CultureHealth

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always been extremely fast-paced. I always expect everything in my life to happen instantly, and my strong desire for instant results often leaves me overwhelmed and exhausted.

I’m a highly competitive individual; I always mange to turn everything I do into some sort of competition by setting sharp deadlines to achieve my goals.

Recently, however, I’ve been self-assessing where I am in my life and where it is I am trying to go.

My answers came from a magazine advertisement I was reading one morning on my commute on the London tube.

It read, “Rome Wasn’t Built In a Day, and Neither Were You.” Inspired by the choice of words, I wrote it down in my notes section of my iPhone of things to look into later that week. Having heard the expression in literature and other numerous places before, I decided to research its origins. I learned it was a French proverb from the late 1100s, and it wasn’t translated into English until 1545.

By relating that phrase to my current life ambitions, I was able to further understand my journey of self-development. My interpretation of the phrase was that all things in life take time to create, and substantial things, such as the great city of Rome, take years to complete.

As humans, we should not set expectations to achieve great successes. We need to rewire how we think about our accomplishments. Ancients Rome’s vast network of developed roads, buildings, and modern advancements were not simply erected overnight. The empire recruited people from afar, and spent years developing into the great power it was known to be. Personal growth is essentially the same way. It takes time and lots of strategic planning, but the time logged pays off dramatically.

The constant search for instant gratification is something that, now being 25, I am getting better at channeling and understanding. Nothing in life comes easily, and the most rewarding things in life require work and perseverance. There are three avenues Generation-Y can relate to directly that include our strong desires for self-development and fulfillment:

  1. Professionally

I often feel the past eight years of my life have been extremely rushed, often making me feel unclear of my life plans. After high school, much like my counterparts, I went straight into university. Not knowing what to do after, I enrolled in a master’s program and soon after found myself working a 9-5 job from Monday to Friday in London. I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with my choices, but I often wish that I had taken some time to fully explore my life options and develop my soul and inner character.

At the time, I was in a rush to finish my education and immediately start working. I realize I could have taken more time exploring all my options and really focusing on developing and fine tuning my interests while still in school. I was in such a rush to start making money and live a professional independent life that I sometimes fail to enjoy moments and absorb what I was working towards. Take time to fully develop your interests and life goals early on. There is no rush to finish university and immediately have a job lined up post graduation. This time aids in building character and self-awareness, which is essential in life.

  1. Personally

As any young professional living in a large scale global city has probably experienced before, personal development is an ongoing process in life. We are always changing mentally and emotionally, which directly affects how we feel and how we interact. Our social circles can be vastly divergent from spending time with a significant other, work colleagues, or friends.

Working and living in a new city takes time to adapt to. You need to give yourself ample time to set your foundations to achieve new and great heights. Big cities can often become overwhelming, and often you may feel as if you don’t know how you fit in, but self-development is a cycle of figuring out how your personal growth will continue to morph your life ethos.

Don’t rush getting to understand which social scene you think you belong to, or which Tinder match will become your destined life soul-mate. Live life and go with the flow.

  1. Physically

In the last few years, I have become obsessed with staying fit and maintaining my overall health. Though I have yet to adapt a stricter routine, I used to get frustrated seeing guys at the gym lifting three times more then I could.

Since then, however, I have learned to pace myself towards understanding that I will not have a six-pack overnight. Life is a balancing act where you must make continued and conscious health choices towards adapting a plan that is suitable for your busy and changing lifestyles.

If you want to achieve great things in life that garner longevity, much like the city of Rome, then perhaps consider reconditioning the ways you go about your daily life. Better ways of channeling your thoughts and desires are the key factor in establishing and setting yourself up for success. Good things take time, and rushing to reach the end is not the best solution.

Image: Carpe Juvenis

Health

What if I told you that yoga is not just a physical work out? In fact, the Washington, DC yoga community is boycotting the “yoga tax” under the premise that the purpose of yoga is not purely exercise, but rather a union of body, mind, and spirit. The literal meaning of the word yoga is just that – union. So how can something so physical in nature be more than purely a calorie-burning activity?

I don’t even remember the first yoga class I ever took, but it has always been appealing to me. The physical and mental benefits of practicing yoga are deeply supported and truly limitless. However, until recently I wasn’t honoring the meaning of the word. I was literally just going through the motions, doing the asana, or physical poses, individually without connecting them to something deeper (which is the point of the whole practice).

In short, I was only looking for the exercise and missing the entire objective. Yes, I felt great after class because I would stretch and have some time to relax and de-stress. My body felt good for a day a two. However, it was not until I learned about the philosophies of yoga, which outline ethical conduct and general self-guidance, that I truly realized the meaning of yoga; I found a union between the asanas I practiced with my body and the serenity I achieved with my mind. Not only do I now feel like I can get all of the kinks out of my back after a yoga class, but I feel more centered as a whole and have a buzz of calm energy which radiates throughout me for days after a single practice.

Ashtanga is the Sanskrit word for eight limbs, which outlines the eight-fold path of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra. The eight limbs of yoga are the corner stone of any yogic practice. There are self-discipline values such as truthfulness, non-harming, contentment, and self-study. Breath control, one-pointed focus, and meditation are all equally as important as asana on the path to enlightenment. If you have yet to find balance in your personal life or workout regime, look no further than yoga.

Some benefits that yoga can bring to your daily life include, but are not limited to:

  • Better posture and alignment
  • Deep breathing exercises to calm nerves during a job interview or whenever you feel a bit anxious
  • Deeper sleep
  • Increased blood flow and circulation
  • A sense of connectedness to all parts of your body and more acceptance of your thoughts and feelings

Like any other routine, enlightenment comes from consistency – or so I’m told (I’m still working on it myself!). Nourishing your mental health and your physical health are equally important tasks. I would argue that for some, it is hard to improve one without also improving the other. Without a sense of purpose centered on the eight limbs of yoga and the philosophies they support, union between mind, body, and spirit would not even seem possible. On my way there, I enjoy the stretch of not only my limbs but my self-confidence as well. With every Warrior Two or Headstand, I learn something about myself. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is acceptance, in all aspects of my life.

Namaste.

Image: Flickr

Skills

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt

This has never rang more true than now. As a twenty-something, my current conversations and thought processes seem to always revolve around the “what am I doing with my life?” question. I am finding that within my circle of peers, someone is either landing a big-time job, traveling the world, attending graduate school, or questioning why they’re not doing any of these things. Social media newsfeeds can be an emerging adult’s biggest frenemy when it comes to keeping track of friends and colleagues. You want to know what someone is up to, but you secretly want to feel like you’re in a better spot than they are. (Oh I’m sorry, that must be my ego talking) That, or you want to justify your place in life by knowing that other people are in the same boat as you. Solidarity, anyone?

I have read countless blogs and articles on this comparison crisis rampant among college students and post-grads. Some have even called it the new OCD: over-comparison disorder. The problem with comparing is that other people’s situations are given a forefront to what progress and success should look like. This is a huge contentment sucker since we each have our own journey to fulfill that is constantly changing shape. Measuring where we are in life with another human being is like trying to shoot at a moving target. It’s frustrating and misaligned. There needs to be a way out of the “this is me” but “this is the world” limbo.

In fact, there is a way that is definitely worth trying. Here it is:

Live your life inside out.

That’s right. We’re about to get real soul-talky. Living life inside out? It means spending more time investing in your journey rather than living up to what others are doing in theirs. It means putting energy into nurturing what makes you unique, learning to not only identify but love your innate abilities and then having the willingness to improve the skills you choose to attain. Rather than absorbing the trends and timelines of your colleagues, observe what inspires you and take action at a pace that’s most beneficial to your own goals, whatever they may be. Identify insecurities and combat them by fostering positive thoughts about yourself and your future. Yes, living life inside out can be easier said than done, but it’s an approach that has a lot of support behind it. To establish some credibility here, Oprah (shout out to you, Oprah) mentioned this approach in a number of her interviews. Life coach and clinical psychologist Dr. Edward A. Dreyfus has even written a book about it with enough empirical research to calm any skeptics out there. Taking a note or two from these inspirers, I’ve learned that self-reflection can really be a gateway into self-acceptance.

So how does living inside out help us compare less and become happier? The first step is to acknowledge the comparisons you have with yourself and others. Say it with me: “Hi. My name is _______, and I am a comparer.” The next step is to shift your focus from the external, material, and visual to your unique personality, places and purpose. Ah, alliteration! Let’s call those the 3 P’s.

Personality: The collection of traits and tendencies that you exhibit to yourself and to the world.
Places: The non-geographical places of interest and value that your actions stem from. Maybe you come from a place of compassion or entrepreneurship or social justice or…
Purpose: Your calling. Your legend. Your reason. The string that threads through everything you do and what ties your beliefs and goals together. It’s your passion turned into action.

Every single person has a different combination of their 3 P’s. If you are able to focus on your 3 P’s you will learn to value them. You can cater your choices to a path that is tailored to who you are, rather than someone else. Don’t let someone else’s decision to join the Peace Corps or go to law school change your dream of launching your own startup. The next time you find yourself feeling uneasy about where you are in life because Person A is way ahead of you or Person B took a different route, realize that it’s because you come from different places, have different personalities, and each have your own special purpose.

A big chunk of this process is definitely learning to love and respect yourself fully so that you can in turn, emit that same positivity to those around you. There is something very freeing about allowing yourself to compare less and to appreciate more. So start within, share your abilities and dreams confidently, and embrace the abilities and dreams of your colleagues. It’s an ongoing process, this whole self-reflection thing, but let’s start at the core so that we can be so happy with ourselves that we are always happy for each other.

Image: David Goehring