Make a list: Events that have shaped my life

Colorful ribbonsIf you are a regular visitor on this blog, you know by now that coming up with a list of 100 items is a stretch that helps you understand yourself better and contributes to your personal development. If this is your first visit, please start from the beginning.

Events in our life shape our thinking, beliefs and overall attitude. When I ask people about the things that have shaped their life, they come up with big things, mainly traumatic events that were hard to ignore.

I can relate to this too, because when I worked on my own list, the first things that came up were the big things – moving house, changing city, changing country, the birth of my kids, loss and painful failures. I did have some positive, wonderful, exciting events too, like the birth of my kids and winning prizes and awards, but there were not as many of them as there were hits.

Focusing on the big things is natural. However, I believe that the small things, the ones we neglect to pay attention to, may contribute a lot to how we conduct ourselves in a way that we hardly recognize. The reason I am saying this is because very often, when my clients bring up their past and examine it, they talk about small incidents that were big for them at the time, even out of proportion.

For example, a woman put on tons of make up on her face, because “When I was 16, my father commented about me going out with my skin disease that creates different shades to the skin on my face”. A friend told me, “For years, I couldn’t speak out because when I was 13, I stood in front of many people and my voice sounded funny. It was the most embarrassing moment of my life”. One of my clients felt rejected by her mother, because “When I was 12 (30 years ago), my mom said to my aunt she had not wanted to have another child and that I had been ‘an accident'”.

Boosters and Changers

Although we may be unaware of these “little” events, they have a great influence over us and switch us from one path to another. Think about it as if you were flying through an asteroid field. Every asteroid in your path (event in your life) affects you in one of three ways:

  1. Has no impact, so you just keep going
  2. Becomes part of who you are and increases your mass (energy, motivation), so you keep going in the same direction, but smaller obstacles no longer matter
  3. Changes your direction

If you understand that every event in life falls under one of these categories, you will agree we tend to ignore the ones that have no impact on the direction we take and notice more of the other two – the ones that give us a boost and the ones that change our direction.

Happy and Unhappy Events

It is tempting to think that we get a boost from happy events and our direction changes from unhappy ones, but this is not necessary true. Sometimes, unhappy events help us move forward faster and do bolder things. A great example of an unhappy event that motivates many people is the event of getting really sick. This causes many to take charge of their life and finally do all the things they have only dreamed of before.

Young woman laughingAn example of a happy event (definitely one of my top happy events) that triggers a huge change is the birth of your first child and becoming a parent. I remember how in a split of a second, while hugging my daughter (now 20 years old – isn’t she gorgeous?) and breastfeeding her, the whole world faded and my priorities changed dramatically.

I often say to my kids that having kids while studying is a big challenge, not because of money or having to go to work, but because of priorities. Before Eden was born, I was the best student – I did all my assignments, I passed all my exams with flying colors, I was an example student and did brilliantly. The second she was born, I stopped caring about my grades and did not have to be the best anymore. Luckily for me, I had finished most of my degree in the first 3 years, I only had 2 courses to complete after Eden was born and one of my courses was practical (and I was good at the practical side, so I did not have to put in a lot of extra effort).

I do not regret the change in my priorities and I do not regret that it took me on a different adventure, but this change was still caused by a happy event.

When you make the list of 100 events that have changed your life, you are writing a biography that is limited to 100 events from birth until today that were boosters or changers. It is important to recognize your perception of the events as happy or unhappy and also their rating of how strong they were for you at the time.

How to list 100 events that have shaped your life

  1. Stick to meaningful events and avoid writing things like “I was born…”.
  2. Write events you believe have changed your life, NOT “my mom said it changed me” – this is about your own perception.
  3. Going over events in a chronological order may help you uncover more details about your life. Go over memories from childhood. Try to remember things from as early as 3 years of age or even earlier. If you remember them, they were probably meaningful. Beware of memories that were given to you by others, like “this was the best day of your life” (even through you have no recollection of that day).
  4. Kids with birthday cakeThink of special birthdays and find some that were meaningful for you. A birthday that has shaped your life, a gift you remember specifically, etc.
  5. Think of family gatherings. Family gatherings can be awesome and change life. Holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, etc.
  6. Find meaningful times at school, awards, failures, horrible teachers, angel teacher that have helped you become who you are today. Remember school breaks, parties, exams, report cards, challenges. Start from Grade 1 and go all the way up beyond higher education if necessary.
  7. Recall friends you have had over the years and what you got from each of them. Go over 2-3 friends in preschool (only if you remember), 2-3 in primary school, 2-3 in high school, etc. Friends have a great way of shaping our life. I believe that friends we have over the years are there to teach us the best lessons of our lives. If you come up with a list of 20 good friends over your life and think of what each of them has given you and under what circumstance, you will be on track towards your 100 list.
  8. Trips that have changed your life. The one you took with your family, with school, with friends or with your club. One trip we took as a family with my uncle, aunt and their kids was so meaningful we took other trips years after, but they were not the same. This particular trip was magical and stayed in my memory as the trip that made me fall in love with the idea of travelling to new places and being with people I love.
  9. Birth of siblings seems to be a popular event that many people feel has changed their life. Unfortunately, for most people this event is not a happy one, but it does not have to be like that. I think my daughter would write that the birth of her brother was an event that has shaped her life in the most positive way, because she had to wait for him for too long.
  10. Changing school/house/country. I can tell you for sure that my move to Thailand has changed me dramatically (it has even inspired some of the writing for my upcoming book, “Reflections”).
  11. Something good someone has done for you. A good word, an expression of trust, a loving statement, help, support, an act of kindness that you appreciate and store in your memory and has changed the way you think or your attitude.
  12. Book and quillSomething unpleasant someone has done to you. Notice this is a perception – at the time of the event, you thought it was a bad thing and acted on it. Do not beat yourself over your perception in the past. It is only natural. When I was a kid, I had a different perception and many things people did, I perceived as nasty, but in from perspective of 30 years later, I realized they were probably limited to what I knew or understood back then. Remember, the reason we are doing this is not because we can change the past, but because understanding how events affect us can teach us a lot about ourselves.
  13. A fight you have had with someone. Conflicts, fights, arguments at different times of our lives can be boosters or changers. I remember many years ago, after reading Illusions by Richard Bach, I decided to stay away from negative people and a fight I had with someone boosted me to limit the time I have spent with this person since.
  14. Books you have read that have changed your life. I do not know about you, but I have read books that have changed me totally. I have a feeling sometimes that when I go to the library, the books I need jump at me and tell me to pick them up because there is a lesson in them I need to take. Richard Bach has changed me, Wayne Dyer has changed my life and Karl Rogers has changed my life. I am who I am thanks to them.
  15. BuddhaPlaces you have visited. After visiting Bryce Canyon and seeing all its glorious beauty, I became a different person. Living in Thailand, the “land of smiles”, where people are happy despite their poor conditions, has shaped my life big time. I do not think it was a booster, it was a changer. Life could not go back to where they were before. I was on a totally different track. For example, I finally understood why I needed more patience.
  16. Traumas that have changed your life. I am sure there is no need to expand on this one.
  17. Funny kidSuccesses and victories that have changed your life. Many times, successes are great boosters and help us build motivation to move forward towards the desired destination. The kid in this photo is one of my greatest victories in life.
  18. Failures that have changed your life. Again, they may fall in the category of traumatic events, but they can just be things you have not succeeded at and have de-motivated or frustrated you in a way that has changed you.
  19. Unexpected events that have changed your life. Surprises and things you had never thought would happen to you.
  20. Man in ancient Thai templePeople you have met during your life that have changed your path and shaped your life. When I think of this section of my events list, I have plenty of people that have made a difference in my life and I carry some part of them with me. Gal is a person I have met who has shaped my life greatly.

I wish you a very enlightened biography of the events that have shaped your life. Remember, when writing each of them down, think if it has boosted you or changed your direction and how. It is a good way to find out how the mechanism of this machine called “you” works.

Join me next week for the list of 100 ways to be kind.

Happy and empowering discoveries,