The Keys of Life: Happy Birthday Louis.
My eldest son Louis is 21 today. As I sent my good wishes to him, I wondered what I would tell my 21-year-old self? I would say the same things that I am saying to Louis now.
The First Key: Value Yourself.
We all have the same value as human beings regardless of our status, talents or accomplishments. In the closing scenes of the TV drama-series “The Feud”, Bette Davis (played by Susan Sarandon) asked Joan Crawford (played by Jessica Lange) what it felt like to be most beautiful girl in the world. Joan replied that “It felt wonderful, and it was never enough.” Joan then asked Bette what it felt like to be the most talented girl in the world and Bette replied that “It was great, and it was never enough.” Real self-value is always enough.
The Second Key: Hold A Personal Vision For Your Life
If I had known this at 21, I would have worried a lot less about the things that didn’t work out and I would have wasted a lot less time on projects and people that were going frankly nowhere. It took another 10 years for me to discover that if we don’t have our own vision for our life then we are probably living someone else’s vision. Live your own personal vision.
The Third Key: Be Kind
When we are kind to ourselves we don’t ignore the signs of exhaustion and burn out. We don’t beat ourselves up so much when we mess up, when we procrastinate and when we feel down. We don’t deny ourselves the things that nourish us and inspire us. Fill yourself up with kindness and extend that in every way imaginable. Pay the busker just because you can, smile at someone because you caught their eye, listen to the person sincerely who needs your attention. Just be kind.
The Fourth Key: Invest in the Things That Matter
Find out what is important to you and what is not. Invest in the things that are important: your health, the people you love and respect, and the hobbies that inspire you. Good investments are usually long term and have interest that compounds over time. Don’t expect a quick return on your investments and keep on investing even if doesn’t feel worth the effort at the time. Invest in yourself.
The Fifth Key: Be Adaptable
Sometimes we just need to know when to quit, when to change our perspective, when to try something different, when to be bold, when to be cautious, and how to accept honest feedback. Bruce Lee said, “Be like water.” At 21, I didn’t understand what he meant (wet and watery?). Now I realise that he meant to be resilient, flexible, and truly strong. Don’t be afraid to adapt.
The Sixth Key: The Power of Now
This key I so wished I had a 21. At 21, I was living in the land of potentials and possibilities. Now, I realise that too much future focus creates suffering because we have expectations about how things should be and then get disappointed when things don’t turn out that way. The power is all in our presence, what we chose to do, feel and experience, in the now. The Power of Now might be Eckhart Tolle’s best-selling book yet the title says it all: Carpe Diem. Don’t only seize the day, enjoy it.
The Seventh Key: Always be You
And this is the one that maybe the greatest key of all. To know ourselves and be ourselves. Socrates and Plato and a host of other great minds seem to have the same idea, that knowing yourself is a very wise thing. Indeed.
As Louis celebrates his 21st on this glorious May Day at the aptly titled festival, Love Will Save the Day, I hope that he uses all his keys. For those of us a decade or three beyond Louis, we can still discover our own keys to life as it is never too late to use them. They unlock all that we are.