I’m not religious, but I do think it’s good to have certain guidelines, values and principles to help make decisions in life. These are the 5 mantras I have always considered most important for me:
1. ‘Treat others how you would like to be treated.’
I remember in Year 2 of primary school, we had a lovely teacher who would read us books about different ‘morals’ each week. One of the books was called ‘Treat others how you would like to be treated’, and that phrase has stuck with me ever since.
I am constantly putting myself in other peoples’ shoes before I act or speak, and I can’t imagine going through life without thinking this way. “Don’t do unto others what you don’t want others to do unto you.”
This is the ultimate harmony principle, and if everyone thought this way, imagine what a place the world would be.
2. ‘Life is a dream.’
An ancient Chinese philosopher named Zhuangzi wrote a book in which he discusses his dreams of being a butterfly. After his dream, he wakes up; himself again. He writes “Now I do not know if it was then I dreamt I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming I am a man.”
I’ve always been interested in Chinese philosophy, as my dad has a deep interest in the culture and always kept Chinese books around the house. I love the idea that what we are living now is just a dream and that some day our true selves will wake up or have another dream. It fits in with some of my beliefs about past lives and reincarnation, and I like this premise so much I had it tattooed on my back in traditional cursive Chinese calligraphy.
3. ‘Be the change you want to see in the world.’
If you don’t like something, change it. If you want something, go after it. Ask questions but don’t take the first answer you’re given; find a better one.
I’d love to do something in my lifetime that makes a difference to issues in the world today. If everyone had that same goal to make a difference, then eventually something really substantial could change.
[Tweet “Ask questions but don’t take the first answer you’re given; find a better one.”]
4. ‘The thing about time is that it passes.’
This is something my mum has always told me (in those exact words), and I suppose it could be seen as a variation of ‘This too shall pass’. It has helped me through so many difficult, unpleasant situations, from exams to job interviews, dentist appointments, and going weeks without seeing N while at uni.
Reminding yourself that ‘It’s just two hours of my day; in three hours it’ll be over’ or ‘It’s three weeks of a whole year; it’ll be gone before I know it’, is infinitely calming, and helps with patience, anxiety and stress.
It also helps to make you aware and appreciate the positive moments in life.
5. ‘Make your life a story worth reading.’
Though my mum has never actually said this, this mantra is definitely inspired by her. She’s had so many different experiences in her life (some amazing, some not so good), and I’m certain her stories would make an excellent biography one day. I keep encouraging her to write one.
I hope that when I’m older, the life I have lived will have been so interesting that if I, or anyone else, were to write a book about me, people around the world would enjoy reading it and be inspired by it.
[Tweet “Do unexpected things. Make your life a story worth reading.”]
With that in mind, I try to keep things interesting. Do things that are unexpected, different from the norm, and that would keep people turning the pages if they were reading a chapter of my biography.
What mantras do you live by?