This month, LUX columnist and life coach Simon Hodges reflects on the difficulties of the past year, and the lessons we’ve learnt
As we all start to emerge, perhaps feeling somewhat dazed and disorientated, from this long period of isolation, I find myself contemplating a few questions:
- Will we ever experience life again as it was before?
- What lessons have I learned from this challenging period?
- What lessons do we collectively need to learn from this last year?
Sitting in my log cabin office on a very windy and still fairly cold day (summer still feels a way off!), one thing is abundantly clear to me: never underestimate how quickly things can change!
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But despite the late summer and the chaos of this last year, the first thing that comes to my mind is the word ‘hope’; there is nothing to say that our lives and this world cannot change markedly for the better in the coming weeks and months ahead.
Of course, I could just have easily chosen other words like ‘despair’ or ‘frustration’ but I find myself unable to do so. And one of the main reasons why I say this is that I think we all know with absolute certainty that it does not serve us to stay in such a dark place any longer.
Lessons Learnt – for me personally
My first lesson learnt is to choose to focus more of my energy on the light while recognising that the darkness is always there and that there are times when we all experience this darkness at the same time. And behind this are some real home truths for me:
- Acceptance and surrender – for me, being happy is as much about being ok and accepting of the darkness in the world and in ourselves, as it is about consciously choosing to experience more light and joy. A huge part of what makes our human experience meaningful is our experience of both ends of the emotional spectrum.
- Growth is never easy – we learn so much more about ourselves and are given the opportunity to learn and grow in times of hardship, struggle and adversity. Learning to see these times as a gift and not an obstacle is a game-changer in life. I guess this is something I have always intuitively known to be true, but it has really hit home recently.
- This too shall pass – no matter how bad life seems, and God, do we know it can feel grim, it is incredibly comforting to remind ourselves that this moment will pass and the light will return.
Lessons Learnt – for us collectively
The older I get, the more I feel that the universe and nature has a way of bringing us back into alignment with a higher purpose. That doesn’t mean to say that I believe that there is a permanence to our presence on this planet. Indeed, I have no doubt that we, as humans, have the capacity to self-sabotage and destroy more than any other creature or force out there today.
How this all pans out is largely going to depend on how well we as individuals and a collective, listen to the lessons the universe is sending us right now and choose to act as a result.
- Choose love not fear – we need to move away from the outdated programme we have all been running (and taught from a young age) which tells us that we must compete over scarce resources and act in our self-interests if we are to survive. We need to learn that being loving is actually the hardest thing you will ever do – it takes real courage and strength to lead with love and it is oh so easy to lead with fear.
- Less is more – we live in a world obsessed with the accumulation of stuff. In turn, this leads us into a spiral of there never being enough, our cups forever half-full. These needs are fuelled and encouraged from all angles in the modern world. Learning to truly understand what enough looks like and then applying this in our daily lives is going to be crucial to our future happiness and sustainability.
- Serve others – this world would be an exponentially better place if we stopped making it all about ourselves, what we need and why others are to blame for our circumstances. This state of mind leaves us stuck, filled with judgment and leaning on our fear fuelled egos. Doing something for someone else, no matter how small will leave you happier and more fulfilled. It is that simple.
This has been an incredibly challenging year for us all, in so many different ways and on so many different levels, so forgive me for this column being a little more sombre! I am a huge believer that we only learn from our mistakes and we also only change our behaviour when we hit a leverage point (usually when life is painful) and I think it is fair to say that many of us are there right now. So, what are you prepared to do to commit to change?