It’s my birthday, so naturally I’m a little reflective. Here are some life lessons I’ve learned recently, or that’ve been in the back of my mind for some time now.
Life lessons are always very personal, naturally, but my hope it that some of these life lessons will resonate with you, too : )
This post is all about some life lessons I’ve learned thus far now that my 29th birthday is here.
1. Practice positivity
In the book The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, there’s an excerpt that really resonated with me. You might find this hard to believe, but it talks about how some people get comfortable and even prefer to be down or sad. I used to be one of those people.
I actually preferred to feel down because trying to be happy took too much work and felt out of my comfort zone. Being positive felt uncomfortable and took effort, so I’d always revert to my natural state of blah. It was just easier that way.
In the last few years, I’ve been actively working to change this about myself, and I have to give a lot of credit to my boyfriend. He’s naturally far more positive than I, and has really rubbed off on me. Now (for the most part) instead of feeling like positivity is uncomfortable, I much prefer it to negativity. In fact, positivity comes more naturally to me now.
Positive thinking is still something that I’m working on every single day, but I’m so proud of how far I’ve come in the last few years. The practice of positivity has been worth it, and my life is far better because of it.
2. You can become more positive by surrounding yourself with positive people
I used to worry when I would hear people say things like “watch out who you hang around. Negative people will bring you down, so get away from them” because as a negative person, I didn’t want the people I loved most to leave me. The last thing I want to do is bring down the people I really care about (like my boyfriend, for example).
But here’s the thing. I only think distancing yourself from negative people is necessary if those negative people aren’t self aware and aren’t willing to change.
If, on the other hand, they are aware that they have a tendency to be negative, and they’re working on trying to be more positive, there’s a strong chance that they can improve.
Instead of being stuck in my ways and accepting my proclivity to negativity as a fact of life, I used my boyfriend as an example for the opposite, and began to emulate his outlook on things.
And I have to say, it’s working.
3. Consistency is truly key
I listened to James Clear’s Atomic Habits audio book last October. This was my second time reading/listening to it and for whatever reason, the book’s message really stuck with me this time around.
Take working out, for example. I’ve always wanted to improve my physique, but I always tried to achieve that by not putting in the work consistently over time. I would opt for quick fixes or workout programs that lasted just a few months, but I would expect a major, lasting change.
Since reading Atomic Habits, though, I’ve adopted the mentality of lifelong pursuit when it comes to the things that I want most. So with the example of working out, I now look at it as a lifelong aspect that I will forever incorporate into my life, and funny enough, I’ve started to see physical changes in myself that I’ve never seen before.
I’m done with quick fixes. Besides, not living that way is much more enjoyable – you won’t put nearly as much pressure on yourself. Consistency over time, for the long haul, is the way to go.
4. The more you talk about something, the more likely it is to happen
My grandmother was born in Verona, Italy and grew up in Venice, and I’ve always talked to my Dad (her son) about “taking him there” one day. When my grandmother passed away in 2019, this dream became even more important.
I probably talked to my Dad about doing this for about 10 years. We always knew it would happen some day, we just weren’t sure when. But I made sure that dream was eventually realized.
In June of 2022, my family finally got to Italy to see where my grandmother was born and grew up. I truly believe the fact that I never gave up talking or dreaming about it made it happen.
You can call it manifesting if you want, but even if you don’t fully believe something or you’re not totally sure it’ll happen one day, talking about it over and over again will eventually have you believing it’s possible!
5. Be careful not to equate someone’s material possessions with their worth as a person
What someone looks like, or what kind of house they live in, clothes they wear or car they drive might seem interesting or even “cool”, but be careful not to determine someone’s worth based on these external or material things.
How a person treats others and treats themselves is far more representative of the kind of person they are than the material things that they own.
6. Strong opinions, loosely held
I’ve realized that even when I have very strong opinions, that someone can say something that makes me question everything I believe.
Holding onto an opinion for the sake of holding onto it is useless. Being malleable is far more valuable because it stretches you; when your opinions are challenged and you are willing to hear opposing thoughts, you learn more about the world around you and become more educated in the process.
Be willing to listen to others. Be willing to hear their thoughts, opinions and values. It’s okay if they are different than your own, and just because someone is telling you what they believe doesn’t mean that they are questioning your beliefs.
7. Making friends takes effort
Something I don’t think people talk about enough is how hard it is to make friends as an adult. It takes a lot of bravery, honestly, to put yourself out there to meet new people. If you want to meet people, you usually have to do something you’ve never done before.
Whether that’s texting someone you don’t really know and asking them to hang out (which, of course, means opening yourself up to the possibility of rejection), or going to an event or gathering where you don’t know that many people – meeting new people can be very uncomfortable.
There may also be circumstances when you finally have the chance to hang out with someone who has friend-potential, but the last thing you want to do is leave your couch, turn off Netflix, and prepare yourself to have conversation with someone you hardly know.
In these moments, it’s important to remind yourself WHY you wanted to make a new friend in the first place. That’s your motivation in those moments – so go back to that.
8. Don’t pick up your phone the first thing in the morning
The moment you wake up and look at your phone, your mind is garbled with social media notifications, updates on other people’s lives that you didn’t ask for, requests from people who need you, etc. By checking your phone first thing in the morning, you might get a couple quick hits of dopamine, but is it really worth it?
Really think about how you start your mornings and if checking your phone is really beneficial for you. Can you do something else instead? Maybe journal or read? Is there a way to start your morning that doesn’t involve filling your mind with the on-goings and requests of others?
9. Often do things out of your ordinary routine
Life can get monotonous quickly and if you don’t change things up every once in a while, you may forget that changing it up is even a possibility!
For example, I’ve been going to Orange Theory classes for the last 7 months or so. And as much as I love it, I completely forgot that I have a gym in walking distance from my house that I could go to on my lunch break if I wanted to. I was so focused on Orange Theory that I forgot about another really awesome alternative for working out that will help me see new people, try new exercises and switch up my day.
Don’t get too stuck in your routines. Think outside the box and try something new whenever possible.
10. Walk and walk some more
The older I get, the more I believe that the secret to a long, healthy life is simply staying active. Namely, walking.
If you are able, walk as much as you can and continue to do it for the rest of your life!
11. Sometimes it takes a few times hanging out with someone before you really know if they could be your friend
In the past, I’ve been too quick to decide if I click with someone or not. The truth is, sometimes it takes a few times of hanging out with someone before you really know.
Think about it… are you really at your best the first time you meet someone? Maybe you are, but maybe you’re also a little nervous, or you’re not sure what conversation topics to bring up and the conversation seems to lull.
But the more you hang out with someone, the more comfortable you will be and the more you can be your true self. So, think about this the next time you are hanging out with someone the first few times.
Cut yourself some slack and give them the benefit of the doubt. Good things take time!
12. Talk therapy can work wonders
Talk therapy can be really scary, especially if there’s something that’s bothering you that you’re not sure you even want to talk about.
So, take your time with therapy. But if you do feel ready to talk to someone, it can do wonders, at least in my experience. I wrote all about my experience with therapy here.
The short of it is that it can be really nice to talk to someone with an unbiased opinion of your life, and someone who has knowledge of tools that can help you through the toughest of things.
13. Journaling is a form of therapy
Journaling has many benefits (read about that here), but it can also be a form of therapy. Getting your thoughts out of your head and onto paper allows your mind to analyze those thoughts in ways you can’t do inside your mind.
14. To have good relationships, you have to put in the effort
Once you’ve made friends, you have to put in effort to maintain them. If you don’t, like anything that isn’t cared for, they can wither away slowly.
Text your friends, call them, celebrate their birthdays – show them that you care. Because if you don’t, they just might notice!
15. Stop underestimating yourself
Why pursue something without believing in yourself 100%? Why choose to believe that some people are better than you, just because your thoughts told you so? Even if someone else tells you that someone is better than you, what gives them the power to make that determination?
You can only control yourself and your actions – so why not choose to believe that you are perfectly capable of achieving everything that you want to achieve? Believing anything less is a waste of time.
16. Your thoughts are not fact
At some point in life, you learn that your thoughts are not fact. This seems obvious… like, of course not everything that pops into your mind is 100% true. But when you are in a thought spiral and lack perspective, it’s hard to remember that your thoughts aren’t absolutely true.
The next time you’re beating up on yourself, remember that just because you have a thought, that doesn’t mean it’s true.
This post is all about some life lessons I’ve learned thus far now that my 29th birthday is here!
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- 4 Life Changing Tips For Improving Your Mental and Financial Well-being
- 7 Things You Can Write About In Your Journal