Few occasions in life beg for reflection more than a personal tragedy or a looming birthday. On the other side of 50 such reflections often come with regret either for poor decisions or lost opportunities. Looking back on the past reminds us of the valuable lessons learned from mistakes made and the wisdom gained from the often humbling hindsight.
As children, we are taught many things including respect, manners, sportsmanship, work ethic, tolerance, and honesty. The meaning of each of these principles evolves as we mature and our understanding of life and its boundaries broaden. As I ponder my decades on earth, I realize that there are things that I wish my younger self had understood and appreciated . While I’m certain that my parents tried to instill these ideals over the years, sometimes we can only see their value through our own experiences.
Perhaps the time has passed that these 9 lessons will bring more value to my life but just maybe they will resonate with a younger person trying to navigate their way in this complicated world.
LIVE IN THE MOMENT
Engage yourself in the one moment you can truly change – THIS ONE. Be present and invested. Put thought and consideration in to your actions, words and expressions. Overloading your schedule hinders your ability to be present in each experience and the fragile balance of work commitments, relationships and personal time teeters precariously. Feel at peace and inspired by releasing the negative energy that fosters unhappiness in your life. Embrace positivity and be grateful.
Trust your instincts and let others see the real, imperfect, flawed, quirky, weird, beautiful person you are. Your value does not decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth. Do not let others define you…be who YOU are and be proud of it.
TRUE BEAUTY COMES FROM WITHIN
“Mirror, Mirror on the wall…” While it is human nature to judge the outward appearance of others, you will soon realize that the most beautiful people have confidence, a zest for life, a generous spirit and a positive attitude. Always take the time to look your best but know that it’s the simple joy of making a difference for those who need your voice, passion or time without the expectation anything in return that radiates in your eyes and smile. A pretty face is nothing if you have an ugly heart.
TAKE THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED
“The one who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The one who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been.” – Albert Einstein
If you don`t know where you`re going, it doesn`t matter which road you take. Act independently and free yourself from conformity. Make your own decisions and forge a new trail. The road less traveled is not always easy but it`s never boring. Turn back if you’ve made a mistake. Life is full of choices and change is what makes it a grand adventure.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR BODY
It`s the only place you have to live. Our bodies are not indestructible and can only be pushed so far until they begin to fail. Make time to exercise, give yourself permission to sleep, eat well and savour it. The human body is a scientific marvel – while we often pay little attention to pain until it becomes unbearable, it is your body telling you that something has gone wrong, somewhere. Listen. And please don’t neglect your mental health; that state of well-being in which you realize your own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively and fruitfully and make a contribution to your community.
CHERISH YOUR GIRLFRIENDS
Your girlfriends will be your bridesmaids, help you shop and share your clothes. They will watch chick flicks with you and understand your inside jokes. Your girlfriends will stick by you when your boyfriends won`t. They will hold you close while you cry on their shoulders and they will offer advice. They will be the only people you can ask those awkward female questions. But be careful…having girlfriends takes time and energy. Ask yourself constantly if you are cherishing your girlfriends enough. Don`t let those relationships suffer as you go through the stages of marriage and children or you may find yourself alone when the kids are grown and everything else goes sideways…
While living paycheque to paycheque is a right of passage when you are starting out, there comes a point where you need to cancel your subscription to Seventeen magazine and make your coffee before leaving the house. Watch out for recurring bills and spending drains, rethink the way you shop and consolidate your debt. Resist the temptation to spend like your friends…chances are, they can`t afford it either. In a recent survey, 48% of working Canadians say it would be hard to make ends meet if their paycheque was delayed even a single week. The same article states that a disturbing 47% of those over 50 are less than a quarter of the way to their retirement savings goal. In your early twenties, turning 50 seems like a lifetime away. IT’S NOT! You can start small, but start early.
Volunteers are the life-blood that keeps charities and non- profit organizations running. Through their efforts, these individuals grow their communities and bring about continuous societal change – one hour, one service and one activity at a time. When volunteering is discussed in casual conversation, altruism, kind-heartedness and selflessness are just a few of the characteristics that come to mind, but undoubtedly, there is economic value in the volunteer services rendered. We are all busy but by giving your time, talent and treasure at every age you will learn new things, meet new people and make a valuable contribution to society.
EXPERIENCE PLEASURE DAILY
Pleasure is considered to be one of the core dimensions of emotion. Not to be confused with happiness which can be elusive, pleasure is an instinctive reaction with a relatively short lifespan. There are many ways to experience pleasure. Try watching a funny movie or doing something you’ve never done before, savour a romance novel or sleep naked. Play hooky, get a pedicure or lay on the grass, watch the clouds and just BE. Have sex-à deux…or *gasp* alone. An orgasm boosts levels of estrogen, which lifts our moods and endorphins, which are natural painkillers and depression fighters. Repeat if necessary….
It’s difficult to write a post like this without taking a walk down memory lane. While there have been many amazing triumphs in my life and just as many epic failures, each and every moment has been woven together and made me the person I am today. I like that person…
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME