Usually this phrase brings to mind images of teens going off to college, perhaps a Bar mitzvah or a Quiceanera — People taking their first step into adulthood. For me though there is no singular point in time where one comes of age. Life is not a journey, with a start, and end and specific milestones in between.
Alan Watts once said that life is much like dancing, there is no specific point in the room where you need to arrive at. The point of the dance is the dance itself. Similarly, I do not think that people have an end state of being adults. Coming of age in this context then becomes more of an awareness of one’s self — who you are, and who you want to become.
I think this is what causes that feeling of being overwhelmed in a lot of people. You get out of university with the expectation from society that you’ve already come of age — that you are now an adult. Suddenly there are all these checklists of what you have to be and what you need to have. Suddenly there are all these choices in front of you with real consequences that you can never seem to go back on.
I am starting this blog to share some of the things that I found useful when dealing with these heavy thoughts. I am 26, just a little over a quarter of a century old and I have not come of age – someday I hope find the true meaning of that phrase. Until then, I invite you to share your experiences, your triumphs and defeats — as I also share mine. Perhaps we can come of age together.
Having gone through a rough week at work, I’ve come to realize that the way that I react at moments like this can actually make things seem worse than it actually are. When we become disappointed, defeated, maybe even angry at certain situations, we tend to try and look for a solution too quickly. We punish ourselves when we feel this way and we fight to get ourselves out of the rut.
When we were kids, we were always told to get back up upon falling down. This, they say is a true marker of strength. But nobody ever mentions that it takes sterner stuff to actually allow yourself to stay down for a few moments, to be mindful of how you feel and to tend to our wounds.
One thing that I’ve learned is that it helps to just acknowledge that the pain is there — this is expected in life and this is completely okay. When we feel hurt, broken and defeated, we don’t always have to make those feelings stop or go away. There are no immediate actions required. When we actually give ourselves some time, and a bit of kindness for the way we feel about it, we are better able to keep moving forward both with a clearer mind and a lighter heart.
I think it must’ve been two or three months since I last had beer. Maybe a year since I had a really good pint. I must say that it felt extremely good. My mouth dried up and I lost my voice for a few minutes (I would later find out that I just needed a glass of water to correct the situation) but still I felt happy and contented.
I remember a brief period may be three or four years ago now — when I would almost every night, go out to have a few bottles of beer with my office mates. While I also felt happy then, it was a different, more elated and euphoric kind of happiness. We would get a bit noisy, somewhat rowdy and we would all start to lose our voices from laughing all night. Although I look back at those moments with a certain amount of fondness, I know that I can never go back to that lifestyle.
As I continue to come of age, I’ve been constantly discovering that a lot of the things in this world are not black and white. Happiness has a spectrum to it. There would be times where we might just be experiencing a lagom amount of happiness and not overflowing with it — and that is okay.
If we define happiness as a fiesta, a rave, or a feeling of ecstasy — people jumping up and down, all smiles while clapping to an upbeat tune then life is going to be very disappointing. Sustainable and measured happiness is better than a fleeting high.
We have to be receptive to the fact that life is complex. But more importantly, it helps to be really present in the moment and to appreciate a good pint of beer. So when was the last time you had one?
I’ve always been one of those people who struggled to introduce themselves. This is because I’ve never really identified myself as a single thing. Some people really identify with being a doctor or an engineer, perhaps a painter or a chef – I never really had that.
I see myself as a combination of a number different selves rather than one or two core identities. There is a version of me that is a recluse – I like to be alone with my nose stuck in a book. There is another version of me who loves being in conversation and spending time with the people that I care most about. Another who enjoys the fast-paced, high-stakes environment of his 9-5. And yet another who gets absolutely hooked to the rush from a game of football or a full body workout in the gym.
Naturally, 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week is not going to be enough for me to be all that I want to be. That is where the concept of lagom comes in. Lagom is a Swedish word that roughly translates to “Just the right amount”, moderate or balanced. For me, the biggest impact of lagom has been around how I manage my time.
Being happy and true to the multitude of selves that combine to form my unique identity means that I don’t spend too much time on a single thing unless absolutely necessary. Like I would not spend 3 hours every day in the gym or spend late nights reading book after book after book.
This also means that when I do something, I try my best to focus and to do it as well and as efficiently as possible. Like removing all distractions and disconnecting from the world for 30 minutes to study is better than having to sit at your desk for an hour studying because your mind constantly wanders off or because you subconsciously check your phone every 10 or 15 minutes.
Lagom can be applied to almost every aspect on one’s life. It isn’t only about spending the right amount of time on the things that we do. It can also be about taking the right amount from Mother Nature and being mindful of how we use the earth’s resources. It can be applied to how we eat and how we dress.
You might find this interesting and start thinking of ways on how you can practice lagom. You might also find that you are already practicing lagom on a certain area of your life and would only need to apply to that on other areas. In any case, I’d love to hear about your thoughts and how you plan to live — or already are living lagom.
Lately, I’ve started to get into the habit of meditating before going to bed. It was a lot easier than I expected, and the benefits that I get are totally worth the 10 or so minutes I spend doing it.
Since I started meditating, I’ve found that I’ve improved my focus on the tasks at hand on and off work. I’ve also begun to sleep better. And I’ve managed to clear my thoughts of anxiety and stress.
If you are like me who’s totally new in meditation, here are a few tips that I’ve found useful.
Make yourself comfortable – Sit on a chair or lay down in bed. You don’t need much. Meditation is really about being able to relax and be at peace with your thoughts. (Sitting cross-legged is optional)
Use an app for guided meditation – This will keep you in check throughout the exercise as your mind will most likely start to wander off (which is totally normal by the way)
Don’t be hard on yourself – As with anything new, you’ll find that it might not go exactly as you envisioned it at the start. This is OK. Just stay with it and slowly, you’ll see the benefits.
Insert this into your daily routine – I like to do it before going to bed, as my mind tends to circle around the things that happened during the day and I end up staying awake for a few minutes to an hour. This also breaks my bad habit of checking social media or watching YouTube / Netflix before going to bed.
I hope you’ve found this useful and I hope you get started on practicing meditation soon. It is something that has had a really big impact on my day to day experience. And I am sure it will have a big impact on yours too.
Let me know what your experience with meditation is. Have you been doing it long? – If so please feel free to share any tips of your own.
This week we had two new hires join us at work. And although it was daunting for me to start training them, I found that I was excited more than anything to do so.
Like our new hires, I was embarking on something totally new. It is a feeling that I’ve always liked. Sometimes life hits us with something we can never truly prepare for. It gives us a choice – Do we back down and stick with what we know (and what we know might work quite well) or do we jump in and try to see what else is out there waiting for us?
When given that choice, I hope that a majority of people chose the latter. In my opinion there is nothing sadder than a person who has lost their sense of wonder. It is like a dog who chooses to stay tied to a post. I’ve never seen too many dogs like that – and that’s probably why they are one of the most joyful beings on this planet.