The 4 (+1) Noble Truths
If there is anything that the last year has taught me, it is the following five philosophies that I have come to learn are the most basic, simple, but necessary insights in living a fruitful and enjoyable life. I hope that they offer some guidance, something to hold on to, or at least serve as words of comfort. Here are the 4 (+1) Noble Truths.
1. Don’t seek revenge.
When Mahatma Gandhi said “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind,” he was entirely correct. We tend to have this tit for tat mentality that poisons us, impedes us, and blocks us from giving and getting love in different areas of life. If someone wrongs us or hurts us, it can sometimes be our only desire to hurt them back. In theory, this sounds like a simple and logical concept, and kind of sounds like the concept of karma. But in reality, no amount of your attention and energy, no matter how small, should be spent on what could be devoted to so many other beautiful regions of life like friends, family, and self-discovery.
The solution isn’t to strike back, it should be to move forward.
Even the phrase that I once loved, “living well is the best revenge,” has it slightly wrong. It assumes that we should want to live well as revenge against people who have wronged us, when really; we should want to live well regardless. Revenge can be healthy; you just have to learn how to eat your vegetables.
2. Speak less, listen more.
My Dad always used to repeat a Guyanese saying, “Mouth open, story jump out.” Coming from the same man that always told me “Less is more,” I didn’t actually value these sayings until I grew older. I used to think that at all times, everything I felt and thought needed to be made public. Later on, I would find myself re-evaluating my thoughts and feelings, not sure of how to articulate my new ones because I adamantly proclaimed the first feelings and thoughts I felt.
How many times have you wanted to eat your words, take things back, or feel like you should have said less?
I’ve come to learn that when it comes to speaking, “quality over quantity” is the rule of thumb. It’s not how often you speak, but what you say when you do. How you feel or think about something might not be the same a week, a month, or a year from now. Don’t commit to your immediate feelings and thoughts, leave yourself, your mind, and your feelings open to change. When you get there; write it in the sky.
3. Take your time.
People who make it to the top have an air of being cool, calm, and collected. Look at Barack Obama. The guy is the President of the most powerful country in the world and every time we see him he looks like he’s enjoying a golf tournament. Taking your time with things, everything from deciding on the words you choose to speak, down to the way you drive, is the key to being grounded.
Patience is a virtue; one that we must always exercise in order to not get bogged down by the things that pile up on us in life. Everything can and will be dealt with; this we know. So why become flustered and impatient when things have not yet come to fruition in the specific way we intended?
Slow down and pace yourself. Life doesn’t need to be lived in fast motion.
4. Find your peace.
I once read an article that said the simple phrase:
“Being at peace is being with what is.”
After my mind processed the words, I felt that in that moment, I had found my peace. We often have this idea that peace is when we get everything we want and find the ultimate satisfaction in all areas of life. But if you’re like me, that hasn’t happened yet, and might not happen for a very long time.
I’ve come to learn that peace, instead, is being happy, and more importantly, being okay with everything in your life the way it is at this very moment. This means removing the people and things that you don’t want in your life, and choosing to focus instead on the people and things that you do. It means narrowing your vision to the things that advance you forward, lift you up, and fuel your aspirations.
Your attitude is everything. Using it wisely will help you find your peace.
5. Lessen your needs.
I had a very interesting discussion today with my ultrasound technician, a beautiful Pakistani woman named Sarah, about how funny it is that we have all these technologies that we view to be “necessities”, simply because they have been introduced to us. We talked about the idea that some women refuse to give birth without an epidural, when hundreds of years ago, that wasn’t even an option.
This got me thinking about the things that we can live without, but choose not to. Things like our cell phones, having a certain amount of money in the bank, having a car, or having a huge pool of friends.
The truth is, we can live without all these things, we just prefer not to.
By humbling your needs, you humble yourself. More importantly, you experience a more quintessential version of life. Remember that you are a human, and humans are capable of a lot. If you don’t believe me, look at the world that has been created around you. To think you can’t make it through the day without your cell phone is an insult to yourself. To think that you need to have thousands of dollars to survive is untrue, and to think that you must be driven somewhere is to forget you have two feet.
Be honest, be realistic, and be fair in what you think you need. Don’t devote your life to things that distract you from living it.
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