When bringer-of-all-good-things-in-my-life and dear, dear friend, Helen, mentioned Lilly Singh to me, the first place I went to look up Singh was in the catalogue of my local library, the Burlington Public Library, not knowing that Singh is, in fact, a Canadian actress who first rose to fame as a YouTube star.
No wonder Helen thought to ask me, "You do know who Lilly Singh is, right?"
I've certainly been living in a cave of my own making for a while now, mainly writing (mostly fiction), reading (mostly fiction), and spending time with D and KrA (most definitely not fictional characters living in my head).
So when I saw Singh has a book titled Be A Triangle, I wanted to read it pronto. She also has another book titled How to be a Bawse, but somehow at that point in life I was more curious to find out what it meant to be a triangle.
Be A Triangle is a short self-help book. I read it in one sitting, and then I promptly went back to the start and read it all over again.
Reading it was like having a conversation with a friend who totally gets me, who feels the things I do too, and so when the book got over, I wasn't ready for the conversation to end and decided to indulge in it once more.
So many parts of this book resonated with me so much. For instance, for years I've been trying to cultivate in myself that inner strength that Lilly talks about in her book right at the outset.
Most self-help books recommend affirmations and journaling, but the beliefs and values and principles that we live by, that govern our lives whether we realize it or not, are deeprooted and cultivated and nurtured over decades of conditioning, both at home and by the world outside. And if we want to regain that inner strength, the work has to begin from within.
We need to create a home to return to. And when I say home, I'm not talking about a physical place or somewhere where pants are optional. I'm talking about a set of beliefs we return to after a day full of, well, anything. We need to dig a foundation so deep that it will exist and thrive even if our suface-level efforts fail.
What is left whan a harsh wind blows away my daily affirmation Post-its? What can I hold on to if a toxic person reenters my life? And what can I lean on if my journal is ripped from my hands?
I need to do more than just problem-solve to overcome daily aggravations and hiccups. I have to go deeper. I have to create something strong that can withstand any obstacle, even the obstacles I haven't encountered yet.
I need a belief system that is not at the mercy of my current mood. I want a foundation that stays solid no matter who is or isn't in the room and no matter what is or isn't happening in my day.
It's time to flip right side up. It's time for this book title to make sense. It's time to be a triangle.
~ An excerpt from Be A Triangle by Lilly Singh
And sure enough, Lilly shows us exactly how to do that, how to be a triangle.
I believe the foundation of our triangle needs to made up of two seemingly simple things:
▲ A Relationship with Ourselves
▲ A Relationship with the Universe
But let's be real — the world today is loud. The world today is a Beats by Dre speaker. In a cup. Back in the day, maybe we could have gotten away with just two tiers, but not today. So, I believe we also need to include the following supporting tiers to help maintain our foundational relationships:
▲ Understanding Distraction
▲ Implementing Design
She goes on to explain what she means by these four elements, but it's all so simple and so stripped of everything extraneous that I can see why this book would appeal to anyone, no matter where they are on their journey of self-discovery and self-love.
Whether you are a beginner or have been floundering on this path for years or have made your way to being at peace with who you are and what your life looks like in the present moment, Lilly's words will speak to you exactly where you are.
If you are a beginner, this book has everything you need to know and remember as you set out on your own path.
If you've been on this journey for a while, you'd find yourself nodding every so often and feel seen and heard, until the next gust of wind knocks you down and you look for another book or resource to help you make sense of everything.
And if you've been on this journey for a long time, perhaps you'll smile and understand and feel understood, and know that no matter how much we've learnt, we all need little reminders like these from time to time.
I won't delve into the details — you've got to read the book for that — but there were a couple of things that Lilly mentioned, which resonated very strongly with me and I wanted to share those here.
the moment I understood that ambition is not a dirty word
Here's what I know to be true: Nothing is forever, and you will change multiple times over the course of your life. And what you want in life will change as well. Your desires, relationships, priorities, and beliefs are constantly changing depending on what is happening elsewhere in your life.
Lilly talks about how when she was in her twenties, she had only one desire: to be successful at her job. And she pulled all-nighters and would travel at the drop of a hat to attend a meeting and do all that she felt she needed to do to succeed.
And here's the clincher!
And perhaps you're expecting me to say I was miserable, but the truth is, I was so happy. I was thrilled to be all work and no play. I felt fulfilled by doing way too much in twenty-four hours. And I regret no part of it.
And then she goes on to say how as she moved into her thirties, her priorities began to change. But even as her desire to work as hard had begun to wane, her initial instinct was to beat herself up for feeling that way and force herself to maintain the status quo. It took her a while to see that resistance for what it was and allow for the change to happen.
That's not to say that I was wrong before and now I'm right; it's not about right or wrong. It's that I'm in a different place now and that's okay. We cannot expect to grow and also stay the same.
You are not one thing always. Nothing is ever one thing always. You are not a sad person. Your life doesn't suck. You're not hopeless. Rather, sometimes you feel sad. Sometimes your life can suck. And sometimes you feel hopeless.
~ An excerpt from Be A Triangle by Lilly Singh
After reading this, I think for the first time in my life I could really admit to myself how much I loved, loved, loved working 16–18 hours a day when I was in my twenties and thirties. And I knew exactly the kind of work that made me feel fulfilled and the kind that left me antsy and questioning the purpose of my very existence.
In my late thirties, after I had little D, I outgrew a lot of my previous ambition but, as Lilly says in her book, I too was so resistant to change.
I wanted to stay at home with D, and I did, but that choice was always so fraught with guilt, as if I was letting myself down and not living up to my full potential, as if I ought to have been doing something more, something different with my life because so many women are juggling family and careers and hobbies and a seemingly fantastic you-can-have-it-all life that it sucked that I had chosen just one or two things – parenting and writing – to focus on.
Much of contemporary self-help advice is in the form of suggestions doled out to everyone, irrespective of where they are in their lives.
Someone on their deathbed may look back and wish they had spent more time with family, but when you are in your twenties and young and the world is a treasure-chest you haven't yet started exploring, when you are a big mystery to your own self, of course you're not going to want to sit at home and spend more time with family.
Instead, you're going to want to go out, leave the cocoon of your home and take some risks and have adventures and find out for yourself the kind of person you are becoming, the kind of person you want to be, the absolutely amazing kind of person you already are.
And there is nothing wrong with that. There is nothing wrong with that.
You can have ambition. You can want to be rich and famous. You can want every material thing this world has to offer.
And there is truly nothing wrong with that as long as that is what you truly want at that point in time and you're not intentionally hurting yourself or anyone or anything else in your pursuit of what you seek.
It was such a liberating moment for me to acknowledge that after reading Lilly's own embracing of her own ambition and endeavours at a time when that was what mattered the most to her.
the moment I understood what a blessing my imagination is
For the longest time, in the aftermath of an anxiety attack, I'd often curse my wild imagination for leading me down that depressing path of rumination or negative thought spiral.
My imagination knows no bounds when it comes to enacting conversations with family members in my head or conjuring up the countless ways D and KrA could get hurt or injured.
And instead of appreciating my imagination for the books and stories it helps me write, I almost always curse it and wish I didn't have this gift in the first place.
When we talk about creativity, we often think about art and artists. We imagine a poet, a fashion designer, or a musician.
But in reality, we're all creatives. We're all so good at creating chaos in our minds by making assumptions and overthinking.
Instead of wasting that creative brain energy on maddening thoughts, we should use our imagination to design a life that fulfills us.
In other words, if we can create problems that don't even exist, create fake conversations of confrontation with imaginary people while in the shower, and create anxious thoughts that keep us up at night, we can also create solutions, love, unity, and peace within us.
We simply must choose to spend our energy this way.
Fake conversations of confrontation with imaginary people while in the shower?! Oh, I feel so seen, Lilly! How seen I feel! 😂
So instead of cursing myself for having a wild imagination that plays doomsday scenarios in my mind, I can make a conscious choice to imagine and create a fulfilling life for me and my loved ones.
And later she goes on to say,
No matter what new hurdles come your way each day, you can always come home to an understanding that you can design a life that fulfills you.
Towards the end she reminds us to keep in mind what's true, and to understand that everything else is a distraction that keeps leading us astray. Our job is to keep coming back home to ourselves.
I'm sure our lives will continue to get more complex. Noise will find new ways to distract us. Heartaches and stresses will present themselves time and time again. These things will never stop.
That is why we must always return to what we know to be true: our relationship with ourselves and our relationship with the universe.
Everything else is a distraction. And when those distractions lead us astray, we can be creative and design a path back home to ourselves.
~ An excerpt from Be A Triangle by Lilly Singh
being my own best friend
I've spent a lot of time these past few years, especially since D's arrival, questioning a lot of beliefs that I had assumed were the gospel truth.
Unsubscribing from them is hardly ever easy, neither is it a one-and-done task. I would change a belief only to have the world throw something else in my way to make me question everything all over again.
It is all a practice though. We are never done with the unlearning and re-learning as long as we are alive. But some things certainly get easier with practice.
And the more we do this, the more we feel at home with ourselves. The more we find within ourselves that which we keep scouring the earth for. love. safety. comfort. trust. belonging. acceptance.
And for the times when everything feels insurmountably hard, we can always go back and read Be A Triangle, and be reminded of what's essential and what's a distraction. That alone would make the next step easier for us to take.