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Life Lessons That Altered My Brain Chemistry

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Ottawa chapter.

From all the self-help books I’ve read, podcasts I’ve listened to, and influencers I’ve followed through the years, I’ve kept count of the most ground-breaking life teachings and found five that not only “altered my brain chemistry” (as TikTok users would say) but may just help you in gaining a new your perspective on life as a whole.

We act in two ways: fear and love

I learned this lesson from Joshua Bassett in a podcast interview he did, and then later when I read the book he recommended called The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. This is so true, but I’m still in complete shock because I genuinely believe that if everyone knew and felt this way, all the many questions we ask ourselves about life would fade away blissfully! Let’s take a look:

Acting in fear:

We act in fear, meaning that our actions reflect what we’re scared of. If we’re scared of being judged by others, for example, we’ll act accordingly so that there’s no chance of being judged by others.

Acting in love:

We act in love towards people we care about to show how much we care for them and/or for them to care about us the same.

By understanding the only two ways in which we as humans act and interact with one another in any given society (in fear or in love), we have a better understanding of how our world and its people work and how we can take control of our actions by identifying whether we’re letting fear or love guide us.

If you love yourself, you’ll never be alone

This was a lyric in a song by Big Sean titled One Man Can Change The World that goes:

“I hope you learn to make it on your own
And if you love yourself just know you’ll never be alone”

This may be very random, but hear me out! The second line is so important to realize that, by being on our own in life, we will always have ourselves no matter what life throws our way. Learning to love yourself is so important! Love yourself because you’ve made it this far; you’ve overcome every obstacle and fear that you never thought you could, and you’re a much better and stronger person because of it—that’s something to recognize and be proud of! It’s crazy to believe that if you love yourself, you’ll never be alone—especially when most of us think that not being alone means being with someone else. However, what if the “someone else” is you? That counts as not being alone! Listen to Big Sean and take advantage of time spent with yourself!

You’re on your own

This one is a sad reality for most that we typically like to not pay too much attention to because when we think of being “on our own,” we think of loneliness. But this is a life lesson that, if you’re like me, could make you view your life differently… in a good way! Think about it, we are on our own which means that we have control over how we react, what we think, and what we let dictate all of those things. It also makes you realize that it doesn’t matter what others are doing with their life as long as you’re making your life everything you’d always hoped it would be. Because we’re on our own, we are all on our own life paths. Our life paths are our own journies where we are fully responsible for taking care of ourselves and others we cross paths with if we so choose, and creating lives for ourselves that make us feel fulfilled, happy, and at peace. We’re all on our own, but that isn’t a bad thing.

You have to feel it to heal it

When I first learned this lesson, I was in elementary school and our principal ran a presentation in the gymnasium for those graduating and heading to middle school. It was a presentation about the prevention of substance abuse among their students for when they might become victims of peer pressure in middle and high school. Of course, the idea of peer pressure was something that stuck out to me as it was the entire focus of this presentation. However, when he said “you have to feel it to heal it” to express how taking substances only makes you run away from your problems, that stuck out to me way more; I guess I was always into self-improvement even when I was in Grade 6! This “changed my brain chemistry” because he was right—every time I sat with my emotions and thought very thoroughly about why I was feeling those ways, I ended up much better off than if I were to push the feelings away to deal with them some other time. No matter the context, I think it’s important that everyone knows that while life serves you many issues and opportunities, you should sit with yourself every step of the way and check in to really get to know yourself and learn how to deal properly with your life.

tomorrow’s a new day

This was something my mom used to tell me growing up when I was having problems in school: “tomorrow’s a new day.” It gave me comfort because it was so true! Ultimately, your day might have been the absolute worst with the most amount of obstacles but tomorrow’s a new day filled with possibilities; it’s like the next page in the book of your life! As we know, so much can happen between pages in a book, so why should the days in your life be treated any differently? Tomorrow’s always going to be a new day that you’ve never lived before. Isn’t that so exciting?

it’s not worth it

This one was hard for me to learn because I always felt as though everything that was affecting me in the present would be worth all of my undivided attention. Though, I realized that putting so much effort into things that are not serving you any good is a complete waste of time and not worth it.

Billie Eilish’s brother, FINNEAS, wrote a song called Only A Lifetime a while back. The lyrics share how we all only have one life to live, so we should make sure that we’re not wasting it. The lyric that stuck out to me the most goes:

“It’s only a lifetime
That’s only a while
It’s not worth the anger you felt as a child”

This altered my brain chemistry because, sure, I might have past traumas from childhood that I’m working through (like most people) but also because it can relate to literally anything that we spend so much of our lives worrying about, trying to figure out, and feeling negative about. Whether you’re feeling regret, shame, guilt, sadness, or anger, what’s in the past probably isn’t worth your time. Figure out a way to accept your past, even if it includes the worst moments of your life and keep moving forward. All of your thoughts and feelings are valid, but as FINNEAS would say:

“Don’t waste the time you have waiting for time to pass
It’s only a lifetime
That’s not long enough
You’re not gonna like it without any love
So don’t waste it

To conclude…

These life lessons have “altered my brain chemistry,” severely changing my perspective on life and the people that I cross paths with. Hopefully, these have inspired you in some way or taught you something you never thought you’d need to know, but are glad you do!

Emily Crandall

U Ottawa '24

4th-year Communications and Sociology student at the University of Ottawa.