Yesterday I turned 31.
When the lady at the makeup counter in Macy’s looked at my drivers license she said “Happy birthday! Do you even know how much of a blessing it is that someone can say that to you?”
The truth is, I do. I’ve never really understood why people fear getting older. You literally have two options; get old or die.
There is no grey area.
It’s black and white.
Keeping that in mind is a great reminder of the beauty that lies within aging.
In 31 years I’ve learned a lot. Some life lessons were easy, some were really hard, and some smacked me in the face and darted off so quickly I didn’t even get a chance to see what hit me. Still, each helped shape me into the person I currently am so I’m grateful for them whether they were good, bad, or ugly.
So here are a few things I’ve learned along the way that have made my life a lot easier… in no particular order.
31 LESSONS FOR 31 YEARS OF AGE
- Pack light. When traveling, never take more items than you need. In life, never carry more baggage with you than is required to get to your next destination. Shed the excess.
- Measure material goods in sentimental value, not monetary value, because things are really just things. Being less attached to the items that don’t really matter helps you move through life with less worries.
- But at the same time always back up your hard drive… because having your laptop stolen sucks.
- If you’re debating whether or not to spend money on something, ask yourself… “In 5 years, will I be glad I made this purchase”? Proceed accordingly.
- Make a list of priorities. When you claim that something is important to you, but say you don’t have time to do it, take a look at that list of priorities and move things around to make it happen.
- Reevaluate those priorities once every 3 months. As you grow older and wiser they will change for the better. Without taking a look at them semi-frequently you’ll keep chasing things you no longer need to be happy.
- Know that sometimes the bullsh*t in your life is really fertilizer. Like a farmer covers his fields in manure to produce stronger crops, sometimes you have to be surrounded by crap to reach a new level of potential.
- Always have a spare key to your car. At minimum, know what it will take to make a replacement… because you never know when your keys will fall down an elevator shaft when you need them.
- If you’re single, stop searching for Mr./Mrs. Right and just have fun. Talk to as many people as possible even if they “aren’t your type”. Spend your energy building an amazing life that makes you happy. Eventually, someone might join. If not, you have an amazing life.
- Understand that 99.9% of the time it’s not about you. Everyone has their own doubts, fears, agendas, hopes, and dreams. You aren’t the center of their world.
- Trust your gut. If you’re gut says to run from it, listen. Don’t start a job, relationship, make big purchase, or do anything else because you’re too chicken to back out. Your gut is always right.
- Save a picture of your passport, birth certificate, and credit cards on the cloud. If you find yourself in foreign country with no valid identification it will be much easier to get back home.
- Be brave. Take risk and do at least one thing that makes you uncomfortable every single day. Nothing extraordinary happens inside your comfort zone.
- Own your ability to make decisions. Some things we are born with. Everything else in your life is a direct result of something you decided to do. Bask in the awesomeness of your authority over yourself.
- Realize that saying sorry is nice, but usually not necessary. Use your actions to convey whatever it is that you think needs correcting.
- Take some time to stand still in moments of uncertainty. It’s easy to get antsy and want to react immediately to everything. Sometimes, your problems will solve themselves if you give them a little time.
- Learn to recognize people who don’t have your best interest at heart. Remove them from your life without apology. It’s often a silent process and sometimes no words need to be spoken.
- Believe people when they show you who they are. If it walks, talks, quacks, and acts like a duck it’s a duck. The same goes for jerks. The same also goes for good-hearted people who may seem “too nice”.
- Ask questions. When you don’t fully understand something, being judgmental or defensive isn’t going to bring you closer to comprehension. Simply ask questions and take the time to learn more.
- Take care of yourself. You get one body. Spare parts aren’t easy to come by. Your legs can run marathons, climb mountains, & carry you across oceans. Let them do more than walk from the couch to the fridge.
- Eat good food 90% of the time. If you have money to get your hair done, buy drinks at the bar, or get a coffee at Starbucks every morning then you can afford to buy healthy food. It’s worth it.
- In addition, make an attempt to learn where your food comes from. Don’t be an ostrich with your head in the sand when it comes to the standards of food production. The next generation cannot afford for you to do that.
- Stop making excuses for other people. If someone wanted you to know why they didn’t call/hangout/etc, they would tell you on their own. And chances are, their reason for not coming through wasn’t personal.
- Remove yourself from technology on occasion. It’s normal to live a super connected life but don’t let your digital reality be a damper on your actual reality.
- Don’t fake it til you make. Be your authentic self and appreciate where you are in the moment before you get where you’d like to be.
- Question the foundation of your complaints. The act of complaining isn’t going to fix anything. But trying to understand why you felt a need to complain in the first place gives you a place to start in making your situation better.
- Don’t worry about haters and avoid people who’d rather spend their energy on negativity than positivity. People in that situation are frustrated and there isn’t much you can do about it. Distance yourself and move on.
- Say hello or good morning to everyone, especially those who don’t say it back or give you a grumpy look. They usually need it the most.
- When you give, give without conditions. Not because you expect a reciprocal effort or have thought about what’s in it for you. Unconditional giving removes stress, anxiety, and brings a lot more joy to sharing your life with others.
- Travel. Travel now. Travel frequently. Travel with family. Travel with friends. Travel alone. Don’t wait to see the world until the time is right. The right time is always now and there’s an adventure waiting right around the corner every day.
- Your perception is reality. Everything in life is truly that simple. Spend the time you need to get your perception on the right focus. You have everything you need to live the life you want if you’d just believe it.