Eternal Youth

Do you feel like you’re getting old, like really quickly? Do you miss those carefree days, where you had a lot less to worry about? Perhaps you wish you were a few years younger, maybe a few decades younger. The saudade of childhood and adolescence.

It was my birthday last week, which is always a strange feeling. I received a number of messages from people who seemed rather envious of my youth (those who were younger than me displayed the opposite feeling, obviously). It got me wondering…

What’s up with everyone and wanting to feel young?

A reminder of what youth is all about

I don’t necessarily consider myself all that young anymore, but I suppose I’m not that far off my teenage years yet. Being a young adult is fantastic, I absolutely love it. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have its fair share of trials.

It’s a point in your life where the learning curve is steep. You’re entering a lot of unfamiliar territory. You’re constantly exposed to new experiences and are forced to leave your comfort zone. You’ve got to figure it all out, and quickly. You make a lot of mistakes, all the time.

The advantage of this period is that you’re often only looking after yourself (not necessarily the case for everyone). You are truly responsible for just you.

What I’ve also noticed is that age is a just an arbitrary number. It’s something we latch onto in our minds and allow to drag us down. We should embrace becoming older, it’s a natural part of life. We need the elderly just as much as we need the youth. The present moment is the same for everyone.

The wisdom accompanying old age

If you really think about it, you’re getting older by the second. It doesn’t matter if you’re 20, 40 or 60. Everyone gets old at the same rate (I can’t say that I’m speaking from experience, lol).

Life experience can only be obtained through the process of living – which requires as to constantly age. Wisdom doesn’t necessarily just come from ageing. It comes from constantly reflecting on the different, difficult and novel experiences. You’ve seen the troubles that life can throw at you from a much closer perspective.

Embrace the fact that you’re experiencing nature at its very best. We are all temporary beings. We’re not meant to be here forever. Utilize the remarkable history that you’ve been through to make the most of what you have. Share the lessons that you’ve learned from the countless mistakes that you’ve made. Serve those around you while you still can. Don’t stop growing.

The present moment is all we have

We are now back to the central theme of my blogs; embracing the present moment. Life always seems to be rushing past us. We have no time for anything. We feel nostalgic over the years that have passed by. We constantly yearn to feel elsewhere. We never seem to be satisfied with where we are.

Here’s a life hack: think about how you are exactly where you’re meant to be. Indulge in the present and find serenity within acceptance.

“Live for today like you’ll die tomorrow. Plan for the future like you’ll live forever.”

I’ve met some people who radiate youthfulness, despite their old age. I’ve also met people who seemed incredibly old, despite how young they were. It got me thinking about something else.

We can all be young at heart. It’s the way we choose to fuel the fire in our bellies. The energy we bring into each and every day. The enthusiasm we sustain in all of our conversations. The risks we decide to take. The choices we don’t regret taking. The vulnerable honesty that allows us to build meaningful connections.

I want you to really embrace the fact that age is not everything. You can choose to be as young or as old as you want to be. Your actions, choices, mindset and enthusiasm speak more than anything. There are obviously some real constraints and complications associated with physically getting older, but it doesn’t have to define you.

You can strive for eternal youth by having a playful heart, despite how old you are getting. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I’ll leave you with some brilliant advice by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH):

Mindful Monday #6

Why is it so difficult to concentrate? Why do we sometimes struggle to remember names or places? Do you also feel like your attention span is depreciating?

Mindful Monday is back! I really enjoy this series because it’s all about living in the present, focusing on your breath, being intentional and honouring gratitude.

I thought about how I know so many people who constantly tell themselves: “I’m terrible at remembering names”, “I really struggle to focus”, “I always misplace my things”. In today’s post, I’d like to share some techniques on how to concentrate, remember names better and discuss why love is about the quality of attention.

Meditate

The solution is to isolate yourself in the Himalayas, get rid of technology and meditate for 10 hours a day. I’m kidding (although it would probably seriously help). What you want to do is train your brain to focus. I’m bringing back the concept of neuroplasticity, whereby your brain physically changes with every experiences.

If you want to focus better, learn how to focus. It’s not something you have or don’t have, it’s a skill that you can develop. Meditation is the perfect tool to help you improve on that skill. Keep in mind that it’s much more meaningful and beneficial than just helping you focus, but that’s the advantage I’d like to emphasize here.

This is not the same thing as being mindful, because mindfulness is more of a lifestyle; embracing the present moment as often as possible. Meditation allows you to become more mindful.

Mindfulness meditation utilizes the breath and other physical cues in your immediate environment to help you acknowledge the present. By forming the habit of sitting down every morning or evening, for 5-10 minutes to focus on your breath, you train your mind to sit still. To not get distracted. To engage with your thoughts more consciously. To acknowledge the external world more clearly. To even help you remember better.

Sorry, what’s your name again?

I’ve mentioned Jim Kwik a number of times in previous posts, but it’s especially relevant to the topic of memory. In order to easily remember names, remember the acronym BE SUAVE.

BE SUAVE

  • Believe
  • Exercise
  • Say it
  • Use it
  • Ask
  • Visualize
  • End with it

Firstly, you have to actually Believe that you’re capable of this. There’s no use starting with limiting beliefs; you’re setting yourself up for defeat. No such thing as ‘I’m bad with names’, just put in effort. By Exercising, it implies repetition and continuous practice. Every skill requires practice to develop.

Saying it is about repeating the person’s name as they tell it to you, so you get to hear it twice. Using it is just regularly using their name throughout the conversation (in moderation). Asking relates to being curious about the origin of the name. Visualizing is about creatively thinking of their name in a memorable context (for example, if the person’s name is Matt, then you can imagine them on a flying mat). Ending it is just about repeating their name before you end the conversation.

It’s all about formulating a strategy. For more information, you can read the original article:

https://jimkwik.com/kwik-brain-006/

Attention!

I once read a quote that said:

“Love is the quality of attention we pay to things.”

Quite remarkable, don’t you think? I interpreted that to imply that we should starting paying a better quality of attention to our own lives. What does it really mean to love yourself?

If we have to think about the quality of our thoughts, habits and behaviours, we’d soon enough realize that there’s always work to do. But love is all about embracing the flaws, understanding that you will always have some form of imperfection, but striving for continuous improvement.

It all starts with attention. Pay better attention to life. Execute one task at a time. Remove distraction from your environment (especially digital). Find time to stare out of the window. It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality.

To recap what we’ve discussed so far:

  1. Meditate to enhance your focus
  2. BE SUAVE to help you remember names
  3. Pay quality attention to your own life

We’ll end on another brilliant quote, one which I often repeat to myself:

“Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right.”

Breathe

What a strange concept; reminding myself to breathe. It’s quite remarkable how often we forget to consciously take in deep breaths.

I want to use this post as a reminder to appreciate the little things in life that can make a tremendous difference, like your breath. It’s something to really be grateful for.

Mindfulness and dealing with emotions

Breathing is an act that truly grounds you. Not only is it a necessary component to survive (thank you oxygen), but it’s also something that maintains your equilibrium.

This time of the year can be particularly stressful, especially if you’re in your final year at university. The projects, the workload, trying to apply for jobs, figuring out what’s going to happen next year; it can get a lot. I’ve also had to attend a number of virtual interviews over the past few weeks and if I’m being honest, they can be nerve-wrecking.

I almost always feel anxious or nervous before the call, and I can feel the way my body starts to react. I start taking shorter and shallower breaths, I start overthinking, I start sweating and I feel a tingly sensation in my tummy.

Despite that, I somehow make sure I remain confident and feel prepared. So how do I make sure I’m level-headed and calm? By slowing down my breathing.

This works so well whenever I’m faced with a daunting task or feeling overwhelmed. Just breathe.

Now is all you have

It’s come down to a very simple philosophy, understanding that we only have the present moment.

You can’t breathe yesterday, later or tomorrow. You can only breathe now.

You’re reminding yourself that life is temporary. Things comes and go, just like the breath. It’s ultimately about appreciating each and every breath; you don’t know when it will be your last.

Grounding practice

What you’re also doing here is conditioning your brain to focus on one thing at a time. It’s easy to lose focus when we’re anxious or stressed, because our thoughts are occupied with the past or future.

Breathing helps us remind our brains that the stories we make up in our heads aren’t actually real. They’re mental constructions that we’ve created.

We just need to constantly remind ourselves that. When in doubt, be grateful and focus on your breath.

Oxygen to your brain

There are even more benefits to deep breathing! This is so obvious but very often missed. When you breathe more meaningfully and consciously, you allow more oxygen to enter the body.

This further improves the circulation of oxygen entering your bloodstream and into your brain, which helps you focus. Spending some time in nature (surrounded by trees) can also really help with your breathing. The air is fresh and full of life.

“Everything will be okay in the end, if it’s not the okay, it’s not the end.”

This short post is a gentle mindfulness reminder. Life will inevitably bring pain, the suffering is up to you. Look at things from a perspective of growth and learning. Keep track of the way your body reacts.

Remind yourself to breathe more often. You will get through this. You will survive. It sometimes seems out of reach, the finish line seems so far away, but I believe in you. I think you should too.

Find Reasons To Say Thank You

Today’s post is going to be a gentle reminder to be grateful. To focus on all your blessings. To give more. To find reasons to say thank you.

I’ll speak about some mindfulness, focusing on what you have, giving more and why we should stop complaining.

Mindfulness

How do we always end up back here? It’s quite incredible really, mindfulness plays an integral role in every aspect of your life. When you’re focusing on the smell of your coffee in the morning, you’re appreciating it more. When you stare out at the sky and enjoy the way the clouds slither, you appreciate it more.

When you live consciously, you’re in the present moment. When you’re in the present, you appreciate life more. When you’re able to appreciate life, you can find reasons to say thank you.

Focus on what you have

Energy follows focus. Think deeply about that. The quality of your thoughts and what you pay attention to, ultimately guide your objectives. When you focus on what you have and all that you’re blessed with, you live in a state of contentment.

Being content is a mindset more than anything. It’s accepting the present moment for what it truly is, instead of wishing to be somewhere else.

The more you give, the more you get

I’ve mentioned this philosophy before. It’s quite an evident aspect of life. When you’re a giver, you receive more in return. I learned this from my parents at a very young age, which I’m very grateful for.

Giving is the ultimate form of being thankful. Whether it’s your time, energy or money. It’s ultimately about service, sacrificing a piece of who you are to uplift those around you.

It’s an integral part of Islam too. It reminds me of this famous quote from the Quran:

Alhamdulillah

The opposite of complaining

When you complain, you’re essentially devaluing what you’ve been blessed with. There’s a big difference between criticism and complaining. One is a form of feedback to make improvements, the other just attracts negative energy.

It’s definitely difficult and requires a lot of conscious effort. It’s something I struggle with quite a lot. Complaining at every inconvenience is a form of ingratitude and it’s important for us to try and avoid it as much as possible.

The point I’m trying to make here is that there’s always a reason to say thank you. When you look at your body and the marvelous ways it functions, when you notice the roof above your head, the food on your table, the loving people in your life.

It’s noticing these little things each and every single day that makes life truly worth it. It’s not easy, it was never meant to be. It’s part of the journey. But let’s make this journey one hell of a joy ride.

My request to you now, is to get a piece of paper (or open the notepad on your phone) and write down 3 things you’re grateful for. Do this on a regular basis and notice how your life will change.