A revolutionary shift occurred in my life in the summer of 2000. I “retired” from my profession to care for my two young sons. The abruptness of the decision, albeit voluntary, shattered my sense of purpose, which was to have a glowing career. Bereaving the demise of the only identity I had known, I struggled to adapt to motherhood—the most significant, yet least valued, job. I could not have imagined that my fierce commitment to my children would lead me on a spiritual journey of discovery, helping to unveil my true identity, find my true purpose, and create health and joy.

Here are 10 strategies that liberated my mind and opened my heart:

1. Reflect.

A host of tools such as physical activity, yoga, meditation, self-reflection, spiritual reading, and, surprisingly enough, maintaining a journal helped augment my emotional healing. Slowly but surely, clarity replaced ambiguity and I began seeing myself in a completely new light.

2. Find YOU.

Sensing that the real me is distinct from the perceived me, I set out to demystify my “self.” Following much research, reading, and reflection, I learned that I held the key to unlocking my potential. Abandoning inhibitions, I plunged full time into my children’s lives, pledging to give them a rounded education and unconditional love. A volunteer assignment provided an outlet for me, and I have volunteered extensively for numerous causes since. I learned to be assertive, manage negative emotions, and control detrimental impulses.

3. Foster strengths.

Focusing on my strengths has helped bring out the best in me. I surround myself with positive people. I loved to sing as a youngster and decided to revive that talent by enrolling in voice lessons. I’m a friend and a confidant to innumerable people. My family continually relies upon my orderliness and promptness. My marriage is robust because of my dedication. With perseverance as walls and inspiration as the ceiling, I am thriving in the house of victory.

4. Accept others.

Your next-door neighbor’s acerbic attitude gives you a stomach ulcer. Your boss is a control freak. Your relative’s knack for stretching the truth gets on your nerves. What to do? Well, you know you cannot change them; you might as well accept them. Tailoring my attitude to accept others for who they are has transformed my life: Not only do I have minimal expectation of others, but I am also more tolerant of their   habits and behaviors.

5. Suspend judgment.

Suspending judgment and becoming a good listener are compelling reasons for developing empathy. Transcending sham and triviality is helping me live with integrity. The new me is more tolerant and liberal, though fine-tuning the reflection of my opinion lens will take time, training, and tenacity.

6. Cherish haves.

Over time, I realized I had lost track of the present and focused on “what-ifs” and “have-nots.” Now I celebrate each day for having life’s basics—food, shelter, health, friends, and family.

7. Unleash immaterial.

When I’m distressed or disappointed, I ask myself if the issue is significant enough to brood over the following day, month, or year. Frequently, my answer is a resounding “No!”

8. Stay positive.

There is no parallel to maintaining a constructive outlook. A positive attitude begets positive changes.

9. Uphold virtues.

The opportunity to influence my children’s lives by my thoughts, words, and actions is priceless. I hope to continue using my voice as a vehicle of positive change.

10. Do right.

I try. I hope to adhere to my inner convictions and continue treading the true path of life.

You know the old saying, With age comes wisdom? Well, I’m neither old nor wise. But I’m deliriously happy. It’s interesting how in schools students learn the subject matter first and then take the exam to test their understanding. In life, ironically, the test comes first, and the lesson follows depending on whether or not you passed the test. Sure, no individual or situation is ideal. The important thing is to acknowledge your indiscretions, learn your lessons, accept your shortcomings, capitalize on your strengths, and most important—HAVE FUN. Life, as we know it, is colored by unexpected events; let’s work on making it worth our salt.

Raji Lukkoor is a writer and full-time mother  who resides in Saratoga. She can be reached  at rajilukkoor@yahoo.com.