Start Living Your Bucket List Today!

Bucket lists – somewhat sad depending on how you look at them.

You see, in our culture right now, many people only begin to work their lists when it’s too late. A doctor announces that you have a few months to live and, all of a sudden, things that were at the back of your mind suddenly become important.

Frankly, that’s the sad part.

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Most people are not living. They are deferring their lives to some future unknown date when they expect to be miraculously free to live…finally! Apparently, they will be free from work, free from their responsibilities to their spouses, free from their responsibilities to their children, and free from everything that has been (allegedly) standing in their way all this time.

“I want to travel the world.”

“I want to learn how to play a musical instrument.”

“I want to spend more time with my kids.”

“I want to start my side business.”

“I want to go sailing.”

“I want to see the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.”

Oh, the lists are endless…

Most people will never get even half of them done.

British Playwright James M. Barrie once said, “The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it.”

Just look at the yearly resolutions. Many people end the year with the same list they had at the beginning. Things will never change unless you make that decision.

A New Approach to Living

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When YOLO (You Only Live Once) started trending, it carried a negative connotation of people who don’t realise the extent of responsibility in life. Was it just something young people say? For example, can the head of an organisation with employees who depend on him/her go out to live his/her life or do they have to conform to a scripted life so that everybody under their leadership gets something for their families to eat?

Perhaps, there is another way to look at this. A better way. Why can’t the boss live and still create a great business that meets the needs of employees and customers? Why does it have to be an either-or proposition?

The above predicament is why there have been numerous discussions about life-work balance in the last few years. People know they are missing many things because they have to work to get the pay cheque. For example, some parents barely see their kids. They either leave for work early or get home late when the kids are already asleep. Their children’s entire childhood is passing right before their eyes and they can do nothing about it.

Our cultures create the expectation that you have to work very hard and save up some money so that you can do everything you ever wanted once you retire from your job. That’s sad.

There is a lot of living that people are missing. The time to live is NOW. The time to hold your loved ones is NOW. The time to be quit that dead-end job is NOW. The time to start doing something you’ve always wanted to do is NOW. The time to take risks is NOW. Do everything NOW. You don’t know what awaits you tomorrow.

Someone who postponed going jogging every day is now in a wheelchair. Someone who always wanted to sing has been diagnosed with throat cancer. The person who never took the time to enjoy their surroundings is now blind. Several people in different parts of the world have just suffered a stroke and their lives are changed forever. How long do you plan to wait before you start living?

Effects of Living

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This is what living will do for you:

  1. Make you Happy

You will be smiling from ear to ear and you will have a great positive energy about you. You will create great memories with your friends and family. You will be healthier than many other people in the world will. For years, researchers have shown there is a link between negative emotions and poor health. Having a positive outlook on life (e.g. being happy, optimistic, enthusiastic etc) makes a great difference to your health.

According to a Harvard Magazine article written by Sara Rimer in 2011, Associate Professor Laura Kubzansky from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) said, “It looks like there is a benefit of positive mental health that goes beyond the fact that you’re not depressed.” She also added, “Everyone needs to find a way to be in the moment to find a restorative state that allows them to put down their burdens.”

  1. Help you Grow

The more you do, the more you learn. The more you learn, the more you grow. The more you grow, the better you will be at making decisions that will affect your life. Some people are stuck in jobs they don’t like but a trip away from the office gives them a new perspective of what they would want to do in their lives.

  1. Give you Perspective

When you are not living, you tend to have a narrow view of the world. When you push your boundaries, your skills, or your experiences, you get a sense of what’s important to you and how you should react to things that are out of your control.

There is an African saying that says, “If you think you have problems, go visit a hospital and you’ll see people with bigger problems.” (Paraphrase). The idea behind this saying is to give you a perspective of what you are going through.

  1. It will Inspire you

Living is inspiring. You find yourself wanting to do more things; trying new things. Every day you wake up energised because you look forward to what the day might bring. That’s usually not the case with depressed people. They can barely get out of bed. They have nothing to look forward to. They don’t have hope for the future. They are so miserable that they push everyone they love away.

You will find that when you are inspired to live your life to the fullest, other people gravitate toward you. Many opportunities will also start presenting themselves in your life. You might even end up changing careers if that’s something you were thinking about.

  1. Fill you with Love

The most important thing in life is love. When you start living fully, you will draw love into your life and spread love to others. It will be a perfect cycle. Many people in the world are desperate for love, but you will be overflowing with it. That’s what you get when you start living.

So what are you waiting for? Make your bucket list today. Do not wait until you are about to die before doing something about it. Start living your bucket list TODAY.

 

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Take Stock of your Life In order to Move Forward and Succeed

All successful men and women are big dreamers. They imagine what their future could be, ideal in every respect, and then they work every day toward their distant vision, that goal or purpose. – Brian Tracy

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On January 1, 2017, I made the resolution that I would read two books every month. March is already with us now and I’ve only read a book and a quarter out of four. While it’s good I’ve at least done something, I know I could have done better than that. Unsurprisingly, this ‘resolution thing’ is a problem that a many people are experiencing.

How many resolutions have you accomplished so far? Are you even on the path toward achieving the goals you set for this year?

According to a survey carried out by the Statistic Brain Research Institute on new year’s day this year, only 9.2% of 1,562 respondents reported feeling successful in achieving their resolutions. Forty-eight point four percent reported having infrequent success, while 42.4% said they failed each year in accomplishing their goals.

Feeling Stuck in Life

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Sometimes you can start feeling stuck and it seems unlikely that you will accomplish your goals. Everybody goes through this at times. However, successful people experience this feeling very rarely due to one reason: Purpose.

Thousands of books have been dedicated to this word yet many fail to find this key part of their lives. People with a purpose have a vision and a plan for their future that is so motivating that you can just see them walking with a spring in their step. It’s (supposed to be) that simple.

Unfortunately, many people live uninspired lives full of either failure or moderate success.

Failing to succeed affects people mentally. It breeds insecurities and fear of taking action in other areas of life. It creates a great sense of shame, which can rob an individual of their self-esteem and confidence. Once an individual begins retreating into the recesses of their mind, they discover where a broken mind resides, pulling in its victim further into pain, regret, shame, and depression.

The social structure of society pushes individuals to try to be better than others; either to show the outcomes of self-actualization or to create the perception that their lives are better than others are. Case in point, when people are on social media, all the pictures point to an amazing life the individual is experiencing that is supposed to be better than of their followers.

If a person feels that they are a failure and begin to drown themselves in their sorrows, it is only a matter of time before depression takes root. The classic early signs of depression according to the NHS Choices UK are:

  • Feeling hopeless and helpless
  • Lacking motivation and interest
  • Continuous moodiness and sadness

Others can be:

  • Avoiding public interaction because of the belief they are looking down on you
  • Failing to apply personal hygiene because you no longer see the point
  • Living in a space that is untidy and unclean
  • Having suicidal thoughts because you think the world will be better off without you or that no one will miss you when you are gone.

Without a support system, it is easy to spiral into a life of drug and substance abuse because it has become too painful to face the reality of your life. Some people label themselves as being “depressed” thereby getting access to anti-depressant drugs, which can have a negative effect on their mental health if misdiagnosed.

How to Move Forward in Life

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  1. Spot the problem

Whether it is in your job, exercising, eating healthy, or being more kind, whatever it is that you are frustrated about not accomplishing requires that you first spot the problem. The solution you come up with will take you to the next level of growth and accomplishment. It will also prevent you from feeling sorry for yourself.

  1. Find your purpose or vision

Recently I was reading about a successful musician and discovered that he dropped out of school in order to sing full-time. While it’s not advisable to copy him, his actions let us know the criteria for our purpose or vision.

Here are the criteria: If you have something you love doing, you are good at doing it, would give everything up to do it and it provides a solution to a problem the public has (and it is not illegal/immoral/unethical) then that can become your purpose in life.

You then need to have a vision of how you want to be in the future. In the case of the musician, his vision could be to become a legend in the music industry with multiple classic songs. With that in mind, he can then work toward achieving that goal, which brings us to the next point.

  1. Chart a new course for your life

The only thing one can do is look at the mistakes and achievements of the past, and chart a new course in order to achieve their overall vision. This sense of purpose will have a positive effect on mental health because every day you wake up inspired to reach a goal you have envisioned for yourself.

  1. Don’t wallow in self-pity for too long

Sometimes life pushes us too hard and we want to curl up in the corner listening to depressing music that matches our mood. However, as Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “To live is to suffer; to survive, is to find some form of meaning in the suffering.”

It’s okay to allow yourself to feel all the range of emotions, both negative and positive. Nevertheless, you should not dwell in this doom and gloom mentality. Inspire positive moods through action and seek out that which makes you happy. You don’t live forever so you have to try at least to be happy while you are here.

  1. Forgive Yourself

I’ve often heard this statement made and it never seems to register because I don’t think people (including myself) truly realise that they have been judging themselves harshly for past mistakes. Realise that life has no script; therefore, it is inevitable that you will make the wrong decision. Sometimes that decision can be very costly as well.

As you will eventually come to realise, holding on to these mistakes, failures, and the guilt that comes with it, is of no use to you. You have to move on. The only way to do that is to acknowledge it, learn from it, and let it go. Once you forgive yourself, you will be able to move forward, make new mistakes, and grow.

Doing all these things will help you get in the right mindset to achieve your goals and to change your present life for the better. Understand why your resolutions are important to you and plan out exactly how you can accomplish every one of them. As for me, I’m heading off to read my first book for the new month. I’m confident I will also read the second book because I know why I’m reading and I have a plan of how to go about it.

What about you?

Achievement of your happiness is the only moral purpose of your life, and that happiness, not pain or mindless self-indulgence, is the proof of your moral integrity since it is the proof and the result of your loyalty to the achievement of your values. – Ayn Rand

Sibling Bullying Can Cause Depression

I recently got a forwarded photo on one of the internet messaging services. For some people, it might not have raised any eyebrows. In my case, though, I found it very interesting.

It was an image of Luigi from the Super Mario Bros. video game that brought back memories from my childhood. You see, the caption on the image said it all…

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Looking back at it now with a big smile on my face, I know it was unfair. Yet, it was the position you had to take as the younger brother in order to get to enjoy the game. If you wanted to use the Mario character, then you would have had to play the game on your own.

Sibling Dynamics

If you are an only child, you definitely missed out on your first orientation on small group relationships and behaviour. Those who come from large families understand the intricacies of navigating and jostling for attention and perceived rights within a small – and other times chaotic – environment.

There are a lot of considerations to be made depending on:

  • birth order in the family
  • birth spacing years between the kids
  • the size of the family
  • gender mix amongst the kids
  • and any form of competition amongst the children.

It is all very interesting at the end of it all. Parental control and sibling dynamics determine how you turn out later in life. And therein lies the problem…

Sibling Bullying

Family members are highly likely to tease each other on the decisions one makes. It is an enduring part of family life. However, there is an extreme form of sibling behaviour that destroys the bonds inherent in family life: bullying.

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Anyone who has been bullied in school or in their neighbourhood will tell you it is a very unpleasant experience. Now imagine what the reaction is like when bullying occurs within a home; a place where you are supposed to be safe among your loved ones. How is that going to feel like?

The StopBullying website defines bullying as an “unwanted, aggressive behaviour among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.” It adds that the “behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.”

Sibling bullying can take several forms:

  • Verbal and emotional abuse
  • Negative labelling
  • Physical aggression and threats of violence
  • Provoking arguments and manipulating family members through lies and playing the victim.
  • Ganging up on one sibling all the time.
Link to Depression

A study conducted in September last year by researchers from the University of Oxford showed that any child who was bullied by their siblings was twice as likely to become depressed as an adult.

The study, which was conducted together with other universities including Warwick, Bristol, and the University College London, also showed that most of the victims of bullying even confessed to having engaged in self-harm practices.

According to the Pediatrics Journal where the study was published, the lead researcher, Dr. Lucy Bowes said, “If [bullying] occurred in a school setting there would be repercussions. We are not talking about the sort of teasing that often goes on within families, but incidents that occur several times a week, in which victims are ignored by their brothers or sisters, or are subjected to verbal or physical violence.”

Growing Up in Love

The result of this study shows parents something they would not expect to see from their own families. Every parent believes they have done their very best for their children. Therefore, to hear that one of your children was diagnosed as ‘clinically depressed’ (because you neglected to address some issues you noted as your kids were growing up) is truly sad.

Siblings must be watched carefully so that any rivalries, jealousy, and feelings of neglect are not expressed in form of bullying. Try to do the following things:

  • Always defuse any situations that may lead to bullying
  • Ensure you never take sides in any conflict.
  • Help the siblings understand how their behaviour is affecting their relationships.
  • Stamp out any petulant behaviour and tantrums (especially in the older children). Some children may damage another sibling’s items out of spite.
  • Be an example of the proper way to love one another. How you interact with your own siblings can teach your children how they should behave.

Thinking back to your childhood memories, you can probably spot instances of bullying that you were not aware of. At least now, you have the knowledge and the experience and you can help chart a new course for the future of how your children relate to one another.

In my view, this new way of nipping sibling bullying before it becomes an issue will most likely reduce instances of depression among young adults in the future.

Your Life on Earth

In recent times, I have been constantly talking about how your life is precious and why you should never consider giving up even when the pressures of life keep stressing you.

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The BBC website has a great interactive feature that shows how much the world has changed since the time you were born. It is an interesting interactive segment that you should go and check out using this link: http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20141016-your-life-on-earth.

We are all part of a great Earth Story and our lives are “connected by invisible threads”.

Enjoy that great feature!

Example that Choosing to Live is Better!

I was combing through the BBC Website when I came across an article that caught my eye. It was something familiar to me, in a sense, because I had heard a little bit about this man who does amazing things despite what most people would call “A major handicap”. You see, the man in question is Nick Vujicic; otherwise known as “The man without limbs”.

If you’ve ever had an injury to your arm or leg, you know how helpless you feel and how you constantly want to curse your bad luck. You just can’t wait till the day the doctor declares that you are healed. Now stop for a second and imagine having never had those hands or legs. How would you even survive?

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Nick Vujicic’s Story

Nicholas James Vujicic was born with a physical disability which doctors admitted was very rare. He has therefore lived the whole 32 years of his life without arms or legs.

Not many people would have made it through all those years without – what many people feel are – the necessary tools for survival in an already difficult world. Indeed, not even young Nick expected to survive with the reality of his life. He was born “different” and despite all the love he received from his family and friends, he already felt disadvantaged. This cloud of negativity hung over him for a long time and he became depressed. At only 10 years of age, he attempted to commit suicide. Thankfully, he failed.

The struggle to cope with his physical, mental and emotional struggle took a great toll on the young man as it would for many of us. Though life offered him moments of joy, it was the bad moments which really weighed heavily on him. Therefore, he tried to commit suicide a few more times. Thankfully, again, he failed each time.

At age 17, he was inspired to become a public speaker and it was during his first attempt that a sobbing girl’s gratitude changed his outlook on life. As Nick says in one of his websites attitudeisaltitude.com, “I realized that we all need love and hope and that I was in a unique position to share that with people around the world”.

Choosing Your Attitude toward Life

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Nick now has several organizations such as LifeWithoutLimbs and AttitudeisAltitude which seek to help people in their lives through inspiration and by providing perspective. It is by no means a stretch to say that Nick Vujicic has helped millions of people. After all, how would you respond if someone handicapped was doing more in his life than you were with all your limbs and faculties intact? Yet, here is Nick, who can swim, type, speak in front of thousands of people, and even goes sky diving. He is happily married and has a child, just like any “normal” person.

Nick’s circumstances would have overwhelmed many people but he chose to have a positive attitude even when negative thoughts threatened to derail his life.

Many people give up when life continually throws obstacles their way. No one can stand in another man’s shoes and claim they would respond positively to any negative circumstances. The interesting thing though, is that positive attitudes and unshakeable willpower trump life’s obstacles any time.

It is difficult when dealing with depression and thoughts of suicide. But as Nick Vujicic shows, your life is important. Just like him, you can turn your negative circumstances into a story that can inspire others to choose life over death.

Just from following Nick’s example, you can lay claim to the attitude that the future holds something positive for your life. So choose life today!

Find the Meaning in the Suffering

Life isn’t easy. It can be painful especially when you’ve tried so many times and still failed. This is the point when you just throw your hands in the air and declare, “I have had enough of this!”

Who could blame you for giving up? After all, you have tried and tried without much to show for your efforts. That’s not the issue though. The problem is what is going through your mind right now. By putting the label ‘failure’ to your experience you have altered the mindset you should really have about what has happened. Thus, you are now feeling depressed because you think that you are not good enough. At worst, you are even contemplating suicide. There are a lot of people who are winning and achieving great things, therefore, you mistakenly think that no one will miss a failure like you.

Hope in the midst of suffering

But I wonder; after putting so much effort into succeeding, will you let all your energy, desire, work and effort go to waste by stopping now? You have suffered a lot already. See it through to the end. Someone once said, “When you are exercising, the real work out begins when you are tired”. It BEGINS when you are tired. Not when you are strong, motivated, or succeeding. The real work begins the moment you want to give up.

In life, it’s never really what you accomplish, but rather, who you become by accomplishing a particular goal. You learn new things; you build your character; you build your strength; and you increase your belief the moment you decide to push through the pain. What would have become of the electric bulb if Thomas Edison had given up after failing over a thousand times? You have something to give to the rest of the world. You might not know what that is right now. Nevertheless, the world is lucky to have you. You are important.

Pain in Suffering

We hurt deeply when we lose something amazing in our lives. It’s always unexpected and painful. But no matter what you go through, you are stronger than you know. In his book ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’, Dr. Viktor Frankl describes how he lost his family, his house, his job as a respected doctor, and his unpublished book manuscript. He found himself at a Nazi concentration camp where he lost many of the friends he made and lived everyday amidst dying comrades, starvation, spreading diseases, harsh weather conditions and the threat of being taken to the gas chambers. There didn’t seem to be any point in living.

But despite this harsh existence where it was easier to die than to live, Dr. Frankl said that regardless of what happens to us, we don’t lose everything. We are still left with the one thing that matters: the power to choose how we will respond to the crisis in our lives. We have the power to decide whether we will approach life’s hardships with a positive mindset or a negative one. He describes the essence of his book as this quote from Friedrich Nietzsche, “To live is to suffer; to survive, is to find some form of meaning in the suffering”.

Dr. Frankl suffered, but he left a profound legacy on the world that has helped many people. He chose to survive and to share his life with others. As a result, he inspired many people with the message that no matter what you go through, there is a lesson to be learnt.

Tough Lessons

It is important to avoid the mindset of absolutes. Good things will not stop coming to your life. That isn’t to say that losing something precious won’t hurt because there are good things yet to come into your life. It will hurt. It will not be easy but you shall survive.

There is always a lesson in our suffering. Once you learn, you can teach and inspire others. Don’t give up. Choose to face life’s tough circumstances and soon you will find yourself on the other side. It won’t be easy, but only you can find the meaning in the suffering. And when you do, you will realize that you are a better ‘you’ than you were before.

Believe that you can get through life’s hardships. Just find the meaning in the suffering.

No Matter What Happens, Never Give Up!

You are going to go through a lot of pain in this world; that is guaranteed. There will be sickness, heartbreak, loss and failure. These things will make you feel weak and insignificant. In other moments, you will find yourself feeling alone and judged. In others, you will be indifferent to what is going on around you. Worse still, there will be moments when you will believe that the world would be a better place if you were dead.

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No one signed up for this. You were put here for a reason. It is up to everyone to find their own purpose in life. Finding one’s purpose can also become a pain. After all, what are you supposed to do if you don’t know what you are meant to be doing? Sometimes it can even take a lifetime to discover what your purpose is and it’s frustrating when you look around and everyone else seems to know what their purpose is. You see your friends, your neighbours and your family members waking dutifully everyday to fulfil whatever their purpose might be and you are just there wasting away into insignificance.

How can you not get jealous? You look around and all your peers seem to have ‘made it’ in life. Look at their big house; their amazing spouse; look at the big, expensive car they are driving. Where did you go wrong? How will you get out of your rut? Even the people closest to you don’t believe in you anymore. You could have been this; you could have been that. Just face the facts, you are a failure. The world would be better off without you in it.

Don’t Believe Them. You Have a Purpose in the World

Despite how harsh life may seem, there is always one constant: Everything in life happens for a Reason.

No matter what happens to you, there is a reason; a story that is being created from that moment you have experienced. The reality is that every important lesson you learn is going to be painful, in one way or another. There is no escaping it. Life will lift you up and throw you down and there is no guarantee you will land on a pillow. You are going to get hurt mentally and emotionally.

Wherever you are and no matter what it is you are going through, don’t ever give up. It may take a while for you to get out of the rut you are in but if you stay positive, eventually you will make it out. Your painful journey changes you in so many imperceptible ways. But at the end of it all, you will realize that all your struggles were merely chipping away at the person you are not in order to reveal to you who you really are.

You are stronger than you have ever known or imagined. Problems in your life seem greater than you but they can be overcome.

Ryan Blair, in his book ‘Nothing to Lose’, says that, “All pain in life is derived to make you stronger; a battle test from God. The greater the test, the greater the strength you will derive from it”. No matter where you run to you will not be able to escape pain. It is inevitable. Dr. Viktor Frankl says in his book ‘A Man’s Search for Meaning’, that we can never truly lose everything because we are still left with the power to choose how we will respond to the problems in our lives. We have the power to decide our attitude toward our problems.

In life, you are not meant to have the same experiences as your family members, neighbours or friends. Everyone will get what is meant for them and so will you. Comparing yourself to other people will only make you bitter and jealous. You will pierce your soul with envy. The better thing to do, instead, is to choose what you will focus on. Look closely at your life and you will find you have a lot of things to be grateful for. You might not have the big car or the house but you have your body. You might not have the latest smartphone but you have your mind intact. These are just examples of things you can be grateful for. You will be happier when you do so.

What do you do now?

As Anthony Robbins says, “It’s not what’s happening to you now or what has happened in your past that determines who you become. Rather, it’s your decisions about what to focus on, what things mean to you, and what you’re going to do about them that will determine your ultimate destiny”.

Everyone who has achieved anything significant has gone through failure. Failure is not a bad thing. It just shows you what you need to correct in order to succeed. If the people around you mock you or make you feel unworthy of love then you need to leave them behind. All the people who truly care about you will want the best for you and will encourage you. Those are the people you need to surround yourself with.

Just remember that the “Night is darkest just before dawn”. You will go through tough times. Believe me, you can bear the pain and come out a better and stronger person. So no matter what happens, never give up!