This past fall, I found that living in social isolation (on a 15-square mile island) with nothing but a good book and long hours of work will really force you into a state of introspection. Add that to 2 months of living back home in Brooklyn with loads of free time, and you’ve got a pretty excellent elixir for reflection.
What did I discover?
1. I accept who I am: my strengths, weaknesses, and I have so much to offer the world.
2. Humans are a social species. We need a tribe. It may change from time to time, expand and contract – but our inner desire to connect with others is directly linked to our natural ability to love others.
3. The core of my tribe is my family. And I ride the ebb and flow of its continual expansion and subsequent waning.
4. Loss is an essential part of the Human experience. It reminds us that we are not in control and must press on forward: continue living and thriving. If we don’t, the world will leave us behind.
5. Heartbreak is inevitable. There are many forms, but ultimately it strengthens the heart, mind, and soul. It should not be avoided, for evasion means you are not living life to its fullest – you are closing yourself to experience and growth.
6. You are your best advocate. You know who you are, what you stand for, and what is best for you. The only person truly looking out for your best interests is you. Others will eventually learn to know the needs and ways of your heart, but until then, you know best.
7. Do not seek approval and love from others in order to be happy. Does this dress make me look fat? I feel like all of my friends have forgotten about me. I just want to be in a relationship with someone. I need his love to feel happy, secure, and complete. Stop. If you read Lesson 1, you already accept yourself. It’s hard, and will never be easy. But you’re worth it. You will always have YOU.
8. You need to do something. Humans are built to survive, and in 2015, that means work. You will always find a way to complain about your job, where you live, who you work with, etc. But we need to continue enriching our lives. Our brains, bodies, and inner beings were not built for stagnant waters. That makes for an early grave.
9. Find balance in all you do, and establish priorities – and accept that they will change with time. What is important to you? What is truly essential in your life right now that serves the highest levels of your inner happiness? (Right now, mine are finding fulfilling work that satisfies my desires to make New York City a cleaner and healthier place to live, continue to open my heart again to love and trust in that love, balance the material necessity of a healthy paycheck with the wishes of using that monetary resource for experiences to enrich my life and the loves of my life.)
10. Change is the truest form of the Human experience. With all the lessons learned (above), you will be a champion of yourself with the ability to live and breathe in the flow of life. Accept change. Embrace change. It leads us closer and closer to the ultimate lesson of life: Transformation.