Knowledge is the roadmap for change, character is the fuel for change.

“Knowledge is power”. How many times have you heard this phrase before? I know that in my life I have heard this plenty of times but I really question whether it holds true alone. Whether simply knowing of something is enough to help you get by.

When I started to invest my time in reading books on philosophy and psychology it certainly made me more aware of new perspectives. This awareness did benefit me in initiating my path to self-discovery and success. However, it was only when I put down the books and started to take action that I saw more change. When you practice what you read or preach, you attain a higher level of understanding. You may also gain skills, which means that you have harnessed that knowledge and applied it successfully. 

For example, you could read about music all your life but you may never understand the essence of it; until you pick up that instrument and experience playing it. When you test yourself with new experiences, it reinforces the idea that you are a shaper of your future. How? Well, six months ago, I never considered myself to be creative or musically talented. I was always a movie fanatic and enjoyed listening to the soundtrack of movies that I loved to watch. I wanted the opportunity to create the epic cinematic feel myself. So the idea came to my head that I should learn the violin. I decided to ignore my hesitation and just act on impulse to buy a violin.

In the beginning I found violin difficult; it really tested my patience. Eventually, I had to let go of my high expectations to enjoy it more. My violin teacher taught me to relax and let go when playing. Something I thought I would find easy since I have done mindfulness workshops before. However, I still found it difficult because I had this relentless drive for perfectionism and didn’t enjoy making mistakes. I never anticipated violin would teach me more about myself than I already knew. Eventually when I focused on the act itself rather than the end result, I enjoyed it more. I later became better with practice. When I became better at it, I then was able to experiment and be creative with what I wanted to play. This gave me a new sense of confidence as I discovered my inner abilities shining through. With this new found belief, it helped me realise I literally can do anything I set my mind to achieve. 

If you find yourself losing patience with yourself and doubting yourself, remember that making mistakes is natural. In life we are always learning. Therefore, it is crucial we let go of the drive to be perfect and just focus on expressing who you are during this journey. Otherwise, you could lose yourself in this pursuit for glory. 

Furthermore, I believe that what helps us to grow with ease and harmony is through building a strong sense of character.  This is because I believe that building character comes from maintaining the discipline and patience, to perservere past short term pleasure to pursue long term fulfillment; but also thrive emotionally in the present, during the pursuit.

I hear you say it already, easier said than done right? Well my friends, this is the struggle of life; maintaining the fine balance.

Let us take nature as an example. When we look at a seed at the start of it’s life; it has a hard exterior sheltering it’s own essence away from the environmental conditions. Eventually with the nurturing, from the warmth of the Sun and the minerals from the rain; the seed cracks open and becomes completely undone. The moment when the shell breaks, can be metaphorical of when human beings break their own personal barriers. Consequently, this exposes us to the “elements” of life; which in human life terms, refers to the experience of hardship.

Further forward into the development stage of the seed, a trunk with branches unfold; that bend and adapt to it’s current environment. Once the tree has shaped itself it can receive all the sunlight it needs and all the nutrients. In order to thrive it needs space to grow, since a tree cannot grow well under another tree. Human beings are no different, we work hard, we adapt, we either decide to crumble under pressure or we decide to grow and prosper. We also need time alone to process our thoughts and understand our personal barriers. We still maintain our identity as a human being, same way the tree does not stretch too far in it’s growth and remains rooted. I believe that it is through this example that we learn the art of balance. In order to thrive from the knowledge we gain, we must absorb it and be able to freely mold it to our understanding first. We cannot stretch our minds too far when it is too soon. 

Furthermore, if you look at the reason why a tree is able to grow tall it is because it has roots buried deeper into the soil underground. This is a metaphoric example of growing stronger, through becoming more grounded within. The more we become self aware and know ourselves; the more grounded we are, and therefore the more we can know our worth and move forward with confidence. 

This kind of confidence is sustained by a sense of purpose, not by the ego. I would like to promote the idea of becoming stronger, through the strength of resolve; in order to become better than your former self. There is no nobility or honour in trying to be better than other people. Life is a journey not a competition. When you push yourself through thick and thin, when you are willing to be lost for a moment, endure more pain and think for yourself; then, you will find yourself.

So the question remains, how do we build our resolve to face the many struggles and lessons in life? I believe in tackling this day by day, to change something small. You could change your daily habits, your diet, or your thoughts. You must be willing to commit to actions that are beneficial for your: happiness, health and long term goals.

Any change you wish to make could be validated by this acronym: SMART. This stands for: small, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-orientated. It is important, we can use our rational minds to figure out tactically how to accomplish the end goal of what our heart desires. However, be aware that our intuition can also equally be a good guide.

I will give you an example. Recently, I discovered the health benefits of cold showers. These benefits included: healthier skin and hair; better immune system, faster muscle recovery, improved mood and increased alertness. I knew that I was struggling with concentration and focus at work recently. Therefore, I decided to give cold showers a try. I started by keeping the water at lukewarm to begin with and then turning it cold at the last 30 seconds. I also kept the windows closed to prevent the cold breeze from coming in. Day by day, I turned the water cooler for longer periods. Eventually I kept the water cold from start to finish, and even kept the windows open. 

To my amazement it worked; I became acclimatised. It had an instant calming  effect where I felt very content and awake. During the day, it made me more enthusiastic to take on more challenges. I became less reliant on coffee to sustain me. From being exposed to the cold elements, it taught me the foundation of being comfortable with the uncomfortable.

This example is only one small change. Imagine how much of a difference you could make if you changed other aspects of your basic routine? This small discovery I made is one of many. I believe this is the first step to attaining not only knowledge; but virtues. Virtues cannot be understood by reading or talking they can only be learned through practice. In a consumer world we are now used to having easy access to information, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we are learning more. It just means we have more information to fill in our heads. 

If you want to own this information, you must go out and practice it. Take any topic I have introduced earlier and go out there and do it. Experiment, have fun and enjoy the process of learning.

Take care folks, move forward gracefully with confidence and resolve. Peace.

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