Stay open to the myriad of life experiences you’re here to have, and stay humble for the chance to experience them at all. Since I just turned 29 yesterday, here are 29 life lessons to live by and pass on.
The most meaningful lesson I’ve learned is to enjoy life while I’m living it.
I think it’s a nice gesture to give something away when it’s your birthday (like a hobbit), so today I’d like to give you some nuggets of wisdom I’ve picked up so far on my journey.
Every year appears to be another chance to see life a little differently and that’s exactly what each of these lessons has given me: new life; another way to be in the world.
Without further ado, here are 29 lessons I’ve learned in my 29 years on earth.
29 Life Lessons to Live By (… If They Speak to You)
1. Change and growth happens in small moments.
We tend to chase the extraordinary, when in fact the ordinary moments are the most useful tools for practicing change and growth.
2. There are no small moments.
Don’t discount the ordinary moments, because every moment is actually one moment. What happens in the span of the moment might change, but you’re always in this one, present moment, and this moment most definitely is your life. Live “each” moment as if it were worthy of your attention and appreciation, and your entire life will feel richer.
3. Happiness is personal, but it’s not something we keep to ourselves.
Happiness—like love—is only meaningful when it’s shared, and it only grows when we give it away. When it comes to the most important qualities of living, we get what we give because we’re connected by this flow of life that has no limit and knows no end. That’s why scarcity (i.e. there’s not enough for you and me) is a self-defeating belief.
4. Authenticity is more important than originality.
Sure, maybe what you want to do has already been done by someone else, but it hasn’t been done by you. It can be tough to be original, and people might try to convince you that you need to be, but in all honesty, you just need to be yourself, honestly. You give something new to the world by presenting your own real self to the world.
5. Making excuses doesn’t make you feel good.
However big or small it is, if it feels like an excuse, I know I’m not going to feel good about making it. We don’t need to explain ourselves for every event we miss or decision we’ve made; what we need to do is accept ourselves deeply, be honest with ourselves and others, and trust our own decisions.
6. What others think about you always has more to do with them than it does you.
What others think about you really is none of your business… unless you make it your business.
7. Comparing your inside to someone’s outside is ultimately self-defeating.
We’re not here to compare and compete, but to promote and create. It’s hard to promote your desires and build your dreams when you’re busy staring at what other people are doing. It’s helpful to take note of others’ accomplishments and methods, but not at the expense of your own self-worth.
8. Vulnerability appears to be the birthplace of joy.
Letting yourself be vulnerable is scary, painful, and a struggle for worthiness. It also seems to be the birthplace of joy, creativity, abiding peace, and deep love. Honoring and sharing your story might be terrifying, but it’ll set you free to live this gift of a lifetime fully and deeply.
9. You attract what you think and feel about intensely.
I used to focus on what’s missing, why tragedy had to happen to me, the time I didn’t have, the talents I hadn’t mastered… and I still do sometimes, but not as much anymore. I now consciously focus on what lifts me up, what I enjoy and want more of, because it appears that I am a magnet for what I focus on.
10. Changing your mind changes your life.
When you decide to see life differently, life responds; you are given new life.
11. Life wants you to enjoy yourself.
It’s simple, but profound, to recognize that you ARE life. You’re an expression of all that is, has been, and ever will be. You’re unique, but deeply connected to everyone and everything else. Life wants to see itself through your eyes, hear itself with your ears, taste its own sweetness and feel the wind through you.
12. Everything can be a lesson and a message of some sort.
When I look at life like it’s an adventure to be lived instead of a problem to be solved, I suddenly have permission to enjoy the journey. There might be a (sometimes hidden) message and lesson in everything, but we don’t need to force ourselves to understand everything, either. Just approaching life with gratitude for the lesson is enough.
13. You can’t “fix” someone else.
You can give someone all of your resources, but what they do with what they have and believe is ultimately up to them, always. Do your best to be of service, which means “do it with love,” and then practice accepting and forgiving everything else.
14. You don’t need to control the world.
Making the world a brighter place doesn’t mean we’re each given the mighty task of changing the world. Thankfully, it’s not up to us to control the universe; the universe can handle itself. What we can do is be present in our own lives, learn to appreciate what is, love the people around us, and leave this place better than we found it.
15. Allowing yourself time to grow is a revolutionary act of self-care.
Patience is indeed a blessing. One of life’s major lessons is to allow yourself time to evolve into your best, highest, truest self. This world rotates on time, and as human beings, we’re subject to time’s lessons, seasons, and periods of growth and change. Honor yourself and the time it takes to grow, and life becomes so much easier.
16. Peace is better than being right.
No matter how much I want to be right about something, and even when it’s really hard to admit, I still would rather be at peace inside myself. This is my life, after all, and nobody else is living in my skin. The choice to be at peace instead of being right is the choice to live my life how I want to live it.
17. Your happiness is a gift to all.
When you’re empowered, you empower others. Your mental and emotional energy is contagious. The quality of the space you occupy links up with others who would want to occupy that space. Your genuine happiness, for instance, affects everyone you come into contact with, and the joy that has emerged in you can’t help but spread.
18. One bad moment doesn’t ruin everything.
It certainly may feel like it, but one moment of despair, frustration, and overwhelm doesn’t depict the rest of your life. When I feel “stuck” in negativity, I try to honor that experience and sit with it, and I tell myself that I can make a comeback, and that acknowledge begins the process of coming back home to a better-feeling state.
19. Connecting with people is what life is all about.
We all want to belong, to love and be loved. Connection is our lifeline to the divine, to deep love, to true happiness, and to a meaningful human experience. Period. There is no way around this.
20. Nobody knows it all, and none of us are meant to.
It’s not possible to name, label, and package the mystery of life. The universe doesn’t have to answer our call for explanation. The need to make the uncertain certain is closely related to the need to make others wrong. It’s good to know things, but it’s best to leave space for what you don’t know.
21. An ending is always a beginning.
Life is funny, in that sometimes it makes you laugh and sometimes it makes you cry. The painful losses we bear are carried over into new beginnings, if we just open our hearts up to what’s possible. I’ve found it to be true every time, that there are no real endings, only continuations.
22. We can’t understand how to give mercy if we can’t receive it.
If you can’t ask for help without judging yourself, you can’t give help without judgment. Practicing self-love is one of the best gifts you can give to those around you. The reservoir of compassion you hold for yourself is how you truly understand how to have compassion for others, without judgment or reservation.
23. Forgiveness is for yourself.
Forgiving someone else happens when you prefer peace over being right, and peace over pain. It’s the decision to focus on how you’re living your life rather than digging in the dirt that someone else has left behind.
24. It’s good to be a beginner.
Starting something new can also be scary, nerve wracking, confusing, frustrating, and downright exhausting. It’s still worth it. There’s a certain element of trust and hope that grows when we decide to begin again.
25. You can love people you don’t like.
It sounds a bit weird, to be honest, but it’s totally possible to love the people you don’t want to be around. It’s not the “hugs and kisses” type of love I’m referring to, but the “I accept who you are” kind of attitude that makes your life more peaceful.
26. All situations are temporary.
If you don’t like the situation you’re in, trust with certainty that this too will pass. If you love the situation you’re in, savor it, enjoy it as fully as you possibly can, and trust with certainty that you can keep this state alive by feeding it your conscious attention and energy.
27. Taking time to live is necessary for creativity.
Taking time to live—to go outside, do something fun, have a conversation, and take a break—is a must, even when it feels counterproductive. It’s incredible how much inspiration is available, but it’s our task to keep opening ourselves to the many ways it can comes through.
28. Plans are meant to be changed.
We might have the best plan mapped out in our heads, but if we’re not open and willing to change, we’re not prepared.
29. There is always enough time for joy.
There is enough time to enjoy your life. There is enough time to be grateful for what you have, and excited about what’s coming. There is enough time to extract meaning from “small” moments. There is always, always enough time to live today like it’s your first.
- What timeless lessons have you picked up on your path so far?
- What’s one favorite piece of advice that someone has given you, that you live by?
Please share your thoughts, the “tools” you use to live life to the fullest, and any inspiring stories of growth and change with me in the comments.
Share these lessons with someone who might understand/appreciate them.
May you live all the days of your life.