The 5 things I Have Learned (so far) That Have Completely Changed My Life

I was browsing through the TED website recently when an interesting conversation thread caught my attention (

A TED member, who by the way is a teen, had posed a question in the TED Conversation forum asking: “What are five things you have learned that have completely changed your life?

I was captivated. The question was so simple, yet profoundly introspective.  All of a sudden my entire life flashed before me in a nanosecond. I had to think about what I had learned so far, something I hadn’t done in quite a while given the fast paced nature of today’s world where we are so used to being fed information rather than meditate on our own truths.  I wanted to participate in this exciting discussion but sadly, the conversation had closed.

So Fonkou Djoendia, if you ever stumble upon my blog, here are the five things that have changed my life so far:

1. Faith will give you the strength to get to where you need to go-I know that if I am completely honest with myself, that honesty will direct me to simple and truthful personal principles which are based on integrity and love and not based on fear and hurtful competition with others.  Holding on to these principles is extremely challenging but whenever I have chosen to act on faith rather than reaction (commonly known as vengeance), deep down I feel peaceful.  The road built on faith may be a fraught with seemingly endless obstacles, but it is the road that will always take me home.

2. Reality is often a matter of how we see the world-Imagine we were all given a paintbrush and canvas and were told to paint a flower on display.  More than likely, each of us will come up with different versions of that flower depending on how we perceive its reality. Based our individual perceptions of its different dimensions such as light, color intensity, size perception, we will come up with different brushstrokes.  Each brush stroke represents the differences in our interpretations of the form of the flower, making each of our paintings uniquely different.  This flower is our world and much like our individual brushstrokes, it is a unique experience based on our individual interpretations of it.   When I think within this context, I am reminded of the movie ‘Life is Beautiful’, in which a father guides his son through the ordeals of being a Nazi prisoner through rose colored glasses rather than through lenses of heartbreak and tragedy.  A person like this would often be called a fool but the way in which he interpreted his tragic life was the ultimate gift of hope to his son.  He may have died in the end but the hope that he created through his courageous optimism gave his son the strength to keep on living.

3. Tough times are lessons in disguise-I am yet to hear a person that hasn’t had a tough day (or tough years).  Wherever a person is in his or her life, crap happens.  Some days are harder than the rest and some challenges make you wonder if this life is worth living.  I’ve had my fair share of those days but rather than living in misery and regret, I prefer to refer to those challenges as life lessons.  Broken relationships, financial disasters, cooking gone wrong, etc have all been powerful lessons in humility and positive introspection.  This worn out cliché is true-“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. I also like its most recent spin-off-“When life gives you lemons, make orange juice and then wonder how the heck you did it”.

4. Curiosity didn’t kill the cat; the curious cat actually saved the day-Unlike the negativity that is often associated with the cat metaphor, I find that highly curious people are most times the peace-makers of the world.  Unlike the curious folk, people who think that they posses the absolute truth usually make no effort to learn and to be actively be engaged in the world. Oh the other hand, curious people take the time and effort to learn about the world around them and how others live.  This sense of wonderment leads to a cultivation of empathy and respect for others. In the eyes of the curious, cultural and socio-political differences become increasingly irrelevant.  Curious people are also more likely to engage in community building and to provide positive leadership roles that inspire and motivate; they provide a sense of togetherness and commonality in the human experience.

5. The world is your playground. PLAY-Although this is the final item on my list, it is by no means the least important.  If anything, I have learned that taking time to ‘play’ and to indulge in the aesthetics often gives me the mental and emotional recharge necessary to keep items 1-4 alive. A lot of laughter and silliness have reminded me that life is not so bad after all. A beautiful painting turned four ‘blah’ walls into my beautiful space to relax in, and that little swipe of red lipstick transformed me from a crumbling creature to Superwoman in seconds.

What are the 5 things that YOU have learned that have completely changed your life?


10 thoughts on “The 5 things I Have Learned (so far) That Have Completely Changed My Life

  1. Assalam alaikum Aunty. Mashallah I love the way you write, you really do have a gift…
    Although I haven’t seen as much as others have in life, it kinda inspired me to share what I’ve learnt (so far) as well. 21 is already a confusing age only Allah knows what’s to come ahead insha’Allah…

    1) Religion/ Faith is a key we tend to misplace

    2) “Knowlegde is that which benefits, not that which is memorised.”

    3) Parents – however they may be, are an essential part of your life

    4) Gratitude, Sincerity and Simplicity

    5) The inevitability of death

    Inshallah I’d like to elaborate on these, but seriously falling asleep right now… It’s given me something to think about.


    1. I am glad you like what I write. Everytime I get any feedback, it makes me feel encouraged because I know that I am not just babbling in a lonely cyber hole. Writing is meant for sharing! Mashallah I absolutely love the list you have got going on there and I do hope that you can expound on it. I’d love to have you as a guest blogger! Keep writing, keep sharing. The world needs more peacemakers like you.


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