Mere Reflections, Volume 4
Published by Innocent Mwatsikesimbe, 2016.
A question asked
Success and failure redefined
Who am I?
Have I grown?
My passion and happiness
What do I spend most of my time doing?
Do dreams die?
Who am I going to be
Learning to be grateful
The song of my life
What have I learned?
Taking care of myself
All rights reserved. The opinions expressed in this book are those of the author.
Copyright © Innocent Mwatsikesimbe, 2016.
Written by Innocent Mwatsikesimbe.
A question asked marks the beginning of thought processes that lead to answers; answers that contain solutions, guidance, wisdom and change. When things go wrong in your life, or when you feel dissatisfied with the way you’re living, the first step you can make toward any change is to ask questions. Why? How? When? What? Who?
Habitually asking questions invokes mental growth; as your mind connects dots, you expand your web of knowledge. Asking the right questions at the right time, to the right person, summons answers effectively; and sometimes the right person to ask is yourself. I found that the moments of decisions that have transformed my life for the better were initiated by moments of questioning. I questioned my purpose, my mistakes and my life’s direction. This led me to answers that taught me to rectify and avoid certain things.
If you understand the power of questions, you can use them to unravel your life’s hidden shortcomings, and solve your own problems, and even other people’s problems. You can use them to create a personal code to live by, one that decrypts your own life and makes it understandable.
There are questions of great importance in your life that not only help you to know yourself, but also to stay true to yourself. These are the questions that change your life. In this book, I share 16 reflections with such questions that have helped me to find and create answers of self-improvement.
There is a question that led me to redefine success and failure in my life. Success isn’t always about getting what you want and failure about not achieving something. The answer to this question tells me whether or not I am a success:
Do I love my life?
I know no greater success than that of loving your own life, and losing love for your life is the greatest of all failures. For who can save a person who hates his or her own life? What price do you pay? What present do you buy? The love of living is priceless: both financially poor and rich people can hate their own lives to the point of suicide.
Particular care should be taken when making life-changing decisions. Any opportunity that offers me “success” at the expense of my love for my own life is nothing but an evil illusion. One that will disappear as soon as I “succeed,” giving way to the cruel reality.
That’s why I put my best foot forward in life, and learn from the results of all my endeavors, fruitful or not, knowing that whatever the outcome, I am a success because I maintain love for my life, and not because I acquire, achieve or amass a lot of things.
All the knowledge in the world cannot help you to find happiness, if you don’t know yourself. Knowledge of self is like the foundation on which you can build your life up. It holds everything you know together and puts it into perspective.
The knowledge of self acts as an interface that connects us with our lives. Without it, a life with “everything” can easily mean nothing. We need to connect with the lives we live for them to bring us happiness. We need to have clearly defined wants for us to feel happy when they are met.
I’ve had a lot of people express their confusion and curiosity at my life choices, and I understand why they feel that way. From the perspective of an onlooker, I go against what people expect me to do. My actions and decisions seem unreasonable, and maybe even stupid at times.
It’s smart to be stupid sometimes, and losing can be your victory. I let go of an offer that shocked many people who “knew” me at the time. If the offer had come when I wanted it (4 years earlier), then I would have taken it gladly. I was at a different level in my life, and I had since met an even better opportunity; one that was even more in line with who I am, one I wasn’t willing to leave. When I couldn’t get what I wanted back then, I worked hard to find another opportunity for myself, found it and worked even harder to make it work. I was happy and satisfied.
Unhappiness and dissatisfaction with life results from us letting situations that go against who we are occur and remain in our lives; and if you don’t really know yourself enough, you will be stuck in the situation and not know what to do next. Yes, we don’t always meet favourable situations, but in every encounter, we have the choice to accept or reject; the choice to adapt or fight to subvert and change them.
In all of life’s ups and downs, getting to know yourself and living your life according to that knowledge equalizes life’s vicissitudes. This question should be a persistent query in you mind: Who am I?
So who am I? Well, simply put, I’m called Innocent Mwatsikesimbe, but I am a curious being with an inquisitive mind, who loves learning about life and writing just as much as I do being alive.
From the time you enter the world and cry your first, you are faced with a lifelong task ahead of you: to grow. We interact with the world and grow, physically and mentally. Our bodies and minds adapt to life on earth and we grow stronger and more sophisticated.
The growth that is easier to turn a blind eye to is personal growth of the mind. If the natural progression of growth initiated when you were conceived in your mother’s womb is to be continued, then there needs to be mental growth. We are supposed to grow smarter and our lives should show this.
Better and more efficient ways to live our lives should be evident. Yes, mistakes happen, but it should not end there. They must also teach you. A person who fails to learn from mistakes will keep running into the same hurdles, until he learns how to jump, or until they ultimately destroy him.
Checking up on your personal growth is made easier by asking a question: Have I grown?
Look back to your past mistakes. Have you learned something from them? Have you rectified them if it is possible to do so? Can you answer the question above with facts and examples of areas in which you’ve grown? Have you improved your outlook on life? Are you better than you were in the past?
As a guideline, there is a phrase that can help you out. You know you’ve grown when, today, you can achieve the unattainable feats of yesterday. It’s impossible for a newborn baby to walk, but as he or she grows and tries, it gradually becomes more possible.
Your passions add invaluable quality to your life. They can be referred to as the solace you find during bad times and the anchor of your soul that keeps you grounded and helps you stay true to yourself when you are surrounded by life’s storms, or even when life is a calm sea.
Among the many things you do in your day, that thing you love to do so much stands out; it alone makes the day worthwhile. When I think about the way my passion changed my life, I notice the way it calmed me down. Life can reach a pace that can make you miss out on so much. Life goes too fast and you find yourself going from day to day, doing things that mean very little to you, all because you have to or you’re obliged to. It’s important to slow the pace down and understand what it is that you are doing and why.
Life can easily be predominantly about this, that, they and them, and much less about me and what I want. Striking a balance of priorities between what you want and the wants of everything and everyone else is important because it affects your happiness. It helps to ask yourself a question, during moments of decisions and when you get some time to yourself: Am I happy?
The question will help you to really listen to your inner being and attend to his or her wishes and needs. When the noise of external influences is shut out, the inner person’s low and gentle voice becomes audible.
If I had one wish that I could make, and it would come true without fail, what would it be? This question not only caused me to assess and reevaluate what is important to me and why, but it also helped me to be more self-assured about what I want out of life. Needs are many, so too are wants, and to their pursuit there is no end; so we should be aware of their order of importance.
After deep thought, I answered the question. I would wish for a long and fulfilling career. For me, writing is more than work; it’s synonymous with happiness, purpose, and life even. Of all the needs and wants I have, my writing is a special combination of need and want that is linked to many other things, much like a support structure that holds the elements of my life together.
Asking yourself what one wish you would want granted is an effective way to initiate self-contemplation. You will find out what you want and need, and then prioritize them. It’s not just about making a wish, but it’s about getting your priorities right. Though you choose one thing in the end, the process of assigning importance to each candidate helps you to see your desires clearer. The benefits lie in the process and not just the answer.
As I wrote in Mirror (Mere Reflections, Book 2), time is the easiest asset to spend recklessly. It’s so easy to spend it that you don’t have to do anything. With each day that comes and goes, you subtract from the finite time you have in this life.
So what you spend your time on should really be worth it, right? It sounds good logically, but the concept may be evasive practically. There are ways to put this sound logic to good use though.
Study your activity over the last couple of days, and then view that in perspective of your last couple of weeks and months. What does it say? What is it that you spend your time on the most? Is it worth its cost? Is there better use of your time?
Reflecting on your spending habits, when it comes to time, has a twofold effect (perhaps even more). You gain insight into how you allocate time to each activity you’re involved in and it also gives you a preview of what to expect in the future. The future is very much determined by your usage of time in the present. If you spend your time practicing a skill for example, you can expect a future in which you are more proficient at that particular skill.
So ask yourself these questions, regularly, to be more aware of how you spend your time; and then make decisions to better utilize this very precious asset of time that we all have in unknown quantities.
All dream, and all wish to reach destinations, but only those who move in the right direction arrive. There are two elements involved in the pursuit of our dreams: action and direction. We can get guidelines on what to do, when and how, through asking questions.
Initially, a dream is just a warm wish for the future. Before any action is taken and direction chosen, questions have to be asked.
Among the first questions to ask yourself is: Is my dream possible? This question helps you differentiate the possible from the impossible. As much as we all like to dream, what we wish for is not always possible. There are also things that you deem unattainable at first, yet with enough thought and action, they can be done. These are not the impossible I am referring to. Improbable things are achievable, but impossible things cannot be done. Dreaming to fly just as birds do is impossible, but dreaming to own a jet is possible; and when you do so without any money or assets that generate revenue, it is only improbable.
After determining that your dream is possible, you move on to the next question: How can I do it? This question is the one that determines direction more than action. This is when the roadmap to your dream is created. You set attainable goals and desired results, the timeframe you are working with and any backup plans you have that ensure success.
Of course, you will have to define the point at which you consider the venture unsuccessful and move on to other things, but this shouldn’t be a green light to creating fallback plans that you disguise as backup plans. Backup plans ensure success of the dream and support it, while fallback plans deal with what happens after failure. From this you can see how a fallback can demotivate you and stop you from trying your best, if you give it too much importance and attention.
Once you’ve got an idea of how you plan on achieving, action is required to make things happen; and the question you’ll ask yourself frequently is this one: What is important to do now? With the answers that come from this question, action plans are designed and executed.
Along the way to fulfilling a dream, questioning things will be your way of creating guidelines for yourself. During times of success or when experiencing setbacks, continue to ask questions because that’s how you get the answers.
I was thinking about the love I have for my dreams and passions, and a tinge of negativity had me scared for a while. I imagined a life without my dreams and saw hopelessness alone. I imagined living life without my passions and life lost meaning. Why would I want to live a life devoid of the reasons I live?
I then asked myself if it was possible to kill my dreams.
Dreams are embryos of success; nurture and protect them. A dream’s inception occurs when desire and opportunity fuse; we see opportunities to be someone that match with our capabilities, and we dream.
Many things and many people tried to kill my life-loving spirit and the dreams it makes. Some even came dangerously close to doing so, but in every attack, my dreams became more and more defined. Each time someone rubbed me up the wrong way, my dreams appeared clearer like when a surface is polished. My dreams shone brighter amid the darkness of people’s discouragement.
This is when it dawned on me. Dreams only die when you kill them. Only you can kill your dreams, and no one else has the power to. People can only say and do things, in attempts to influence you to kill your own dreams.
With all that modern day living entails, you can get so busy doing things, that you forget to pay attention to the bigger picture of where your life is going and how what you do today affects your future. You can even get busy doing nothing. Well, nothing productive.
This is where procrastination gets its power: ignorance of the passage of time. Tomorrow seems far away if you call it another day, but it really is just a few hours away. Next year is just 365 or so todays away. Spending just one of those days not doing what you resolved to do shouldn’t be bad, you might think to yourself. Just getting started on it and achieving the goal sooner, so you can move on to other things should also make sense, right?
What if tomorrow never comes? Every minute that goes by is a minute subtracted from the total of your lifetime, and you don’t even know how much time there really is. Or worse still, what if tomorrow does come, but things change in the meantime and you lose the opportunity? One way to get the right perspective of your life’s direction is to ask yourself a question: Who am I going to be?
This question gets you thinking about your life, about what you are doing with it now. Tomorrow is the culmination of what we do today. If you really are honest with yourself about the effects of what you do today on the days ahead, then procrastination will be revealed as what it really is: an illusion. One that fades away as soon as you make that first step.
When you’ve seen worse, you become grateful for the things you have. There came a time when I lost something that was of great importance in my life. I appreciated it before, but not as much as I did after losing it. It took a long time for me to get it back, and when I did, I was glad of its return to my life. Since then, I’ve become grateful for each day I have it with me, and I remember the time I had lost it, with happy appreciation, whenever I look at it.
It’s hard to be ungrateful when you’ve seen worse; but worst often comes after losing the best. You don’t have to learn gratefulness from loss alone though. Asking yourself some questions will trigger thoughts that help you appreciate what you have, whether you’re in good times or bad: Is there worse? What would I do without this? The answer to that is never null. There will always be a worse scenario than the present and being aware of this cultivates gratefulness.
I could be reckless with my health, but I’ve seen worse and I now know the importance of good health. I could waste time in fruitless episodes of procrastination and laziness, but I’ve seen worse; I learned the value of productive work and how precious time really is.
I’ve seen worse. That’s why I look at the better side of life and choose positivity over negativity. Sometimes seeing worse makes you see best.
Your life story has ups, downs, twists and turns; and things are always changing. It is life’s variations that make living interesting. If everything stayed the same, then life would be boring.
You can liken life to a song: a mixture of high and low notes that blend to make the perfect symphony. The good times and bad times of your life are all part of the song. The question to ask is: Will I dance to it?
Will you be the one to accept your life and take responsibility for it? Will you live it, whether it is on a high or on a low? Will you embrace life’s variations and enjoy the music?
Answering these questions with a “yes” means that you have matured. It means that when you are going through good times, you will love your life; and when you are going through bad times, you will still love your life the same, if not more.
However, accepting your life doesn’t mean you should accede to life’s pressures. Accepting your life means staying in touch with reality and avoiding denial. A person in touch with reality is better positioned to change his fortunes, and to maintain his integrity.
When misfortune hits or when we make mistakes, we can get so caught up in the negative effects of it all and forget to realize that there are lessons to be learned. If you take some time to think about what happened, how and why, you can find valuable lessons that can help you avoid the same occurrences in the future.
The question to ask is: What have I learned?
By asking yourself this, you put negative thoughts further and further away from your mind and think positively. Answering this question requires you to withdraw yourself from the emotionally provoking space of the problems and use your intellect to look at the bigger picture.
The answers you get will bring clarity and wisdom. Clarity on what really happened and why, and wisdom to avoid recurrence and change for the better. You also gain a sense of closure from asking the question above.
How much you take care of yourself today and the makeup of your daily routine reflects your level of aspiration and hope. A person without any aspirations and hope for the future is highly likely to be aimless and self-loathing. If you don’t have something to live to see in the future, you will not take care of yourself or love yourself because you will not have good enough reason to.
Self-destructive behavior is a sign of misguided passion. Why would you hurt yourself if you are looking forward to living another day? I once reached a point where I was a danger to myself and it was because of deep emotional disturbances. There was a person who came into my life and hurt me so much that I lost my way. It took a while, but I learned to deal with it and redirect my passion toward positive things. That’s when I noticed the power of hope and aspiration.
If I had not resolved to pick myself up, live my life and change it for the better, I would have missed out on so much. I realize that I am worth so much more than what she tried to make me think, and my self-worth increases with each day.
There are a series of questions that brought me back to my senses: Why should I stop living? Should she really be credited with having ended me? Did she begin me in the first place? All these questions helped turn my attention away from the harm that was done, enabling me to focus on healing and personal reparation.
The discomforts of today are made bearable by the hope of tomorrow’s change of circumstance. The future I saw for myself motivated me to love myself. I got in touch with my inner self and recommenced my pursuit of happiness, with newfound hope.
Solutions to problems lie a couple of questions away. Each question you ask inches you closer and closer to the solution. That is why it is important to keep asking questions and not stop till you get to the solution; and even then, always ask, knowing that you are improving your brainpower.
From my own personal experience, I used to ask questions mostly when I was confronted with a challenge. Doing that solved problems, I must admit, but it was just underutilization. Why wait for challenges to come before you start questioning? There really is nothing stopping you from asking questions, at any time.
There came a time when I realized the power of questions, especially when they are directed at other things and not just life’s challenges. In fact, many problems in life can be avoided by questioning yourself.
By asking myself on how I can improve the way I work, I often stumbled upon flaws in my routines or methods that I just didn’t notice before. Raising questions about how I dealt with situations showed me mistakes to avoid in the future or effective methods that worked for me. Consistently asking myself how what I am doing now will affect my future helps me to identify destructive habits and stop them before they make much damage. Procrastination and laziness never elude the questions that self-examination entails; it’s hard to lie to yourself.
When it comes to self-improvement, no amount of self-contemplation is ever enough. Questioning the things we do, think, say, feel, know, love and hate will put us in a productive mental state that is receptive to improvement.
What is life? The simple, yet mind-bogglingly complex question. Life is like a broken record: seasons come and go, civilizations rise and fall, some live and some die; now and again, and again.
What is life, but a culmination of daily routines and habits? We get up, we bath, we eat, we work, we play, we sleep. Over and over again, yet it’s a song we never grow weary of. It’s as if life is a preoccupation of shuffling routines and habits around to create an illusion for ourselves: one of variation and busyness.
What is life, but a permanently temporary state of being? If we don’t live forever, do we die forever? So much in life remains unanswered; and from our humanly point of view, the only thing permanent in life is death.
What is life, but a fuel gauge with Fs on both ends? You are full of life when you’re born and as you grow up, you’re told that you have a full life ahead of you. You use it up for the length of your lifetime as if it will never run out, and lose it when it’s still full. When you die you either lose a full life, or a life lived to the fullest.
Mind-boggling seems to be an understatement. There is a way to keep things simple though. Take things back to the simplicity of childbirth: the one command that a newborn baby follows is LIVE! It enters this world with an inherent will to live. It doesn’t care much about life’s mysteries. We can learn a lot from newborns.
Life’s mysteries are fascinating and its realities are captivating. Life is the only thing we understand by not understanding. If you ponder on it too much, you’ll end up baffled. If you wonder some, and ignore some, life is wholesome. Life is the best thing we get without asking, and we hold on to it by letting go.
Yet life gets more and more complicated as we grow up. Days become schedules and years become salaries, earnings and profits. Where does the simplicity go? Does it get swallowed up by intellect as we grow? Is this complex mess of activity what we call life?
It’s so easy to sway from that simple command followed by a newborn baby: live. It is personally beneficial to slow things down and live. Live each moment aware of the bigger picture; aware of the simple things in life, because it’s so easy to lose our way.
Thank you for reading my book. It is not just a book you have read, but it is a vision you helped fulfill; I am an author because you are a reader. If you would like to support my work, you can send any amount to me through PayPal. Thank you for being part of my vision.
Ask Your Way to a Better Life and Happiness A question asked marks the beginning of a thought process that leads to an answer; and a life that lacks questioning is one that lacks thought. Written based on life-changing questions that improved the author’s life, this book has 16 thought-provoking and inspirational reflections. They encourage you to question your own life and they share the life lessons that come from effective questioning. You can expect to discover the power of questions with this brief but effective self-help book. This is the fourth book in the “Mere Reflections” self-help series. The reflections in this book were designed to expose the power of questions and empower you to use them to change your life for the better. Some of the lessons and benefits to expect from the questions raised in this book: * How the right questions bring about answers that contain solutions, guidance, wisdom and change * Life-changing insight into the deeper definitions of success and failure in life * How self-knowledge is key to finding happiness * Inspiration for mental growth * How to live a purposeful life and prioritize the needs and wants of life * Who has the power to kill your dreams * Lessons on gratefulness, acceptance, awareness and overcoming procrastination in life * A new mindset toward the mysteries and realities of life