Nicholas James Vujicic was born with neither arms nor legs.
According to his autobiography Life Without Limits, his parents went out of the hospital and vomited after seeing their son with no limbs. Yet, Nick’s adult life is enviable.
As early as secondary school, he was elected captain of MacGregor State in Queensland and worked with the student council on fundraising events for local charities and disability campaigns.
When he was seventeen, he started to give talks, and later founded his non-profit organization, Life Without Limbs.
The rule is simple. Whatever you are faced with in life may or may not be what you want, but it is still your responsibility. The onus is on you to build the systems we need to thrive in whatever life throws at us. As Nick wrote in his autobiography,
“If we choose the right attitude, we can rise above whatever challenges we face.”
That said, here are some life and emotional skills that make you a better person to be around.
If a girl I met yesterday passes by me without saying hi, I might think,
“God, I must have bored her with my terrible conversation skill,” and begin to feel horrible about myself. Or might just think “She’s shy because my friends are around me today.”
Either assumption could be true, but the truth isn’t necessarily what makes us feel good or terrible about ourselves, it is our belief.
As far as our subconscious is concerned, whatever we think is reality, is reality. This is perhaps why studies show that people with high emotional intelligence and balance know how to regulate their emotions by skillfully reappraising their experiences.
Emotional reappraisal as Tchiki Davis, Ph.D. put it in Psychology Today involves “reframing an experience as more positive or less negative.” This isn’t about lying to yourself, rather, consider it as a way of making your default assumptions about the meaning of your experiences positive.
Reappraisal means making your imagination more appealing when in doubt. Life is hard enough as it is, no need to make your mind a cinema for worst-case scenarios.
As Seneca advised in his letters,
“Weigh carefully your hopes as well as your fears, and whenever all the elements are in doubt, decide in your own favor.”
Also read: The 7 Habits of Truly Charming People
2. Emotional Acceptance
Alan Watts once said, “there are no wrong feelings.” There may be wrong actions, but the way you feel at a particular moment cannot be wrong or right; it’s just our senses passing a message to us.
And often, we are unable to get the message because we are quick to label what we feel.
Why? Society has taught us all that the right way to feel all the time is to be happy. Countless books and courses have been created for the sake of making us happier and more content.
Though all these are good, it has a repercussion on our mentality: whenever we are not happy we feel there’s something wrong with us. Mark Manson put it best in The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fu*k,
Forget about your idea of how you should feel. There are no right and wrong feelings. The only important thing is emotional control, when you accept your feelings, you can control them.
“The desire for a more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience.”
When you understand that everything you feel is important, it becomes easier to let yourself feel an emotion without trying to quickly get rid of it. As Alan Watts concluded,
“When a person comes to himself he comes to be one with his own feeling, and that is the only way to be in a position of controlling it.”
3. Reputation Management
Robert Greene put it perfectly in The 48 Laws of Power,
“Do not leave your reputation to chance or gossip; it is your life’s artwork, and you must craft it, hone it, and display it with the care of an artist.”
There’s a general notion that we have no control over what others think of us. And we go ahead to use this assumption as an excuse to just “be ourselves” in the eyes of others.
The self-help industry also reinforces this idea by constantly bogging us with the idea that we can live without caring at all about what others think of us.
Here’s the truth: Most of what people think of us is malleable. If you doubt this, the next time you work in a restaurant, wear tattered clothes and see the kind of reception you will get.
People are constantly making assumptions about us based on what’s most apparent.
Celebrities understand the principle perfectly well. They put on strange costumes and intentionally allow the media to leak news about them being in one cult or the other. And in interviews, they also refuse to give any clear answers concerning what the truth is.
They understand that familiarity bores people, but strangeness excites them. In the same way, you can also learn to control how people see you. It doesn’t have to do with lies or fake news.
It is more about being intentional about the reaction you want to elicit from people. Just by being intentional about how you talk, dress, look, walk, stand, sit, and the people you hang out with, you can work wonders on your reputation.
4. Accepting People As They Are
As we grow up, we begin to realize that our moments of extreme emotions are caused by our interaction with others; that ecstasy, depression, joy, or anxiety, are all triggered by the presence of other people.
To put it simply, when you are with others, it becomes difficult to control a large part of your own feelings. This is perhaps the major reason why many ancient philosophers like Arthur Schopenhauer advocated staying alone a lot. As Schopenhauer once said, “A man can only be himself when he is alone.”
But for most of us, being alone isn’t feasible. We need to go to work, and as social beings, interact with others. Hence, the art of acceptance. Consciously deciding to accept people as they are causes a mind shift. As Rich Hanson Ph.D. wrote,
“Accepting people means… You accept the reality of the other person. You may not like it, you may not prefer it, you may feel sad or angry about it, but at a deeper level, you are at peace with it. That alone is a blessing”
Understand that we find it difficult to accept others, not just because people can sometimes be toxic, but also because we hold on too tightly to our ideas and modules for leaving.
But when you practice acceptance, you also learn to detach yourself from your ideas and learn to just be at peace with how other people look at life, no matter how different it may be.
Related: 5 Signs Someone Is Solidly Authentic
“The measure of intelligence,” Albert Einstein once said, “is the ability to change.” A flexible mind is similar to an enlightened one. As Sadhguru once put it,
“When you are able to think for yourself, people say you are enlightened.”
Here’s the gist of the problem: We all grew up with certain modules of living that make us comfortable. Instinctively, we all love it when things are familiar. Sometimes we go as far as choosing what is uncomfortable (and outrightly painful) just because it’s familiar.
People keep a job they hate and stay in bad relationships for this reason. This happens because flexibility entails a risk. It means taking the shape a situation demands instead of what you are comfortable with; you have to be like water, shapeless and formless. As Bruce Lee famously put it,
“When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water into a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash.”
Understand that how well we can grow depends on how well we can shed off our dead weights and take on new ideas and modules of living (some of which we may not like).
Those who cannot play with ideas and let go of them when needed will not be able to see better ideas and opportunities even when they are in front of them.
As Ryan Holiday put it in The Obstacle is the Way, “In every situation, life is asking us a question, and our actions are the answer.” Learn to be comfortable with the unfamiliar, and you’ll learn to see and use any situation to your advantage.
6. Verbal Dexterity
“Raise your words, not your voice,” Rumi once wisely said.
Remarkably and crisply, Rumi is simply saying it is how we use our words that matter, not what we say. Often, the measure of what you can get from people in life is closely linked to how well you use words.
Two people may try to explain the same idea, one becomes a best seller or a viral article, while the other gets read by a few people. Two guys try to get a girl’s attention, one instantly becomes unforgettable while one is avoided. Why? Verbal dexterity (and attitude).
Raising your words first starts with empathy and the awareness that your words are powerful. It is not an act. The most powerful words are usually altered out of pure honesty.
It also comes from self-awareness. The words that almost made you cry will probably make someone else cry as well. The words that melted your resentment for someone might do the same for others.
The game of life is often a delicate balance between what we want for ourselves and what others want from us. See words as gold coins you can always use to tilt this delicate balance to your favor.
One of the most beautiful aspects of human nature is our ability to grow to any extent. Every life skill we learn becomes a part of us for life.
See the world as one big stage where you have an infinite opportunity to experiment and grow. Grow the right attitude by keeping in mind: Through ecstasy and pain, there are always lessons to learn and skills to build.
Interesting: How To Be More Interesting In Social Interactions