I’ve been making it my goal to get back to writing during my free time. Sometimes I have plenty to say and other times I need a bit of a push. I found a few writing prompts that have really gotten me thinking. You’ll find the prompt, along with my response, below.
Let’s say, for a moment, that reincarnation is real. Let’s say you pass from this life, and instead of heaven, hell, or purgatory, you come face to face with a being who tells you the truth:
“You have lived a thousand lifetimes, and will live a thousand more. But on your next trip down to Earth, you can carry over 3 lessons from your last life that you will not have to re-learn.”
The prompt: What 3 lessons would you decide to take with you?
Would you cart along what you know about love and relationships? Or your approach to working hard, and breaking through your upper limit? Or solutions to self-doubt?
I don’t pretend to have life all figured out. Hell, I don’t pretend to understand a third of life. The last time I wrote on a topic about My Life Rules I was able to squeeze it down to 60. Going from 60 to 3 wasn’t the easiest thing to do. However, I’m older (and hopefully wiser) since that last post. I thought about cheating and lumping rules together. Or being even more blatant and just listing 5 or 10 rules. But the prompt said 3 so below are the 3 lessons I’d want to take with me. My only disclaimer is that my 3 lessons are fluid and may be subject to change as I grow older.
To my reincarnated self, do your best to:
- Seek Experiences over Accumulating Possessions
I’m in no way the most financially secure amongst my friends. Believe it or not, spending 2 years traveling the world isn’t the most lucrative venture for one’s bank account. But I know for a fact that my bucket list has a lot more items crossed off than a lot of people I know. Don’t get me wrong, life isn’t about comparing yourself to others. The only person you should try to be better than is the one you were yesterday. But life is about trying new things and finding out what makes you happy. I’ve learned that if you don’t get out there and are too afraid to look “dumb,” a lot of life will pass you by. One can’t possibly answer the question, “What do you value?” without having a lot of experience to draw from. The only way to test your limits is to cross what you thought was your line, to find out how far you can truly go without tumbling over the edge.
Whenever I get asked to do something, I jokingly say, “You know, I don’t say no to much, let’s do it,” with a smirk on my face. But the truth is I don’t. I made a promise to myself years ago that I wouldn’t. I love trying new things. I love pushing myself and being uncomfortable. I want to look back and say, “At least I gave it a go,” regardless of how it turned out. I want to try as much as I can while I’m here and you can only do that if you have a certain mindset. I want to have a lifetime full of memories, not a lifetime full of stuff. When I hear people tell me “I wish I could travel the world” my response has always been the same: “You can.” You just need to decide what you value. If you have a goal and it matters to you more than going out, fancy dinners, or your new car, you’ll find a way to make it happen. So the advice I have for myself in my next life: don’t waste your time or money trying to impress people with things you don’t need when there is so much out there to do and see. I’d rather take a life full of experiences to the grave than a pile of stuff I can no longer use.
- Have standards not expectations.
There’s a quote that says, “What screws us up the most in life is the picture in our head of what it’s supposed to be.” Having expectations for your life and those in it will usually lead to heartache and disappointment. At the end of the day, not everyone has your heart, mind, or experiences. Expecting them to act a certain way that is contrary to their nature will only cause you grief and resentment. People and events only let us down because of how we built them up in our heads. On that subject, free piece of advice, when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. Our expectations are what gives things power over us. By understanding this, you’ll save yourself a lot of disappointment.
Having standards is not the same thing as having expectations. There have to be things in your life that you want for yourself. If a person, place, job, or situation aren’t living up to that standard, it’s time to move on to better things. In the end, your time is one of the most valuable things you have. When you choose to take time doing something, you are quite literally spending your life for it. It makes no sense to not value your limited time here by spending it in scenarios that are counterproductive to the standards you hold yourself and the things in your life to.
- Not my monkey, not my circus
It’s really tempting in life to stick your nose where it doesn’t belong. To add your two cents just because you can. Well, don’t. There’s no “right” way to live. And pretending that your way of living is the only way is just plain stupid. Understand that each and every person gets to decide how to live their life based on what they want. More importantly, not everyone wants your advice. If something is happening that you don’t agree with, but it doesn’t affect you, don’t spend your time and energy getting involved in it. Involving yourself in other people’s drama will only end up cluttering your life with unnecessary negativity.
By taking a step back, understanding that not all situations need you to fix them, you will be able to focus on things that really matter to you. Saying “Not my monkey, not my circus” to myself helps me to prioritize where I’m directing my focus and energies.
Those were the three lessons I decided I wanted to remember during my next life. What are yours?