It's International Left-handers day on August 13th, and any lefties like me will know the awkwardness of being left-handed in a dominant right-hand world. As a child, I was always left feeling like an idiot because I couldn't use right-handed scissors at school (and they didn't have any left-handed ones). When my Nan taught me to sew, I had to turn everything upside down, and when my best friend tried to teach me how to crochet, well, let's just say, I had to find a left hand-tutorial on YouTube in order to get it!
These days, things are much better as people, especially teachers, are far more understanding. Being Left-handed no longer carries the stigmatism it once did. And when I fell off my bike a few weeks ago, I found I use my right hand more than I realised anyway. As I said, the world is made for the right-handed among us: school desks, golf, scissors, computer mice, and more are just sometimes easier to use with your right-hand!
But it got me thinking about life in general, and especially in a COVID world. Can we train our brain to be more accepting and find new ways of looking at our lives - even if we have to turn things upside down to see it better?
This week Jay Shetty shared four life lessons from his favourite Monks that may be able to help us all.
Monk #1 – "People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar" – Thich Nhat Hanh
We are all scared of change and the unknown it brings with it, but there are ways we can move forward with this.
Firstly, we need to recognise that pain is natural. Pain is normal. Pain in life is caused by a) ourselves, b) others or c) things that happen in the world. Most of this is beyond our control, and no-one wants to experience pain, and so most people try to avoid it. But if we stop fighting it, and accept that it will come in and out of our lives, we can reduce our anxiety and worry around pain.
Secondly, everything is changing, so don't try to stay the same. Think about the change in our lives. We are in summer shorts and sunglasses at the minute, but as move into autumn and winter, our wardrobe will change with the seasons, and we will be digging out our winter coats and woolly hats. The trees are in full green, but next month they will start changing colour and shedding their leaves for winter. We adapt, we change, and we grow, and as a result, we are continually changing.
Even our bodies change continuously. Our skin cells change every 2-4 weeks, our liver changes every 1-2 years and our bone cells change every decade. Accept that change is part of our unique journey.
Monk #2 - "Don't let the behaviour of others destroy your inner peace" – Dalai Lama
We are often surrounded by negativity and toxicity in our lives, but how do you stop this ruining your inner peace?
Inner peace is based on an inner state, which is why Monks spend so many years perfecting the art of meditating. Think like a Monk, and practice a habit every single day that brings you peace. It can be whatever helps you, listen to your favourite song, sit in the garden with your morning coffee and listen to the birds, relax in a warm bath with your favourite book, or just sit and take a few deep breaths to calm and centre yourself before you start your day.
Monk #3 – "One is not born wise, one becomes it" – Matthieu Ricard
There is a famous saying that says if you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.
Confidence comes from recognising our strengths and appreciating our unique abilities. Take the crocheting for example, yes, I picked it up, but it's not my strength. I can barely make a square or two. I'll leave that to my friend who creates some fantastic amigurumi.
However, being left-handed makes me rare and unique (only around 15% of the population are left-handed). It means I'm more independent from having to adapt to a world of mostly right-handed individuals. It also means I use the right side of my brain, so I'm more likely to think holistically, use insight and intuition, which are perfect for my role as a holistic therapist!
Try to think of three strengths you have. If you get stuck with this, then ask your friends, family and work colleagues what positive impact you've had on their lives, and get a view on how the world sees you. Use these strengths to go out and serve the world with confidence, knowing that you are living authentically as you.
Monk #4 – "To the degree we have love and harmony in our hearts, to that degree, we can give it to others."
We are all guilty of saying things to ourselves that we wouldn't say to others, not even those we hate. "You are not good enough", "There is something wrong with me", "You are too fat/ugly/stupid".
Stop using negative words with yourself. Journal your thoughts regularly, and when you see a pattern in these words and phrases, make a conscious effort to remove them from your vocabulary. Switch them for more positive phrases like "I Love myself", "I am enough", or "You are beautiful." You may find this difficult at first, but you are worth the effort, and you do deserve it.
Create one daily habit that brings you love; daily affirmations and joyful activities, and do a little more of the good stuff to bring peace and purpose to your life every day.
Jay Shetty's book - Think Like a Monk: Train Your Mind for Peace and Purpose Every Day is now available to pre-order and is due to be released on the 8 September.
I am beautiful and accept myself for who I truly am