“The things we see,” Pistorius said softly, “are the same things that are within us. There is no reality except the one contained within us. That is why so many people live such an unreal life. They take the images outside them for reality and never allow the world within to assert itself. You can be happy that way. But once you know the other interpretation you no longer have the choice of following the crowd. Sinclair, the majority’s path is an easy one, ours is difficult.”

― Hermann Hesse, Demian

I can proudly say that I am not the same person I was ten years ago. As an adult, I decided to make a tradition of celebrating my birthday every decade in contemplation of how far I’ve come and how pleased I am with what I built so far. If I know my past to be mostly based on idiocy, I’d like to think it means I know better than then. And I hope to think to myself, ‘what an idiot‘ in ten years, looking back at the present I’m living right now.

I want to identify the components that transformed me during these short 32 years. What prevented me from changing towards the me I wanted to be, and what’s the key to the times I was successful in achieving the transformation? As a student I was never good at studying. When it came to my diets during my 20s, they were merely frail attempts. I never seemed to go further than the moment of my fervent motivation stimulated by what I wanted others to see in me. My motivations back then usually came from the importance I put on the gazes of others, and I failed to see what I was unsatisfied with in the person I judged myself to be, and analyze if my judgment was biased or not. Judgment can do that, especially if it attacks with constant negative feedback without giving space for true sharing of perspectives.

In the absence of judgment, I changed. I merely observed myself and took in every aspect of who I am as I am, without labeling qualitatively. I observed and I registered my behaviors as truthfully as possible and looked for patterns, as I searched for answers to make the changes easier. James Clear’s book Transform your Habits helped me a lot. The process of behavioral changes didn’t happen spontaneously however, and in order to have the process take place, I needed a component of paramount influence to serve as a trigger: paradigm shift.

Diet back then represented a tool to attract positive attention and feed my foolish ego in a false sense of pride. Once I was enlightened with the possibility of ageing alone, diet became a tool, not only to keep myself from having to spend valuable resources in repairing a physique that can be maintained in good health, but to enjoy life until the end discovering and learning with minimized physical limitations. Showing off to others is a desire for external acceptance which, its sole existence questions one’s self-esteem. Not wasting time or money on drugs and hospitals is a need to guarantee a long-lasting quality of life.

The same goes for money or studies. Money back then was a tool to buy items that lured me into thinking I needed them. Now I see it as a tool that provides me with my present and future well-being as well as the power to make the changes I want to see in the society. Studies back then was an activity to fulfill the system’s obligation, not a means to have better understanding and control of myself and my environment.

When the satisfaction I aimed to give was to an external source, it did not hold enough significance for me to cause an internal stress to change. But when the subject of satisfaction was internal, and I saw the change as a necessary course to prolong my survival, the stress was worth the cause.