#25 Timeless (No BS) Lessons to Live a Better Life

Is the glass half empty or half full? I’m sure you’ve heard of this expression. It’s a simple concept and it carries its weight in truth. To live, breathe, and embody the belief that the glass is half-full is another story. Today I wanted to help you understand, and in no particular order, why this is so. The topics I will touch on today are:

  • Taking a 30,000-foot view
  • Everything is energy
  • Forgiveness is a selfish act
  • Contemplating death
  • Presence is the only drug you’ll ever need

By the end of this article, I hope you understand that you have the ability to live an abundant life, that the world is what you make of it, and that you can reinvent the idea that is you, every second of the day.

Taking a 30,000-foot view

I enjoy being on a plane. The world is a big place, but seeing it from a 30,000-foot view solidifies this idea and makes me feel small.

Oddly enough, feeling small is very gratifying.

Every person in our world is dealing with some type of struggle. Our problems come in many shapes, sizes, and forms. Understanding this sentiment can be very therapeutic. Misery loves company, and who doesn’t love company!

When you understand this concept from a healthy vantage point, it can remove some of the burdens you put on yourself when dealing with your own issues. We are all living and trying to figure out life, and while we try to figure it out, we can find solace in the fact that we don’t own the world’s problems.

When we are not careful in understanding the whole scope of what we have, we run the risk of magnifying our problems.

If you really try to take a 30,000-foot view of your life, there truly is a lot to be grateful for.

Today:

  • 25,000 people will die from hunger. Did you eat?
  • 285,000,000 people are visually impaired and will not have the opportunity to enjoy a sunset. How’s your vision
  • 1,000,000 are functionally deaf and may never hear the words, I love you. Were you able to listen today?
  • 1,600,000,000 people in the world lack adequate housing. Do you have shelter?

Every human should have the tools to have the basic necessities that we often take for granted. I am hopeful that as technology advances, these will less of an issue. If you are reading this right now, I am fairly confident that these problems aren’t yours, but they do exist in many corners of the world.

Sometimes you have to look at the struggles others feel so you can be grateful for your own struggles.

Truth-be-told, there are millions of people that would love to trade places and live your life. No matter how hard life may seem, taking a purview of the larger picture puts things into perspective and can help you to not dwell on uncertainties that life may bring.

We are lucky for the opportunities we have. Personally, I was privileged that my family migrated from the Fiji Islands so I could be born in America. My parents were privileged because their parents sent them, but even if I never came to America, I would be stuck in paradise working on a farm, cutting sugar cane while consuming copious amounts of vitamin D. Either way, it would have been a win.

No matter your age, past, or current place in life, your story is just beginning. At times, you need to take a 30,000-foot view to understand what you have. Even though problems are many, there is still a lot to be grateful for. The feeling of abundance in the midst of our problems can help us see the bigger picture and improve our lives.

We are flawed humans trying to make sense of life.

Will we fall? Yes.

Will it suck. Yes.

Will we get up, and overcome? Absolutely, YES!!!!

Everything is energy

From the thoughts, we think, to the words we speak, and the actions that ensue, we inevitably make our life.

“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
– Lao Tzu

We don’t dictate the thoughts that come into our mind, that is why it’s important to be careful which thoughts we react to and let into our world. This is fundamental to self-awareness.

Sadly, many people will go through life mindlessly reacting to every single thought they think. I am here to tell you that you don’t have to entertain certain thoughts, especially the ones that don’t bring you value.

Through trial and error, I have become better at protecting the types of thoughts that I let enter into my life. This takes effort and consistency, but it’s totally worth it because it fosters a healthier mental state.

Below I list a few things that have helped me develop the ability to be aware of my thoughts:

Limiting news consumption — I do not watch the news in the morning or before I go to bed.

Gossip — I don’t encourage any type of gossip. If I talk to a family member or friend and they are objectifying another, I listen but do not respond. I have found that when you don’t respond, the subject becomes like a brick wall.

I eat once a day — I fast for 23–25 hours and eat one meal a day. I don’t eat dairy, gluten, soy products, factory-farmed seafood, or meat. I drink only water and one cup of coffee daily. If you want to attempt this, please make sure it’s okay with your doctor. I am not giving health advice, just sharing what works for me. Also, fasting is not as extreme as it sounds. Our ancestors have done it for millions of years.

Exercise daily — Whether it’s a run, some weights, or jump rope, I make sure to give my body at least 45 minutes of solid exercise per day. The discipline that it takes to endure the pain and discomfort from a workout transcends into other avenues of my life. The body can become complacent and is prone to comfort. If you keep it in check, it will obey.

Meditate daily — I close my eyes and sit Indian-style in silence for at least 10-minutes a day. With every breath in, I say to myself, “This is a wonderful moment.” With every breath out, I smile. I learned this beginner’s meditation from a well-known monk, Thich Nhat Hanh.

Social media — It’s a constant struggle, but I try to limit my time on social media and opt for calling or meeting up with those that I am close to. Also, this need to see what others are doing is going away because I filled my life with activities and hobbies that bring me more value.

Forgiveness is a selfish act

Mark Twain once said, “Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”

When I first heard this beautiful quote my heart skipped a beat, goosebumps arose throughout my body, and my eyes began to tear up. Twain tells us that forgiveness is the reminder that we must not let another ruin our essence. I will explain more.

Whether someone intentionally hurts you or not is irrelevant. Forgiveness is for you and you only. It’s forgiving yourself for letting another make you feel anything less than the miracle you are.

The probability of you existing at all comes out to 1 in 102,685,000 — yes, that’s a 10 followed by 2,685,000 zeroes! You are a freaking miracle.

Try not to let the emotions of others dictate how you should feel. It only leads to a never-ending pit of despair where you lose control of yourself.

When another person makes you feel angry, sad, heartbroken or any other emotion, they OWN you.

Life is short and when we measure our life by the seconds, we don’t have that much time. Forgive yourself and move on. If another hasn’t forgiven you for something that you may have done in the past, that is something they must work on because you can’t change how someone else thinks. We are all at the center of our universe. Only you can see, feel, and hear your world.

If you want to read more about forgiveness, then I encourage you to read this article I wrote that was published in Elephant Journal.

Contemplate death

In the face of death, the capacity to be angry, to be right, or to hold a grudge ends quickly.

If one lesson was to reign supreme, it’s to treat everyone like they will die soon because “soon,” much like “tomorrow,” are relative terms. We come into this world without a clue and we will leave it as such. In the interim, we build unbreakable bonds and make memories that become stories for our surviving loved ones.

Knowing that everything that I hold dear will go away one day has done three things:

It’s changed the way I treat people. There are no next times in life because truth-be-told, we don’t know what will happen tomorrow. How would you treat yourself and others if you knew today was it? Life is very precious because it can be taken away at any moment. The times I spend with my family and friends are more precious now, because I know tomorrow is not guaranteed.

It’s created a sense of urgency. I don’t have tomorrow to write, to love, to cook a great meal, and to take care of my body. I must do it now. It’s given me the courage to do more of what I love, which is to write about the topics around mindfulness and stories. This is one, in particular, is a story about an unforgettable first date.

It’s helped me smell the roses. Many of us have busy lives. We work, take care of others, and don’t make time for ourselves. I am here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way. Wherever you are in life is the only place you can be. Although this is obvious, it was a profound concept when I first heard it.

When I’m at work, I try to do the best work I can because I can’t be anywhere else. When I’m mowing the lawn, I try to make it as perfect as I can, because I can’t be anywhere else. You get the point.

Death opens up the capacity to be present. It helps us embrace whatever moment we are in, which is a perfect segue into my last topic.

Presence is the only drug you’ll ever need!

The present moment is where salvation and freedom live.

When your thoughts align with what you see, hear, and feel right now, that is Presence.

The next time you are going through a difficult situation, retreat to what is happening right now.

In the last paragraphs I will discuss how to:

  • Invite presence every day
  • Embrace problems
  • Be a vehicle of love and strength for others

Everyday Presence

It’s common for us to wake up in the morning and make a mental checklist of what we need to do. We routinely take a shower, brush our teeth, and get ready. I encourage you to really take time and enjoy your shower. Feel the warm water grace your body and enjoy the sensations that go with cleaning yourself. The same goes for brushing your teeth and getting ready. Lean into these moments more.

Contrary to popular belief, these routine moments can actually be a form of meditation. If you are present and are able to give full attention to something, you are meditating.

Embrace Problems

When you have an issue, you only fix it when you are face to face with it.

For example, say a loved one does something to you that causes pain. It’s only human to be hurt, but the length in which you choose to continue to hurt, need not be. When you are present and can acknowledge the pain, you face it, embrace it, and have the ability to make peace with it.

Instead of fighting the current of life, move with it. Accept the fact that being hurt sucks, but also understand that the emotions you feel right now will go away. Imagine all the moments’ someone hurt you. You eventually got over them, right?! Just knowing that you will get over something can help you get over it quicker. Acknowledge pain as a temporary emotion that will be replaced by another.

Acceptance and presence are related in that you don’t wish the past to be any different than what it was. People hold onto the past because they are stuck wanting that part of their life to have changed. You can’t, so don’t bother. Your time and energy is precious. Accept the past, move on, and continue being a better version of you.

Problems, much like joy and happiness, are necessary staples that make the ingredients of life. All are needed for it to come together in harmony.

Without anger, we wouldn’t understand sadness.
Without unhappiness, we wouldn’t understand joy.
Without heartbreak, we wouldn’t understand love.

Be a vehicle of love and strength for others

I’ve learned that the best way to help heal others is by listening. When you listen to another person with total attention, you’re able to have a glimpse into their life. It has allowed me to see people for who they are and build true empathy, without the interference of judgment.

When you let someone borrow your ear to vent, they are fixing themselves. Without knowing, you become a vehicle that takes some of their frustrations away.

When you listen with awareness, there is no thought and the mind is clear. Listening in this way takes tremendous effort because it means detaching ourselves from the narrative we have going on in our minds.

We want to help, give advice, but we have to let people’s wounds heal when they are ready, but we can help the healing process by listening.

I don’t give advice anymore. I have trust that others can find their own path. I would never rob or cripple anyone from the chance of figuring out life for themselves because therein lies their personal growth, and yours.


We all have our journey in life. Your story is unique. Make it memorable. I hope I can be a lampost that sheds a little light while you carry on. I leave you with a quote from one of my favorite all-time movies:

“Remember, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” — Shawshank Redemption

With Love,

Anand Swamy

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