This is what I’d like her to know:
You are good enough. Most people are afraid to do things because they are afraid they’re not good enough, afraid they’ll fail. But you are good enough — learn that and you won’t be afraid of new things, won’t be afraid to fail, and won’t need the approval of others. You’ll be pre-approved — all by yourself.
All you need to be happy is within you. Many people try to find happiness in food, drugs, alcohol, shopping, partying, … because they’re seeking external happiness. They don’t realize the tools for happiness aren’t outside them. They’re right inside you: mindfulness, gratitude, compassion, thoughtfulness, the ability to create and do something meaningful, even in a small way.
Everything useful I’ve learned I didn’t learn from college … I learned from doing. That being said, I’ve had some amazing teachers. They’re not always in school, though: they’re everywhere, my friends, my mom, dad, siblings, grandmother, cousins, my husband and you. Failure is the biggest teacher of them all. Teachers are everywhere, if you’re willing to learn.
Spend less than you earn. Thirty percent less if you can manage. Most people get a job and immediately spend their income on a car loan, high rent or a large mortgage, buying possessions and eating out using credit cards. None of that is necessary. Don’t spend it if you don’t have it. Learn to go without, and be happy with less. Put away some of your income to grow. Your future will thank you.
Learn to love healthy food. It’s all a matter of adjusting your taste buds, slowly and gradually. Learn to cook for yourself. Try some healthy, delicious recipes.
Learn compassion. We start life with a very selfish outlook — we want what we want. But compassion is about realizing we are no more important than everyone else, and we aren’t at the center of the universe.
Enjoy life. Not just the usual pleasures, but everything and everyone. The stranger you meet at the coffee shop. The sunshine that hits your face as you walk. The quietness of the morning. Time with a loved one. Time alone. Your breath as you meditates. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Instead, learn to be OK with mistakes, and learn to learn from them.
You need no one else to make you happy or validate you. You don’t need a boss to tell you that you’re great at what you do. You don’t need a boyfriend to tell you that you’re lovable. You don’t need your friends’ approval. Having loved ones and friends in your life is amazing, but know who you are first.
Learn to be good at change. Change is the one constant in life. You will suffer by trying to hold onto things. Learn to let go (meditation helps with this skill), and learn to have a flexible mind. Don’t get stuck in what you’re comfortable with; don’t shut out what’s new and uncomfortable.
Open your heart. Life is amazing! Other people are amazing. Be willing to take the wounds that come with an open heart, and you will experience the best of life. Let love be your rule. Success, selfishness, righteousness … these are not good rules to live by. Love family, friends, coworkers, strangers, your brothers and sisters in humanity. Love even those who think they’re your enemy. Love the animals we treat as food and objects. Most of all, love yourself!
And always know, no matter what: I love you Ariya!