Happy New Year! To kick off 2022, here are seven life lessons from 2021.
1. Reaching the next level sometimes necessitates shedding
Before reaching the next level in any area of life, it is important to recognize that shedding can sometimes be a necessity. People and things that are not meant for you and that cannot aid your progress will be eliminated from your life. This is simply God’s way of curtailing the amount of baggage that you carry to the next level. This is not something to lament. Rather, it should be a source of happiness. The reason why some people are distraught about such shedding is because they often try to make permanent fixtures out of things that are better suited to temporary status. Understanding seasonality in life is necessary to avoid inappropriate attachment. For instance, attempting to squeeze lifelong friendships out of situational acquaintanceships will always lead to unnecessary heartache. Attempting to make a position permanent when it should just be for a short season will lead to stagnancy.
Celebrate the shedding! It often means you are moving forward.
2. Forgiveness is mandatory; reconciliation is not
In the Christian worldview, forgiveness is mandatory, irrespective of how difficult it may sometimes be. Even if one does not subscribe to Christianity, it makes little sense for any person to live a life sans forgiveness. Failure to forgive means that a person owns a part of you, and there is no human being who is worthy of having that kind of power over you. If there are people who do not provide good reasons to forgive them, do it simply because it is the right thing to do and it will aid your own progression towards your destiny. Waiting for a sincere apology in order to forgive also gives people entirely too much power over your existence and progress.
Because of the unavoidable reality of forgiveness for successful living, people often erroneously treat forgiveness and reconciliation as though they are a package deal. This is painfully flawed and leads to so many people walking into easily avoidable toxic situations, and the consequences can often be deadly. Being a forgiving person does not mean one must willfully walk into danger by foolhardily attempting reconciliation where inappropriate. While forgiveness is mandatory, reconciliation is optional and must be exercised with the greatest wisdom. A person who is a venomous serpent can and must be forgiven, but reconciling with said serpent is simply asking to be bitten at some point in the future.
If you know that the fundamental issue that people have with you revolves around your mere existence, attempting to reconcile with such people is simply playing Russian roulette with your life. Such people will never be happy with your progress or truly be at peace with you because your existence is the issue. Christianity is not a pact to be foolish in the face of unadulterated evil. You have to forgive certain people, and then leave them alone to live with the fruits of their profound wickedness and deep hatred. That does not make you a bad person; it makes you a wise person.
3. Independence is worth more than a truck of gold
Getting help in life is necessary at times. No person can ever reach his or her final destination in life without getting some assistance at critical points along the journey. When people attempt to dismiss individualism as being an ultra-capitalist pipe dream, they act as though those of us who assert the primacy of the individual are denying the fact that individuals clearly need other people in order to succeed, and often need to provide succor to others. However, there is a clear difference between getting help from others and being wholly dependent on others for survival. There is inestimable value in being able to do for self.
Being cocooned from reality may seem sweet while in the warmth and comfort of the cocoon, but the whole point of a cocoon is that it is impermanent. In other words, the harshness of the real world awaits. Cocoons can be necessary for development and transformation, but they can be damaging when they are simply used to avoid the uncomfortable realities of the outside world. Fundamentally, not learning how to fully fend for one’s self is a disaster waiting to occur. The person who is capable of being fully independent is much more wealthy than the person who has a truck of gold while being artificially sheltered from the vicissitudes of life. Success in a cocoon is a mirage.
4. Your name must hold weight on its own
It is always better to be known for your own contributions to the world and your own achievements, rather than merely being attached to individuals who achieved greatness. There are far too many people who pitifully cling on to the accomplishments of those they are related to by accident of birth—or worse—by marriage. If your grand achievement or reason for relevance in life is being related to someone who accomplished things fifty years ago, it is incontestable evidence of a life poorly lived. How the world moves forward is for people to raise their children to be great, not nonentities who are merely appendages of their accomplished parents, aunts, uncles, and/or cousins. Every responsible parent should want to proudly be the father or mother of [insert accomplished person here]. That is progress.
There are two powerful things that happen when your name holds weight on its own. First, you are capable of standing next to anybody without insecurity. People whose relevance comes from relationships as opposed to achievement tend to be embarrassingly insecure. Second, hateful attempts to delegitimize you by erasing you from other great people’s lives are woefully ineffective because your legitimacy as a person comes from your own achievement—not being connected to anybody else who has achieved.
5. Scatter in order to increase
One of the greatest, yet underrated, passages of the Bible is Proverbs 11:24-25 (KJV):
There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty. The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.
In a pandemic world where hoarding has become normalized, far too many people fail to understand the importance of giving. In fact, some even see giving as an activity done by those who are weak and/or foolish. However, people who are wise understand that giving is one of the keys to experiencing abundance and avoiding lack.
When people think about giving, there is an instant (and understandable) connection made with money. While giving money is laudable, there are many equally valuable ways of giving of oneself. If one does not have money, time can be given instead. Advice can also be a gift much more valuable than money. Scattering in order to increase is a principle that sounds counterintuitive, but it has remarkable efficacy when diligently practiced. The best way to ensure that you are continually blessed is to live a life where you are a channel of blessing to others.
6. Being resistant to trauma requires practicing deliberate joy
There is serious value in being resistant to trauma. The world is filled with shockingly wicked people. Some people become wicked because they feel that life dealt them a bad hand, and thus they have made it their mission to attempt to make others suffer the way that they have suffered. In any case, if you do not actively do the work in order to develop your trauma resistance, wicked people will always have power over you. As soon as such people throw their bombs in your life, you will be effectively derailed.
One way to become resistant to trauma is to understand that joy is a choice, and it is something that must be practiced deliberately. Irrespective of whatever is happening around you, you can make the decision to put your focus on things that bring you joy and peace. When you are someone who has chosen joy, the bombs that wicked people throw into your life to cause as much havoc as possible will be completely ineffective— even while they are foolishly thinking that they have scarred you permanently.
7. Vindictiveness is the clearest evidence of powerlessness
There are multiple problems with vindictiveness. First, it focuses your attention on wishing negativity on another human being. This time and effort would be more productively spent on trying to better your own life. Second, vindictiveness often blocks your blessings. This is because in the process of trying to get your own back on another person, you will inevitably engage in behaviors that are abominable and that will activate lifelong negative consequences. Third, vindictiveness is rarely effective at harming the “right” people. Vindictive people often do things that they think are seriously harming those they want harmed, but when objectively assessed, their actions ultimately result in the desecration of the things and people that they claim to respect and adore.
People who are truly powerful do not need to be vindictive. Truly powerful people sit back knowing that there is an ultimate judge who adjudicates matters—the one to whom all vengeance belongs. Truly powerful people know that evil people do not get away with their behavior, so they focus on living well.
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