On the eve of my 28th birthday, I find myself thinking about what I have learned over the past 28 years. Our twenties are a weird time aren’t they? Early twenties are sometimes more of a free and wild time, then suddenly you find yourself thrown into the “real world” that is your mid twenties. This is a time of confusion, a time when you may begin to notice the “ticking of your own mental timeline” so to speak. As I progress into my late twenties, I am still trying to figure out what this time in my life is all about. The timeline pressure is still there, but I have come to realize that the ideas that I had as a teenager for when I would check major life events off my list are simply not realistic. In fact some of them are downright silly. As this pressure-cooker feeling has dissapated, it has left me room to begin to work on truly understanding myself as a person. I will not pretend to you that I am completely comfortable with myself yet, but I sure have come a long way. Hence I think my late twenties might best be classified as “still becoming.”
I have, however, learned a thing or two during my 28 years on this place we call earth. In fact, my birthday-eve musings led me to pen these rules for living a happy life. Now I do not claim to be a guru on life. But I am a therapist, friend, wife, sister, daughter, aunt, doggie-mommy, teacher, co-worker, and all around life-enthusiast and life-long learner. Importantly, I have also battled and overcome some of my own inner demons. When I gather together all my knowledge from my own imperfect, glorious, humorous, dark, and beautiful 28 years, this is what I have for ya. But come back in ten years. Who the heck knows how these will change by 38!
Ten Rules For Living A Happy Life
- Be yourself. How cool is it that there is only one YOU? There will never be another YOU! EVER! Amazing hu?Don’t waste all of that authenticity by trying to fit in with the crowd. Do you, and do you boldly
- Find ways to be happy RIGHT NOW. Take it from someone who has made themself an expert on “I’ll be happy when…” When never happens with that mentality. You gotta find the stuff in the day-to-day moments that bring joy. Happiness is a mindset, not a destination.
- When in doubt, always choose perseverance. The pain of giving up outweighs the pain on continuing forward in something that is difficult tenfold.
- Deal with those feelings, do not run from them. Find out which feelings you find uncomfortable to sit with- we all have ‘em- and then practice sitting with them. Practice mindfully accepting feelings and responding (not reacting!) to them. Treat feelings like children- don’t let them drive the car, but don’t you dare let them sit in the trunk either.
- Tell the truth. Sometimes it will feel easier to lie, or to tell half-truths. Don’t. You will only feel better in the short term. Practice honesty with others, and more importantly, practice honesty with yourself.
- Find another basket to put your eggs into other than appearance. Appearance, weight, body type-these are all dynamic attributes. Meaning they are ever-changing. Meaning that relying on them for self-esteem is dangerous and ultimately leads to disappointment and feelings of being unfulfilled. Find other baskets! Your intelligence, humor, kindness, genuine nature- these things are more static and trustworthy than aesthetics. Find a way to see your true beauty reflected in these attributes (even if society demands that we do otherwise).
- Look for the good in others. There is good in every single living human being. There just is. Look for it. Search for it. Doggedly try to find it in every soul that you come across. You will find the good in yourself when doing so along the way, I promise.
- Take criticism with grace. Practice learning how to accept feedback and use it to better yourself. Sometimes, for those of us who feel deeply, it may be easier to avoid criticism because it can be painful and feel personal. Don’t do this. Practice makes progress so work towards being a person who can hear constructive criticism, process it, and then move towards change!
- Live a life that makes you proud. How? Work backwards from your own eulogy. Think about how you may feel when you are much, much older. Will you wish that you had skipped more desserts when you were younger in the never-ending quest to fit into smaller jeans? Will you reflect back and sigh with relief about the times that you played it safe and did not challenge yourself to shoot for the stars? Absolutely not! So make choices that lead you towards a life that you will look back on with pride.
- Embrace change. Why? Because fearing change leads us to do many desperate and scary things in order to avoid it. So learn to be a tree. You have roots to keep you grounded, but your must bend with the winds, or you will fall right over girl!