Today is my 40th birthday.
I am excited and grateful to be approaching this age and new era, because lately I have realized how much wisdom really does come with age.
I challenged myself, a year ago on my 39th birthday, to write this post on my 40th.
All year, I have been thinking about what I have learned in my 40 years on earth. I’ve experienced great loss, betrayal, and failure. I’ve also experienced immeasurable joy, triumph, and re-birth.
And I wouldn’t trade one second of any of it.
I know that through it all, I have been paying attention and soaking up the lessons of life and being a human. Being a woman. Being a mother.
And while at 40 I have had all of these “a ha” moments and lessons, I know that it will take me some time and practice to be truly living my life in these truths. I am a willing and passionate student in the school of life, and hope to be considered a master by the time I am through.
I decided to begin writing these important lessons down in one place so that some day, when my children would be old enough to appreciate and listen to them, I might pass them on. I have been collecting them as I go.
I feel passionately that my journey in this life is to learn and share, as so many others have done for me. And so I know this is quite off-topic, but I want to share 40 of the lessons I have learned in my 40 years on earth with you, the mothers who are raising the future generations.
- Happiness is a state of mind and relies solely on your perspective, not external circumstances. No one or nothing can MAKE you happy. You choose happiness. You do this by changing the way you think about things: with gratitude.
- Your thoughts are not you. They are brain patterns. You control your thoughts, don’t let them control you.
- Whatever you focus on grows. So focus on the things you want, that bring you joy, and not on your problems and negativity. (Don’t hate war, love peace)
- Judging others only makes you insecure. It creates an environment in your head that says, “I’m judging other people, so they must be judging me too.” It says everything about you and nothing about the other person.
- Have an open mind. Everyone has their own good reason for their opinion. Having an open mind is the way to a rich life.
- Base everything you do on love. Love everyone around you even if you don’t think they deserve it.
- Celebrate what makes people different rather than trying to fit them all into your own small model of the world.
- Live your life with an open heart. If you live your life walking around afraid to be hurt, you will miss out on so much joy. Don’t be afraid of pain. Pain will pass but it’s a necessary part of being human and allows us to grow and learn.
- Never brag about something that makes others feel inferior: your income, your body, your possessions. Happiness at the expense of others is not true happiness. Just enjoy what you have.
- Nothing extrinsic will give you lasting happiness. Real fulfillment is internal. Serve others. Do good deeds. Be kind. Smile at everyone. Open a door for someone. Buy dinner for strangers. Call your grandparents. Take food to the grieving.
- Good health is freedom. Poor health is prison. Exercise to feel your best, not for how it makes you look. Eat good, healthy food because it feels great and improves your quality of life. You only get one vessel in life, so take care of it.
- The problem is NEVER the other person. The problem always comes back to you. It is YOUR reaction to the other person that needs to be examined. Why did the other person make me feel this way? What is it about me that had such a strong reaction? What can I do to change my perspective? Blame gives the other person all the power. Taking responsibility for your perspective gives you all that power back.
- Always focus on the best qualities of others in your relationships. Make a list of what you love about them. The minute you begin to focus on what you don’t like, the relationship will weaken. When you focus on the positive, you will quickly see all the things that bothered you begin to disappear. Don’t change THEM, change your perspective on them.
- Always act as if someone will find out what you’re doing right in this moment. Live your life with integrity and you will have nothing to worry about.
- Everything you do has energy, either positive or negative. Make sure you’re putting out positive energy as much as you can, and you will receive positive energy back. It’s called karma and it is real.
- When arguments happen with those you love, stop the conversation when it becomes heated and just tell them you love them. This is the hardest thing in the WORLD to do and the last thing you feel like doing, but once you do, the conversation ceases to be an argument and can continue from a place where things can actually be resolved. This will deepen your relationship.
- Live with no regrets. Everything happens for a reason, and there is a lesson in everything. Every event is either a blessing, or a blessing in disguise.
- Everyone is on their own journey in this life. Never compare your journey to someone else’s. We all have specific lessons to learn and paths to get us there. For this reason, there is no such thing as “fair”, instead only what you are here to learn and accomplish.
- Approach life with curiosity. Follow your curiosity and explore it at any cost, the payoff will be worth it.
- Careers: do what you love, the money will follow.
- Nothing is permanent. EVERYTHING changes. Life is like ocean waves and we can fight waves and waste precious energy, or we can lie back and float with an open heart and mind, going where the waves will take us.
- Failure is nothing but a great lesson. Learn to love failure and the opportunity it brings.
- Admitting when you are wrong or made a mistake is painful, but it feels gratifying when it’s done, and people forget your mistake quickly and respect you more. Admitting mistakes/wrongdoing makes you appear stronger, not weaker.
- Fulfillment > Achievement
- You may experience pain, but you don’t have to experience suffering. Suffering is a state of mind where you are focused on what has gone wrong or what could go wrong. End suffering by learning to return to a place of gratitude.
- Traveling and experiencing new things is one of the best ways to get in touch with the present moment.
- The secret to happiness and fulfillment is keeping your focus outside of yourself. Stop thinking about what others are or are not doing for you, but rather what you can do for them.
- Do for yourself what you wish others would do for you and your needs will always be met.
- Every situation brings three choices: leave it, change it, or accept it. Failing to make one of these choices causes suffering and anxiety.
- Your expectations will shape your experience, so expect great things.
- Your thoughts and your words are powerful, more powerful than you have ever realized. They shape everything that happens to you, through subtleties and choices. So make them positive and affirming.
- You are so much stronger than you could ever dream. Don’t wait to be tested to discover your strength. Like Dorothy’s red slippers, you’ve had it all along.
- Realizing that you are going to die and that it could happen anytime might feel depressing at first, but offers an amazing sense of freedom when you accept it. What would be important to you if you knew you were dying within a week? Do those things. Make them priorities.
- You’re not special, and that’s a good thing. There’s a reason that many older people seem to not give a damn what anyone thinks about them, and it’s because they have come to realize this over time. The world will not implode if you wear a bikini to the beach without having the perfect body. No one actually cares. Even if they do, they are so wrapped up in their own world that their thoughts of you will only be a fraction of how much YOU think about yourself. They’ll forget. Even the biggest celebrities in the world are only thought about on occasion by individuals (unless they’re a stalker!). Use this knowledge to just stop caring what anyone thinks, make decisions based on what YOU want, and you’ll be free.
- Your mind is a self-created environment that you live in each day, and only YOU have the power to shape what it’s like. You can make it as beautiful as you want. You can look at people and trees and animals and see love flowing out of everything, or you can see it all as conspiring against you. It’s your choice. Cultivate your environment carefully and mindfully.
- What others think about me is their projection from their own self-created environment (mind). It has everything to do with how they see things, and zero to do with me or anything about me. So take nothing personally, including the good (enjoy it, but don’t cultivate your worth from others’ opinions).
- Moderation > extremes. Do good things for yourself and your body the majority of the time, and let loose a little bit too. Order a dessert once in a while. Stay up all night laughing if you have the opportunity.
- There is no right or wrong, good or bad. Only consequences. You are free to choose, but you are not free from the consequences of your choice.
- Rock bottom and breaking points feel absolutely hideous, but they are almost always followed by beautiful changes and exciting growth. If you can remind yourself of this when things are the lowest, you can get through anything.
- Finally, the phrase that I’m hoping to have tattooed on myself today if I can get up the nerve (!!!), “Life is but a dream”. My greatest lesson of these 40 years has been that I can change anything, any situation, any feeling, any attitude, ANYTHING at any time. In dreams, if we are aware and present, we can make anything happen. All we have to do is stop and open our minds and realize we are dreaming, and suddenly, we can do anything. Life is the same way. If we become present with the moment, realize that we are just drifting through life or letting life run away with us, we can stop it and change it to whatever we want it to be.
I love to soak up the wisdom of others, so for my birthday request, I would love for you to comment with your greatest lesson so far in this life!
What have you learned from the school of life so far?
(PS-to celebrate my big day, I temporarily lowered the price of my fit pregnancy ebook on Amazon. Click here to get your ebook for only $2.99, normally $7.85)