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7 Life Lessons from Sherlock

7 Life Lessons from Sherlock

We still have a few days until series four of Sherlock starts on New Year’s Day. But while we wait for the return of our dear crime sleuths, we can look back at our previous encounters with them and learn a few life lessons. Yes, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson have not just given us exciting crime stories to watch and enjoy, but they have taught us much more than just crime solving without us even realizing. Looking closely at the series reveals that there are life lessons we can learn from these characters, and indeed some very important ones!

1. Pay Attention to Details

What makes Sherlock Holmes so successful in solving his cases? He notices the things that we generally miss. There are many times when the solution is right in front of us. However, we are so absorbed in the world we live in that we tend to miss those clues that can lead to resolving the issue at hand. Developing Sherlock-level attention to detail may be challenging, but it would definitely be worthwhile.

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2. Focus on What Really Matters

“Listen: [pointing to his head] This is my hard-drive, and it only makes sense to put things in there that are useful. Ordinary people fill their heads with all kinds of rubbish, and that makes it hard to get at the stuff that matters! Do you see?”
~Sherlock Holmes

This means that useless information in the brain is like having junk all around the room. It makes it difficult to store something important or to find what is needed. Sherlock suggests that peripheral distractions that clutter the mind can derail the focus from important things and goals. So say no to activities, people, issues, and meetings that distract you from the goals you have and pay more attention to what’s really important.

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3. Don’t Have a Job or Are Unemployable? Just Create Your Own Job

Our consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes, also shows us that being unemployed or unemployable is just fine, or perhaps more than fine. One can invent their own job and do what they are passionate about. If they give it their best shot, utilizing all of the strengths and skills they have, then lo and behold: the job is done!

4. One Good and Like-Minded Friend is All You Need

For many of us, the philosophy is “the more the merrier”. However, from Sherlock we can see that even one friend or a few trusted ones are enough. Sherlock is a solitary character with only Watson as a sounding board. Hence, he gives us this lesson that having a friend who understands you, gives you honest opinions, and guides you when you are going in the wrong direction is all you need. With this friend, you can share and discuss anything and everything, voice your thoughts or vent your frustrations. It is also not necessary that the two have similar personalities, as Sherlock and John are two very different people. However, they should be able to understand and value each other.

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5. Never Let Failures and Criticism Drive Your Life

Facing failures and getting criticized by people are inevitable aspects of life. Many times people lose hope when they fail, or they feel dejected when they are criticized for their failures. However, all is not lost as long as one doesn’t lose hope in themselves. We can see that for Sherlock, too, success is not a luxury. Instead, he works it out by means of careful planning and utilization of his skills. During many cases that he takes there are ups and downs, and many times he faces failures. Similarly, despite all the fan-following that he has, he is criticized by people for a variety of things. The episode, “The Reichenbach Fall” illustrates how a person at such great heights of popularity suddenly becomes the “Fake Genius” in the eyes of the people. He is also called a psychopath at some instances. However, he doesn’t allow any setbacks or criticism to stop him from doing what he wants to do and being who he is. His attitude towards both failure and criticism teaches us how not to give these the authority to rule our lives.

6. There is Always More Than One Way to Approach a Problem

Sherlock Holmes makes use of many approaches to problem-solving. Sometimes he disguises himself, other times he searches for information and then makes a plan, and at other times he makes use of clever deception for drawing the players into the game. In case an approach fails, he does not end his pursuit of the solution, but looks for other options and approaches to take. Hence, we can learn from him that there is not just one way of approaching a problem. To be clear, I am not suggesting to take his indoor target practice as a lesson; there are many other approaches apart from that to learn from him.

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7. Don’t Judge Anyone by Face or Appearance

How do we perceive someone we have met for the first time? We tend to judge that person, assign him or her to some sort of category, or come up with some explanation of what that person is or what he or she is likely to be. Sherlock shows us the extent to which one can be wrong when they judge anyone by face or by some of his or her initial actions. This we saw through his initial judgment of Moriarty as gay and how he was later revealed as a totally different person. Even though Moriarty was disguised that way and wanted Sherlock to believe him to be gay, Sherlock only judged him by his appearance and did not look beyond that when he first met him.

Conclusion

These were a few lessons that I learned from Sherlock. There are many others that you may deduce on your own if you pay attention. Fingers crossed for the new season that is set to bring some more life lessons and be just as entertaining as the previous ones!

Featured photo credit: Sherlock via pbs.org

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Mehwish A. Wahid

Writer and Researcher

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Last Updated on August 19, 2019

How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

We live in a world that constantly tells us what to do, how to act, what to be. Knowing how to be true to yourself and live the life you want can be a challenge.

When someone asks how we are, we assume that the person does not mean the question sincerely, for it would lead to an in depth conversation. So telling them that you are good or fine, even if you’re not, is the usual answer.

In an ideal world, we would stop and truly listen. We wouldn’t be afraid to be ourselves. Instead, when we answer about how we are doing, our mask, the persona we show the world, tightens. Sometimes even more so than it might have been before. Eventually, it becomes hard to take off, even when you’re alone.

Imagine a world where we asked how someone was doing and they really told us. Imagine a world where there were no masks, only transparency when we talked to one another.

If you want to live in a world that celebrates who you are, mistakes and all, take off the mask. It doesn’t mean you have to be positive or fine all the time.

According to a Danish psychologist, Svend Brinkman, we expect each other to be happy and fine every second, and we expect it of ourselves. And that “has a dark side.”[1] Positive psychology can have its perks but not at the expense at hiding how you truly feel in order to remain seemingly positive to others.

No one can feel positive all the time and yet, that is what our culture teaches us to embrace. We have to unlearn this. That said, telling others you are ‘“fine”’ all the time is actually detrimental to your wellbeing, because it stops you from being assertive, from being authentic or your truest self.

When you acknowledge a feeling, it leads you to the problem that’s causing that feeling; and once you identify the problem, you can find a solution to it. When you hide that feeling, you stuff it way down so no one can help you.You can’t even help yourself.

Feelings are there for one reason: to be felt. That doesn’t mean you have to act on that feeling. It just means that you start the process of problem solving so you can live the life you want.

1. Embrace Your Vulnerability

When you are your true self, you can better self-advocate or stand up for what you need. Your self-expression matters, and you should value your voice. It’s okay to need things, it’s okay to speak up, and it’s okay not to be okay.

Telling someone you are simply “fine” when you are not, does your story and your journey a great disservice. Being true to yourself entails embracing all aspects of your existence.

When you bring your whole self to the table, there is nothing that you can’t beat. Here’re 7 benefits of being vulnerable you should learn.

Can you take off the mask? This is the toughest thing anyone can do. We have learned to wait until we are safe before we start to be authentic.

In relationships especially, this can be hard. Some people avoid vulnerability at any cost. And in our relationship with ourselves, we can look in the mirror and immediately put on the mask.

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It all starts with your story. You have been on your own unique journey. That journey has led you here, to the person you are today. You have to be unafraid, and embrace all aspects of that journey.

You should seek to thrive, not just survive. That means you do not have to compete or compare yourself with anyone.

Authenticity means you are enough. It’s enough to be who you are to get what you want.

What if for the first time ever, you were real? What if you said what you wanted to say, did what you wanted to do, and didn’t apologize for it?

You were assertive, forthcoming in your opinions or actions to stand for what is right for you, (rather than being passive or aggressive) in doing so. You didn’t let things get to you. You knew you had something special to offer.

That’s where we all should be.

So, answer me this:

How are you, really?

And know that no matter the answer, you should still be accepted.

Bravery is in the understanding that you still may not be accepted for your truth.

Bravery is knowing you matter even when others say that you do not.

Bravery is believing in yourself when all evidence counters doing so (i.e. past failures or losses)

Bravery is in being vulnerable while knowing vulnerability is a sign of strength.

It’s taking control.

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2. Choose Your Attitude in Adversity

You can take control of your destiny and live the life you want by being true to yourself. You can start anytime. You can start today.

You can start with one day at a time, just facing what happens that day. Most of us get overwhelmed when faced with the prospect of a big change. Even if the only thing we change is our attitude.

In one instant, you can become a different person with a change of attitude. When you take control of your attitude, you become able to better understand what is around you. This allows you to move forward.

Originally, you may have had a life plan. It could have started when you were little; you were hoping to become a mermaid, doctor, astronaut or all three when you grew up. You were hoping to be someone. You were hoping to be remembered.

You can still dream those dreams, but eventually reality sets in. Obstacles and struggles arise. You set on a different path when the last one didn’t work out. You think of all the “shoulds” in your life in living the life you want. You should be doing this…should be doing that…

Clayton Barbeau, psychologist, coined the term “shoulding yourself.’[2] When we are set on one path and find ourselves doing something different. It becomes all the things you should be doing rather than seeing the opportunities right in front of you.

But in all this disarray, did you lose sight of the real you?

It may be in our perceived failures and blunders that we lose sight of who we are, because we try to maintain position and status.

In being who we really are and achieving what we really want, we need to be resilient: How to Build Resilience to Face What Life Throws at You

It means that we do not see all possibilities of what might happen, but must trust ourselves to begin again, and continue to build the life we want. In the face of adversity, you must choose your attitude.

Can attitude overcome adversity? It certainly helps. While seeking to be true to yourself and live the life you want, you will have to face a fact:

Change will happen.

Whether that change is good or bad is unique to each person and their perspective.

You might have to start over, once, twice, a few times. It doesn’t mean that everything will be okay, but that you will be okay. What remains or should remain is the true you. When you’ve lost sight of that, you’ve lost sight of everything.

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And then, you rebuild. Moment after moment, day after day. We all have a choice, and in this moment, that matters.

You can choose to have a positive attitude, seeing the silver lining in each situation and, where there is none, the potential for one. Maybe that silver lining is you and what you will do with the situation. How will you use it for something good?

That’s how you can tap into yourself and your power. Sometimes it happens by accident, sometimes on purpose. It can happen when we aren’t even looking for it, or it can be your only focus. Everyone gets there differently.

You can rise, or you can remain. Your choice.

When the worst happens, you can rely on your authenticity to pull you through. That’s because Self Advocacy, speaking up to let others know what you need, is part of finding the real you.

There is nothing wrong with asking for help. Or sometimes, helping others can help us deal with the pain of a hurtful situation. You decide how you’re going to help others, and suddenly, you become your best self.

3. Do What Makes You Happy When No One’s Looking

Being the best version of you has nothing to do with your success or your status. It has everything to do with your Character, what you do when no one’s looking.

In order to create the life you want, you have to be the person you want to be. Faking it till you make it is just a way to white knuckle it through your journey. You have the fire inside of you to make things right, to put the pieces together, to live authentically. And Character is how you get there.

If you fall down and you help another up while you’re down there, it’s like you rise twice.

Along with attitude, your character is about the choices you make rather than what happens to you.

Yes, it’s about doing the right thing even when obstacles seem insurmountable.  It’s about using that mountain you’ve been given to show others it can be moved.  It’s about being unapologetically you, taking control, choosing your attitude in adversity and being the best version of you to create the life you want.

How do you know what you really want? Is it truly status or success?

Unfortunately, these things do not always bring happiness. And aspects of our image or “performance driven existence” may not achieve satisfaction. Materialism is part of our refusal to accept ourselves as enough. All the things we use to repress our true selves are about being enough.

“Enoughness” is what we truly seek, but ego gets in the way.

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Ego is the perception of self as outer worth. It’s not REAL self worth.

Ego represses our true self with a new self— the self of chasing ‘“Am I ever enough?”’ questions. And instead of filling our true selves with self-love and acceptance, when we “should ourselves” and chase “enoughness,” we feed the ego or our image.

It’s important to realize YOU ARE ENOUGH, without all the material trappings.

Stanford psychologist Meagan O’Reilly describes the damage of not thinking we are enough. One of her tactics for combating this is to complete the sentence,[3]

“If I believed I were already enough, I’d ____”

What would you do if you felt you were enough?

By believing you are enough, you can live the life you want.

So many fake it to try to get there, and they end up losing themselves when they lose more and more touch with their Authenticity.

Final Thoughts

By being yourself, you are being brave. By acknowledging all you can be, you tell the universe that you can until you believe it too. The steps are easy, and you are worth it. All of it is about the purpose you are leading and the passion that is your fuel.

Being true to yourself is all about mastering how to live life authentically rather than faking or forcing it. Having the life you want (and deserve) is about being trusting in yourself and the purpose you are living for. Both need passion behind it, fueling it each second, or you will experience burn out.

When you are authentic, you can call the road you walk your own. When you live your life for you and not just the results of all your actions (faking it till you make it), you can let go of what you don’t need. This clarifies and pushes purpose to you, living for something that is greater than you.

You will find that making decisions based on what will actually achieve your goals, will help you attain the life you want, and your success with each step, will allow you to enjoy the process. Good luck!

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Featured photo credit: Ariana Prestes via unsplash.com

Reference

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