What does truly being smart mean? It means seeking to make the world a better place in a way that makes you happy as well. This means maximizing compassion for yourself and empathy for others.
1) It means valuing the right things. It is an obvious truth that we value monetary abundance, materials and luxury in this country. If someone lives a “luxurious” lifestyle we tend to admire he or she. However, this is not what we should truly value. We should value our social relationships, improving the lives of others and living with any purpose that speaks to us. Materialism does not lead to long-term fulfillment and many wealthy people are miserable. Conversely, countless people who possess little material goods are exuberant and filled with love and joy.
2) It means being self-aware. Do you know what your strengths and weaknesses really are? How do your strengths and weakness help and hurt other people? Being smart means working on improving yourself so that you maximize compassion for yourself and empathy towards others. We all have strengths and weaknesses, but most people are not necessarily aware of certain weaknesses that may be hurting themselves and their long-term happiness. Our romantic relationships may suffer if we are not self-aware of our attachment style. If you are not securely attached, you may end up unintentionally hurting your relationship and your partner. There are three different attachment styles that we cultivate during childhood depending upon how our parents raised us. For more information about attachment styles, please read this article. I will summarize each one below.
A) Secure (~60% of people) ~ Securely attached adults tend to be more satisfied in their relationships. Children with a secure attachment see their parent as a secure base from which they can venture out and independently to explore the world. A secure adult has a similar relationship with their romantic partner, feeling secure and connected, while allowing themselves and their partner to move freely.
B) Anxious (~20% of people) ~ A person with a fearful anxious attachment lives in an ambivalent state of being afraid of being both too close to or too distant from others. They attempt to keep their feelings at bay but are unable to; they can’t just avoid their anxiety or run away from their feelings. Instead, they are overwhelmed by their reactions and often experience emotional storms. They tend to be mixed up or unpredictable in their moods. They see their relationships from the working model that you need to go towards others to get your needs met, but if you get close to others, they will hurt you. In other words, the person they want to go to for safety is the same person they are frightened to be close to.
C) Avoidant (~20% of people) ~ People with a dismissive avoidant attachment have the tendency to emotionally distance themselves from their partner. They may seek isolation and feel “pseudo-independent,” taking on the role of parenting themselves. They often come off as focused on themselves and may be overly attending to their creature comforts. Pseudo-independence is an illusion, as every human being needs connection. Nevertheless, people with a dismissive avoidant attachment tend to lead more inward lives, both denying the importance of loved ones and detaching easily from them.
If you think you may fall into the anxious or avoidant category, the first step is to be aware of this and recognize that you can learn to develop secure attachments with others. Our relationships become self-fulfilling prophecies and we all deserve and need love in the highest quality form.
3) It means not comparing yourself to others. I confess, this has been one of my greatest Achilles’ heels. I had to learn the hard way that the only benefit of comparing ourselves to other people is to gage what they are doing correctly and use other successful and/or admirable people as role models. Beyond this, comparing yourself to another person is only detrimental. We often glamorize the lives of others and fail to see their faults and difficulties. Conversely, it is easy to take for granted our own good fortunes and magnify our struggles. Yet, if our goal is to reach our own happiness potential, comparing your life to another person’s is not conducive to cultivating gratitude for everything you do have. In general, it is best to only compare yourself to yourself. It is easier said than done, but try practicing this and it will help you strengthen your gratitude muscle.
As for loving your unique body, here is a quote from LYB:
“No girl has the perfect body, but when I was younger, I thought Kelly Kapowski from Saved by the Bell came pretty darn close. That ’90s show will always hold a place in my heart, and I will forever believe that Zack and Kelly were the perfect couple! However, watching beautiful people on TV all the time does not exactly help with body lovin’. Remember that 99 percent of the girls that we meet don’t look like the women in the media. As we’ve discussed, no one’s body is perfect. That gorgeous model on the cover of Cosmo has almost certainly had her skin air- brushed, her stretch marks erased, and maybe even her cleavage enhanced with a magic wand. Nobody looks like what we see on the cover of a magazine—not even the actual cover model!
Even if you think your best friend could be a model on the cover of Seventeen, she probably doesn’t feel the same way and criticizes her appearance too. Understanding that none of us are perfect can make us feel more connected to other girls around us, instead of comparing ourselves and finding all of our imperfections. We really are our own worst critics. We need to define our own versions of beauty that include everything that makes us real and unique.” Page. 46
4) It means taking calculated risks. Taking calculated risks will lead to living a life that you don’t regret. We should not take risks blindly, but realistic optimism is a beneficial tool in pushing your career and personal life to the brink. Unrealistic fear is the opposite of love. While fear may be healthy in certain situations, most of the time it is unwarranted and very much in our heads. We self-sabotage ourselves with insecurity and doubt about our own capabilities. But you don’t have to do this! Take actions in the real world and see what happens. You may be surprised by the positive results you get. Often fear comes from ego and whether or not the people in our lives will respond positively or negatively to our actions. However, if your motives are pure, than no matter what happens, you know that you did your best. External validation should not be what leads to fulfillment and joy. It is helping others improve their lives (in any way at all!) that should increase our happiness levels. Don’t let fear get in the way!
5) It means avoiding toxic relationships and surrounding yourself with healthy people. Seek out friendships with people who share the same values you do. I’ve heard the quote, “You are the average of the five people you surround yourself with.” To achieve both success in your business and personal life, this is critical. Cultivate relationships with positive, supportive, loving and ambitious people who want the best for you and you want the best for as well. Seek out genuine people who will motivate you to become the best version of yourself and whom you can do the same for in return.
Intelligence should not result in an ego boost either. Nobody is better than anybody else. We were all born and are all going to die at some point. Intelligence is only a good thing if it can help make your life happier.
So, wow yourself with how smart you can be about your own life and you may find yourself with increased happiness and joy for all that you have.
P.S. Of course I don’t know everything and I am still learning, growing and discovering. Being smart also means accepting how much you don’t know and being open-minded to learning new information along the twists and turns of life.
Over and out for now! Also, feel free to leave me a comment and let me know what you think. What do you think leads to a well-lived, happy life?
P.S. On a fashion note, my sweatshirt is from Wildfox. It says, “Let’s Live In A Caravan.” Live in a caravan if you want, just do what makes you happy!
P.S.S. Yes, I know I made up the word “bibliophilicly” in the title of this post. Thank heavens I don’t have an editor on here!