There is nothing that has transformed my entire life more than writing “SHACKLED: A Journey From Political Imprisonment To Freedom” alongside my grandfather.
I was absolutely called to write this book.
It was no question.
And I’m so glad I took the reigns to do so.
Many people have asked me about the benefits I’ve gained from spending so much time with my grandpa.
Simply put, the benefits are priceless, and they go for both of us.
For one, to spend real, present, quality time with someone who’s lived through such horrors and continues to live with optimism and joy is phenomenal.
And the incredible thing is that there are many other people…many other elders…in your community who’ve lived through very rough times.
Go spend time with them.
Listen to their stories.
Be with them.
1) Life has its vicissitudes (the ups and downs).
If life is stagnant, you’re not really living.
Downs can be times for massive gains and progress in life.
They’re times for pondering, re-evaluating, etc.
Many phenomenal things were created during the lowest times of people’s lives.
On the contrary, ups are awesome.
When everything’s working and we’re making lots of progress, we can’t help but want to party.
A secret you may learn by spending time with them is those who are most optimistic and cheerful found a way to enjoy and experience all of life’s ups, downs, curves, twists, bends, and rises.
2) Patience is key.
You’ll experience what REAL patience means…not the patience that we think we have…not the patience you can gain by using the Headspace app and meditating for 15 minutes a day.
Real patience…the patience where you don’t see your seeds growing into anything for years, yet you’re still persistent.
3) In the big picture, your life will never end up going as you plan.
So many people, the youth and the adults, spend so much time stressing out about what they should be doing…thinking they need to have it all figured out.
This is one big fat lie that’s been trending through society for too many generations, and it needs to be exposed.
If you spend time with an elder and ask them what their plans were for their life when they were your age, at best, you may find some correlations, but most often, their life went very different than their plans.
4) Happiness is a choice.
If you’re chasing money, status, sex, gadgets, connections, and essentially anything outside of yourself because you think it’ll bring you this happiness and sense that you’re “complete”, you’re screwed.Sorry to burst your bubble if that’s what your life was all about, but if you truly want to be happy, you’ll learn from your elders that they didn’t wait for things to happen…they didn’t work for 5, 10, 20, 40 years to finally get something to make them happy…they found happiness and joy in moments, simply by choosing to find it.
YOU create the happiness.
You can create happiness, whenever you want, and it doesn’t have to cost anything other than focusing on happiness.
5) Resourcefulness is the greatest skill to develop.
Our elders grew up in times where there was no Internet, no smartphones, no Alexa home pods nor Siri, no podcasts nor Spotify, limited technology, not nearly as many rights and freedoms as today, and basically…a lot less of an advantage compared to how easy we have it today.They lived through wars, economic depressions, and trying times.
I don’t want to say too much about resourcefulness here…I want you to discover how elders were resourceful in their time.
Many of their stories will shock you.
Nonetheless, this skill they developed makes them self-reliant, and there’s a certain quality of freedom in self-reliance…something worth developing for us all.
6) “Don’t think about revenge. Forgive the people. It’s better to lead them in the right direction than to get revenge.”
– Khaled Siddiq
This quote is not just any quote to me, and it certainly shouldn’t be read as just any quote to you.This is because these words are being said by a man who was unjustly imprisoned when he was 6 years old for 20 years…who lived through all the patriarchs in his family and all his teenage cousins being publicly executed…who was denied the right to education (yet found a way to secretly learn in prison)…who had everything stolen from his family…and who went on to forgive those who persecuted, tortured, and imprisoned him…even to the lengths of rescuing a relative of theirs.
He is a noble example of this quote.
If you have held resentment towards someone in your life, I highly encourage you to at least consider freeing yourself of this poison by replacing it with the levity of forgiveness.
7) Your lineage is sacred.
If you spend enough time with your elders and hear the history of your ancestry, you start to realize the interconnectedness you all share.You may discover correlations with certain talents, interests, and passions you have with your great grandfathers.
This is something I highly encourage you to explore.
If your grandparents are still alive, I highly recommend making it a top priority.
They won’t be here later on, and sometimes, unfortunately, they’re gone a lot sooner than you think.
Ditch the hopeless dates from Tinder or Bumble…skip the party…forget about what all your friends are doing for a weekend and instead, go spend time with your grandparents.
And if your grandparents aren’t alive, find a great aunt or uncle…or some elder in your family.
And if you can’t find anybody, just find an elder of your cultural heritage.
Ask them all sorts of questions about their experiences growing up, about their parents and their grandparents.
What you’ll hear will be more important than you’ll know at the time.
8) You have gifts to give your elders as well.
If you are on Facebook, you can use technology pretty well.Your elders probably can’t.
However, they’ve got wisdom, they’ve got interests, and they’ve got passion.
You have skills that they don’t even know are possible.
Spending time with your elders is not just about seeing what you can gain and learn from them…although elders are more than happy to be a guide to wisdom.
Spending time with your elders is also about what you have to give to them.
Create a YouTube channel for them and film them doing what they love or talking about what they’re passionate about.
Help them write a book.
Help them scale what they love doing by helping them get online and their passion projects featured on social media.
If they don’t have a passion project, encourage them to start one and help them out.
Just be open, more than anything.
This is just the beginning of something incredible…and you more than often never know what it will lead to.
In my case, it led to creating a book about my grandpa’s story.
This is a legacy that will live on for countless generations, and the #1 thing I’m most proud of accomplishing in my life.
Previously Published on Thrive Global