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I sat down this morning to write out the top 20 things I have learned in my life so far, but after writing down four items, I started to cry deep, intense tears. I released the emotion and it felt amazing. Writing this blog reminded me of the pain and suffering I had endured to awaken to this wisdom. This is my gift to you. Here are my top 20 tips for living a better life.
Those words secretly worked magic on me. As a disabled person, I had an extra swing in my waist that never bothered me. The joy in my feet was something far more powerful than anyone could understand. The flash in my teeth, were vicious to those that fed me negativity, and the same flash was a brilliant smile that won the hearts of those that I cared about.
In the early 2000s I started to read about the Dalai Lama. It was a revelation to view the world through the eyes of compassion. Venturing to the grocery store, driving in traffic, all became a practice of kindness. Then after I became comfortable with the concepts of Buddhism. I embarked on yoga. This extended my mindfulness. Now I continue to bring these concepts together and combine them with visualization.
"You'll never amount to anything. You'll never be much. You're a problem child." So he was told. And I had all but forgotten when she reminded me yet again, as we were talking just the other day, about the cruelty of words and how shattering they can be when ill-spoken. And he'll never forget those words.
Life may not begin at 40, but it's an excellent time to consider a second (or third, or fourth) act. Is there something you've always wanted to do? Something you were scared to try, because you'd be devastated if you failed? Take a deep breath and go for it. Trust me: it's way more satisfying than buying a convertible.
Since I read Mandela's book, Long Walk to Freedom, in Iran's Evin prison in 2000, I felt stronger and more committed to my activism work. He gave me hope and power to fight against the Iranian dictatorship. What's even more amazing is that every one of my cell mates were reading his book as well. I'll never forget what his words gave me.
At the Wisdom 2.0 Business conference, I experienced this raw honesty over and over. It was truly moving. At one point, there were over 200 diverse people, coming from various backgrounds, chanting OM together then revering the silence that came after. It wasn't our titles or egos or the performance of our last quarter that brought us together.
I'd gathered from our five-minute conversation that Cary barely kept up with the Joneses, supporting his wife and young son with income from occasional film-editing jobs. I tasted the bitterness that coated his words, felt the chill of his failure seep into my bones. He had moved his family to Los Angeles in order to make it big in the movie biz. Around him, he saw people climbing the ladder of success, but he could not budge.
Marie Hopps was the first person I ever met who thought I was lovely, just because I existed. Every few days, I would stumble into Marie's apartment from one of my escapades, looking like a tomcat with a missing eye or a torn ear. She would patiently make a pot of tea and offer me chocolate digestive cookies, seemingly unfazed by the sight of my bloodshot eyes. I miss her.
To teach is to forever be a part of something bigger. Is to forever be a piece of that sacred puzzle which creates something profound from that which is very small. That is the beauty of the life of a child. To teach is to touch lives. To listen. To lift. To motivate. To compel. To inspire. To encourage. To enrich. And above all, to teach is to use one's life to make a difference.