Today is my birthday. It seems like a good time to reflect. I've had some amazing life experiences, but learning from these experiences has been perhaps the most rewarding element of my life.
I used to think that being happy was everything. After all, I had overcome clinical depression, extreme anxiety, eating disorders, and drug addictions. Crawling through the darkness, I made happiness my full-time mission. But on the climb toward my 35th birthday, I’ve started to see beyond the happy.
I used to think goals were super important. They make effort seem rewarding. But sometimes when they come to fruition, we realize our achievements were more about the journey than the destination. Now, my "goal" is to embrace the journey and celebrate whatever experiences I have along the way.
I see the shift in my goals as a result of finally embracing my authentic self. Today, I can be happy even when I am sad. I no longer run from my sadness or moments of despair. I’ve learned the power of feeling my emotions instead of resisting, running from, or numbing myself to them.
In fact, self-awareness is the best gift I could ask for. But it came from me. It results from a constant dedication to self-improvement, whatever that means to me in a given moment. It comes from wanting to be better than I was before — not from a place of ego or fear but from compassion and self-love. When you truly love yourself, it's easier to see imbalances in your life.
When you can become your own friend, life is magnificent. And when you can allow yourself to be where you are, instead of where you think you should be, freedom prevails.
I’ve learned how to let go of expectations and allow myself to be more in the journey. The secret is to embrace each moment as if I had chosen it. Whatever the moment contains, there is a great gift awaiting discovery. The ups, the downs — it's all life. We can feel it all, and feeling is living. Taking a page from Jason Wachob, I thought I'd share 35 things I've learned over my 35 years:
1. The more you love yourself, the easier it is to see imbalances in your life.
2. The key to getting anything you want is patience, timing, and trust.
3. The things we cling to out of fear prevent us from growing.
4. When you can allow yourself to be where you are instead of where you think you should be — or even where you want to be — freedom prevails.
5. What you are experiencing is part of a bigger life plan.
6. When you stop focusing on the problem, the problem tends to go away.
7. Feeling like you don’t have a choice is a choice.
8. The results we strive for aren't as valuable as the experiences along the way.
9. We may not always get what we want, but it will always be what we need.
10. One small step at a time consistently creates monumental results.
11. What is meant to be will always find a way.
12. What we resist in life will always persist.
13. Just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t mean either of you are wrong. Contrast brings clarity and compassion.
14. You can’t compare yourself to others and be happy at the same time.
15. Confidence comes through action. The more action steps we take, the more confident we will be.
16. Things don’t happen to you, they happen for you.
17. All rejection is protection. It’s always this or something better.
18. There is timing to everything. If you are pushing and working hard and it isn’t flowing, it isn’t the right time.
19. Nothing is ever wasted. Everything you’ve done has put you closer to where you want to be (whether you know it or not).
20. There's no one-size-fits-all approach to anything. And there is no magic bullet.
21. Your heart knows the way. Trust it.
22. Your passion will lead you to your purpose.
23. Your dreams are the invisible architecture of your life. They matter.
24. Most of the time, the thing you're looking for comes to you when you stop looking.
25. It’s not selfish to follow your heart — it’s an act of respect and appreciation.
26. Gratitude brings abundance.
27. You always get what you focus on.
28. Most of the time we create our own suffering through expectations.
29. Insight is worthless unless you take action.
30. You always have enough time, money, and energy for what is truly most important to you.
31. Nature heals.
32. Joy is the best barometer for success. The more joy you feel, the more successful you are.
33. It’s OK to not know the answers. We learn the way on the way.
34. How you do anything is how you do everything. All parts of your life are connected.
35. Deep down, you already know the truth.