Today is my 40th birthday, and many things strike me about this milestone:
I am officially no longer a “young” adult. I’m just an “adult”. This seems weird. I do not feel adult-y most of the time, yet I can opt to eat ice cream for dinner and that degree of freedom is pretty great.
I have been thinking a lot about the things I’ve learned during the last four decades, and sifting through what I want to take with me (see below) and what I want to release.
For the most part, I’m pleased to report that I’ve decided I’m officially done with trying to fix myself. Growing, developing, learning, unlearning, relearning, et cetera are all still on the table, but I think forty years is a decent enough longitudinal study in this arena and the findings I’ve discovered are that you don’t need to fix what wasn’t broken to begin with.
Here are 40 lessons I’ve learned over 40 years—I hope they’re helpful for you, too:
1. It’s okay to have more than one favourite (food, colour, place, best friend, etc).
2. You can change your mind. Anytime you want. Especially when you’ve learned new information.
3. Protecting your heart doesn’t work, at least not the way you want it to.
4. Time speeds up.
5. There’s a reason we have different words for “feelings” and “facts”. Using them appropriately is very beneficial to your experience of life.
6. It’s not your fault (whatever you’re blaming yourself for).
7. There is nothing wrong with you.
8. Noting and nobody is loved by everybody. That’s alright.
9. Anything claiming to do two things is likely doing neither one very well. Case in point: 2-in-1 shampoo.
10. Wondering if you’re normal is extremely normal.
11. No one can love you enough to make up for you not loving yourself.
12. Your worth or value were determined the moment you were born. They need not be earned, proven, nor bestowed.
13. Everyone has addictions.
14. Waiting is probably not going to make it easier to do/choose/accept.
15. It’s okay to be judgmental (aka “Human”).
16. Choices are only right or wrong in retrospect.
17. No one cares how you look in a bathing suit.
18. You are not the manager of the Universe: you don’t have control over what happens in Life.
19. You do have control over your choices. Spend more time and effort on this than #18.
20. People are mostly good, and everyone’s doing the best they can.
21. Forgiveness is not surrender or permission or approval or for “them”.
22. Hurt people hurt people.
23. You can help and support people, but you can’t save people who don’t want saving.
24. This whole planet is insanely beautiful, and our time here is brief. See as much of it as you can.
25. Comparison is rarely helpful.
26. You are allowed to say no.
27. All dogs are Very Good Dogs.
28. Cats are annoying but worth it.
29. Always get in the water.
30. Dance, sing and draw more than you do, even if you think you can’t dance, sing or draw.
31. All you really have to do in this life is die. Everything else is extra. That leaves a lot of room to live.
32. Do all things because you can. You may not always be able.
33. Generally speaking, the suffering is optional.
34. You always have options.
35. Try to say yes more than you say no.
36. Make love work. Love, like luck, only works if you do.
37. Boundaries create space and freedom.
38. You don’t have to finish everything on your plate.
39. It’s all going to be okay.
40. Magic is real.
What are your favourite Life Lessons and Learnings from your lifetime so far?