Sunday, April 16, 2017
YouTube star Lily Singh
on tour with her book
Penguin Books/Website image
Nintendo. Iím sweating in my blue overalls as I look at all the obstacles
ahead of me. I have three options: (1) pound my head on this brick block and
hope for a star, (2) run and jump over the enemy, or (3) step on this
turtleís head and force him to retract into his shell. No matter which
option I go with, the fact remains that the Koopa Troopa up ahead is going
to stay there. I canít control it or convince it that itís actually a Ninja
Turtle and thus is in the wrong game. Thatís fine. No Ninja Turtles means
more pizza for me, and Iím Italian, so this is all working out. I know the
Koopa Troopa isnít going to listen to me, and therefore I need to control
the only thing I canóand thatís me, Mario.
Videogames are a great
analogy for life. You go through levels, get thrown off by obstacles, and
face several enemies. The game will become harder and harder, but itís okay
because you become smarter, faster, and more skilled. When playing a
videogame, you control a character by making it jump, run, duck, and attack.
I mean, that was back in my day when my Super Nintendo controller had two
buttons. Today videogame controllers have as many buttons as a keyboard, so
who knows what you can do. You can probably press A + Y + Z while twirling
your left joystick and your character will sing the national anthem. Either
way, the fact remains that your character is the only thing you can control
in the game. The enemies will keep coming, the walls will keep shrinking,
and the time will keep ticking away. Itís your job to navigate your
character through a situation you cannot control.
Thatís exactly how you should view life. A Bawse understands that there are
many things in life you have no control over and it is inefficient to become
frustrated by that reality. Not being able to control people and situations
doesnít make you powerless; it just means you have to exercise your power in
a different way. If you canít control people, then control your reaction to
them. If you canít control a situation, then prepare for it.
Before I started my career in the entertainment industry, I was the leader
of a small dance company (if you could even call it that) in Toronto. We
started off small, with only a few dancers, specializing in only Indian
dance styles, but over time, in true Lilly fashion, I wanted to keep growing
and expanding our horizons. Since I was little, Iíve had larger-than-life
ideas. I never wanted to settle for something simple or mediocre, and as a
result, when I did things, I wanted them to be the biggest and best things.
There were so many other dance teams and companies around and I didnít want
to just be another addition to an already long list. I committed my days to
transforming the company in the hopes of creating a dance empire that would
take over the world. I really thought that was possible. We would be dancing
Power Rangers who saved the world, one extended leg and pointed toe at a
time. I decided to convert my basement into a full-blown office. We held
auditions for dancers who were skilled in all forms of dance so that we
could perform hip-hop, classical, and fusion in addition to what we were
already doing. I organized photo shoots and video shoots and other creative
marketing techniques. I had so much drive and determination that no injury,
financial strain, or competition could steer me off my path. What I couldnít
see, however, was the one obstacle that was in front of me the entire time,
and which caused everything to fall apart: the team itself.
I had such big dreams for the company and I was always willing to work for
them. Without hesitation, I would pull all-nighters to put together
marketing materials, spend money out of my own pocket to invest in what we
needed, and drive myself crazy thinking of innovative ways to set ourselves
apart. But then I would arrive at practice and deal with three dancers
showing up late, one not showing up at all, and two of them leaving early.
Getting people to put in work on events to help our brand was like pulling
teeth. We often performed at weddings and thus needed to adhere to a
professional dress code, yet some dancers would occasionally show up wearing
shorts and flip-flops. I would get so frustrated with them because I was
putting in so much work for this dream, but the reality of the situation was
that the dream was mine, not theirs. I tried for years to control them and
make them work for something they didnít care about as much as I did, and it
just didnít work.
My dance company dreams faded away gradually, but the process was hastened
by my discovery of YouTube. I remember feeling a new sensation the first
time I uploaded a video. I wrote the script, shot it, edited it, and
released it. No one else was involved or required, and the independence was
exhilarating. Soon I developed an even greater drive and passion for my
career as Superwoman than Iíd had previously with my dance team. This time,
however, I wasnít trying to control a group of twenty people every time I
needed something to get done. The only person I needed to control was the
only person I could control, and that was me.
Today, of course, I have a team that surrounds me and helps me to build my
business. But Lilly is still at the root of Superwoman. The success of
Superwoman and the failure of my dance team helped me learn a very important
lesson: work with whatís in your control. This lesson can be applied to so
many situations in our lives. You get frustrated when your parents nag you,
so every time they do, you storm out of the room. You canít control your
parents, so stop trying. Instead, use that energy to control your reaction
the next time they nag you. You might not be able to smash a brick block and
find a star that makes you invincible, but you can practice patience and
build up a resistance to nagging. If none of that works, you can find the
closest green tube and transport yourself out of the conversation.
Have you ever played a videogame then lost because you realized you were
looking at the wrong part of the screen the whole time? You were so confused
as to why your controller wasnít working, but really you were just trying to
control the wrong character. Thatís what trying to control people is like in
real life. Weíre so often fixated on getting people to behave in accordance
with what we want that we forget to focus on ourselves.
The best way to stop people from pushing your buttons is to start pushing
A + Y + Z. Left joystick.
Conquer your thoughts
Touch your nose. No, Iím serious. I want you to stop reading after this
sentence and donít resume until you take your right hand and use it to touch
the tip of your nose.
Look at you! What an impressive piece of machinery you are. Do you know what
you just did? You were introduced to a thought and decided to act on it;
your brain sent signals through your neurotransmitters, through your body,
and into your arm, prompting it to move and touch your magnificent nose.
Why did I just make you touch your nose? Because Iím Simon and I run this
town! No, but really, it was to show you that YOU control your mind; your
mind doesnít control you. You successfully directed your brain to touch your
nose. Understanding your mindís power is key to being a Bawse. Imagine using
that same type of direction to instruct your mind to stop being negative, or
jealous, or terrified. We often feel that we are slaves to biology. People
say things like ďI just canít help but feel that wayĒ or ďI canít control
being jealous.Ē But I believe that, in most situations, we can teach our
minds to function with more positivity and efficiency. In other words, by
understanding that mushy sponge in our skulls, we can conquer our thoughts.
What does conquering your thoughts mean? First, it means you get to wear an
awesome warrior costume, so congrats on that victory! #OOTD Also, it means
understanding why you feel the way you feel, what prompts you to carry out
certain actions, what causes specific reactions, and what circumstances lead
you to make regrettable decisions. Once you discover all the ins and outs of
your mind, you basically have the cheat code to your game of life. All you
have to do is input the data and you have access to extra mental weapons,
stronger protection, and new passageways. Notice I said YOUR game of life
and not THE game of life. Thatís because everyoneís mind is different. The
cheat codes you discover for your mind cannot be applied to all of humanity.
Iím not encouraging you to study the BIOLOGY of the brain (it is
fascinating, but also, who has that much time?). Iím encouraging you to
study your specific psychological makeup.
I was forced to learn how to conquer my thoughts because of the nature of my
job. For six years Iíve been posting videos twice a week on the Internet. I
have over 500 videos on my main channel and 500 videos on my second
channelóthatís over 1,000 videos for people around the globe to view and
judge as harshly as they desire. The Internet is wonderful and
revolutionary, but letís face it, it can also be extremely cruel. People
feel they can say anything to you when they are sitting comfortably behind
their computer screen being completely anonymous. When I first started
posting videos, I got a lot of support (mostly because my friends and family
would watch and they felt obligated to be nice. Also, I had a second account
that I would use to compliment myself. Oops!), but with time I started to
receive negative, hateful comments and I didnít know how to react. Here are
a few examples (word for word, without spellcheck) of the comments Iíve
This lily Singh paki ***** needs to die sheís everywhere I hate seeing her
Bengali paki face I hope she gets cancer or her mum dies slowly j painfully
leave focus tube alone up horrible black *****
This is why women shouldnít have rights.
This video gave me cancer
she is so ****ing stupid. she only get famous because she hot and thst sells
but she is still dumb. I hope someone shoots her
Do hateful comments still bother me? Sometimes, but not as often. How did I
deal with them? When people ask me this, my response is usually, ďI
developed a thick skin.Ē But what I really mean is, I learned how to conquer
my thoughts. This is how I broke it down:
People are leaving mean comments.
Maybe itís because my videos suck.
Do you say mean things to people when you think they suck?
No. Not unless Iím having a bad day or in a bad mood.
Maybe people leaving the negative comments are having a bad day. Maybe
thatís what the comment is really about.
But the comments make me feel insecure.
Do you like your videos?
So should your opinion of your videos be dependent on what other people
think? Is that the type of person you want to be?
Not at all.
So it doesnít make sense to let the negative opinions of others impact what
Maybe I should stop making videos, though.
Does making videos make you happy?
Do you believe you should value negative comments above your own happiness?
That doesnít sound right. Maybe I should just reply to them?
Or you could spend more time replying to people that make you feel good so
theyíre more encouraged to keep supporting you.
Now, you may think a convo like this sounds a bit naive. OF COURSE people
want to be happy and ignore negative comments, but itís easier said than
done. Thatís why itís important to closely analyze this conversation and
discover all the cheat codes hidden within it.
ďMaybe theyíre having a bad day.Ē CHEAT CODE ONE: Lilly, when people do or
say hurtful things to you, thereís a chance they may actually be upset about
something else in their life.
ďShould other opinions impact what you think about yourself?Ē CHEAT CODE
TWO: Lilly, sometimes when you hear other opinions youíll feel pressured to
change your own. Before you enter into situations in which you will be
confronted with a lot of opinions, make sure you strongly believe your own.
ďI donít want to stop making videos, because they make me happy.Ē CHEAT CODE
THREE: Your happiness is stronger than fear. You can continue battling fear
as long as your videos, make you happy. Make sure you prioritize creating
content that makes you happy; otherwise fear and negativity will slowly take
ďMaybe I should reply to them.Ē CHEAT CODE FOUR: Recognize that replying was
suggested to make you feel better. Understand this impulse and catch it
before you act on it. Make yourself feel better in a more constructive way.
The cheat codes I discovered while dealing with YouTube comments have been
useful in so many areas of my life. When someone cuts me off while driving,
I apply cheat code one so that I donít overreact: the person driving could
be upset about something in their life. Cutting me off wasnít about ME. When
a brand offers me a lot of money to make a video I donít actually like, I
implement cheat code three: my content has to make me happy, otherwise
negativity will start to seep in. When Iím having an argument and want to
make an unnecessary remark to get the last word in, I try to catch myself
because I know Iím just trying to make myself feel betteróthus cheat code
four. If Iíve gotten myself into an upsetting situation, itís usually
because I ignored a cheat code or pattern in my behavior.
Conquering your thoughts is not a task that can be accomplished overnight,
or over many nights, to be honest. Itís an ongoing process that requires
frequent readjustment because your mind is constantly evolving. It requires
you to ask yourself a lot of questions and to analyze the answers honestly.
From now on start asking yourself WHY you feel a certain way, WHAT made you
perform a certain action, and HOW you could do things differently. The
information you discover is powerful because it helps you to discover
patterns and in turn use your mind productively and efficiently. After all,
your mind is your most powerful tool, but itís not useful if you donít know
how to use it. Itís like trying to fix a printer with a stapler: it doesnít
work. Trust me, Iíve tried.
The key is to use a hammer because all printers suck.
For more information on how to get
this book, visit Penguin Books
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