Before the chance to have another year to ourselves, before we plan those new year resolutions, the end of the year is that introspection time when you can look back at everything and just wonder.
Wonder how was this year for me and what did I experience through it? What were the key takeaways for me? What did I learn and what mistakes did I make?
(P. S. Having spent the last three years obsessively on mindset and self-improvement, and learning about spirituality, neuroscience, psychology, the path I walk on is a bit different from others, the observations I have and the takeaways could be quite different too)
Amongst those countless questions, you can introspect upon… You come across a few things that stayed with you, and for me, these are the 3 Lessons I learnt in 2021 that will have an impact on my life, moving forward…
3 Lessons I learnt in 2021 –
1. Your thoughts and your emotions are not you
There’s a lot that we have been through this year, with respect to the pandemic, the mental struggles, being stuck inside, battling your past demons, as well as facing the environment around you.
Amongst all of this, there are certain types of thoughts and emotions that keep erupting in your minds, ones that you necessarily wouldn’t want to have… And irrespective of what you’re doing, or the time of day, these thoughts and emotions act against you, and at those times you feel dark and negative. Sometimes you dig a deeper hole and end up having more of these thoughts or experiencing more of these emotions… And sometimes you’re able to distract yourselves (instead of actually facing them and understanding their origin, something we don’t know how to do initially).
One of my biggest learnings this year has been about this… While it’s great to experience emotions (in general) that help you gauge the current moment you’re living, and while it’s also great to have these thoughts, that help you introspect, ideate, and grow, and communicate… Neither your emotions nor your thoughts are you.
Who you are is beyond both of those things. They are a reaction to something that originates from everything you learn, and they’re temporary… Meaning, it can be manipulated based on what you consume and it can be changed based on how you proceed with that knowledge. Eventually, it flows to the next thing in a while, and what you experience at that moment is only for that brief period of time (unless it’s a lingering emotion that keeps coming to you time and again, and is creating a negative impact on you).
2. The importance of habits
This lesson which speaks about the importance of habits is connected with the first lesson too… Because, in the darkest of days and moments, when you feel you’re not having a good day, when you feel like not doing anything, when you feel what’s the point of it all… Your habits stand the test of time and help you get out of them.
Everything you do is a habit – how you wake up, what you do after, whether you work out or not, meditate or not, the type of food you eat, what do you consume and what do you talk about, your daily rituals.
So, when those moments arrive, for someone like me, I was extremely grateful to have a routine that involved working out, doing breath-work exercises, meditating, having a gratitude exercise, focusing on learning, and improving myself. Even when I didn’t feel like it, even in the darkest of moments, I understood the importance of habits which automatically gave me the push to continue with them, and helped me snap out of what I was experiencing, and helped me walk back on the path I wanted to.
3. Taking time for yourself
The pandemic has changed something in us, permanently, and that has also put this huge limelight on ourselves where we get to focus on who we are, our identity, our needs, and wants.
Amongst all the self-improvement, amongst all the habits push, and irrespective of the type of thoughts and emotions you’re having, another big takeaway from this year was the understanding of taking time out for yourself.
Take out that moment for yourself, without any kind of guilt, without any kind of judgment. That moment would be a singular one or one that lasts for a while, but if you think the right step is to have that break, then just take it. You constantly work on your personal life, your professional life, your chores, and you deserve that break, you deserve that time for yourself.
What you do with that time is equally important though. With all the media manipulation around us, it wouldn’t be right to give in that time to consume what other people are saying or doing or to just distract ourselves. Such a time should truly be for ourselves, just to snap out of everything.
While December always calls for making those new year resolutions, I think it should be for introspection, I think it should be to look back at the year you’ve lived and what can you take away from it. And these three lessons, for me, are what 2021 stood out for.