LettersOPINION

You must do these things for yourself

By Koon Yew Yin

I am nearly 88 years old. Ever since I was a baby, I fell down countless times and, on each occasion, I got up to walk again. Through trial and error, I have learned so many lessons. 

For many years, I was my own worst enemy. I surrounded myself with toxic people, adopted unhealthy habits, and behaved like none of this had any consequences. I was so wrong! I have made some changes in my life and my behaviour, and the results were astounding. I now want to share these changes with you so that you can be more successful.  

  1. Don’t associate with the wrong people, especially those who make you feel like you’re not worth their time, who treat you like you’re beneath them, or who never back you up when you need them. These people do not deserve your time and energy. True friends will make time for you and stick with you through thick and thin. 
  2. Stop avoiding your problems. It may be the easy thing to do in the short term, but in the long run, you’ll just face them again and again. It’s better to tackle hardships head-on. You probably won’t solve your problems instantly, but the process is what counts – learn from your mistakes, adapt and grow. Eventually, it’ll make you a better, stronger person. 
  3. Don’t lie to yourself. Honesty is the best policy, and being honest with yourself is the most important part of this policy. When you lie to yourself, you know that you’re lying, so it’s pointless and will make you feel like a disingenuous person. Don’t do it.
  4. Don’t ignore your own needs. You may want to be there for all of your friends, all the time, or you may think that your children’s needs come before your happiness. They don’t. If you suppress your needs, you’ll become tired, because fighting a need is tiresome, and you’ll end up unhappy at best and severely depressed at worst. You should indulge in a hobby or passion which can make you happy.  
  5. Be yourself. Trying to be someone you’re not is hard work, and ultimately, you’ll always be afraid others will find out. The most gratifying relationships are with people who appreciate you for who you are, not who you want others to think you are. 
  6. Let go of the past. It cannot be changed, so learn from it and get on with it.
  7. You can make mistakes “To err is human, to forgive is divine” – we all make mistakes, and no one is perfect. The only way to make no mistakes is to do nothing, and people who are afraid of mistakes are often paralyzed by that fear. The more things you avoid out of fear, the more regrets you’ll end up having. 
  8. Let bygones be bygones. Staying up late at night, thinking of all of the things you did wrong, all of the conversations that could have gone differently if you’d have said (or hadn’t said) that one thing? You’re wasting your time and energy. Past mistakes are made in your past – you can learn from them, make amends, and move on. The knowledge gained from the mistakes you made will help to shape your future. They will end up making you a better person. 
  9. Money can’t buy you happiness. That new TV, shiny car, those diamond earrings – they may make you happy for a few minutes, a few days or even a couple of years, but true happiness comes from within. Follow your passions and enjoy life – that will make you truly happy.
  10. Happiness is in you, not in other people. Other people are looking for happiness just like you, they may like to join you for the ride, but the only person responsible for your happiness is you.
  11. A rolling stone gathers no moss. Problems and fears can paralyze you and get you stuck. You may need to stop over-thinking and try a different approach, but always take decisive action once you do. Sure, you’ll make mistakes, but at least you won’t be stuck anymore. 
  12. Don’t get into a relationship just because you’re lonely. A relationship requires two people who are both ready and willing to be in a relationship. Loneliness may be a terrible feeling, but being with the wrong person ends up feeling even worse. You’ll find the right person as long as you’re true to yourself.
  13. Don’t wait until you’re “ready”. Life will always find ways to surprise you. Opportunities arise when you least expect them. You may never be ready, but don’t let it stop you. When an opportunity comes knocking, take it. When you need to do something, do it. Don’t get stuck in your comfort zone.
  14. Old relationships shouldn’t affect new relationships. Even if your last relationship (or relationships) ended in heartbreak, don’t let it prevent you from entering a new one. A new person may help you mend that broken heart and bring out the best in you. 
  15. Life is not a competition. Stop comparing yourself to other people. There will always be someone who seems better looking, smarter, richer, or more talented. Nobody is perfect, including you. Your success is your own – between you and yourself.
  16. Self-pity and complaints will get you nowhere. Wallowing in your own misery and constantly complaining doesn’t solve your problems. It will also create a tendency to push people away. Consider each time something bad happened, and find the good that came out of it. You’ll realize that hardship is just a matter of perspective. 
  17. Grudges are bad for your health. Holding on to anger and hate will push people away and end up hurting you and your loved ones. To forgive doesn’t mean ignoring what was done to you, but rather to acknowledge it and refuse to let it affect your happiness. Also, remember to forgive yourself as well. 
  18. Don’t let others make you stoop to their level. Don’t lower your standards to accommodate those who refuse to raise theirs.
  19. Stop wasting time on justifying yourself. Your friends don’t require explanations, and enemies won’t care. As long as you know in your heart that you are right, stop apologizing. 
  20. If something doesn’t work, try a different approach. Albert Einstein once said that the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” 
  21. Small moments count. We tend to remember only the big moments, but the majority of life occurs in small doses. A shooting star, a moment of joy, the last rays of a sunset – these are the fillings of life’s cake, and they’re the best parts. 
  22. Perfection is impossible. No one and nothing is perfect, and perfectionists are often the most frustrated people in the world. 
  23. Don’t separate optimism from realism. Sometimes things fall apart, and that’s okay. Sometimes you feel weak, and that’s also okay. You can’t pretend that everything is fine when it clearly isn’t, so don’t avoid the truth – embrace it. 
  24. The easiest choice is not always the best one. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy, and the easy way out often leaves you feeling empty. You must dare to take risks. A truly extraordinary life is never an easy one.
  25. Take responsibility for your actions. The only person you can control in this world is you. Other people can’t make your dreams come true for you, nor can they take the blame for your mistakes. Don’t give other people power over you. 
  26. Don’t make yourself sick with worry. Worrying doesn’t solve problems, but it definitely can create new ones. If you find yourself worrying about something, ask yourself if it will really impact you in the future – if it doesn’t, it’s not worth the worry. 
  27. Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want. A positive approach helps in two ways – it aids with your happiness and helps you solve problems faster than a negative one. 
  28. The key to happiness: remember to be grateful. When you wake up each morning, be thankful that you’re still alive, appreciate each day, and be grateful for what you’ve got because a lot of people may not be so lucky.

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