Have you ever asked yourself: how do you live your life? I am not referring to what regrets you may have, but rather what principles guide your life regardless of the situation.

First off, let me define what principles mean to me as a 14-year old millennial girl living in Jakarta, Indonesia. Principles are what determine many of my actions, but more importantly how I respond to them. They are also the guiding references that people use in life to get from where they are to where they want to be. These principles cannot merely be obtained in a single day. Setting principles is a continuous process that requires great development in the growth of a person’s life.

Ask yourself this: what is your response when an inconvenient situation is placed in your life? Your pen has run out of ink in the midst of a long paper you’ve been working on and find that there are no spare pens or ink refills around. Are you determined to finish what you’ve been working on by finding another solution, or become upset, giving up easily? If your attitude is more of the latter, reflect on whether or not this is the best response you can give. Often times, the principles we live by aren’t what is best or worthy of us. Would you want a child to see this display of character and follow it too? Most likely not.

So what are some universal principles? Well, for one, be grateful or rather always have something to say “thank you” for in any given situation. This is one I’ve set as a primary guide in my life. Follow up question… How then are these types of principles derived?

It was not long since I recently discovered my own principle during my experience at summer school during which I struggled greatly with the ability to fall asleep. I don’t mean to self-diagnose myself with insomnia, but the experience seemed something of that sort. There was a point where I would lie awake up until 5 am, knowing that there would be no hope left for me to go back to sleep. The feeling was both infuriating and terrifying – I could only hear the increasing sound of my own heartbeat.

At that moment, I realized how blessed I had been, being able to sleep peacefully almost every night without needing to ask the question: “will I be able to sleep tonight?”. Never did I truly thank God for being able to sleep soundly through the night and fall asleep almost immediately after hitting my head on a pillow. There are so many aspects that people often overlook, having a preconceived mindset that we deserve them with almost no reasoning. The truth is we don’t.

Principles are generally first triggered by some influence in your life. For example, in my life, my mom always enforced this sort of “thankfulness” that I should have in my heart. Even though I agreed with her, did I really exemplify it? Not really. Which moves on to the second point which is that, those principles are then validated by experiences that we may face or see first-hand on our part. Do all principles need to be validated by experience? Not necessarily but they definitely need to be well thought out and reasoned. This will give us the wisdom to respond to any situation in the best possible way.

However, looking around my community, I see many people following principles that are similar to the ones around them, without much consideration and thought. Barring my age and arguable lack of real life experience, I fundamentally hold the belief that we should all start today. Not tomorrow, nor later on, but now.

So ask yourself, once more: what are your independent principles and how have you been living your life?