I’ve lost two close friends over the past few years. One was 25 years old, the other was 30.
And, without hyperbole or rose-coloured glasses on my face, I can easily say that they were both some of the best people I have ever known. The kind of people that make me think ‘Only the good die young’ is a saying for a reason.
And it’s only a stones throw from that thought over to ‘Did their souls do so well in this plane that it was simply their time to move on to the next level of development in a different realm?’
Obviously, there’s no way to know what happens to us after we die. Maybe we inhabit a perpetual state of bliss in a self-chosen happy place. Maybe our souls continue on in another body but the ‘I’ that we have known is no longer, and our experience of it is identical to our experience before we were born, simple nothingness.
One thing I can say for sure is that ever since my friends passed away, I look at my career differently. I think differently. I write differently. I give to the world differently.
Now, when I write articles, I schedule them in the back end of my website so that they will release themselves on a certain date (just in case my life ends prematurely, beyond my control, so that my work will still be given to the world after I go, Tupac style).
I’ve been thinking lately, that there are a lot of consistent through-lines in what I’ve been saying over the last few years.
And, if I died tomorrow, these are seven of the biggest things that I hope my work would have consistently nudged forward in your mind.
Some of these you might already be doing great at, others might be foreign to you, others still might be confronting to sit with.
Without further ado, here are seven themes from my life’s work that I hope stir up something important in your heart.
1. Tell the truth
Nothing will serve you better than simply being honest.
Being honest with yourself about what you want out of your life.
Being honest with others about what you want with them.
Being honest about where you are at in life and allowing people to see you in real time.
Telling the truth is also the most important thing to do when you most want to avoid it.
Your relationships will die or thrive on the back of how willing you are to tell the truth.
Does this mean that there will never be times where you bend your truth to be socially accommodating (like withholding telling your five year old nephew that his drawing actually isn’t a Picasso-level masterpiece)? Of course not. Trivial moments like this will come and go. But speaking your truth when the moment matters (and it will matter 99% of the time) is a necessary life skill to cultivate.
2. Get better at saying no
One of my favourite sayings in the world of assertiveness training is ‘Saying no hurts for a moment, saying yes hurts for months.’
In other words, if you withhold your truth and resist setting boundaries when you want to, it will fuck you and your life up in the long run.
If someone asks you to take on a task that you don’t want to do, and you do it begrudgingly and then resent them for having asked you in the first place, you only have yourself to blame.
If you start dating someone under a false context of only wanting casual sex when you actually want something more serious, then it isn’t on your partner for not giving you more than exactly what you asked. It is up to you to say no to relationship contracts that aren’t what you’re after.
When you’re young, wild, and free, saying yes as a default is generally a good strategy. Yes to job opportunities. Yes to experiences. Yes to relationships. But there’s a certain threshold/Venn diagram overlap moment where you know yourself and what you want well enough to start saying no to things that aren’t in alignment with you, to create more space for the things that actually matter to you.
In other words, figure out your core values, guard against bullshit, and cultivate a life that nourishes you.
There is no finish line. This is a constant dance.
3. Feel your feelings
“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is inside of you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”
Gospel of Thomas
The first noble truth of Buddhist philosophy is that life is suffering. As a result of all of the painful events that happen in our lives, there will be some collateral damage that happens to us/for us.
When these events happen, especially if they happened earlier in our lives, we don’t have the tools, or the sense of permission to let ourselves feel them.
If you sit on these repressed emotions, they’ll fuck you up. If you deploy the courage it requires to fully feel your old emotional residue, then you’ll be infinitely better off.
And while I certainly don’t subscribe to the woo-woo perspective that holding emotional energy is the sole cause of diseases like cancer in our bodies (life is not so black and white), they certainly play a part.
So do your daily grieving. Pound pillows, scream into the abyss, let the tears fall down your jaw line. Laugh fully. Let yourself fall apart. Be held in your messiness.
You are not here to figure out how to feel better… you are here to get better at feeling all that you have to feel.
Fewer false ‘I’m fine”s, and more emotional acceptance.
4. Be ultra-kind to yourself
You, just as much as everyone else in the world, are deserving of love and kindness. First of all, from yourself.
With that being said, no one is coming to save you. You are responsible for your needs. You can’t expect other people to be mind readers and give you everything you want without you having to ask for it. And any desire you may have for this way of living is the part of you that wants to regress to being a baby (when all or most of your needs were met without you ever having to request anything with words).
You are not a robot. You are not a productivity machine, or responsible for other people’s emotions, or your net worth.
You are a soft bodied animal with a sensitive nervous system, and a body that needs tending to.
You are allowed to say no to things that make your stomach tense up in knots of misalignment. You are allowed to have a quiet night in when you need it. You don’t owe anyone anything beyond what you can provide.
If you are reading this article and you are familiar with my body of work, then there’s a good chance that your self-care is already on point. But let this be a reminder to you that you are allowed to not only get your basic needs met… but that you are allowed to treat yourself so well that some people will begin to question whether or not you are going a bit overboard.
I routinely get some kind of bodywork done (massages, etc.) on a weekly basis. I have spent tens of thousands of dollars on supplements, coaches, mastermind groups, and self-development seminars over the past few years… and it has all served me well. And when people question my behaviour in this regard, I can stand behind my actions with ease. I think to myself ‘My behaviour seems foreign to them because they might be under-investing in their self-care, and I’m happy to act as a mirror to them in how they might be able to better show up for themselves in their own life.’
5. Be kind to others
After a certain point of investing in your self-care and functionalizing your life, the responsibility will fall upon you to allow yourself to have your cup runneth over into the lives of others.
The point of life isn’t to become a flawless, uber-rich, self-actualized, self-contained unit and then die all alone… but rather, it’s about becoming all that you can become, and contributing to the lives of others around you in the process.
Or, as Tony Robbins frequently says, “Give and grow.” Keep becoming more, and keep giving more (in that order, because we can’t give what we don’t have ourselves).
There’s a balancing act to carry out here.
If you lean too hard into giving to others without first taking care of yourself, this will be a one-way road to burnout and exhaustion.
But if you lean too hard on becoming more without giving, then your energy will become constipated, and you will feel jammed up and lonely.
So in all ways that you can muster, give your energy to others. Tell people why you love them. Compliment others when it is genuine. Be generous with your praise. Let your heart beam out into the world and help others out in all ways that you can fathom.
Yes, others will benefit from your actions… but you will benefit just as much for being the self-expressed bad ass that you are.
6. Community matters
This lesson is one that I resisted for many years (which is funny, because I’m a self-labelled relationship coach… but hey, we all teach what we most need to learn ourselves).
From the ages of 22-27, I lived according to the first half of the African proverb, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’
I saw myself as special (classic ego-led thoughts) and I wanted to sprint forward in the direction of my dreams while actively de-prioritizing my friendships to a really significant degree. This led to lots of achievement, but also a hefty dose of burnout.
Human beings are a social species. We need each other to thrive and survive.
The single greatest life hack that has helped my life transform over the last few years is having a tight knit circle of friends who I know and trust have my back completely.
I feel completely held and supported by their love, and they know that I have their backs in return.
This is something that I wish I had done a few years earlier, but I got around to the lesson when I was meant to.
So if you currently are experiencing a drought of human connection, consider putting some energy into your relationships. Either your existing ones, or put forth the effort to find and cultivate new relationships. You will not be a nuisance… other people are just as hungry for connection as you are.
To start, check out my article How To Make Friends As An Adult.
7. Chase down your dreams and beat them into submission
The last thing that I would want to leave you with is the concept of never settling on the things that truly matter to you.
If you want to get married to a kind person who lights your soul on fire, and you want to have babies with them, never settle for anything less than this.
If you want to be self-employed in a way that enables you to live out all of your hearts deepest desires, then you can have that too. You might have to bust your ass for a while to get it off the ground… but persistence pays off eventually if your heart is truly in it.
Life is way too short to settle for things that you are less than capable of being.
Despite what most news headlines would have you believe, the world has never been safer, healthier, and the opportunities have never been this readily available.
You have been born into a ridiculously privileged era in human history, and it is your responsibility to stand on the shoulders of the giants before you and do your absolute best. And a huge part of doing your best means not settling for less than what you are capable of. On behalf of the human race, don’t be lazy with this opportunity. Earn it fully. Future generations need you to show up and do your work, full tilt.
Live your life fully so that you can look back on it on your deathbed and honestly tell yourself, “I did my best. I left it all on the field. I have no regrets.”
So that’s it.
Be honest. Be kind. Do your best.
Let your life be a masterpiece. And others will be inspired by your sheer existence.
Dedicated to your success,
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