On Habits of Successful People…

When you hear yourself complaining about what appears to be a slow rise to success, I recommend immediately googling “habits of successful people” and really listening to the messages being shared on blogs and vlogs that are available, quite literally, at your fingertips. Are you engaging in these behaviours, or the opposite?

Here are a few that have worked well for me:

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On Dementors…

Have you ever almost given up on an ambition of yours just before you finally succeeded? Why were you ready to give up? Who or what got in the way? What would you have missed out on if you had given up?

When aiming towards a goal, some of us are slow and steady, while others charge ahead and bulldoze through everything irrelevant. Both ways work, depending on your personality and risk tolerance. However, one thing we all have in common is facing distractors (or being distractors for others) along the way, especially in the final mile.

You’ve heard that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step; I am here to tell you that it also ends with a pessimist with his nose to the sky 9 times out of 10. Even when you ignore the distractors and move on past the finish line, they remain unconvinced.

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On What We Wish We Knew… at 18

I set about on a mission to collect some insights for my younger readers who might feel overwhelmed by big decisions for their future.

In the Western world, 18 is the “right of passage” age. We make many of our most fundamental decisions at 18: what to study, where to live, where to work, who to date, how to balance work and play, etc. Of course, we keep making these decisions and many others throughout our adulthood as well.

At 18, I was preparing for launch to University; my parents moved halfway across the world, and I couldn’t go with them. Many of my friends, now in their late 20s to late 30s, faced similarly challenging events around that time. Some moved out. Others went to university or trade school. Others went straight to work. Some had kids. Some got married.

Here are some of the tips they wish someone would have shared with them when they were 18:

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On Home…

They say that home is where your heart is.

They also say that home is all about location, location, location.

What if my heart is floating between the dunes of the Sahara?

Being a Third Culture Kid means that it’s quite natural for people like me to feel divided between all the places they call home and to subsequently struggle when designing a “stable” home for their future. On the other hand, people like my husband who were “born and raised” in one place may face the opposite conflict: if home can only mean one place, how can they possibly leave it to explore the globalized world?

These are two sides of the same coin. In essence, many of us tie our idea of home to a specific place, and this can either contribute to our feeling of eternal displacement, or can cause us to feel tormented by every change that comes along the way.

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On Reciprocal Kindness…

Friendship and love are two-way streets. Without reciprocal kindness and mutual respect, they quickly fall off track.

“When a man is guided by the principles of reciprocity and consciousness, he is not far from the moral law. Whatever you do not wish for yourself, do not do unto others” – Confucius.

Whatever you do wish for yourself, do unto others. Like a mirror, the reflection of your actions will manifest in your own life.

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On Jealousy…

“The jealous are troublesome to others, but a torment to themselves” – William Penn.

In my culture, jealousy and envy are seen as collaborating sisters who can bring forth the tides of hell. Home entrances are decked out with eye shaped blue ceramics to shield the inhabitants from “the evil eye,” the eyes of the jealous and envious.

In the West, the two are differentiated: the former is seen as a natural product of love, and the latter is perceived as malicious. Those who are jealous feel this way against their better judgment and have good intentions, but those who are envious are guilty of consciously wishing failure and loss upon others. In the East, this differentiation is ignored because jealousy and envy are both expected to bring bad luck. Whether or not the bad luck is intentionally generated is irrelevant.

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On Pain…

We all have pain.

We have all survived something. That’s the nature of life.

It’s easy, of course, to look at other people and imagine that they have no pain at all. The Instagram highlight reel is absolute perfection, so we assume everything else must be perfect too. If we have learned anything from the double-shock of losing Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain in one week, however, it is that we could not be further from the truth.

We all have pain.

Not one to indulge in celebrity culture, I was quite taken aback by how much Bourdain’s choice to die caught me off guard. I haven’t been able to write as consistently because I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around this heartbreak. How can someone so incredible, with such an abundance of God-given gifts, who brings such light to the world, be so overwhelmed by darkness behind closed doors?

Why did he have to go like this?

We all have pain.

Let me share a few personal stories…

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On White Dollars & Black Days…

When you plant a seed in your garden, it takes weeks before you see a hint of green. You water the soil every day and sometimes question yourself, unsure if there’s a pulse in the dirt.

And then the stem peaks its head and you finally know that your time was worth investing.

When you decide to have a baby, do you expect to be holding the precious little one in your hands by tomorrow afternoon? No. You toil for months in the creation process.

We all understand these two facts to be true. There is no way to rush a plant into growing or a child into being. So why is it that we expect to become wealthy overnight? Why is it that, when we meet someone wealthy, we assume that Lady Luck smiled down on them more than the rest of us?

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On Pebbles and Diamonds…

Find me a millennial who has not been swept away by the tide of 21st Century apathy, and you will have found a diamond in the rough. My generation is not the only one subject to this affliction of carelessness, but it is certainly quite common for us to fall between the cracks.

Why is that?

I remember a time when my peers were voicing out their dreams and hopes for the world to anyone who would listen, singing on rooftops and distributing access to makeshift poetry websites, chanting in the street for freedom from hunger, freedom from genocide, freedom from apartheid, and love, love, love! I was one of them.

What happened?

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On Vision…

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned” -Buddha

I thought of this, one of my favourite proverbs, as I observed a brief exchange this morning. In the pouring rain, a woman stood under a bus shelter and dropped her umbrella. She didn’t notice. A man who saw this happen took the initiative to pick up the umbrella and give it back to the woman. She looked right through him, so intently avoiding eye contact that it seemed she did not see him standing there at all. “Are you OK?” he asked. No response. Another woman intervened: “are you alright?” “YES!” the woman snapped, “but why is THAT *derogatory racist word* man speaking to me?

“He was giving back your umbrella.”

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