running.
What then happens to the reservoir? Well, the water there begins to collect algae and bacteria. Then it begins to stink and, most surprisingly of all, it even begins to shrink in volume due to evaporation. The stingy reservoir that kept all this valuable water to itself would now watch as the water shrinks in volume, health and overall value.
That’s what happens to us, in life, when we decide to be reservoirs and not rivers; when we decide to hoard our knowledge, talent, skills, time and resources without sharing with others. What we thought to be so valuable that we kept them to ourselves would begin to lose its value and volume all because we did not let them flow, we did not share them with others.
It would have been easy for me to keep all my learning to myself in this my little journey of personal development, but an understanding of this concept prompted me to write weekly articles and share my learning with others as well as learn from others through the comments and personal notes I receive from readers. This way, I’m not stagnant with constant input and no output. I’m a river that flows and remains fresh and growing; for stagnant water stinks!
An Egg, Not a Potato
“The same water that softens the potato hardens the egg”. You must have heard that saying before.
When you boil a potato, the once hard object becomes very soft. Do the same to an egg and the once soft object becomes even harder. Life lesson? When we go through tough times, we should come out of them stronger and not cave in to them by disappearing to go lick our wounds forever. We should conquer life and not let it conquer us!
The key to this is your attitude. If you go through life, especially tough times, with a nagging and complaining attitude, you don’t give yourself the chance to learn from it in order to become wiser and strong enough to conquer a similar situation next time.
The egg develops a thick skin but a soft heart. The outer layers –the shell and the white –are hard(er), but not as hard as the inner layer –the yolk. This is how we should be. We should develop a thick skin as we go through life. This means that we are not easily offended by people or their ideas but, at the same time, we are willing to accommodate them, to even win them over to our own ways of thinking through patience and the right attitude. Have a thick skin, but a soft heart!
I hope I was able to wake up the kid-like curiosity in you to begin to observe daily seemingly inconsequential phenomena. Only this time, you are old and wise enough to pull life lessons from them. I am sure you have yours that you may not have shared with anyone because of how “silly” you thought they may sound. Well, I have taken that bullet for you and laid down my own silly thoughts here. So go ahead and share those that you have and let’s all learn together!