It’s a beautiful fall day. The air is crisp, the sun is shining. Different shades of vibrant orange and yellow leaves twist and turn in the breeze. Today is the last day of my thirties.
The moments are full. The conversations are rich – my heart is happy. I wait in anticipation for a beautiful chapter to end, and a new one to begin. Tomorrow is the first day of my forties.
Markers of time and changing seasons are a gift. Claiming a moment as yours, creates the opening to temporarily suspend all that is. Opportunities to feel deep gratitude, linger in the space between the pause. Right now, is the moment worth living.
Our lives are always in motion. We are directors of the momentum we lead. We can step in and match the pace of a life well-loved. We can also create more resistance and angst by hurrying to finish a journey that’s under way. Life can be a rhythm, or a race. We set that pace.
Each day of our journey, we have freedom to choose. We choose our thoughts, our perspective, and our willingness to love. We choose to open doors and close them. We get to give compassion, or turn a blind eye. We decide whether we value our worth, or separate from our inner truth.
On the last day of my thirties, I find myself extra introspective. Time appears to be on pause. Yet, I know today will pass, and the gift of a new day will come. For now, I sit in the lessons learned from my thirty-nine years and three hundred- and sixty-four-days in.
I’ve collected thirty-nine of my favorite snippets of learning from my writing over the years. Whether you are three, twenty, or sixty-five years old, these simple lessons apply to us all. They are about remembering to be who you are, love who you are, and if all else fails, to let gratitude help you see.
Lesson #1: Be mesmerized by the influence of your own inner being. Look for love where it is, instead of endlessly searching where it isn’t. You are love.
Lesson #2: You are not your thoughts, feelings and actions – you are so much more. You are a creator, an observer and a participant of all of your thoughts, feelings and actions throughout this grand life adventure. So, create, observe and participate loudly, fully and proudly. But whatever you do, don’t attach your worth to your creations, observations and experiences.
Lesson #3: When we stop being afraid to show up and live fully, we are rewarded with the feeling of being alive.
Lesson #4: Laugh, dance if you can, fake it if you can’t. Hug the people who are important to you and share your smile with as many people as you possibly can. Whatever you do, enjoy where you are. If you aren’t finding the joy in where you are, then get quiet, get still and connect back in with yourself.
Lesson #5: A good old-fashioned belly-laugh is a sure way to quiet the mind and ignite your soul. It’s contagious, it feels good, and it lightens the mood on the darkest of days. Laughter is nature’s purest medicine that will fill your heart with joy. When we feel happy and bright, we are better able to lead with our hearts and share our light with the world.
Lesson #6: Happiness is all about tipping the scales toward more of what we do want.
Lesson #7: Connect with nature. Life is like a dream and nature is the extraordinary backdrop transforming the dream into a beautiful miracle. No matter where we live in the world, we are surrounded with natural beauty we can experience on a deep soul level. Step outside, notice the sound of the wind and the warmth of the sun on your skin. Feel the rain dampen your clothes and watch the cool brisk air transform your breath before your eyes. Start to truly experience the incredible sights and sounds before you, and pay attention to your physical response. Connecting with nature awakens the spirit of who we are. Nature helps us come back to the part of us that sometimes gets buried in the noise of life.
Lesson #8: Recharging is really about using common sense. It’s about caring for our basic needs and nurturing ourselves the same way we would nurture a small child. When we take care of ourselves, we don’t just get to lead full lives – we get to enjoy the amazing ride of having a full life.
Lesson #9: Your external world is your playground, it wasn’t meant to be a measuring stick for your worth.
Lesson #10: Listen. Instead of engaging in endless chatter or gossip, practice getting quiet. Feeling the need to constantly have to speak our minds, gives life to thoughts that would be better off left alone. Instead of talking, try listening. The art of listening is a wonderful way to hold space for a friend or loved one to share their hearts and stories with us. Prepare to be amazed by the beautiful things you’ll hear when you stop to listen.
Lesson #11: Give what you can when you can. Holding on to everything we have with clenched fists will not bring us more joy or abundance. When we give love, possessions, knowledge, inspiration or a helping hand, we are helping to make our world a little brighter. When we give, we help to counterbalance the things in life that are dark. When we give with an open heart and without an agenda attached, the effect will be felt.
Lesson #12: When I see the goodness and potential in you, I’m recognizing that it also exists in me. When I champion you, I also champion me – we rise together.
Lesson #13: Intentional whispers of truth are far more powerful than loud booming voices.
Lesson #14: Many of us are experts at doing and amateurs at being – that’s okay. The best place to start getting more comfortable in our being, is to surrender to play and fun. Let pleasure in, you’ll thank yourself.
Lesson #15: Enthusiasm is contagious! So is pessimism. You choose. When we dance with life before us, our energy and attitude bring more of the same. When we push against life and make everything harder than it needs to be, we end up exhausted and overwhelmed.
Lesson #16: Instead of worrying about whether or not you are liked, loved and adored by others – give that gift to yourself by protecting your perception of life. Stop making your happiness contingent upon other people and your external world. If love and acceptance is a feeling you long for, then give yourself permission to feel it whenever you want to, just because you can – you don’t need a reason.
Lesson #17: Our evolution takes place on a daily and moment-to-moment basis. Whether we choose to stay present with ourselves, or not, doesn’t stop our evolution – but it does shape the quality of our journey.
Lesson #18: We overcomplicate life by insisting on quick fixes and instant results. The expression, patience is a virtue, is a popular expression for a reason. The only way to understand our inner world, is to be patient with ourselves while we are learning.
Lesson #19: The story and adventure of our day exists between two bookends: the start of our day and the end of our day. Instead of jumping headfirst in to the day, see what changes if you spend a few moments in gratitude for another day. Set an intention for how you most want to feel today. You can go back to that intention anytime you get knocked off your path throughout the day. At the end of the day, before you drift off to sleep, spend a few moments in gratitude for the adventure of another day. Pat yourself on your back for being an amazing adventurer – if you’re here, you are an amazing adventurer. That’s how easy it is.
Lesson #20: Sometimes we need a little reminder that we can use humour to find our light amidst the dark.
Lesson #21: The greatest gift we can give ourselves, and teach our children, is to appoint ourselves in charge of our own happiness. If everyone was accountable for their own sense of happiness and worth, we would stop expecting other people and external sources to fulfill us. We would also stop blaming everyone else for our disappointments and unhappiness.
Lesson #22: Give the wounded version of yourself some reprieve. Instead of avoiding, covering up or lashing out, give yourself the comfort you need. Let the evolved part of who you are step up and nurture the wounded part of who you are. It’s okay, it’s part of being human.
Lesson #23: We say yes to what feels right, when we say no thanks to everything that doesn’t. Trust in your feelings to guide you towards what feels right and away from what doesn’t. Then follow through and honour yourself by sticking to your script.
Lesson #24: If we are hurting others, we are disconnected from ourselves. If we want to stop the cycle of disconnect and hurt, we must understand that it always starts with us. The best way to arm ourselves is to wrap our arms around ourselves – compassion is key. When we don’t feel good about ourselves or others, it’s our cue to offer ourselves more compassion and self-love. Compassion paves the path to connect with your inner spirit. Compassion opens the door to the sacred space where all is well.
Lesson #25: Each day is a gift to start fresh and practice living and loving our lives as they are. If there were things about yesterday that didn’t feel so hot, or had you considering maybe this isn’t the life you want. Restart from where you are and shift your focus to this moment. Find the evidence of the joy that exists right now.
Lesson #26: Know who your important people are, and when you’re in need, remember that those are the only people who get to temporarily take the wheel.
Lesson #27: Whatever our shame stories are, the content isn’t what is at the core of the pain; it is how we hang on to and hide shame that makes it painful and powerful.
Lesson #28: “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” Say these words and feel these words throughout the day in order to refocus a busy mind and ignite your heart. You’re alive and that alone is worthy of giving thanks. Gratitude is a powerful way to put life in perspective and connect to your heart.
Lesson #29: If life feels overwhelming and complicated, take initiative to slow down. Chaos can be addicting – so can the rush of flying by the seat of our pants. It’s important to remember that burnout is a real thing, but it’s also preventable. There is a healthier way of getting our need for adventure met.
Lesson #30: Instead of quickly moving to the planning phase for the next dream, goal or task, spend some time celebrating where you are at this very moment. Pat yourself on the back for your wins and give yourself a compassionate hug for the hard places you’ve been. You don’t have to be a warrior and keep trekking through life without resting. Be still and give yourself some love for all the roads you’ve traveled thus far.
Lesson #31: We must be willing to show up, and also let go. In-between showing up and letting go, there is a grace period where our opportunities for happily ever after reside. If we push too hard, and obsess over details too much, we miss the space and grace period necessary to enjoy the moments we are in.
Lesson #32: Being 100% accountable for our personal happiness doesn’t mean we won’t have hard times in life. Being accountable, means we understand we can move towards a better feeling way of life, even if that means one teeny-tiny step at a time. Nobody can make us choose how we experience life before us, it’s up to us to decide on a moment to moment basis.
Lesson #33: Less is More. No amount of material possessions or wealth can feed your soul, the two are completely unrelated. Instead of trying to fill the voids with things, practice sitting in the discomfort of quiet spaces and listen to the insight that comes. This is the voice that will lead you down the path to your joy and passion.
Lesson #34: The trick is to not get all caught up in our thoughts and stories about our feelings. It’s much more effective to allow our feelings to be felt in our body, and get quiet enough for our truth to come to the surface. When you ask yourself important questions and practice listening, your inner guide will give you the answers that ring true for you.
Lesson #35: The best part of being 100% accountable is you are no longer at the mercy of others. You get to throw away all those high expectations you have for others to fulfill your happiness. Instead, you get to pursue your own sense of okayness and bliss each and every day.
Lesson #36: Our perception of our outer world, is a reflection of our inner world. When we make a habit of checking in with ourselves on a daily basis, we become familiar with the tapestry of our inner world. Then when we feel like we are being swallowed by challenges in our external world, we can venture inward and see what might need shifting.
Lesson #37: Before we start narrating stories in our minds about what we have to do, what isn’t going well or whatever worry may be about to take hold – just stop and breathe. As you inhale, take in the beauty of your surroundings. Maybe it is the sound of the birds chirping outside; perhaps it is the faces of your loved ones around you. Whatever it is for you, just notice it and breathe it in. As you exhale, release any tension or lingering thoughts about what isn’t going well. Exhale the stories out nice and smoothly and don’t allow any of them to land.
Lesson #38: Know your sources of joy. Make a point of creating a huge list of what your sources of happiness and joy include. Have as many tools and resources to draw on as you possibly can. You’ll need them when you fall off your path and don’t feel good. Your sources of joy will bring you back into alignment.
Lesson #39: Gratitude has a way of transforming our view, and helping us see why being alive is the gift.
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Originally published at emilymadill.com