Climate catastrophe, radical loss of biodiversity, rising inequality, the resurgence of the far-right. These are some of the things you should give a f*ck about. Spending a good amount of your energy, time and good will on battling other people’s negativity, societal pressures and fearing about the success of your future, however, are things you shouldn’t spend another second doing. Simply stopping allowing these inner demons from taking over is certainly easier said than done. Be that as it may, here are a few things that can make it easier to find your inner peace, creating inner-space to worry about the things that truly matter instead.
Reject the pressures of individualism.
Survival of the fittest. Every man for their own. Individual success. This hypercompetitive individualist culture is deeply engraved into the western capitalistic societies. At school we are competing for the best grade, when we’re adults we’re competing with our friends and neighbours for the nicest house, the nicest car, the most picture-perfect life. When we grow old, however, we realise that none of that mattered in the end, we all end up in the same mud under the ground. Just the realisation that life is not a race, that we should aim to thrive as the human species will imminently lift off a lot of pressure which can then be replaced with empathy and compassion. Simply take a minute to think, “what am I you doing, or can I do, to really have a positive impact in this world?”
Think about something besides you. Turn your hatred to kindness.
Kill ‘em with kindness. Stop judging, stop saying mean things about other people. Focus rather on their positive attributes. And if ‘they don’t have any’ – don’t bother. This becomes especially easy once you drop this idea that the world revolves around you, that you are the main character of this story and everyone else is in essence, one-dimensional supporting characters. When you allow yourself to think good about others, it becomes easier to believe that others think good about you.
Cut off the toxicity. Both in social media as well as in real life.
Take a break from social media or perhaps simply scale down your use. Stop following the people that invoke feelings of jealousy or inferiority in you and follow rather the people that motivate you, that inspire you. I am sure we are all guilty of following people that we idolise and godify. We spend hours scrolling through their Instagram feed, thinking of how perfect their lives must be. Spoiler alert – nobody’s is.
Cut toxic people off not just on social media but in real life too. This may seem savage or uncaring initially, but the key to unlock your ability to be kind to others, is to stop surrounding yourself with the people that shower you with negativity, blocking your innate kindness from shining through.
Start being more honest with yourself and others. Even if it means being brutally honest.
Coming to terms with your past and present. Don’t dwell in your failures and misfortunes for too long – learn and flourish from them. One plus one equals two; focus on problem-solving rather than self-pity. Everyone makes mistakes, everyone has sh*tty things happen to them. If they say don’t, they are lying. After all, things are as bad as you let them be. Learning about the world, opening your eyes, certainly helps. The more you open your eyes to what is happening outside your individual bubble the more you realise how insignificant your problems are.
Acknowledge your emotions, don’t run away from them. Meditate – discuss with yourself. There are apps such as ‘Headspace’ that help beginners familiarise themselves with various mediation techniques.
Commit to things you truly enjoy, not things that are deemed to be ‘cool’. Yoga, for example, has gained increasing popularity the past few years, but do I love it? No. Yet, I picked it up due to this false idea that it would make me happy since everyone seems to be praising the amazing effects that yoga offers. Long story short, it made me miserable. The definition of cool is every-changing, it’s pretty much impossible to keep up. My guilty pleasure is Twilight – I unapologetically listen to the soundtrack on a frequent basis. Someone else’s might be listening to Justin Bieber – there is zero reason to hold back from doing the things we love doing, such thinking is just absurd.
On that note, start exploring things you thought were not for you and get out of that comfort zone. You will be surprised at how many things you are actually capable of and how much you’ve been lying to yourself about stuff you supposedly could never do.
Realise that you don’t own anyone, and no one owns you. For real.
Jealousy is for losers. Love deeply but not possessively. While you may be talking with the person you are attracted to, they also might be talking to someone else, perhaps they even engage in sexual/romantic gestures with more than one person on the same night. Common labels such as “slut” or a “fuckboy” are just futile and unnecessary social constructs. Most taboos, myths and rules set by society – such as the different attitudes towards men’s and women’s toplessness or towards the profanity in the title of this very article- are just senseless and urgently need disregarding. Humans are capable of sharing so much love. It’s free after all. People should be allowed to share their love, not bottle all that love into a small bottle and give it to your ‘one and only’.
We also need to forget about the ‘he left me on read’. There will never be a sufficient amount of emojis to fulfil our need of human contact. We desperately need to get back in touch with real-life communication. All the hearts and kiss emojis in the world don’t mean a thing if a person cannot express that affection in real life. Call people more instead of texting them. I am a real warm supporter of voice messages; I believe they are a means of more palpable communication.
Come to terms with the fact that you can never, ever be liked by everyone. Never.
An artist’s work will never be appreciated by everyone. Your personality or appearance neither. Remember, however, that it is often much easier for people to judge out loud than to give praise out loud. One person may see one thing, another person might see a billion things in the same picture. You are never going to be happy if other people’s praise is what feeds you and defines your happiness. Positive comments are most definitely enjoyable to receive, however if your confidence depends entirely on them, you are never going to be happy.
Are these truly your ‘goals in life’?
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Beauty is relative. The more diversity you surround yourself with, the more your definition of beauty broadens, the bigger the defining box of beauty becomes.
Success, in a similar manner, is also relative – and it is something that should be solely defined by you. Trying to reach goals set by others for you is a toxic cycle of misery. Take a moment and think… “Why am I studying this degree? Is it cause my father wanted me to be a doctor? Cause being a doctor would make my family proud? Or am I actually enjoying studying biology and physics…”
Finally, stop being afraid to be happy.
Happiness is scary. We shower ourselves constantly with stress, anxiety about our misfortunes and the future. Why? It’s all we know, it’s what feels familiar. Stop being afraid of allowing yourself to be happy in the present moment. Or constantly worry that soon something bad will happen. Maybe it might, and it will be okay, life is full of ups and downs. Ultimately, that’s what makes life worth living.
We also need to change our western attitudes towards death. Death is a natural part of life. One thing is certain, we all will find our decaying bodies underground at some point in history. We shouldn’t be afraid of it. We don’t need to try to understand it, just accept it and aim at making the most of the time we have on Earth. Only in that way we can finally let ourselves be free.