This year has been tough for everyone, individuals, and businesses alike. It would be admirable if each person reading this article had taken full advantage of the extra time given to us as a result of COVID restrictions. Has the difference in the day-to-day cadence created new life lessons? Have burdensome and challenging situations been leveraged to make us stronger? Have we grown wiser due to our struggles? Questions easy to ask, but difficult to answer.
There are motivational posters and quotes everywhere telling us things like ‘smooth seas don’t create skilled sailors’ and ‘difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations’. They do, but it is not always easy to see that in the midst of a torrential downpour. Here are seven life lessons that I have adopted which provide an uplifting perspective on life.
2020 Life Lessons
1. Let challenges inspire you instead of frieghtening you.
I cannot take credit for coming up with this one all on my own. A similar phrase was spoken by Eudoria Holmes in the Netflix Original movie, Enola Holmes. The movie is about the deductive adventures of Sherlock Holmes’s younger sister, Enola. Her mother, played by Helena Bonham Carter, provides the perfect mix of fun, fantasy, and unhinged reality.
A challenge by nature calls us to battle or to exert some level of special effort. “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” illustrates this point so poignantly. In the midst of an unfortunate situation at work or home, try to hone in on the favorable outcomes. Then tailor your actions, reactions, and decisions with only the positive results in mind.
2. Lead with decisions instead of emotions.
This one is quite significant. We are currently experiencing an environment that pushes us in the exact opposite direction of the aforementioned statement. TV shows, movies, singers, songwriters, actors, TV anchors, bloggers, vloggers, social media participants (that’s us), and everyone in between expresses their feelings openly. Emotions are simply how one feels internally about something at a certain point in time. While leading with decisions is not always easy, it does provide us the opportunity to take a step back. It encourages us to pause and think before we speak or act.
3. You can not effectively help others if you do not take care of yourself.
This is similar to promoting self-care but goes a little further. Having the energy, desire, and focus to support others requires one to be in a good place themselves. If there is already mental, emotional, or physical exhaustion then those areas are further drained by ignoring your personal needs and limitations.
*I will add a disclaimer on this one: I do realize that we are often placed in situations where caring for our children, spouses, or parents is thrust upon us without warning. In these situations and circumstances, I encourage you to still try to find ways to rejuvenate. “An empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly.” ~ Unknown
4. Saying ‘no’ to someone or something that does not build you up is a form of self respect.
You can communicate your intentions without using the word ‘no’. Try to find the right words to get across that you are not at a place to take on additional responsibilities. For instance, “I appreciate the opportunity, however, my schedule for that day is very full. Can I help you brainstorm about someone else we could ask to help?” This also includes saying ‘no’ to yourself if you get into an emotionally taxing situation. Try not to allow others to place their emotional burdens on you. However, if they do try to focus on listening and then letting it go.
Remember, Saying No Means You Know Your Limits!
5. Looking for the positive in a bad situation will always yield a more pleasurable outcome.
This one can be a life lesson, a mantra, and an affirmation all rolled into one. If we focus on all the negative outcomes it will create a state of anxiety within us that takes hold. Anxiety about the future only serves to rob us of our joy in the present. For a deeper look into this topic read Overcome Adversity.
6. Speaking words of love and support to others builds you both up.
I once had someone tell me that the art of flirting is not about just the person on the receiving end, but should be about the giver and the receiver. That discussion lead me back to a century-old debate on if there can really be ‘true altruism’? As someone who enjoys seeing others happy and fulfilled, I tend to say no, because it benefits the giver. It feels good to make others feel good. The next time you have the opportunity to express support to another remember that by doing so it will also create within you a sense of gratification.
7. Laughter trumps everything!
Laughter truly is the best medicine and I believe it has healing properties. It helps take our minds off the negative and direct us to a place of fun. Laughter is also quite contagious. Jane and Michael Banks demonstrate this principle most aptly in Mary Poppins. One afternoon Mary takes the kids to see an old friend, Uncle Albert, stating there is a serious problem that needs her attention. Upon arriving, the children realize that Uncle Albert and Bert have magically floated to the ceiling because excessive laughter made them literally ‘high’. As Jane and Michael began to laugh, they too float up to the ceiling. A wonderful scene depicting how laughter lifts others up.
Some days are just easier than others. Focus on letting the good days define who you are instead of the difficult days. Remember that each day you learn something new about yourself or handle a situation better than you handled it previously, that day has been a success. Most importantly remember:
“Life lessons help us to create better versions of ourselves for the future.”~ Mrs. B