In the course of doing life, all of us – at some point – feel like it just conspired with none other than the devil himself to give us a bitter raw deal! This is regardless of the confident and normal public façade that most of us wear daily.
Apparently, even those who appear the strongest and most comfortable amongst us, turn out to be the weakest inside whenever they retreat into their inner private sanctums. However, those who understand the most interesting facts about life develop shock absorbers that cushion them whenever they face the worst challenges in their lives.
One of the most amazing facts about life is that the outwardly strongest people in our midst suffer the most since nobody seems to suspect that they do suffer and cry – inwards. They rarely get a shoulder to cry on just because, most of the time, they are busy offering theirs for someone else to cry on. Moreso, nobody expects them to cry too!
We live in a world that has become highly competitive to an extent that, if one dropped from Mars today, he would be forgiven to think that life on earth is one massive race to determine who comes on top of all the rest! People no longer live their unique lives the way they were meant to, but live according to the emerging world standards. Just think about it; if each one of us is unique, then aren’t our life races supposed to be totally different?
Information technology hasn’t made things any easier in this cutthroat competition in life. Folks are now able to keep tabs on others and instantly compare notes on how far they are in doing life. Right from the time, we appear on earth- as tiny human beings – our lives are conditioned by family, religion, education and most recently; social media. They are all always sanctioning us on what to do, how to look and even what we should think! This can get so tiring at times. Don’t you think so?
If you are feeling like crap today and thinking that life has given you a completely raw deal, it is most probably not because you are doing so badly than everybody else in the world. It is most likely just because you think you haven’t met the standards that the society has set for you! Just ask yourself one question: which standards am I using? If you are very honest, you will find out that comparison between yourself and people, with whom you think you should be at par, is your main yardstick and hence the main source of your problem! This is one of the most interesting facts about life that has given many people sleepless nights.
Most of the time, we measure our success in life using material things. We forget that happiness can never exist in things or places, but in us, whoever we are and wherever we are. We forget that even if we were to be given all the material things that we desire, we will still find something that makes life really suck; Moreso if we haven’t learnt how to derive happiness from the right sources, especially from the most mundane things such as the beauty of sunrise or sunset! Ever heard of seriously wealthy people who committed suicide? Why did they do it? They simply never found happiness after working so hard searching for it in all the wrong places!
It is true that life can get really challenging, but you know what? Normal life was never designed to be smooth. It must have its highs and lows if it is to be called normal. Anything else contrary to that is abnormal.
At the moment, life might be taking you through its lowest season and you feel like knocking your head severally against something hard (probably a concrete wall). Or you just feel like letting out a yell, loud enough to awaken a few ancestors from their graves within your vicinity. Just a minute; before you knock your head against that wall, or let out that deafening scream, this is for you. Here are the best ten facts about life that will make you go easy on yourself and remain focused.
1. As a Human Being, You Can Never be Perfect
As a matter of fact, the world sets very high standards for us. Right from our own parents, the schools we attend, the companies we work for, and our governments; all have very high expectations of us. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that (Got you there). It is very important to set the highest goals that we can ever think of in life if we are to bring out our full potential and enjoy life to the fullest. However, it would be foolhardy to expect perfection, since if we do, we will be deluding ourselves. It is crucial to know our limits and always work hard on rectifying our weaknesses.
It would suffice to bear in mind that you must not become perfect in order for you to be happy and enjoy life; all you have to do is strive to be the best version of YOU. Remember, those who expect you to be perfect are themselves way too far from being perfect. Yes, competition is healthy and can motivate you to rise to unimaginable heights. I am glad you asked. All you need to guard against is falling into the trap of blindly competing with others and forgetting to become the best that you can ever be.
2. You make Mistakes Once in a while? It is Okay.
Sometimes we make missteps in life and get screwed really hard, definitely not in the way we would love to (tongue in the cheek). Normal life is full of serious gaffes and blunders since it never accords anybody the luxury of rehearsals. The most foolish thing you can do is to try and cover up your blunders by apportioning blame on others or just glossing over the mistakes as if nothing really happened. That will be your undoing.
The best thing to do is to take responsibility for your blunders and say sorry to anyone who might have directly or indirectly gotten hurt by your gaffes. Promise yourself that you will do better next time. Know what? Lessons learnt from failure are hardly forgotten; especially if you are a willing learner. Learning from failure is an indispensable life skill to anybody who cares about success in life.
3. You Must Keep Moving; be Action Oriented
In doing life, you never “arrive.” Those who are deemed the most successful people happen to be the busiest too! In life, you can only stop when your heart does. You must keep on conquering new heights. Nothing can be as depressing as stagnant life! Many people spend a lot of time admiring their last achievements and forget that there are new territories waiting to be conquered. If you are this type of person, you might pat yourself on the back so much about something you achieved last year and expect the world to be so glad to have you around!
But perhaps the worst stagnation comes when you glory so much in your wonderful human qualities such as being honest, kind and compassionate and forgetting to do something to bring out these qualities. This might make you look like a fake and a big loser. You must always demonstrate your worth wherever you are. You might be the best family man around, but your boss might not be impressed if you don’t deliver at your workplace. He can only recognise your worth if you get up and close those deals. Otherwise, you might face the axe!
What you need is to get up, do something and avoid resting on your laurels. While at it, always give it your best shot. Identify your goals and keep moving towards them no matter what and no matter how. Martin Luther King Jr. told us that, “If you can’t fly then run if you can’t run then walk if can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
4. Never Be Too Hard On Yourself
With a very competitive modern world, it is very easy for us to set impossible goals. At the end of the day, when we fail to hit anywhere near the target, we feel so bad about ourselves. We might always find ourselves wanting to be the best, the most competent, the most intelligent and the most successful person in the room. Again, there is nothing wrong about wanting to be the best. The problem is; we can never be all these things at once, all the time. This is why some people end up being very severely self-critical.
Accepting that some people might be better than us is not the same as accepting defeat. You can be sure that the world has seen many people who were better than you by far. Most of the things that we struggle to be good at are those things that were invented by these sages centuries ago! It is always enough to be your best.
Many of us are always kind and compassionate to others but we fail to do the same to ourselves. We beat ourselves so much trying to achieve unrealistic goals. The best thing you can ever do to yourself is to be pragmatic when setting your goals. Set goals which match your set of skills. Again, this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t push ourselves to the limits, but we must do it moderately. Of what benefit will it be to you if you break your back, trying to impress, by punching above your weight?
5. You Are Always Capable Of More Than You Think; Keep Discovering Your Abilities
You can attest to the fact that, sometimes in your life, you have come to a point where you felt overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of a problem that you faced. But somehow you pulled through! How did you do it? You never imagined all along that you had the capability in you to climb such a steep mountain! It might be that new project that your manager assigned to you and it looked like mission impossible. It might be the major medical surgery that looked impossible to pull through, but you made it through your sheer willpower. It might be the new course you enrolled in and, at the beginning, it looked like Greek, but you finally made it!
Science arguably has it that humans only use 10% of their brains. Whether this is a myth or fact, we have always proved that our brain’s full potential is yet to be utilised, any time we surmount new challenges and scale new heights. Life challenges keep taking us to the next level of thinking and once we discover a new way of dealing with a problem, we are happier than we were before. That is life for you.
Steve Maraboli, a renowned motivational author and speaker said that “Sometimes life knocks you on your ass…get up, get up!!! Happiness is not the absence of problems; it is the ability to deal with them.” How true! All you need to be happy is not amassing all that wealth that you chase day and night. All you need is to master the abilities to deal with your problems and, voila! You will be grinning from ear to ear, oozing with pure happiness!
Whenever you are faced with a new challenge, just stand back for a minute and reflect on your past successes. Think of how much experience and skills you have gathered over the years. This will slowly give you the confidence you need to slay the new Goliath before you.
6. You Need Some Irreducible Values For You To Succeed In Life
You must identify some values that are dear to your social relationships and cherish them. Such values include strong work ethics, as well as transparency and honesty in all your undertakings. You also need to be kind and respectful to others and you will most of the time get the same back in equal measure, if not twofold. Lead more through real examples and not just mere talk. This is one of the greatest keys to self-fulfillment and it must be treasured and safeguarded at all costs.
7. Be aware of your biases and prejudices
Most people end up living a fake life just because they never take their time to discover their biases and prejudices. These are normally a set of beliefs that we grew up dearly holding onto, which might not be necessarily the truth. These can be blamed on our upbringing, but that shouldn’t be an excuse if we fail to do our own research and question some of the prejudices and biases deeply ingrained in us, once we grow up.
Marcus Aurelius aptly puts it that, “Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”
Just think about it. A good percentage of the things that you know, are things that you were taught while growing up! You took them in as gospel truth, including some funny tribal nonsense like most Kikuyus are thieves, all Luyhas love ugali and chicken, all Kisiis are a hot-tempered lot, or all Muslims are this, all Christians are that …and much more. The main tragedy lies not in the presence of such prejudices and biases, but in our failure to pause and question their authenticity. Most of them were mere opinions of their originators!
Acknowledging that we mostly look at everything through prisms which are normally tinted with biases and prejudices is perhaps the most difficult life fact. The tints colour everything we think, feel and everything that we are really passionate about. They become our truths; our default positions.
It, therefore, comes as no surprise when you project your innate and irrational prejudices on to the people that you interact with daily. This is how we end up with preconceived ideas about people of different races, people of different ethnic backgrounds, people of certain educational backgrounds and even people with weight issues!
Sometimes we judge people according to how we knew them a few years back, overlooking the fact that people indeed grow and change. The day we start questioning the origin of our social attitudes and how they are shaped by our biases and prejudices; that is the time maturity comes knocking.
8. The Most Important Person Who Needs To Believe In You Is YOU
You can never be in control if you don’t believe in yourself. It makes you really vulnerable. But we must admit that it is never easy to believe in oneself, especially when things start getting out of control. In such moments, you can be forgiven if you horribly feel like a marionette on a string. When faced with such circumstances, you can easily regain your self-belief, and hence be in control once more, by doing the following:
• Stop asking questions that begin with what if …? Or the most common one: why me?
• Never let your thoughts dwell in your past failures
• Try to be as independent as you can in making simple decisions
• Stop procrastinating
• Make a list of simple things that you can do daily and they make you feel better
• Each time ensure you include one task that you might have been putting off for a while.
If you try the above, the small things that you accomplish every day will definitely enable you to regain back your confidence and be in control of your life once more.
9. You Can Only Manage Fear And Stress; You Can’t Eliminate them
A lot of the stress we feel emanates from negative thinking, which ends up getting out of control and giving way to unreasonable fears of what might happen. You have to learn to accept that, it is not all things that you can remain in control of. Sometimes you have to let go of the things that are beyond your control. According to Steve Maraboli (If I can quote him once more) “You must learn to let go. Release the stress. You were never in control anyway.” This means that we can only control a limited number things in life.
Once you understand that you can never control everything in nature, and you learn to let go of what is beyond your control, stress becomes manageable even if it might not disappear per se. Always remember of the many difficult situations you have dealt with before and how you managed to pull through, anytime things get tough. Somehow, there is always a way out of every situation.
10. Only the truth can set all of us free
Do you know how to handle the truth? Over time, some facts have been established as constant truths. Humanity’s desire for the truth is immense and it permeates every sphere of our lives, right from our governments, our courts of law, our religions as well as our individual relationships. We naturally get furious whenever we suspect even the smallest hint of lack of honesty and transparency.
Lack of honesty leads to mistrust and this can be very toxic and corrosive to any form of human relationships. At times, the innocent comments about a partner’s outfit or cooking might call for more kindness and wisdom than honesty. For instance, how many times do you find yourself exclaiming, “Wow! You are smart in that outfit. You look drop dead gorgeous!” when you are actually thinking; “God gracious! Where did she pick these ugly sacks from?” Or you might say, “Hmmm! This tastes yummy!” when you are actually thinking, “Jesus! This tastes like a mixture of sawdust and pieces of a mattress!”
It is alright, don’t feel bad about yourself. Sometimes conventional wisdom demands that we throw in a lie or two, for the sake of world peace. Just like in the examples above, where you have to avoid offending a loved one. However, this shouldn’t be your usual modus operandi, especially if you want your relationship to be set on a firm foundation.
We live in a world where people gloss over the truth, twist and re-invent it so long as it fits their circumstances. Just ask yourself, how prepared are you to demand the truth anytime anywhere, be it from your government failures or your loved one’s weaknesses and failings? Sometimes such questions and answers can really hurt or be unkind. If you are ready to face such weighty and sensitive questions, then you are ready to taste real freedom.
Just like the Buddha said, “There are three things that cannot be long hidden, the sun, the moon and the truth.” When doing life, always remain true to yourself while striving to be as truthful and realistic as you can get. Only then can you find true happiness.
The writer is a website content developer/copywriter/copy editor and SEO expert.
A global citizen who believes in human justice and dignity, Gilbert Kenya is also currently a student of Political Science, Psychology & Communication at The University of Nairobi.
An Aficionado of Local & Global Politics, alongside diverse genres of literature, he is fully persuaded that there is always enough to go round for all of us.
Gilbert writes for a living, but above all, lives and breathes writing. His favourite maxim is: "LIVE AND LET LIVE. While at it laugh and love more; you are not here forever!
When not writing, you will find Gilbert Kenya living happily with his lovely wife Betty and their two little angels, Ray and Ivy, in the great "City in the Sun" - Nairobi.
WELCOME ABOARD. Te Amo mucho!