As I celebrate my 38th birthday I have taken the time to reflect on some of the key lessons I have learned and wanted to share…
I’ve learned to be vulnerable. It takes a lot of strength and courage to be vulnerable and you will feel incredibly uncomfortable. Thinking about the definition of vulnerable as being ‘exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally’. Is it any wonder most of us are so fearful to be vulnerable?! The process will leave you feeling raw and naked. You will want to run for the hills or hide in a cave. You may even want to bury your head in the sand. But do it anyway. It will open your world, your connections and your growth to another level.
I’ve learned that I am an introvert and I am okay with that. I don’t need to be around people all the time. I love my own company and have NEVER felt lonely by myself but have often felt alone when with the wrong group of people. I now recognise that I need to ALWAYS factor in time for myself, to rest and recharge by myself so that I can give my full energy to others that I serve, I am in relationships with and interact with.
I have learned that this present moment is all that truly exists. All those concerns and plans about the future, the replaying of things that have happened in the past, it’s all in our heads. It serves no purpose other than distract from fully living right now. I’m learning (it’s a work in progress! Perhaps a lifetimes work?!) to let go of all that, and stay focused on what I am doing, right at this moment. Eckart Tolle’s ‘A New Earth’ which I read this year really brought this message home to me – I can not recommend it enough. It’s a life enhancing & life changing book.
I have learned to surrender expectations. When we have an expectation of something, a person, an experience, a holiday destination, a job, a book , a film – anything really – you are putting it into a predetermined, pre-judged box that has very little to do with reality. You are setting up an ideal version of how it should be and then trying to fit the actual, raw, honest reality into this ideal box. You will be disappointed. Instead, I try to experience reality as it is, appreciate it for what it is, and be happy that it is.
I have learned that Eleanor Roosevelt was SPOT ON when she said ‘small minds discuss people, average minds discuss events, great minds discuss ideas.’ I understand there is value in gossip – it can help you make friends and you can bond over something very quickly, but that is not how I choose to live my life. If I am in company and the only thing to discuss is other people, for me that is a sure sign that I have outgrown the relationship and the dynamics of that person. I want to discuss bigger issues – world affairs, spirituality, books, ideas, that’s what gives me energy and makes me feel good. Gossiping is the equivalent of consuming junk food, it may feel good in the moment but always feels greasy, uneasy and uncomfortable later.
I have learned that mistakes are the best way to learn. I’m not afraid to make them. There is no one on Earth who has not made a mistake unless they have lived so carefully that by default they have not truly lived. Try not to repeat the same ones too often though and listen to feedback from others.
I have learned that we live in a world of infinite possibility and we create our reality by choosing our attitude, outlook, and energy. We can live in love, abundance, security and the knowledge that we are always being supported and guided to the greatest outcome in all situations. OR live in fear, scarcity, bitterness, and resentment. The choice is ours. We choose our outlook to life and we choose to frame the experiences we have that support that outlook in the way we see them.
I have learned that there is huge value and camaraderie infinding your tribe. I no longer compromise on this. Find the people who get you. Who accept you for you. Who have the same interests and passions. They will help you to rise and shine. To be at your best, you need to surround yourself with people and tools to make you better. Your tribe should uplift you, cheer for you and inspire you and if they don’t – get a new tribe!
I have also learned that relationships change. It is normal and inevitable to outgrow some friendships & relationship. Not everyone will stay in your life; make peace with that and release with grace. Life is like a train journey and people will get on and off. Ultimately the most important relationship is the one you have with yourself (and for me the one I have I with my Creator)
I have learned that failures are okay. They are the stepping stones to success. Without failure, how will we ever learn how to succeed? Life is all about the contrasts. The only way to avoid failure is to not try…and that’s a failure in itself. “So, ask every failure—and this is what I do with every failure, every crisis, every difficult time—I say, what is this here to teach me? And as soon as you get the lesson, you get to move on. If you really get the lesson, you pass and you don’t have to repeat the class. If you don’t get the lesson, it shows up wearing another pair of pants—or skirt—to give you some remedial work.” Oprah.
I have learned that life is working for me (and you!) and not against us. Everything that happens is for my best interests, for me to raise my consciousness…we ask for strength and yet moan and begrudge the tough times that bring that outcome, we ask for true friends and yet feel resentful when we are shown the truth colours of people. Embrace it all. Life is great!
I have learned that a good walk in nature cures most problems. Feeling overwhelmed? Walk. Want to lose weight and get healthy? Walk. Want to spend less money but need to get out of the house? Walk. Having problems that you can’t seem to solve? Walk and it will clear your head. Feel stuck and lacking creativity? Walk! Ideas will swim into year mind!
I have learned that gratitude is one of the best ways to find contentment and the quickest way to shift your energy into a positive place. We are often discontent in our lives and desire more because we don’t truly recognize how much we have. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, be grateful for the amazing gifts you’ve been given: loved ones and simple pleasures, health and sight and the gift of culture, music, books, nature, and beauty and the ability to create, and everything in between. Be grateful every day. Every day either write down or mentally go through 10 things you are grateful for. You get more of what you express gratitude for.
I have learned not to sit too much. Our bodies are designed for movement. Move, dance, run, play. If you can’t do anything physical; because of health reasons, then go to a Bowen Therapist, reflexologist, acupuncturist – do something that will move the energy in your body. Stagnant energy in our body is not good – it needs to be released and the flow maintained.
I have learned to unequivocally without hesitation, trust my intuition. So, what is intuition really? Intuition is a “knowing” that cannot be explained by facts or rational thought, but through a deep inner feeling. It’s those “I feel it in my gut” and “something doesn’t feel quite right” moments and you can’t explain why. It is our soul’s way of protecting and guiding us. Honour the voice within you.
I have learned to expand my mind with education and not entertainment. Reading, listening to podcasts, speaking to people that I wouldn’t normally speak to, listening to a talk in radio show expose myself to different opinions and ideas. I don’t want to live in an echo chamber, there is nothing to be learned from that. Brexit highlighted this aptly, as a remainer I really couldn’t get my head around why people would vote for Brexit until I started to expose myself to different voices, newspapers, reporters and whilst I don’t agree with their stance it has given me an insight into what drove their actions.
I have learned to say no in an elegant and graceful way. If I don’t want to go to an event, I send my apologies and wish them well in a polite way. Always remember an invite is a request, not a summons! You don’t have to go anywhere you don’t want to be – especially if you feel it will not be beneficial to your mental, emotional or physical health.
Ihave learned that children are our mirrors and reflect back to us all the good and negative that we have in ourselves and that is an incredible lesson! My daughter calls me and everyone else out on our hypocrisies, makes her disappointments in us well known(!) and lets us know when we are not behaving in a way that is congruent with our values. If I don’t walk the talk she lets me know!
I have learned there is more than one definition of success. I get to define it for my life and YOU get to define it for yours. I am not interested in money or material possessions. That for me is not an indicator of success. For me, success is living with authenticity in accordance with my values and the discipline of my faith – Sikhi.
I’ve learned that comparison is truly the thief of joy. Trying to keep up with the Joneses is a recipe for misery. Stop paying so much attention to what others have, and focus on your own path! I focus all my energies on me, my family & my purpose in the full faith that what is for me will not pass me.
I’ve learned that I’m in charge of healing my wounds. Time helps, but you need to be proactive and work with the tools and resources that are available. You can not stay in bed for 6 months and expect to be healed…do the work it takes to heal yourself for you, for your family & the generations to come.
I have learned there is a lesson in adversity. It is the tough times that show us what we’re made of, what our values are and who will truly be there for us. It shines a spotlight on everything in life and tests your resilience, strength & attitude like nothing rise. Be gracious for the learning. Accept the lesson & move on.
I have learned that joy is a must in my life. It’s a non-negotiable. Find things, people & experiences that make you laugh. Laughter changes the brain chemistry, releases feel-good hormones and really will make you feel better. Watch funny tv shows, go to a comedy gig, look up videos on youtube that make you giggle, ready a funny book, you control your life and what you’re being exposed to. If things feel tough seek out the moments that will bring you joy. It is my word for 2019.
I have learned that prayer works. Talking to God has kept me sane, has given me direction, guidance, and confirmation. Build your relationship with the Creator, it takes time, energy and effort but it’s so worth it.
I have learned to live proactively with intention. Don’t let life just happen to you. Don’t let your current circumstances or history dictate your attitude – dare to live boldly, greatly and with authenticity a life of purpose that you are in control of.
I have learned to do less. Most people try to do too much. They fill life with checklists and try to crank out tasks as if they were machines. Throw out the checklists and figure out what’s important. Stop being a machine and focus on what you love. Life is not about quantities but quality.
I have learned that meditation is medication. It shuts down the fight or flight response. Quietening the mind and being a witness to your thoughts and emotions but not allowing them to control you has immense power. Apps such as Calm and Headspace are great tools to help with this.
I’ve learned that you must be able to identify what your physical, mental, emotional health needs are, and give it to yourself whenever possible. That means eat when you’re hungry, rest when you’re tired, get out in nature when you’re feeling overwhelmed. When you listen to your body, good things happen to it.
I have learned to express my emotions. Don’t bury them. They will kill you. Give them a name and voice them. Then move on.
I have learned that rejection is painful and heart breaking especially when it comes from those that you considered to be your nearest. But you’ll get over it. We heal. We grow. We learn. Trust in the universe – God knows what he’s doing.
I have learned that you MUST learn to accept yourself, warts and all. You will never be able to fully love and accept others until you can accept yourself. You are worthy of your own love, time, respect – give it to yourself.
I’ve learned that it’s crucial to give back and serve others. Give back in any way you can… with time, with ideas, with suggestions, with money, however you can..give back. Give what you can with an open heart and positive intention and much more will be received.
I have learned that self care rocks! ‘It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, and to make your happiness a priority. It’s necessary.’ Mandy Hale. Book that massage, go for the pedicure, take time out to read your book or write in your journal.
I have learned that social media is a force for good and evil. Tame it. As I say to my daughter ‘lets not live our lives watching others live theirs!’. Use it as a tool to enrich your life, not as a master!
I have learned that soulmate is not a term restricted to just romantic love. Our children, siblings, a parent, a dear friend can be your soul mate – let’s not restrict it to mean just one kind of relationship and put that pressure on a romantic love.
I have learned that not everyone will support or like me. I’ve accepted it and made peace with it. “You can be a delicious, ripe peach and there will still be people in the world that hate peaches.” It’s really okay – do you like everyone you meet?
I have learned to ‘Treat the Impostors of Success and Failure the Same.’ Rudyard Kipling. Don’t let success go to my head or failure to the heart. Success and failure are part of life. We’ve all experienced winning and losing, we’ve had gains and loses, times in our lives where we are faced with adversity and are exhausted and frustrated. The key is to not get too low or too high, to keep a positive attitude and keep moving forward. Whatever the situation we must continue to stay humble and treat ourselves and others with love and kindness.
I have learned that I know nothing! To remain open-minded to the experiences that are happening and embrace it all!