What are my twenty life rules?

“Life is a language that conveys a certain truth to us; if we learn it in another way, we will not survive” Schopenhauer.

Life Rule #1: If you are simple, the world is simple for you.

Life Rule #2: There is no rehearsal in life; every day is a live broadcast.

Life Rule #3: Money isn’t everything; but it can affect everything.

Life Rule #4: If life goes in the wrong direction, stopping is progress.

Life Rule #5: The two tragedies in life: one is to lose all thoughts, the other is to be complacent.

Life Rule #6: Life is the same as love. If you miss love, you miss life.

Life Rule #7: Time wasted is lost forever.

Life Rule #8: Nothing is permanent except change.

Life Rule #9: What you have is exactly what you need.

Life Rule #10: Feeling sorry for yourself is not okay, having a compassion is.

Life Rule #11: Others’ perceptions of you is not your responsibility.

Life Rule #12: You are not the sum of your experiences and mistakes. 

Life Rule #13: Life never gives you vacations.

Life Rule #14: Life is short, don’t take it too seriously.

Life Rule #15: Be patient in everything you do.

Life Rule #16: You only control your response.

Life Rule #17: Happiness is a journey, not a destination.

Life Rule #18: Most people don’t know you exist. 

Life Rule #19: There’s no one definition of success.

Life Rule #20: You are unique in your Thoughts, show it in your Actions.

What can I do in 90 seconds that will be useful for the rest of my life?

Think about the last time you were angry? If you’re like most, it probably went something like this…

That’s not right, how can they do that? You begin thinking about it. It makes you angry. You feel slighted, irritated and mad. Your heart rate rises, you begin feeling an impulse to yell or argue; you find yourself all wound up.

Here is what really happened.

  1. You had a thought.
  2. Your thought stimulated emotions.
  3. Your body experiences a physiological response because of emotions.

You think, feel and experience.

How long does all of this take?

90 seconds.

What does this mean?

Whenever you react to anything in your environment, a chemical process occurs within your brain that lasts 90 seconds.

That’s it. 90 seconds.

When you are anxious, furious, scared; every emotion, it only lasts 90 seconds. After 90 seconds, any emotional response you feel is because you are choosing it.

When you’re stressed for hours. When you’re angry for days. When you’re sad for weeks.

All of it. Anything. It’s a choice.

The power of the 90 second rule

We can’t control our emotional brain. Stressful stimuli hits our amygdala, a little area responsible for detecting threats. Before we know it, our body is pumping out adrenaline and releasing all kinds of neurotransmitters in response to what we’ve just experienced.

And it lasts 90 seconds.

Here is where the cerebral cortex gets involved; the part of our brain responsible for logical thought and reasoning.

After 90 seconds, we have 2 choices.

Red pill; blue pill. Left or right.

We can swallow the blue pill and do what feels natural. Continue ruminating in our head; thinking angry thoughts. Triggering another 90 seconds. Jumping back on that hamster wheel.

Or, maybe. Just maybe, we can try the red pill.

The unpleasant truth. To do what feels unnatural. To sit with the emotions. To watch them. To be calm.

And when 90 seconds passes, to just move on. Refusing to spark the emotional tinder with another thought. Because eventually, something will catch fire; and before you know it, you’ve turned 90 seconds into days.

The 90 second rule in practice

Next time you’re overwhelmed, angry, upset; stop what you’re doing. Focus on your breathing; if you’re angry, try counting.

All it takes is 90 seconds.

Step back for 90 seconds.

Thoughts are the oxygen to keep your emotional loop burning. Without your thoughts, the fire you’re feeling will burn itself out – in 90 seconds.

Try it.

It might just change your life.

Though We Are Oceans Apart, Our Hearts Are Connected

COVID-19 affects every aspect of life. Even if you haven’t lost your job or taken a pay cut, your personal life is still affected in one way or another.

Long distance relationships and globalisation go hand-in-hand. A married couple might be divided by jobs in two different countries. Parents and their child/children might be divided by an ocean.

Before COVID-19 and travel restrictions, what they all had in common was the ability to travel to see their loved ones. But not anymore.

Reading the expert advice on social distancing is pretty grim. No handshaking. No stopping to talk to people on the street. More house cleaning than most of us have done in our lives. The toughest one will surely be not visiting friends and family, even in small groups, to prevent more than good food and conversation from being spread among visitors.

How can relationships cope?

Today many families are disjointed ‒ siblings are in different cities or countries and parents are living in another place. We are, in a way, in a long distance relationship with our parents. 

As a child I lived through long distance parenting. The Indian saying goes, “children don’t usually separate from parents until death do them part”. As an only child, I left my parents at the age of 13 to learn life on my own. I did not see them for over 24 years apart from a few weeks each year and I have always missed them terribly. I used to write letters/emails regularly and they wrote back, but back in the late nineties there really were no other options. Even phone calls were prohibitively expensive (between USA and Nigeria). Skype calls and online messaging, which could help us maintain that close connection, were quite primitive in those days.

While FaceTime is great for live chatting, there are other deeper, more meaningful experiences and memories I’d like them to be able to share together which live chats and messaging don’t allow.

What can you do?

Here are some tips to keep hearts connected:

Firstly, talk every day with the people you love. Texting is ok but talking is better. While people under 30 might not realise their phone has a function where you can dial a number and call anyone you like, this is how we’re going to be able to keep our relationships going when we can’t catch up over lattes at the little cafe down the street or chat before and after parkrun on Saturday morning.

Secondly, carry on your routine as normally as possible. Surviving a long-distance relationship requires both parties to stay busy, putting one foot in front of the other until the day you meet again. It also means finding creative ways to do things you would usually do together.

Thirdly, milestones, like birthdays and holidays, are more important when you’re apart, so celebrate them with kind words, gifts and virtual celebrations. Our birthdays will still roll around, lockdown or not, so let’s make them fun. During this pandemic, these are the moments when we’ll be missing our old lives the most so it’s important we put some effort into making them special.

Fourthly, take care of yourself so you can be in a good place to support others.

Lastly, know that this will all come to an end some day. While we don’t have a solid idea of when the lockdown measures will be lifted, we do know it won’t be forever.

Make it a priority to reach out to all your friends and family, and offer them support. In a strange way, this experience is giving everyone a chance to step away from the ‘busyness’ of work and outside commitments and rethink what’s really important in the grand scheme of things.

When we get out of this someday, hopefully we’ll have an even stronger support network waiting to celebrate.