Inspiration

Don’t Let Your Self-Worth Be a Function of This

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https://ahechoes.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=8029It’s quite interesting how we’ve bought into the idea that our self-worth is a function of something outside of ourselves; be it our jobs, or spouses or college degrees or all of the above.

The sad thing happens if we ever lose that one thing, we feel like we’re nothing. We don’t know where to start, and we turn into that headless chicken that first inspired the phrase. That’s why the first thing to do is to have multiple identities so if one of your identities isn’t working out for you, then another one takes over. Let’s say your job is the only thing your life revolves around, losing it becomes disastrous. Whereas if there are other identities and roles you play – maybe you’re a good son/daughter, or you volunteer in your community or you have a good social support – the blow from losing that job lessens.

The second thing to do is to make sure our self-worth is a function of internal strengths, and I’ve personally come to learn this the hard way. I come from a small tight-knit town and one thing we have that I haven’t experienced in other places is the very strong influence society has on people’s personal choices. It’s like a magnet that keeps the iron filings — or people — in line.
If you’re one of us, chances are, the phrase “What will people say?” always plays somewhere at the back of your mind, and it’s difficult to break the habit even if you’re trying to break away.

So you walk around defining your self-worth as a function of society-approved thing; for men it’s a corporate job, and for women it’s a husband and kids. So if nothing about your life has society’s seal of approval, you’ll probably hear your fair share of talk about being abnormal, inadequate, and unworthy. The nice people say it in front of your face, and the not-so-nice ones say it behind your back.

And everyday you’re going to have to remind yourself of your worthiness, not because you have something, but because you are. It doesn’t matter what job you’re holding or whether or not you have a ring around your finger a kid tagging along by your side. Remind yourself you’re worthy because you are. Remind yourself of your personal values, and take concrete steps to live by them day in day out. Remind yourself to treat people with respect, and to add value to the lives of those around you. Remind yourself to engage fully with the world, to feel the sand tickling your feet, to watch the silver supermoon melt into dark, choppy waters, to close your eyes and feel the wind against your face, because life is beautiful and you get to be here…

Most importantly, remind yourself it’s a battle you’ll keep on fighting every single day…

simply because you are.

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Also, check out my short story collection, “All Bleeding Stops and Other Short Stories from the Kenyan Coast,” and the non-fiction book summarizing a lot of ideas in the personal development field if you want to change your life but don’t know where to start, “Mine your inner resources”.

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Why Do You Have To Struggle For Every Little Thing In Your Life

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legs-1031653_1920A friend of mine voiced this fact once… “I have to fight for every little thing in my life…my family…my weight…my husband…my health” (she survived cancer).

But maybe she doesn’t see it in herself; she’s one of the kindest, strongest, most fascinating people I’ve ever met in my life. And I find myself thinking that sometimes our struggles exist to help us grow into the strong, compassionate people we’re supposed to be…As Srini Rao — author of Unmistakable — says occasionally in his Unmistakable Creative podcast, “some people go through post-traumatic stress, while others go through post-traumatic growth.”

This in no way or shape diminishes those who go through post-traumatic stress, but it also shows that pain and stress aren’t always the only thing waiting at the end of that long tunnel of life’s struggles. Sometimes what lies there is a sense of growth, wisdom, peace, and the inner security that you can handle hard challenges.

“What doesn’t break you makes you stronger,” is a cliche for a reason…Challenges build your resilience, your threshold for pain, your attitude in life, your support system. They also give you a chance to be grateful when you’re not facing a challenge. So don’t dismiss them just like that, as they appear in your life for a reason.

This is a reminder for myself more than others.

What are your thoughts on this? Feel free to leave your comment below and tweet me @ahechoes

If you liked this post, like the FB page, and subscribe to the mailing list on http://ahscribbles.com/ 
Also, check out my short story collection, “All Bleeding Stops and Other Short Stories from the Kenyan Coast,” and the non-fiction book summarizing a lot of ideas in the personal development field if you want to change your life but don’t know where to start, “Mine your inner resources”.

4 Books to Read and Give as Gifts

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So imagine you’re reclined on a favorite couch, reading, when you suddenly come across a sentence so profound you just need to sit up for it. Soon enough – after highlight that sentence of course- you realize you can’t read anymore because the gears in your brain just won’t stop turning. Finally you decide to stop reading and do something about that idea; write it down, talk to someone about it…etc.

Books are powerful weapons. So if you need recommendations on books to read – or give as gifts – so you and your loved ones can enter the new year with new ideas and a whole new mindset, check the list below.

1. A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future

a whole new mind

Even though recent research has debunked the idea that logical, methodical, analytical people use their left brains preferentially while the creative types are right-brain dominant, Dan Pink argues that sparking our creativity is essential as we approach the end of the knowledge worker’s era and the beginning of the creative worker’s era. With material abundance, technological advancement and globalization taking over the business world, workers would need to rely on creative thinking skills to really stand out. He goes on to speak in detail about the six senses; Design, story, symphony, empathy, play and meaning.

This book really challenges many assumptions made in our societies. Creative people are usually looked down upon. The starved artist is quite the cliched character, so children from a young age are encouraged to suppress their creative side. A talk that goes in line with the topic is Ken Robinson’s famous TED talk on how schools kill creativity.

2. So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love

so good

Everybody keeps on talking about how you have to follow your passion and then the money would follow. This books consoles those who don’t break free from the corporate cubicle to pursue their passion and argues that passion isn’t everything. Instead the author talks about how one must build his career capital by obtaining skills through hard work in order to achieve mastery, autonomy and mission. Again, whether you agree with it or not is irrelevant; the book will make you think. I’ve written about it in a previous post.

3. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

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This is a personal favorite. It’s on my TBRA (To-be-read-annually) pile. Susan Cain has given voice to the millions of silent and misunderstood introverts who get energized by staying alone. Every time I read it I discover something new in it.

I personally wish I could distribute this book in our society because introverts get a bad rep as anti-social. Sometimes other people fail to realize that our own company is the best company we seek and it really has nothing to do with them. It’s definitely a topic for conversation during family reunions this holiday.

4. The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun

Gretchen Rubin

This book was a pleasant surprise. At first, I didn’t think that the details of someone else’s personal happiness project could be relevant to my life, but the book was filled with so many good ideas, it rendered my highlights section pretty useless as there are so many highlight, I might as well read the whole book again.

So which books have you read already? And which ones are you planning to read next? Leave your comments in the section below.

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Photos: Pixabay and amazon.com

7 Tips to Make Life After Graduation Awesome

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Right towards the end of any college semester, an underlying feeling of anxiety starts to wave its way under the feet of graduating students. You learn never to ask one of those what they’re planning to do after graduation…of course, despite knowing you shouldn’t do it, you end up doing it anyway. The typical answers are, “Get a job”, “Go to Grad School” and “Get married”.

While there’s nothing wrong with those options, they hint at something that’s very typical of us millennials — we like structure. We leave a structured system just to jump back into another structured system. We need runway edge lights in our lives, and that’s the way we’ve been raised. So until we get that job or get accepted into that grad school or get a suitable proposal on shadi.com, we spend the nights playing PS3, we sleep in late and we fight with the family members in whose basement we live.

Get a job. Go to grad school. Get married.

There’s only a slight problem with these options. The only slight problem is it’s what most new graduates do, and if you want to know where you stand,China alone is expected to spew out 7.2 million graduates into the market. And that’s just one country. So if you’re graduating soon you’re just a droplet in a very wide ocean.

So what should you do to stand out and become awesome?

1. Wake up. A loafer’s life might be pretty appealing, but until you’re making one million dollars in your sleep, you can’t be a loafer just yet. Just because you don’t have school anymore doesn’t mean you should be glued to your bed. And since the automatic thing is to find yourself a new structure trough job or grad school, you would need to do some work like throwing your CV everywhere, and checking for companies on line in search for talent like yours. And for that, you really need to wake up – and get out of bed.

2. Find out what your unique gifts are. This transitory stage is the perfect time is to get to know yourself; your strengths, your weaknesses, your passions…basically, everything I’ve outlined before here, here and here.

3. Build your skill set and add value to the world around you (even when you’re not getting paid). It’s very hard for us to do something unless we’re getting something in return. Think of the feedback loop that exists when we go to school. We study and then the grades we get at the end of the semester closes the loop. We get into a job, then we get paid and that closes the feedback loop. But in a structure-less system, we have to close the feedback loop yourself since (surprise!) there’s no structure. So the best question to ask yourself every night is, “Am I better today than I was yesterday?” And the main areas you might want to focus on are; intellectual, spiritual, mental and social.

If you’re gaining so much weight and can feel your neurons fizzling away then you’ve got an obvious problem. Whether you watch inspirational TED talks or enroll in an online Coursera course, do not waste your transition period. And I say this because a time will come when you wish you had the energy and the time to actually pursue the things you want to pursue but because your time gets sold for money and by the time you return to your apartment your brain’s too fried to focus on anything but cat videos…make the best use of your post-commencement-ceremony-before-first-job period. 

And you never know. You might end up stumbling on a million dollar idea (read the story behind AirBnb.com). Whatever you do, with the technological advances, you have more opportunities now than before to tap into a hidden market.

4. Get a menial job. So that Fortune 500 company hasn’t called you back for that interview yet? What about helping your uncle deliver milk to his customers. Many university graduates look down at menial jobs, and of course let’s not even start talking about the social implications…”He got a Master’s degree and decided to work as a farmer?” But you know what, if you really think about it farming is a basic life skill and it does build your character by teaching you patience so it can’t be that bad. 

5. Read, read, and read some more. Not just comic books. Not just fiction. Read biographies and other nonfiction books. Universities are supposed to instill in us a love for life-long learning but between the eight o’clock powerpoint slide lectures and heavy textbooks, that becomes quite challenging. But pick up a book. Your brain cells will thank you for it.

6. Travel. This is not always possible because of the $$$ limitations. However, if you have a sense of adventure, you can google traveling hacks and plan for a trip without hurting your wallet too much. If you’re like me and lack that sense of adventure, then you can explore the area you already live in. Travel before you’re sucked into a job that binds you to a desk for a third of a day, inspires you to glue yourself to a couch the second third of the day, and puts you to sleep for the rest of the day.

7. Give back to society. Let’s take some time to appreciate the gift of education that has been bestowed upon us. As we speak, the war in Syria is keeping 2 million children out of school. It’s mind-boggling to multiply that by the number of troubled and poor countries where children just can’t afford to go to school. It’s quite heartbreaking to think that while the internet has made knowledge accessible…its access still doesn’t reach everybody. So give back to society, in whatever little way you can think of.

Whatever you do, make sure you’re sharing with the world your unique gifts, make sure you are adding value to the people around you, and work on paving your own path and remember the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson,

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. Share on Twitter

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Images from Pixabay.com