I celebrated my 32nd birthday on Wednesday this week, surrounded by my family, good friends, and tons of barbecue (my new favorite way to celebrate).
As I thought about hitting this new milestone, I decided to record 32 of the biggest lessons I’ve learned over these 32 years, the ones that have impacted my life the most.
This may not mean much to you, or maybe you’ll find something interesting. For me, it’ll be nice to look back on this someday to see what I was thinking all those years ago.
32 Lessons From 32 Years
These lessons are from:
- 32 years of life
- 10 years in Japan
- 8 years of marriage
- 6 years of freelancing
- and 4 years of motherhood
Here’s what I came up with (in no particular order):
- If I get stuck while writing and can’t get out another word, the cure is to read more.
- The only two things I can control in life are my actions and my thoughts. Most people don’t realize this, and when we do, we realize that we can always grow in this area, which means we have unlimited power to change our lives.
- I always have a choice in every situation. I may not like my options, and I may not like the consequences, but I am actively choosing everything that I do.
- The key to feeling a sense of peace every day is to do the things I’m supposed to do at the time I’m supposed to do them.
- It took me too long to realize this, but once I scheduled everything important into a weekly routine, I no longer had to worry if things would get done.
- Being kind (and really meaning it) is the ultimate flex. (Although at that point, you’re not trying to flex anymore.)
- The ability to be gentle is the mark of a truly strong person.
- We can influence, but never control what other people do. Ultimately, we can only control our own boundaries.
- The way we think about a person influences the way we treat them, which influences the way they see themself, which influences their actions. We can change all this just by changing our mindset.
- There’s stuff we like and don’t like, and it’s okay to admit that. (I used to think I had to overcome every dislike, but now I’ll consider if it’s really worth it or not.)
- The more peace I can foster in my own heart, the more peace there is in my home.
- The best way to lead people is by helping them become who they are and want to be.
- You don’t need to punish or scold a child to teach them to behave. A combination of kindness, high standards for behavior, clear communication, affirmation, and natural consequences does the trick.
- I have my own style of writing, and I don’t need to imitate anyone else.
- I don’t always want to do something, but I can shut off my inner monologue and do it anyway.
- No piece of advice is meant to be followed to a tee, because no one works the same way.
- Most of what we judge to be “normal,” “abnormal,” “attractive” or “unattractive” comes from our culture, usually the culture we were raised in. Nothing is better or worse than anywhere else, it’s just what we’ve been conditioned to like.
- People love it when you’re open about your flaws, because it makes them feel more normal. On the other hand, it’s hard to relate to someone who seems perfectly unblemished.
- The best way to respond to someone making fun of you is to join in and make yourself the butt of the joke.
- The way to get better at writing is to write. You start by imitating other writers until you find your own voice.
- If you can learn to control yourself, you can accomplish pretty much anything.
- It’s good to remember that my thinking is just as flawed as everyone else. Even though my logic, research, and experience tells me I’m right, I don’t have the full story. (I’ve always been a know-it-all, as my husband can tell you 😋)
- Getting feedback and even criticism is a valuable gift.
- You can never plan too far ahead.
- Plans are just guidelines, and it’s better to not tie yourself too tightly to them. They provide a framework to save you time and energy, but they can always be changed.
- Productivity and time management strategies exist to serve me, not the other way around.
- No law or rule will change a person’s heart. Forcing someone to comply will only push them to dig their heels in deeper. The only way to truly change someone’s mind is to win them over by listening, understanding, and serving.
- Leadership is all about serving others. It’s not a privilege or a reason to kick back and do nothing. It’s a responsibility and a risk that you take on yourself so others can thrive.
- There’s almost nothing better than a moment alone, early in the morning, a good book in one hand, and a cup of coffee in the other.
- People generally do things that serve their own interests. So if I’m failing to do what I want to do, I ask myself, “How is this choice serving me?” Usually I’m taking the easy way out or avoiding something unpleasant, and digging in deeper helps me to figrure that out.
- My energy and my health are my highest priority, because they make everything in life possible.
- Life always gets better and there is a reason to find joy in every day!
I’m not gonna lie, it’s a little embarrassing to bare my soul on the internet like this. But these are truly some of the biggest and most important lessons I’ve learned in my life, and they’ve made me who I am today.
What did you think about these life lessons? Anything you would add to the list?