Haven’t We Been Here Before?

Life has an interesting way of functioning. As much as we make progress and move forward, there’s also a sense that we’re just going in loops. I love the concept of things being cyclic. Going back to the starting point. Isn’t that the purpose? To go back to where we came from.

The reason I’m emphasizing the circular aspect of life is because it requires intentional consistency. The only way to make rapid progress and to evolve is to try something, make mistakes, learn, repeat. The most important part is repeating and doing it again.

Moving into the new year, things feel strangely similar. We’ve been here before. We’ve had this experience of trying to make new goals, to stop new habits, to let go of toxic relationships, to work more on ourselves, to exercise more regularly and to eat more healthily. What keeps messing up? Or rather, why is it always the same cycle?

Life is a loop

Spend time in nature and you’ll notice how everything is created for the other. The food chain is a remarkable example of that interconnectedness.

We should then come to understand that we too are here for a very specific reason. We affect each other at a very subconscious level. Energy is contagious. Surround yourself with people who make you feel alive. Who make you feel worthy of your ambitions.

“Aim for the moon, if you miss you might hit a star.”

When we set incredible goals, we’re likely to fail at some point. The purpose is to maximize learning from those mistakes, make improvements and set even greater goals.

How do we utilize that loop and ensure we make the most of that interconnectedness? Through being intentional in our daily lives.

Intentions

As I’ve mentioned several times before, intentions are the driving force behind behaviours. Start and end your day by being intentional.

The reason we fall into bad loops or end up failing a positive loop is because we lose track of our intentions. That’s the key component to every action.

Thoughts, Feelings and Behaviour

As you align your intentions with your values, you’ll start noticing that your thoughts, feelings and behaviour all influence each other. They’re non-mutually exclusive. This is another example of how everything is looped.

The quality of your life experience is dictated by the quality of your thoughts.

Your thoughts then have an impact on your feelings and behaviour. Your feelings can also affect your thoughts and your behaviour, and vice versa. I’m repeating this statement because I want you to start removing negative self-talk and to stop waiting for motivation.

Keep optimistic. Look at the bigger picture. Think outside the box. Just keep trying. Don’t wait to feel in the mood. Put yourself in the mood. Take the necessary action to ignite the stored energy. Unleash your full potential. Don’t wait for later. Act now.

Consistency

And now to discuss the most important skill needed in life (in my opinion), consistency. Can you imagine how complicated everything would be if there was no consistency? The world would be chaos. You’d spend every ounce of energy trying to make your next move; even trying to decide when to brush your teeth.

Consistency is the key to mastery.

I know you know how important consistency is, but it also seems to slip away. Even after all the new year resolutions and making promises and what not. But now it’s time to truly make a difference. Just open your eyes and focus a little more on how crucial the concept of consistency is; especially from a natural POV. All you need to do is find the loops that you want to implement to make a positive change, and be consistent.

It’s as simple and as complicated as that. Start small. Do it every day. Make baby progress. Don’t feel bad for failing. Learn from your mistakes. Keep at it. Grow.

Don’t Stop, Believing

The thing about having a growth mindset is that you just don’t ever give up on yourself (realistically speaking). You keep trying. You believe that the more effort and deliberate pratice you put in, the more you’ll achieve the results.

As we reflect over the ups and down of the past few months, we’ll notice that we were extremely resilient. We’ve overcome circumstances and situations that we never thought were possible.

You only grow in a state of discomfort.

The more uncomfortable it is, the more it will catalyze your ability to progress and grow. You have a chance to restart each and every day.

Believe in yourself. Now, tomorrow and always. You are beautiful. You are capable. You are worthy. You are strong enough to overcome your trials. You are smart enough to figure it out. You are going to get better, faster and stronger. Don’t ever stop believing in yourself.

You got this.

Learning How To Learn

One of my favourite subjects in high-school was Math. I can definitely give some credit to our incredible math teacher at the time; Mr. Williams. He was always light-hearted and made the process of learning rather enjoyable.

Considering I grew up in Saudi Arabia as an expat, he was one of the few South Africans that I could relate to at the time. I also ended up becoming great friends with his sons, when I moved to Cape Town to study after high-school.

The reason why I’m starting with that flashback, is because there’s a phrase Mr. Williams used to always scream at us:

“You have to learn how to learn!”

Please keep in mind that this was conveyed in a thick Capetonian accent, which we all found absolutely hilarious at the time. As I started growing up and learning more, I realized that this man was well ahead of the game. We learn everything there is to know in school, except, the most important skill; which is learning how to learn.

I want to dive into the concept of being a life-long learner, something that I always gained tremendous insight into after being part of the 20 Life Learners group. A lot of the topics that I cover here will be from the book ‘Limitless’ by Jim Kwik. It’s absolutely remarkable and I highly recommend you give it a read for yourself.

Why is learning so important?

It comes down to why. The purpose. The reason why we learn in the first place. As always, it usually has something to do with service. With leaving the world (or even just your environment) in a slightly better condition compared to when you found it.

This question is rather difficult to answer. It’s specific to each individual really. Reflect on the concept of learning in general, and why you think it’s important to you. Let me know what your thoughts are in the comments.

For me, learning is about continuously improving. It’s about becoming better at a certain skill, subject or experience. It makes life a little easier and more fulfilling. It’s also about sharing the knowledge with other people. With the intention to help them improve and make their own life easier.

“Aspire to Inspire”

That motto came about in a phase of my life when I felt kind of clueless. I didn’t really know what to do with my time. I decided to divert my energy into something a little more useful than just playing games or spending time with friends. I realized that by increasing my own knowledge (through learning), I was able to help others more.

Reading is the ultimate form of learning. Just reminding you of why it’s so important to build that habit as soon as you can. I’ve written a post previously on how to read faster and more effectively.

The system

I’m not sure about you, but most of the people I know study to pass. Educational institutes are run more like businesses now than anything else. It’s about making as much profit as you can from every student. Through all the chaos (and capitalism I suppose), we lost the essence of what learning is all about.

We no longer worry about whether we’re maximizing our potential or chasing our passions. It’s about passing the exam. Cramming the night before for your assignment. Submitting when you know you’ve put it enough to pass. In that process, what are we really learning?

Study to learn and to create deep knowledge, not just to pass an exam or assignment.

I’ll tell you why I really dislike the concept of cramming the night before, you don’t actually retain any of the information. It doesn’t get the chance to enter your long-term memory because your intention was not to learn, but rather to just pass.

Being intentional with your learning

An important consideration moving forward is to be intentional with your actions, especially when it comes to learning. Our intentions are the driving force behind our behaviours.

Next time you’re studying for anything at all, keep in mind how the knowledge you’re gaining is actually going to benefit those around you. Realize that you’re going to make an impact, and it’s up to you to make sure it’s something positive.

It can be tempting to fall prey to the way our assignments are marked and just try to cram. But that’s not the point. Even if you don’t enjoy what you’re currently studying, find something else in your free time that you can learn with passion. That you can learn intentionally. That you can learn to be of service.

Mark Twain said it wonderfully, as I’ve previously quoted:

“Don’t let schooling interfere with your education.”

Don’t ever limit yourself. You’re not born ‘smart’ or ‘dumb’. It’s all about the processes you use and the way you train yourself. You have the capacity to grow. To expand beyond your limiting beliefs. To learn faster and more efficiently than ever before. You’re capable of being a superhero.

Just use your brain more. It’s like a muscle, the more you train it, the stronger it becomes. You have so much potential within you. Keep trying. Keep pushing. Don’t give up when it gets tough. Embrace your growth mindset and flourish in discomfort. It’s the only way to grow. You got this.

On The Shortness Of Life

I’m currently reading a book called ‘On the Shortness of Life’ by Seneca; a Roman stoic philosopher from the stone-age (haha). The principle is straightforward and quite relevant to the blog’s theme; remember that you will die (Memento Mori).

Life is short. As part of nature, we have one inevitable experience in common; to pass on. It’s easy to forget how short-lived and temporary we are. We’re always chasing tomorrow and planning like we’ve got infinite days ahead of us. Let’s really look at how time, wisdom, service and purpose play a role in our understanding of death (and life I suppose).

Time

I keep coming back to the concept of time. It’s seriously abstract and most of us have just ignored that fact. What does experiencing ‘an hour’ even mean? Even things like time zones and losing time whilst travelling (on a plane for example). It really does boggle the mind when you sit and think about it.

What we ultimately need to understand is that time is our most precious resource. We tend to prioritize things like wealth and socializing, over time. We behave as if we drew from an infinite supply. Each of us has a very specific time, location and way in which we’re going to pass on. There’s no escaping that for sure.

Life is kind of like playing 30 seconds. As soon as you’re born, the hourglass is turned over and you have to get as much done before your time is up. Meditate on how often you waste your time over trivial matters and having mundane conversations.

What if you treated everyday as if it were your last? How different would your current trajectory look?

Wisdom

There’s a lot of wisdom to gain from contemplating your own death. I’ve spoken about this before, but it’s a reminder we need all the time. Wisdom to me, is just learning from your own mistakes and making improvements based on that.

We’ve all made several mistakes in our lifetime. We’re going to make a lot more in the near future. The point is to accept that you’re imperfect and temporary. That you’re on a journey to continuous learning. That you’re just a student of life. There’s no such thing as perfection, no matter how hard you strive for it.

Keeping that in mind, I want you to further think about your limiting beliefs and what’s preventing you from being vulnerably honest with those you care about.

Here’s a good question to ask yourself if you’re ever feeling embarrassed or ashamed about a mistake you’ve made:
Is this going to matter in a year? In 5 years? In 10 years?

Service

We’re here to help each other. We’ve come this far as a species because of collaboration. Because of education. Because of the way we’ve looked after each other. The best way to leave your mark on the world is through service.

This can come in any form that seems fit to you. It can be through serving your parents, assisting with charity events, teaching and sharing your knowledge, looking after the elderly, visiting the sick or just being kind to strangers that you meet. There’s no limit or set way of contributing.

Do what makes you feel good whilst assisting others in any way possible. You’ll notice what a tremendous effect that will have on your sense of purpose.

Purpose

Have you ever sat down to consider the legacy you’d like to leave behind? The impact you want to make on the world? We’re not here by chance or coincidence. Everything is purposeful, it’s all Divine Wisdom.

Service and purpose go hand-in-hand. They both feed into each other. The more you contribute, the more you feel alive, the more you develop your sense of purpose. It’s not necessarily a ‘quest’. You don’t have to search for purpose. You just live it by doing the best that you can, in everything you experience.

To try and make sense of these concepts, I’ve got an interesting way to think about it.

Imagine yourself on your death bed. You’re old, you’re weak and you’re very much dependent on others. What was your biggest regret? What was something you’ve always wanted to pursue? What was the biggest waste of your time? What drained your energy? What made you energized?

Who would you spend more time on? Who would you spend less time with? What would you appreciate and cherish more if you could? What would you do differently?

Honestly, we’re not that far off from being on our death beds. We take nothing with us when go down to our grave. Keep that in mind and reflect on these important questions. Make the most of the time that you have left. Always remember, now is all you have.

Hold On

Are you also feeling really tired with everything that’s going on? We’ve reached that point in the year where everything just feels exhausting. I know those who are studying will feel this particularly relevant. It’s as if we’re meant to ignore the chaos in the world and carry on like everything is fine. The pandemic just doesn’t seem to be going away.

This is going to be more of a rant so that you know you’re not alone in how you feel. The past few months have been incredibly taxing for me, especially since I’m in my final year at UCT; virtually. I want to talk about what has kept me going and how to stay motivated moving forward.

Purpose

What has always grounded me was finding a sense of purpose. Looking at why I do the things that I do. I think now more than ever when it feels like every day is the same, we need to look deeper and find meaning in our situation.

Living with purpose is essentially being intentional in your daily activities. It’s inevitable that things will seem monotonous and boring after a while. We need to refresh those intentions daily to keep the fire within us burning.

Acceptance

I know it doesn’t make sense a lot of the time. I know it’s difficult to comprehend and understand. That’s okay, we need to learn to be kinder to ourselves. Being kind to others can often feel more natural than being kind to ourselves.

We need to start showing up for ourselves and work on acceptance. Don’t resist the sadness, the tiredness, the frustration, the impatience. Accept them and understand that they’re temporary.

Emotions are like waves, they come and go.

Remember not to identify with your feelings. For example, you are not sad. You are experiencing sadness. Making that mental shift will allow you to detach much more easily.

Service and Gratitude

Do more for others and you’ll feel immensely content. When you’re able to help others and act from a place of service, you will feel more connected and alive. We’ve been neurologically wired for just that.

Whenever you’re having a bad day, as odd as it sounds, find someone to help. It will help you find a sense of purpose amidst the chaos.

The more you give, the more you get.

Count your blessings. I say this over and over again because I truly want you to realize how important it is. Wake up every morning and focus on what you have. It will massively improve the quality of your life, even if the situation itself remains the same.

Habits

I’ve talked extensively about how to form habits in my previous post. This has helped me form structure in my day. Forming a routine might sound monotonous, but it’s quite a paradox. When things are in place and you know what to do each day, it gives you the freedom to utilize your free time.

You won’t feel aimless or lost during the day. You’ll have a sense of direction. That is incredibly important when we’re spending so much time at home.

Emotional Outlets

Find somewhere to release your thoughts and emotions. This can be in the form of venting to the people you trust or writing in a journal. Alternatively, you could even send voice notes to yourself just to keep track of what’s going on with you.

A tempting response that I often get from people is that they use exercise as their outlet. As incredible as exercise is for mental health, it doesn’t serve the same purpose as a journal for example.

Actively dealing with your thoughts instead of being distracted will play a massive role in your interactions with others, and more importantly with yourself.

I know it’s tough, I know you’re tired and I know you just want to give up. But that’s the easy option. You don’t grow when the conditions are ideal or when you’re comfortable. You’re exactly where you’re meant to be, to become the best version of yourself.

Always ask yourself: “What is this teaching me? How can I learn from this?”

The world will carry on with indifference. It’s quite humbling to realize how tiny we are in the grander scheme of things. Follow your nature and keep trying. Rest well and take breaks if you need to.

Hold on, don’t ever give up.

Life Learners

Are you someone who’s intrigued by the wonders of the world? Do you enjoy having thought-provoking questions that inspire you? Where do you go to have uncomfortable conversations? We are all students of life and there’s no limit to how much we’re able to learn. Let’s find out a little more about what this initiative entails.

I’ll use the format shown below, so you can truly understand the philosophy and vision behind 20 Life Learners. I hope that you are keen to grow and join us on this journey.

By Simon Sinek

Why

I love starting with Why, because intentions truly are the driving force behind behaviours. So, let’s unravel the first layer of The Golden Circle. This group was initiated by Carmen De Beer to create a space for her friends to share their knowledge and wisdom.

The purpose of Life Learners is to ensure that each of us are constantly gaining knowledge. To serve the world around us with ideas and passion. Mark Twain put it beautifully:

“Don’t let school get in the way of your education.”

We seek to inspire and educate people on a wide range of topics so they can be better “humans of life”. Humans that are more understanding, accepting and up-to-date with the ever expanding consciousness in the world.

Our goal is for ordinary people to share their stories about things that matter but are often not taught in lecture rooms and schools.

How

By having the conversations that matter. By sharing our stories and experiences. By making the uncomfortable conversations comfortable.

We have meetings every Thursday where a certain member of the group presents a topic of their choice. These are often done in a PechaKucha style, where 20 images are spoken about for 20 seconds each. This allows us to share our ideas in 400 seconds of bite-size information.

The conversations are recorded and uploaded to both YouTube and Instagram. The post-presentation discussion is often where the most benefit is derived from. As we each contribute to what we’ve learned and ask intriguing questions.

What

20 Life Learners is a platform where ideas and knowledge can be shared by anyone. With the world becoming more reliant on people being aware of a greater range of topics, this is a space to learn about everything and anything. Where are people suppose to learn and discuss things that their circles don’t discuss? Here.

The topics that we will be discussing range from all aspects of our existence, this includes (but is certainly not limited to):

  • Mindfulness
  • Transformation
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Race
  • Machine learning
  • Self-improvement
  • Education
  • Gender

The aim is to have enlightening conversations that you may have not been able to within your own circle of friends. We hope to make taboo uncomfortable topics, comfortable.

Who are we?

We’re an ordinary bunch of South Africans in their twenties with extraordinary ideas. We’ve come together as friends and strangers to share our stories and nuggets of knowledge.

If you’d like to find out more, check out the Instagram page below. We’ll constantly keep it updated with what to expect, the topic of the week and who will be presenting.

Where are we going?

One day we hope to have a website that will ultimately contain many resources for people to learn more about topics discussed and also to submit their own presentations. We hope for this to become like ‘Humans of New York’ meets TED, with regular folks who can be contacted to keep the conversations going.

Please share it far and wide to help as many other people learn. We want to teach you things and learn for ourselves, everything we should’ve learned at school. Thank you for joining us! #ConversationsThatMatter