Insights: Life Can Be Tough But We Can Be Tougher

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Most of us can remember being talked about in high school and how it can make us doubt ourselves. That feeling does not always end in high school.

I recently heard some people talking negatively about me. It hurt me for a moment. I felt like I was in high school again, then I thought, what does it matter. I am being myself and I am kind, I try my best and I like who I am. I do know that when people are talking negatively about others it says more about them, yet that was hard to hold in that moment.

After going through this experience, it brought me back to my philosophy of just being ourselves no matter what people say. That does not mean I am perfect or that I don’t have things to learn or ways to be better, but I am ‘me’ and I am always willing to grow and learn and help someone out. To me, that is what is important.

I took some time after this to think about what is truly important. See what you think:

  1. Do not let fear or others make your decisions for you. Fear comes from a part of the brain that is limited and does not look at the larger picture but more about survival in the moment.
  1. Lean into healthy relationships. I have previously mentioned a study that has spanned over 75 years, which stresses how relationships are essential for happiness. However, those relationships need to be satisfying. Poor relationships are worse for you than being alone. Relationship satisfaction is key. Satisfying relationships help protect our body and our brain. People who have had satisfying relationships throughout their life look back on life and feel the negative has less impact on them, while people who did not have satisfying relationships share how difficult their challenges were.
  1. Let go of people and things that do not work for you. This is one area that I have worked at and has truly made my life so much better. As far as things go, if they do not have meaning or purpose, it goes. People who do not make you a better person, they go. I know this is often easier said than done.
  1. Always do the right thing. Always. This means thinking through your decisions rather than reacting. This is not always easy either.
  1. Be awake in life. In other words, don’t live with the idea of “I should have,” “I always wanted to,” “next year I will,” etc. Wake up and do it now.
  1. Don’t complain. Think gratitude even if you are doing your dishes or putting the trash out.
  1. Remember that the destination is not life, the journey is what is important.
  1. Life will trip us up, but it is about what you do getting up. Find a new path, or get back on the old one if it is still what you want.
  1. Think outside the box. Life is limiting if we stay inside the box.
  1. Be kind to self and others but do not get walked on by others. I asked a friend of mine who was in his 80s what piece of wisdom would he pass on to me. His response was “always be kind.” I have held that concept as a way to be in life and have never regretted it.
  1. Material things are not important. It is not what you have, it is what you do in this lifetime. A study was done with the millennial age group and 80 percent said that their major goal was to get rich, and half of them want to be famous. Money is not the solution unless you live in poverty. Popularity is not important unless you make your money by singing or dancing.
  1. Put down your cell phone, social media and television. Put a limit on these items. They can soak up your time that can be spent doing so many other rewarding activities.
  1. Do not let life pass you by, leaving behind what you wish you had done. As Mark Twain wrote, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones that you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Life will continue to tell you what is important; in fact, it will yell at you. However, it is more important to check in with your heart and soul and ask yourself if this is really important. If not, let it go.

Write down “I am…” Write five of these and make sure you live those out today, tomorrow and the rest of your life.

For example, “I am kind.” “I am financially secure,” Use these as a mantra.  If we feed the brain this information, it will make it happen.

Contact Dr. Shelly Zavala at or [email protected].

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