As ordinary humans, we tend to grow up with our own set of insecurities and anxieties. When we are young, we don’t always realize what our strengths are and what skills we need to live a wholesome life. As we grow older fighting our battles and observing other people we come to new realizations. I have been in the same situation and while spending time on self-introspection, I collected my own set of observations on what helps me lead a better life. I was not necessarily taught this and some of it is a step away from my inherent personality. But at this point, based on my own personal and professional experiences, I understand their importance and I would like to pass it down primarily to my boys (who are still too young but will get there eventually) but also to anyone who cares about living a happy life and building confidence. I call them the 10 Tenets!

  • Build on your self-esteem and self-confidence. No other attribute can replace it

Work will come and go, projects will change. What will remain with you are your strengths and beliefs. Knowing your strengths will help you become more comfortable with yourself. The more you know yourself and your strengths the higher your self-confidence. Build on this dose of self-confidence, nourish it and remember it. There are many practical ways you can build it. Self confidence can take you places!

  • A good way to find and build confidence is to put yourself out there, talk to a variety of people and gather as many experiences as you can.

Quite often we are so stuck in our daily routine- work, kids, family, back to work, meeting deadlines etc. that we forget to actually talk things outside our mundane responsibilities. We feel those are the only conversations we can have which is really not true. We limit our minds, our strengths and confidence by thinking we cannot have meaningful conversations outside our comfort zone. We forget that our experiences in life have awarded us the insight, love and capability to discuss issues, talk about experiences, guide someone sincerely and give love and appreciation when they need it. The more we put ourselves out there, the more we force ourselves to have a variety of conversations-the more we start to realize our strengths and the fact that we are not limited by work or home responsibilities. It also helps us gain new experiences with people, new perspectives which we can add to our own repertoire.

  • Have those difficult conversations. They not only make you stronger, they also teach you to know yourself and the other person

Taking a step forward from opening up to wider conversations, make sure you don’t shy away from those difficult ones. So long as the other person is not about to punch you J talk about your differences. What are the points of contention, what are the different perspectives, what is the best way to handle it, how can you still be at peace with each other. Not saying that you will always find common ground or things will get radically different right after the first conversation. But believe it or not you will come out feeling stronger and more confident. The fact that you stuck to your beliefs, the fact that you could reason out your perspective and still listen to the other person will help you grow as a person. You may even realize some of your own strengths when handling a difficult situation – were you really calm, did you come up with good points to support your side, were you a good listener? Maybe something will stand out for you and help you become closer to your strengths.

  • Don’t hold back. If you need to say something, say it. If you need to clarify something, do it. Say it in an assertive, respectful manner but be sure to convey it. It’s better than fretting over it later

Often times we want to speak out or speak up but hold back for some reason and that moment goes away. We then keep thinking about it and fretting over it only making us feel worse in the process. When we keep something inside and don’t speak up we weaken ourselves. We are telling ourselves we are not right, or not strong or not brave enough to stand up for what we want. That’s not a good feeling. Don’t let that moment pass. Speak out. Speak out in your own way. You don’t have to be aggressive about it. You could be calm, gentle, assertive or persuasive but either way speak your mind. It will help you and the other person in more ways than you can think.

  • Don’t judge people all the time.

People come in all shapes and sizes. Each of us are going through different phases of life which can get as complex as they come. Give people the benefit of doubt sometimes. They may not always have that manipulative intention for something that didn’t work in your favor.

  • The most important factor for success is people skills

Its true! No one can function in isolation no matter how bright or educated you are. People are around you, next to you, front of you, behind you – literally and metaphorically. People hire people, people promote people and people care for people. That’s what we are, social animals. Even the most introverted people need another person to make them feel good and loved and cared. Invest time in building relationships. Be there for your friends, family, colleagues and co-workers when they need you. Be respectful of people you know, no matter who they are. Show your kind and helpful side as much as you can. Always value good relationships and good people and make efforts to preserve them.

Trust me, you will notice the difference in their behavior and reap rich rewards from it.

  •  Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know and always be willing to learn

No one can claim to know everything and neither should we. When we are faced with a situation we don’t understand, be willing to accept it and say so. Don’t be afraid. Its not your weakness and no one will look down on you. Trust me there will be plenty others in the same boat as you are. You will be surprised how many people will be willing to come forward and help you with it. Don’t give up this opportunity. Learn as much as you can.

  • There is no way to replace practical knowledge. Working on something hands-on for a week can give you more information than reading about it for a month

Reading is great. It opens up the mind and gives you valuable insights. However the best experience is if you can actually live it. Practice a habit, work on a solution, do whatever you can to see it live. If you like something, go work on it for a couple of weeks or months and watch the difference. You will know it inside out. It will give you first-hand knowledge of the gaps, challenges and benefits in your subject of interest. This practical knowledge beats everything else and you and your confidence will benefit from it immensely.

  • Find happiness in the small things in life – there is no such thing as the perfect place and perfect happiness. It’s all in the mind

Life is about being happy. That should be our ultimate goal as humans- not successful but happy. Yet happiness should not be chased as a finish line. Happiness should be a practice. Find those moments in your daily life. Meeting an old friend, spending time with children, watching a movie are all moments of happiness. You should be able to look back at life’s memories and smile about them. These should be cherished to build a cumulative experience in life.

  • Find what you love and spend some time on it, even if it is as a hobby on the side – sports, arts, music, reading, theater

Making time for yourself and what makes you happy is important. It helps make that connection with your inner self and helps you de-stress. Often times we forget the things that actually make us happy. We do things just for the sake of doing it. This takes the fun out of our life. Taking up things where we lose track of time, which we truly enjoy keeps us motivated to take on life’s next challenge.