que sera sera
ˈkeɪ sərɑː sərɑː/
2017 was a weird year for me. Career, friendships, principles and my life purpose were all tested and questioned.
In the end, what I have learned from last year is that nothing is permanent. The sooner we make ourselves (relatively) comfortable about this, the better. People, money, health, youth, physical appearance - these are all factors that many of us work hard to achieve and sometimes take pride in. That's all fine, but if any of those are suddenly taken away from us, how would we react? Would you crumble or acknowledge the loss and move on with life? Easier said than done, I know. But one can only try.
Some level of detachment from people and things in your life and being self-contained are some ways of preparing for the best and worst times. That's my personal view. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to say that we should turn our hearts into stone, but the less needy and dependent you are on people or possessions, life situations, the less likely you are to have a long-term life crisis.
I read a lot of books last year, which is slightly out of character for me, as when I was in school I used to read the introduction, the back of the book, a random chapter or two in the middle and the end to get the gist. I am the queen of short-cuts. However, this one book I read stuck with me:
Make Your Bed: Small things that can change your life
The book is a very real view of life from an ex-Navy SEAL, William H. McRaven on what helped him overcome challenges in his career and his life. Doing one task, first thing in the morning, such as making your bed perfectly, can kick-start your day on a good note, as you feel like you have already achieved something. In summary:
Quite a few people I know have lost important people in their lives last year. I have therefore seen the strength required by humankind to deal with death of loved ones, job losses, broken relationships, and so on. Yet people move on. They have to.
One of my best friends, a very talented Psychotherapist suggested that I listen to some of the talks by Tara Brach, an author and teacher of meditation and self-awareness. She categorised the source of happiness to 3 main categories defined by Buddhists broadly as Dharma, Sangha, Buddha:
1. Consciousness: living in the moment. Focus on now, rather than the past or future.
2. Good company: find people who help you grow
3. Truth: be honest about what matters to you
Taoism, which originates from China, similarly suggests that the past and future are not part of who you are. It is only the present moment in time that matters and should determine your mindset, mood, happiness, and so on. Que sera sera... finally makes more sense.
Having said all that, my focus for 2018 and beyond is to live. I would like to spend my time and resources doing things that I enjoy: traveling, exploring different parts of the world, trying different types of food, cocktails, beers and developing new skills. In 2016 I started learning Spanish before my trip to Peru, last year I took up boxing lessons (and even bought a punch bag and gloves for our shed!). In 2018, who knows.... maybe I'll climb the Kilimanjaro.
Spanish (and other language) lessons: http://www.ihlondon.com
Book: The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle