You have to learn to be strong. Strength is something that people often see as keeping one’s self together at all times – never falling and never failing. The truth is the strongest people fall a lot and they fail a lot, but they always endure. Strength is gained from trying, it is gained from participating fully in life; it is gained from facing your fears and from persevering, and picking yourself up after you’ve fallen greatly. No two people have the same strength because no two people have the same experience. We all have our limits but our greatest strength is discovered when those limits are tried and tested. But you have to learn strength on your own.
You have to learn to be happy. Happiness is not something you can buy or earn, it is something you are and have; it is a state of mind. Sometimes people believe if only they’d get a certain job or move to a certain place or get to be with a certain person, they’ll be happy. But it doesn’t work like that. Happiness is something that you choose despite all the difficulties that you face. And even in the midst of life’s painful events, it is a choice that you can make. Happiness isn’t delusional or pretentious and it does not ignore suffering, but it is the choice to be grateful and count one’s blessings in spite of suffering. But you have to learn to be happy on your own.
You have to learn to forgive. Forgiveness is one of the most difficult lessons because being hurt is part of the nature of existing. The most difficult people to forgive are the people who are close to us; the people who we love the most. It makes sense of course, those who know what make us most vulnerable have the power to hurt us greatly. And in their human imperfection, they inevitably will. But forgiveness sets you free because hardheartedness cripples you; you are the one who doesn’t feel free when you don’t forgive. And as much as forgiveness is also for the one who errs, it is more for the one who is wronged. But you have to learn to forgive on your own.
You have to learn to love yourself. Loving yourself is an enigma because on one hand, there are many ways in which you and I are great – there are truly things about us that are wonderful and inspiring. But we also have shortcomings and these shortcomings cause us to question our self-worth and whether who we are is enough for others; whether who we are is enough for ourselves. When you love yourself, you accept your good with your bad and you realize no matter how imperfect you are, your beauty is greater than your imperfections. But you have to learn to love yourself on your own.
I would like to learn all these things to perfection, and I would like to teach them to others especially those who need it the most. But I have found my practice of these things imperfect, and my teaching futile, and I have found myself to be a hypocrite. I am not always as strong as I should be, or happy, or forgiving, and I do not always love myself. So perhaps the most important lesson I have learned is that all of these things that I have to learn on my own are things I’ll spend my entire lifetime learning.