40 Life Changing Lessons That FINALLY Sunk In...IN MY 40'S!
Updated: Feb 9
Wouldn't it be nice if we learned the lesson the first time around? If we were able to absorb the wisdom of our life experiences sooner, and make better decisions. Life would have been a whole lot smoother, that's for sure. But if you're anything like me, you like to do things the hard way. You'll respectfully listen to advice from others, and then do whatever the hell you want to do anyway. You know what's best for you...right?
"The law is simple. Every experience is repeated or suffered until you experience it properly and fully the first time."- Ben Okri
We all learn a few things along the way...sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. But eventually, we get it. I've compiled a list of lessons I've learned,and nuggets of wisdom that sunk in along the way. Here are 40 lessons that finally sunk in...in my 40's.
Control is an illusion - sure, you can make decisions, and take action in your daily life, but the outcome is out of your hands. Relax!
It's o.k to do nothing - I stillllll...struggle with this one on the daily!! But I'm getting better...and that's all that matters. You don't have to "be productive" 24/7. It's o.k . to chill and read a good book, or binge watch a Netflix original...or 2. You are good enough and worth enjoying your life!
Call your mom - I didn't start appreciating my mom until I was well into my 30's. I mean REALLY appreciating , and feeling gratitude for having such an amazing mom in my life, and the lives of my children. A role model of selfless, unconditional love. I know that isn't everyone's experience, but if you have a mom that ALWAYS answers the phone...you need to show her some love! Don't wait until she's no longer here to miss her...pick up the phone!
Anger is a silent killer - My grandfather used to say, " that girl looks like she'll kill you before she'll cry" and that was the the truth! But I wasn't killing anyone but myself. I didn't like feeling powerless. I couldn't show sadness, pain, loneliness, hurt feelings...it all came out as anger. That felt safer than showing any vulnerability. Get that angry energy out of your body. Paint, exercise, dance, run....do whatever it takes to get it out of your system. Holding on to it will kill your spirit slowly, and keep you isolated and alone.
Loneliness is a choice - I've realized that when I'm present , and engaged in life and the people around me, I'm never lonely. It's those periods in my life where I close off my heart, and spend most of my time in my head, that loneliness and forms of self - pity slip in. Moral of the story: Get out of your head and engage with life.
Family is everything - I think this one is self explanatory.
Let go and let God - Or let go or be dragged. Whichever one resonates with you. Holding on to things that aren't meant for you anymore is a great way to self induce some pain. Plus your blocking the blessings that are meant for you. Take away: When it starts to feel like a struggle, you're holding on too tight. Trust that God knows what he's doing and let go!
Life is better when you pray - It doesn't matter who or what you believe in. But having a spiritual connection with something greater than yourself is fundamental to feeling fulfilled in your life. You can fill your life up with all sorts of distractions...but at the end of the day, when the world is silent,and you become still...you feel that emptiness. You feel the yearning ...the subtle pull towards something bigger ; more meaningful. Be open to it.
...and meditate - Anything I've ever read, watched, and been taught , instructed me on the importance of meditation. I just really never wanted to take the time to do it. Nobody's got time for that! I've recently started meditating consistently, and I can't believe the level of awareness that I've gained over my negative thinking. Changing your thoughts = changing your life! Trust me...you need this!
Consistency is everything - Small steps daily, yield big results over time. Even if you only make 1 phone call, send 1 email, or exercise for 5 minutes, if it's action taken in the direction of your desires , momentum will build, and you will see results.
Watch your words - Your words carry energy, and have the power to give life...or death. Just think back about a childhood memory where someone's words were like a knife in your gut. That boy that you had a crush on since 4th grade called you fat in the cafeteria. Feel that? We also need to be mindful of the words that we speak to ourselves. Our words should be used to lift up, encourage , and give life to ourselves and others. Practicing mindfulness and being present will help you become more aware of your words before they pass over your lips.
Health is your most valuable asset - With youth comes the feeling of invincibility. We don't give much consideration to our health at that time, because it's just a given for most. As we settle into our 40's, it begins to sink in what a dire mistake that really was. Aches, pain, extra weight that you can't get rid of, decreased energy, shortness of breath (don't smoke), cardiac disease...just to name a few...become a daily reminder that you should have made health a bigger priority. But it's never too late to begin healthier habits. Start right now! Your body will thank you.
Live your life with an attitude of gratitude - Cultivating a gratitude filled life, just might be the single most important factor in changing your life. Taking your life from monotonous and mediocre, to miracle filled, in a very short time. Don't believe me? Try this experiment on yourself: Grab a journal and put it beside your bed. Every morning, when you wake up, write 3 things that you're grateful for. Before bed, write 3 things you are grateful for. Do this for 1 week, then record any changes that you've experienced. You'll be humbled and amazed by the shift that you see.
I cause my own suffering when I don't accept what is - I've been told that pain is inevitable; suffering is optional. There are things in this life that just are what they are. Take bills for instance. The electric bill is due. I don't want to pay it. I know that I have to pay it if I want to be able function properly in my home...but I just dread handing over $300...so I'll wait a little longer. I think about it everyday and feel anxious every time I do. So, I think about something else. I feel guilty every time I spend money, knowing that I have responsibilities to take care of. Now the bill has compounded and I have a late fee on top of it. Here's the hit: I still have to pay the bill!! Put on your big girl pants, and just do it!
Write down your goals - Goals left floating around in our minds, are simply wishes.
Sometimes the best thing you can do is listen and remain silent - Sometimes people just need to share their pain. They're not asking to be fixed.
It's never too late to learn new things - After thinking about it for years, I finally pulled the trigger and started a blog. Let me tell you guys...my anxiety kicked into high gear! It was all completely new to me and there was so much to learn. I had to take baby steps so as not to get too overwhelmed, and take breaks when it got to be too much. But I stayed consistent, and celebrated small wins. I feel proud of what I'm learning and creating, and my confidence has soared as a result.
Busy work and productivity are not the same thing - Busy work is where you trick yourself into thinking you're accomplishing things, but not getting any closer to your goals. Busy people work hard. Productive people work hard and smart
Laughter heals the soul - Laughter triggers the release of feel good hormones like dopamine and endorphins, boosts your immune system, and activates pleasure pathways in the brain.
Comparison is the thief of joy - Whether you're comparing yourself to others, or comparing your life now with "how it used to be, we are essentially making ourselves feel inadequate and deflated. Stay present and grateful for the beautiful, unique person that you are, and don't let comparison steal one moment of your joy and the blessings that are available to you right here...right now.
It's not a crime to leave people behind - Although the enormous amount of guilt that you feel, at just the thought of it, would beg to differ. There's a story of a man who died, and went to heaven. When he came before God, the man asked Him : Why would you not answer that one prayer? The one I prayed about every night for over 60 years..God waited until the man had finished before he finally spoke. God: I provided you with many, many doorways that all would have led to the answer to your prayer. But you couldn't see them because those doorways were only built for one. Some journeys are meant to be traveled alone. Everyone has their own path...you are showing love towards others and yourself by letting go.
Never forget how blessed you are - There are people in the the world who only dream about living the life that you have. Actually, the life you're living right now, is one that YOU dreamed of having awhile ago. So, always remember to take a moment to acknowledge how blessed you are.
What people think about you is none of your business - Don't waste precious energy worrying about what others think about you- most of the time they're not thinking about you anyway, because they're thinking about themselves, and what others think of them. If you were on your deathbed, would this even be a discussion? I don't think so! Because when thought about from that perspective, you already know it doesn't even matter.
Follow your bliss - I've read a-lot about the regrets of the dying. One common theme that I see from many of them is regret over not following their dreams. Many of us don't even know what our dreams and desires are, because we've spent a lifetime trying to please others or live according to societal standards. You never know if tomorrow will come. Live for TODAY!
Take risks - One thing that I know for sure, is that if you do what you always did - you're gonna get what you always got. Anyone that has ever achieved anything great has come up against the choice to play it safe, or take a chance at an unknown outcome. You already know the results of playing it safe. Why not take a chance? Yes you will be afraid. Do it anyway!
Collect moments, not things - Cherish the moments with your loved ones. Spend your money on experiences. Go to the ocean often. Watch the sunrise from a mountaintop. Laugh with your loved ones around a campfire. In the end, you can't take anything with you, but you can leave your family and friends a legacy of beautiful moments to carry in their heart and mind forever.
Choose time over money - Many of us spend a large portion of our life chasing the next dollar...only to live with regret when our lives come to a close. Wishing that we didn't work so hard. Wishing that we would have accepted earning less, in order to have more quality time with our loved ones. Don't wait until it's too late. Learn this lesson from those who ran out of time...
Stop judging - There's a phrase that I repeat to myself, often, when I find myself judging and criticizing others. " Who am I?" As in, who am I , with all my mistakes and character defects to judge someone else's journey? This phrase quickly brings things back into perspective for me and gives me a dose of humility.
Stop labeling yourself and others - Most people are evolving, transforming, and trying to become their best selves, just like you are. When you put labels on yourself and others, you box yourself in, and don't allow room for growth and change. Allow space for yourself and others to grow and change and learn to accept others as they are today.
Stop being so serious all the time - Learn to laugh at yourself and life. Have fun! Do the things you enjoy, pursue interests, learn new things. Life is short...give yourself permission to have fun!
Ask for help - You're not supposed to know everything. There is no shame in asking for help or support. Plus, you're giving someone else the opportunity to feel needed. It's a win/win!
No one is coming to save you - You are responsible for your own healing and growth. If you don't invest in you...no one else is going to do it. Take care of your inner child - heal any limiting beliefs that are holding you back from taking chances and living the life of your dreams. Take ownership over your life and heal what needs healing.
Always be kind - People won't remember what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel. You never know what someone else is going through...choose kindness and compassion.
Find your tribe - or actually, let them find you. By doing things that you love and are passionate about, you put yourself in position for your tribe to find you. Once you find them, put effort into building these relationships. They are connections that will last a lifetime.
Spend time alone - It's been said that if you can't be happy alone, you'll never be happy with someone else. Find the sacredness of solitude. Travel alone...take yourself out to dinner...become your own best friend!
Always chose people over things - I love checking off things on my "to do" list as much as the next guy. Sometimes people get in the way of that. Always choose people. Play the card game over doing the dishes. Have that conversation rather than looking at your phone. Answer when your best friend calls, instead of telling yourself that you'll call her back later. Showing the people in your life that they matter, will always be appreciated.
Believe in miracles - Belief in miracles will keep hope alive , even in the most dire of situations. It reinforces the belief that something bigger is running the show.
If someone walks out of your life...let them go - we make a habit of trying to make those "reason" or "season" people into lifers. Let them go and make room for what is for you.
You're NEVER going to feel like it - One of the best pieces of advice that I had ever heard, was from one of my favorite inspirational thought leaders - Mel Robbins. She speaks of "the 5 second rule " in her book of the same name. You're never going to feel like doing those things that will move you closer to your goals - do it anyway! Give yourself 5 seconds. Count down 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1...Now get up and do it! It seems too simple to be effective, but I tell you what...it works!
40. Celebrate today - Burn the candles, drink the good champagne, eat the cake. Don't wait for a special occasion. Today is special - and it's all we got!
Writing this post has brought on a-lot of clarity , and has helped me re-focus on the things that really matter to me. I hope it's done the same for you. Do you have any lessons to share with us that have impacted your life? If so, I'd love to hear from you in the comment section below.
Love, Light, and Happiness,