As I near forty, I reflect upon life lessons that have guided me consistently and positively...Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at freedigitalphotos.net
Often, I have mental ideas of how events will or should turn out. However, of course the unexpected often prevails, often leaving me wondering whether it’s worth planning anything! As I approach the age of forty, it would be comforting to finally have a ‘rule of thumb’ about certain contingencies to make life at least seem more predictable. However, I have felt safe to embrace a few more general lessons that I thought I might share.
1. Personal values are the foundation of a meaningful life. Using my values to steer my life course won’t necessarily make me ‘happier’ – however, I always believe my self-esteem and respect are greater.
2. You only get one family. Often I am perplexed that I often have to remind myself of this due to becoming cranky with those I love most. However, I remember, how incomparably wonderful my life is only because this foundation of unconditional love and acceptance.
3. What would I like to be able to say about myself when I am eighty? I will be forty in six months, and it increasingly frequently frightens me how fast time goes. Life is precious. You only get one.
4. Negativity achieves nothing. Okay, I really mess things up sometimes, and I need to talk to myself to figure out how to get back on track. However, dwelling on failures, hurts and negativities excessively does not actually achieve a whole lot. Trying to reframe things as to what positives can be learned is valuable as it points to another direction next time.
5. You won’t feel like it until you do it. I have to remind myself of this one again and again…you can’t steer a ship that’s not moving. The difficult lesson I have to keep learning about motivation is that more often than not you need to initiate action first to experience it!
6. Sometimes we can learn the most from children and animals – be yourself, keep it simple, love unconditionally.
7. A sense of humour is not only a way to lighten up on a regular day: it can be a lifesaver, a way to keep perspective and balance in dark times.
8. You can’t change the past. This is stating the obvious, I realise, but it’s amazing how often I notice myself thinking about, rueing and feeling negative about events which won’t change even if I thought about them endlessly. Of course, it’s great and enjoyable to reflect about positive past experiences, but if you’ve done something you’ve regretted, think about the past to the degree necessary to figure out what you could have done differently. Then, move on!
9. Quiet ‘me’ time can be vital. There are not only the more obvious benefits like unwinding and de-stressing, but reflection time can be a way to unconsciously and consciously evaluate – your values, what went well about the day and not so well and what to learn, to perspective take. It’s nourishment for the innermost essence of you.
10. Just as a car won’t run without fuel, and operates best with ‘optimum’ fuel, the same for your health – mental, physical, spiritual –take time to feed yourself the best ‘fuel’ in all ways to ‘run’ at your best. Take time to look after the less concrete mental wellbeing with rest, maintaining self-esteem (positive self talk for example). If you are spiritually inclined, nurturing your spiritual 'wellbeing' can give comfort, perspective and meaning.
You have one life – you are worthwhile, valuable and unique and have a wonderful contribution to make. You deserve love, joy and meaning just because you’re you. Enjoy and make the most of, this journey.