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Life is a personal journey, as individual and unique as every snowflake. So why do we constantly seek to copy what works for others?

In a world where information is constantly impressed upon us, we are under so many external influences that it can be difficult to know when we are actually thinking for ourselves. We prefer instead to follow other people's advice - "how to", "steps to", "tips to","checklist for" and so forth - you get the idea. Surrounded by experts willing to offer canned opinions, sometimes it's just easier to have someone else tell us what to say, do, think, believe in, and generally how to live life in. We stop thinking for ourselves because it's easier than sorting through the jungle of human knowledge.

Take back ownership

Unfortunately, if you stop thinking for yourself, you give up control: sacrificing the ability to think for yourself often means sacrificing the ability to make decisions for your life. The process of defining yourself and everything you think, say and do declares, "This is who I am"; so,if you give away your ability to make choices, you are essentially living someone else's dream and fulfilling their perception of how to live a happy life.

This may be a massive rearrangement of your understanding of life, but it's necessary if you are to take ownership and responsibility for your choices. We often believe that access to more information results in greater knowledge and increased ability for successful living. However without introspection and understanding of this information, it only muddles our ability to make choices. The art of successful living lies in understanding and remembering concepts, not merely gaining knowledge and memorising data and following "how tos". Knowledge teaches you what to think, know and understand to be true – but wisdom teaches how to get to your own truth.

Appreciate simplicity

How do we start to appreciate the simple things in life? By being aware of the importance of self-love and appreciation and free to be authentic in how you live your life, so it is congruent with your highest values. Practising kindness, forgiveness, generosity, gratitude and compassion towards yourself and others allows you to appreciate the beauty in every moment.

Learn from the information you take in, yet also consider it intuitively - using your soul's connection requires trusting your heart to make the choices. Don't just accept the status quo. When you begin to identify your heart's desires and purpose, you will simultaneously feel the urge to create an external life that mirrors your internal one. Trying to change our external reality by following someone else's ideas and truths without considering our inner reality is often why we find it difficult to make and sustain change. Know this: life is a matter of perspective and there is no "one size fits all". Be bold: problem-solve, create, and think for yourself using your intuition and deepest inner knowledge, rather than follow other people's systems and conclusions.

A personal reflection

To find freedom, speak truth
To speak truth, choose love
To choose love, walk in your light
To walk in your light, have faith
To have faith, remember who you are and who you choose to be
To believe in your life's purpose, honour your "story"
To honour your story, lead with a grateful heart
Here you will find happiness, peace, and the freedom to think for yourself

4 keys to wisdom

In the past, I lived my life according the needs and wants of those around me, constantly changing, modifying and altering myself in order to fit in, be accepted, and be what I thought others wanted. I felt disempowered, anxious, and unsure of myself. Life unfolded, but I seemed to have little power over events. I lived in an unconscious, reactive way rather than taking ownership for my choices. In turning inward and reflecting, these are the steps towards thinking for myself that worked for me.
Self-awareness This was the key to being able to change what I didn't like. It gave me the power to choose to act and think in a new, different way.
Self-care Improving my relationship with myself was the foundation to being able tot hink for myself, and also improve my relationship with everything else in my world. Self-lvoe and self-care enabled connection to my dreams, goals and inner truth.
Pursuing creativity I gave myself permission to create the life I always imagined. Imagination is a sophisticated intelligence that we all possess.
Practising acceptance Finding the strength to keep trying, find a way through the confusion, learn from experience, and not to give into peer pressure all came with accepting that I am perfectly imperfect: that I am a student of this world and doing my best, and that my best was enough.

Maria Boznovska is an author, motivational speaker, and thought leader behind the Facebook page Live Gratefully (www.facebook.com/livegratefullytoday).