My mother always gives the best advice. She has a simple, secret recipe for a happy life, a three-step plan to happiness:
1. When your expectations are not being met, don't despair. Instead tell yourself, "It's this or something better."
2. Every person should own a convertible at least once.
3. Every woman who has a child should have a daughter.
Humor aside, my mother's wisdom throughout life has been an integral part of my happiness. My relationship with my mother is one of my most cherished bonds. Perhaps inspired by step 3 of my mother's "recipe," I'd argue that mother-daughter relationships are one of the most unique and special dynamics in existence.
Of course, there is great reason for the commonly held notion that mothers know best. But children are teachers, too. They are fearless with curious hearts and open minds. They have full trust and faith in those around them, and they know they will be taken care of.
We somehow lose both this basic trust, and our keen sense of wonder, as we age. As adults, we replace trust with worry and often trade in our wonder for jadedness. Returning to our childlike sensibility may help us along the journey to greater happiness.
Although I don't have children of my own, I am an aunt and a daughter, and I know what it is like to grow up as a little girl and become a woman. No one prepares you for certain situations. We all learn the way on the way.
But today, my mother instincts kicked in as I went to the hospital to meet my best friend's newborn baby girl. As an aunty, I want to protect and care for this beautiful new girl. As we welcome in a new little one to our extended "family," I can't help but reflect on lessons learned on my own journey to adulthood.
If I had a daughter, I would share my 15-step "recipe" for a happy life with her. Since I don't, I am dedicating this message to my best friend's new baby girl. Welcome to the world ...
1. You are here to blaze your own trail.
Don't let anyone else (or society in general) tell you how to live your life.
2. You may be afraid of the unknown, but you will grow (a lot!) from this uncertainty.
Embrace the transitions in your life, no matter how uncomfortable they may feel in the present moment.
3. Don't ever measure yourself by what you are not.
Measure yourself by what you are. Celebrate your strengths, you deserve it no matter what.
4. Situations that don't pan out are often miracles in disguise.
Don't obsess over what "could've" or "should've" happened. When things don't seem to go as they should, we can re-assess our expectations, and be even happier as a result.
5. Don't be so hard on yourself.
You are more beautiful than you could ever see. Please be kind, for the world needs you as you are.
6. Setbacks are designed to teach you more about yourself and what you value most.
We can learn to accept our experiences (even the "bad" ones) as opportunities for learning and growth.
7. The fact you are alive means you have a purpose.
Own that you have a purpose, even if you can't quite identify it yet.
8. People don't remember how you look.
So don't judge yourself; and remember, too, that people also won't remember specific things you say. Instead, they'll remember how you made them feel. So choose kindness.
9. Your past does not have to define you.
You are bigger and stronger than anything that will ever happen to you.
10. In life, you don't have to try so hard.
If an experience or relationship is supposed to happen, it will. Loosen your grip.
11. Hearing the word "no" is not denial or inappropriately selfish.
It represents a gesture of self-respect – don't be afraid to use it.
12. Be more spontaneous.
Your future self will thank you.
13. Don't let your beliefs define you.
There's no need to prove others wrong for seeing things a different way. There is clarity in contrast.
14. Watch your "whens."
You know, "When I get a new job, I'll start a family," "When I lose weight, I'll start dating," "When I have more money, I'll go on that trip." Life is only happening now. Don't let it get away.
15. When it feels like "the end," know that it's not. Plain and simple.
Rejections, breakups, and other difficult experiences may feel insurmountable at the time they happen. But nothing is absolute. You're often facing a new beginning. Open your heart and let these new experiences in.