78 Life Lessons on my 40th Birthday

I was shooting for 40 life lessons on my 40th birthday, but I kept going and ended up with 78. Which of these do you like the best? Are there any you disagree with?

  1. Be kind to everyone no matter what. (Thanks Mom!)
  2. Don’t borrow money. And if you have to borrow money, pay it back ASAP. (Thanks Dad!)
  3. People will judge you wrongly. Keep being you anyway. 
  4. People are highly imperfect. Even if it doesn’t seem like it at first. 
  5. Whatever happened with your parents when you were a kid wasn’t your fault. 
  6. Money, or lack of it, can cause a lot of heartache if you let it. 
  7. Be honest. It’s always the best way. 
  8. Sometimes your mistakes can save you. 
  9. People you love can and will hurt you. You don’t have to add to the pain by refusing to forgive them. 
  10. Good people do bad things. Everyone is human. 
  11. The hard things in life make us who we are. 
  12. You can do hard things. 
  13. God is listening. And it’s more evident when you watch for Him in your life. 
  14. If you follow your feelings you can’t go wrong. 
  15. Nature is a gift. Use it wisely. 
  16. You never forget the most pivotal moments in your life. 
  17. There is a strong connection between our bodies and our minds. Don’t ignore the cues. 
  18. People can love you when they don’t even really know you. 
  19. You know so very little. Accepting that fact will serve you. 
  20. There is always something to do. Don’t let it be a reason to not rest or enjoy yourself. 
  21. You literally can’t make everyone happy. Stop trying. Focus on making yourself happy. I.e. you can be the juiciest peach in the orchard, but there will always be someone who doesn’t like peaches. 
  22. The little moments are the big moments. Try not to miss them. 
  23. When you trust yourself, there isn’t anything you can’t figure out.
  24. Your net worth has nothing to do with your self worth. Unless you let it. 
  25. Never be afraid to be yourself. This whole life is meant to help you figure out who you are. 
  26. Guilt and shame are only useful if they lead you to change. If they are making you stuck, let them go. 
  27. Children are our best teachers. 
  28. Love is always the answer. In every situation. 
  29. You don’t get married to complete yourself. You get married so you always have someone to love. 
  30. You can just decide to be happy. 
  31. You can’t make anyone else feel something. And they can’t make you feel anything. 
  32. Sometimes you have to go down the wrong path first to know what the right path is. 
  33. Friends can be the family you never knew you needed. 
  34. Stay calm when you are swimming. Panic will increase the odds of drowning. 
  35. Travel seems glamorous. What’s really glamorous is the destination. 
  36. Every problem is a belief problem. 
  37. You rarely get what you want unless you ask for it. 
  38. If there is a rule, there’s probably a reason for it. But also, sometimes rules need to be broken. That’s the exception to the rule though. 
  39. Distraction is the adversary’s most effective tool. 
  40. Always ask how spicy the sauce is. 
  41. Everyone is boring, until you get to know them. 
  42. People are more the same than they are different.
  43. For many people, outer order contributes to inner calm. 
  44. If you don’t know what to do, start with the dishes or laundry.
  45. There is always a choice. Always.
  46. Mastering your urges is the way to the life you want. 
  47. Always bring your wallet.
  48. When you are upset and don’t know why, try 1. Drinking water, 2. Eating 3. Moving your body and 4. Sleep.
  49. When working with electrical, always turn the breaker off.
  50. Doing It Yourself is worth it in most cases. Except HVAC and drywall. Hire those out. 
  51. Wear your retainer. Even if it bugs you. 
  52. Always wear your seatbelt. 
  53. Water is the best beverage. 
  54. Find a meditation practice that works for you and practice it regularly. 
  55. Always give the compliment when you think it. 
  56. Feelings matter. More than you think. 
  57. Sugar has the same effect as cocaine to your brain. Consume it carefully.
  58. Observe a sabbath for both your physical and mental well-being. Especially take a sabbath from things that you find yourself addicted to. 
  59. If you are thinking it or struggling with it, so are lots of other people. 
  60. Every human has the same value. Nobody is more or less than anybody else. Knowing this brings true confidence.
  61. Getting started is often the hardest part. 
  62. How you start your day makes a big difference. 
  63. Let the music move you. 
  64. Someday you’ll understand why you need this moment. 
  65. Instead of asking “Why me?” ask “Why not me?”
  66. It is a rare situation that has a right and wrong way. Just do what feels right to you.
  67. Time is on your side, not against you.
  68. You are 100% worthy and valuable just the way you are.
  69. “Beautiful” is an opinion.
  70. Your thoughts are your most powerful asset. 
  71. It is easier to keep a clean room than to let it go and clean it later. The same is true for your brain. 
  72. If you can’t enjoy the current moment, you’ll never enjoy a future moment.
  73. What you think other people think of you, is really what you think of you. 
  74. You can’t change something if you are judging it. That includes yourself. 
  75. What you really want is always a feeling. 
  76. Everything you want is just outside your comfort zone. 
  77. The prize is worth the price.
  78. No matter what it is, you are worth it!

Grant yourself permission

Every day we grant permission in a million little ways both explicitly and implicitly:

We swipe our cards giving the vendor permission to draw funds from our bank accounts.

We allow someone to spritz us with perfume in the department store.

We yield the right-of-way as we drive.

We allow people to speak to us in both positive and negative ways.

We invite people into our homes.

We allow the dental hygienist to inflict pain upon our gums.

We lend clothes to our teenager.

We read a book and let it change us.

We don’t take the time to unsubscribe from that email we hate seeing in our inbox.

You get the idea.

Photo by 胡 卓亨 on Unsplash

But do we allow ourselves the same permission? Or are our lives run by shoulds and musts?

Do we allow ourselves to speak kindly to ourselves?

Do we invite ourselves into our homes, figuratively?

Do we yield to our own selves?

Or are we held back by cultural and family ideals or pressures we don’t even realize are there?

If you are an adult, you are allowed to do and think whatever you want.

That is a thought that can free you up.

You don’t have to have a savings account if you don’t want to.

You can do the “irresponsible” thing if it fuels you.

You can believe your body is beautiful. No. matter. what.

Now. This doesn’t mean that whatever you do doesn’t have consequences. Everything has consequences.

It just means that all the options are on the table. Even if they never seemed to be before.

In most cases, you are the one that needs to grant yourself permission.

So what do you really want, and what’s been holding you back? Is it just a matter of granting yourself permission?

Don’t be attached to the outcome

Last Sunday, we arrived at church early so I could make some copies. Turns out the copy machine wasn’t functioning properly, so I made my way to the chapel 10 minutes before the meeting was to start. My kids were arguing about who was going to sit where in the pew. My girls were being very mean to each other despite my pleading with them to be kind, so I grabbed my stuff and left.

As I was walking down the hall, I felt immensely sad. I was sad that my 15 and 12 year old girls can’t be nice to each other at church. I didn’t know where to go so I went out to sit in my car. I felt myself at the brink of tears, but I didn’t want to cry and walk back into church with red, puffy eyes. #resistingemotion

As I was sitting there in the car, I was searching my brain for why I was feeling so sad. My kids are mean. They’re old enough to behave better. I must be a terrible mother. It’s just sad. That’s where my brain was going. But WHY? Why did I feel like it was so sad? Eventually I arrived at the thought This is not how I wanted them to turn out.

And then I remembered something I had heard recently that has stuck with me: Don’t be attached to the outcome. And I am so attached to the outcome with my kids and it is causing me suffering. When I find evidence that the “outcome” might not be the way I had envisioned, I am sad, disappointed, and sometimes angry. And they haven’t even arrived out their outcome yet!

Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash

What if they are just on their own journeys and arguing and being mean at church is just part of their learning experience? What if them being mean to each other has nothing to do with me or my ability in motherhood? What if this is totally normal behavior and my brain is thinking that it is unreasonable?

I think the reason we should not be attached to the outcome, whether it is in parenting or business or anything else, is because we don’t have 100% control over the outcome. We only have control over the effort we put forth toward the outcome. In the case of relationships, another person’s agency is at play, so we may have very little control over the outcome. When we are unattached to the outcome, our only job is to decide how we want to show up. What kind of person do we want to be, regardless of the outcome?

I did return to the chapel, just in time to sing There Is Sunshine in My Soul. There was not sunshine in my soul, but I knew it wasn’t because of my kids or their behavior, but because of my thoughts and my subconscious attachment to how they would turn out.

In what way are you attached to an outcome in your life that is causing you suffering? I would love to hear about it in the comments!