I've asked myself this question many times over the years, but I can never seem to come up with any answers.
It's a very common question. We often hear successful people being asked this question in interviews, and they always seem to have an answer.
But when I ask it to my younger self, it always feels weird.
I think it feels weird because the most valuable things I've learned have been from experience, so even if I received the advice as a kid, it would be just words. I wouldn't have cared.
But there is one thing that I'm learning now that I think I would've latched onto as a kid.
It's actually a question, not a piece of advice, and that is:
Who are you in there?
You have thoughts. You have emotions. You have a body. You also have a name, and a house, and a phone, and a family. But who are you?
Who is in there experiencing all those thoughts, emotions, and the world as a whole?
I'd then make it clear to my younger self that you are not your mind.
Your mind is going to run rampant thoughts, all the time, and not a single one of those thoughts is better or worse, more truthful or untruthful, than the other. They're all just thoughts. The moment you can realize that you're just watching them, and you are not in them, or worse, that you aren't them, then you can objectively watch them pass by and run their course.
No one ever told me this. No one ever told me that I was not my mind or my emotions. If anything, I was taught to think positive thoughts.
I had no idea that the human mind was supposed to be a neurotic, negative thought-producing machine given how we develop it. No wonder why.
How we end up with neurotic minds is way too much to get into for this post, but just think about all the incessant chatter that happens inside your head all the time. That voice that never shuts up.
You know it. Everybody's got it. Has it ever served you in a positive way? Probably not.
The part of the mind that serves you is the part that creates, that solves problems, that dreams, that imagines, that plans for the future... NOT the part that clings to the past or resists what's happening.
Our minds are like balloons being thrown around by external circumstances. No wonder we're miserable when we think that we are that which is going on inside of them.
You are not your mind. It's your mind. But who are you?
This is what I would've told my younger self.
When I have kids, I will be sure to tell them this.
Live with substance!