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I celebrated my “Jesus Year” back in October. Turning 33 and realizing just how fast the world around me changing, how quickly life can pass you by, helps to put that brief blink of an eye into perspective. But even at the age of 33, I don’t feel as if my life has started yet; rather, I am just beginning my journey. I have had my ups and downs along the way; there are things I wasn’t told, there are things I was told, but I didn’t listen. You’re never too old to learn anything new, and you’re not to young to take advantage of a headstart in life. Here are the 33 things that I have “mastered” in my 33 wonderful years:
1. Slow down. This is really one of many self explanatory lessons that I am going to mention. Enjoy life and don’t try to rush things. Everything happens in its own time.
2. Mistakes are the best way to learn. Make them and move own. Just try not to repeat them.
3. The end of the journey is just as important as the journey itself. Being so consumed in where you need to be in life, often makes you miss all of the wonderful things and people along the way. If you are so worried about reaching your goal, often times you won’t enjoy it when you get there.
4. Perspective. It’s easy to get upset when things don’t go our way. However, in the grand scheme of things a problem here or there is nothing. If you’re husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend and you are constantly fighting, take a step back and try and see things from their side. If you find that you can’t-let it (or them) go.
5. If you find yourself swimming with all of the other fish, go the other way.
6. If your child wants you attention, give it to them. Don’t be annoyed that they are interuppting you. Use it as a reminder of how important it is to spend time with someone you love.
7. Debt ain’t worth it. Credit cards, student loans, house, personal, auto. They cause more headaches in the long run, can ruin your life (if you’re not careful), and cost way more that what you got to begin with. Spend less than you earn, and go without it until you have the money.
8. There are few joys in life that are better than or even equal to a good book, walk, hug or free. And guess what? All of that is free. (If you don’t get it, please re-read number 7).
9. Gratitude is one of the best ways to find contentment. It’s easy to get caught up in what you don’t have, instead of focusing on what you do. Take time to be grateful for the amazing gifts you have been given; loved ones, simple pleasures, health and everything in between. Be grateful everyday.
10. There is nothing wrong with having empathy. In a world where people now use the term “social justive warrior” as an insult, remember one thing: put yourself in someone else’s shoes. It’s easy to judge when you have no understanding of what someone else is going through. Start with the assumption that what other do or how they feel is valid, and you should try to understand it. Instead of poking fun at “safety pins” and “Play-Doh”, be more empathetic. Life is much better if you learn this.
11. Compassion for others is more important than pleasure. Its a much more fulfilling way to live, rather than closing your eyes to suffering. (See number 10 if you need help)
12. Things are just that things.
13. Failure is the stepping stone to success. Without it, you would never learn how to succeed. Every now and then try to fail (yes fail on purpose). So often we try to avoild failure because of fear, that when we do fail, we feel as if its the end of the world.
14. Fear will try to stop you. Doubt will try to stop you. Whether you want to seek out a new adventure or create something you feel will be amazing. Become aware of your doubts and fears. Shine light on them. Beat them with a thousand tiny cuts.
15. Tis better to give than to receive. Give with the expectation of not getting anything in return. Too often we given and want an equal measure in return, even if its gratitude or recognition. Try to let go of that need and just give.
16. Let go of expectations. When you have expectations of something, whether it be a person, job, experience-you put it in a predetermined box that has little to do with reality. You set up an idealized version of the thing (or person), and then try to fit the reality into this ideal and are often disappointed. Instead try to experince reality as it is, appreciate it for what it is and be happy that it is.
17. Don’t sit too much. It can kill you.
18. A good walk can help almost anything. Whether its losing weight, wanting to be less stressed-just walk.
19. The road to being fit is a long process and there are no shortcuts. It happens in bits and pieces over time, but it can be done. Don’t give up.
20. Naps are good. Never let anyone tell you otherwise. (However, as an adult I like to call them “horizontal life pauses”.)
21. You’re gonna miss something. We are so caught up in trying to do everything, that we miss things that are essential and we often regret it later on (I missed my first three kids take their first steps, tie their shoes and ride their bikes). The reality is you’ll miss most things. We can’t catch every first, we won’t see every movie, we can’t visit every city on our bucket list, we won’t meet all of the cool people. But the secret is: life is better when we don’t try to do everything. Learn to enjoy the slice of life you experience, and it will be wonderful.
22. You can’t change people. Just stop. Don’t bother.
23. Do less. It’s totally okay NOT to do everything. If absolutely feel that you must, then please just stop right now and read number 24.
24. Ask for help.
25. Life is short. Super short. Shorter than you can imagine. It may like there’s a huge mass of time ahead of you, but it passes much faster than you think. Your children grow up so fast you get whiplash. You get gray hairs before you’re done getting your bearings on life. Just learn to appreciate every damn moment.
26. If you don’t want the world to know, don’t do it. End of story.
27. The moment is all there. All our worries, and plans about the future, all our replaying of things that happened in the past-it’s all in our heads, and it just distracts us from fully living right now. Let go of all of that, and just focus on what you’re doing, right in this moment.
28. Always swallow your pride and say I’m sorry. Futhermore, being too proud to apologize is never worth it-your relationships will suffer for no good reason.
29. I’m not cool and I never will be. Guess what? I’m 100% okay with that. (Usually you can see where a majority of t’s not where I want to be).
30. I have a lot to learn. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that I almost know nothing, and that I am often wrong about what I think I do know.
31. Love more.
32. Hate less.
33. No one knows what they are doing as parents. We’re all faking it. Your parents faked it. Their parents faked it, and their parents before them. Some people obsess about the details and miss out on the fun. My only goal is not to mess my kids up, and to show them that they are loved, to enjoy as many moments with them as possible, to show them life is fun, and to stay out of the way of them becoming amazing people I know they will become.
Love of impromptu dance parties, 80’s cartoons, and horizontal life pauses (aka naps); Natasha Brown is a stay at home mom of 4 kids, and wife to one lucky guy! In her spare time, she is co-editor of Grits & Grace, as well as editor for The Mother Hustler Blog and Creative Director for the Mother Hustler podcast.