During a recent interview, I was asked, “What advice would you give to your younger self?” My response shot out like a bullet from a gun: “Read more books, watch less TV, and appreciate time more than money.” That’s my standard answer, one I didn’t need to ponder.
But what if life isn’t just about reading more and cutting down on Netflix? What if it’s about something far more transformative? It led me to dig deeper, to reevaluate the counsel I’d offer to that young man who had yet to face the storms I’ve weathered.
See, advising my younger self to read more books and watch less TV feels shallow now. It’s as if I’d just skimmed the surface of a sea brimming with complexities. After all, reading what? Watching less of what? These activities in themselves aren’t good or bad; it’s the intention and impact behind them that matter.
So what would I really tell that lad who has yet to learn the art of finding stillness in the storms?
Life is this wild rollercoaster, isn’t it? One minute you’re up; the next, you’re plummeting. You can’t control when or how you’ll be thrown off course, but you can bloody well determine how you’ll land. We try to cling to the good and push away the bad, not realising that it’s this very clinging and rejecting that causes us pain.
I’d want my younger self to find strength amid life’s curveballs. Not just because of the accident that would render me a quadriplegic, but also for the heartbreaks, the financial crashes, the health scares—all those unexpected life events that we never signed up for.
Here’s a quote I’ve always treasured: “You cannot teach anybody anything, you can only make them think.” – Socrates. For years, I didn’t really grasp its depth. Today, it resonates on a different level. The takeaway? Lessons in life won’t mean jack if they’re not self-discovered. And so, the advice I’d give my younger self is more of a challenge:
“You’re paralysed. Okay, great! What are you going to do about it?”
Yeah, it sounds harsh. But sometimes, the rawest questions catalyse the most profound changes. These words would force my younger self to confront the unalterable realities, pushing me to find opportunity amidst the chaos, enabling me to define who I am beyond life’s imposed limitations.
So, my advice would be less about transient activities like reading or TV, and more about adopting a mindset primed for growth and transformation. Let’s face it, circumstances are going to hit us like a freight train when we least expect it. It’s not the events themselves but our response to them that shapes our journey.
Imagine the possibilities if my younger self—or any of us—lived by the principle: “This happened. What are you going to do about it?” There’s something liberating in that, something that drives us to not just survive but thrive. It’s not about denying the pain; it’s about channelling it into something greater, something truly transformative.
So, what would you tell your younger self, knowing what you know now? I’m curious to hear your thoughts.