30 Valuable Life Lessons for Peaceful and Mindful Living
A Half Century of Life Lessons
This project was my 50th birthday gift to me; something I'd wanted to do for some time, yet never made an effort. With my 50th birthday on the horizon, I decided what better time then at the half-century mark of my life. The last five years were a very pivotal time for me.
The most important thing I learned as I completed this 30-day challenge is "we are always growing and forever changing," whether it be our behaviors, careers, motivations, goals, judgments, and tolerances. Having been raised in a small town and with a staunch religious, conservative upbringing, I was a product of that mentality.
Having made life-altering choices (career, job location, fitness, divorce, and remarriage), I've evolved to broaden my thoughts, think for myself, and stop trying to please everyone. I also learned the importance for me to be happy; not just live to make everyone else happy and comfortable. Many people told me I'm selfish. I have come to have a new respect for that word. It's not a bad word or one with a negative connotation. The real truth is, we as human beings can't be better for anyone else until we are happy in most aspects of life first.
Self-gratification often means the changes we make to achieve this will not be liked or accepted by others.
My other goal with this project was to match a favorite quote to each life lesson. It was cathartic to put my feelings into words and reminded me how far I've come in life. I have words of wisdom to leave for my children so they can know me as an individual woman and not just in terms of my role as their mother.
30 of Life's Most Valuable Lessons in 30 Days
Day #1: Change and Growth
It's okay to change. Change=growth. Most of us are afraid to initiate change in our "comfortable" lives. Why? Because change=doubt and doubt=discomfort and discomfort=fear and fear=pain and we fear pain the most. Once we learn to accept the process of change, we can then realize the strengths that lie within us. Only then can we learn to enjoy the changes and reap their rewards.
"I choose…to live by choice, not by chance; to make changes, not excuses; to be motivated, not manipulated; to be useful, not used; to excel, not to compete. I choose self-esteem, not self-pity. I choose to listen to my inner voice, not the random opinion of others. I choose to be me." - Miranda Marrott
Day #2: Goals and Dreams
Pursue your goals, dreams, hobbies, and passions as if your days are numbered; they are. Do these things NOW. Travel, work hard, be creative, listen to your heart. Do it all now. No one is guaranteed tomorrow.
"The only people worthy of hearing your goals are the people who will be genuinely supportive and help you to achieve them." - Unknown
Day #3: Random Stuff in My Head
- Cough syrup doesn't work.
- If you have to ask, "does my butt look big in this?", it probably does.
- You will only get a speeding ticket when you're trying not to get a speeding ticket.
- Waterproof mascara is evil. It shouldn't take an exorcism to get it off.
- I can go days without chocolate until I try to go a day without chocolate.
- I'd be okay if we stopped with Blu-Ray. I'm over re-recording my entire home video collection to the next technology.
- Why do we tip more for an expensive meal at a fancy restaurant? Did my waiter/waitress have to catch, skin, and harvest my food? Did they work harder to serve me than my less expensive meal at Applebees? It doesn't seem fair to tip on the cost of an entree.
- The public restroom stall you choose will always be the one without toilet paper. Who named it a "restroom" anyways? That's the last place I'd go to rest!
- You will run out of gas when the gauge is higher than the last time you "pushed it to the wire" and made it.
- Waxing your eyebrows almost always results in the need for a fill-in pencil for the next few weeks.
Day #4: Family
Never forget your roots. Despite decades with random or obligatory family functions and holiday cards, some relatives would love to spend time with you. It's never too late to form a bond with extended relatives. It's easy to forget you have other family besides your immediate circle.
Day #5: Attitudes and Opinions
Give every person the benefit of the doubt and never let the opinions of others influence your judgment. We don't know other's stories or histories or why someone might behave, think, speak, or act the way they do. It's fine not to agree or to have different opinions, and it shouldn't affect the relationship. Agree to disagree, have lively debates, but don't let differences ruin your relationship.
Day #6: Life and Death
Disease, illness, and death have no boundaries. It doesn't matter how healthy, young, or clean you live your life; tragedy can strike anytime. Many people live their lives afraid of "what could happen." You can die doing about anything. Don't wait for the perfect time to do something, and most importantly, make peace with your loved ones, or at least know you tried if they refuse.
Day #7: Common Sense
Rules override common sense in most cases, like getting carded buying alcohol. I don't look my age, but I'm confident I don't look under 21!
Day #8: Friendship
Non-judgmental, unconditionally loving friends are priceless! Don't feel guilty because you have friendships bound stronger than your family ties. Don't be afraid to let fake friends go. If they can't support you at your lowest, they don't deserve you at your highest.
"Family isn't always blood. It's the people in your life who want you in theirs. The ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile, and who love you no matter what." - Unknown
Day #9: Self-Control
Backgrounds, upbringings, and circumstances may influence who we are, how we start in life, or how we feel about certain things. They are, however, not responsible for who we become, how we'll interact with others, if we will be well-educated, the career we will have, or how we will raise our children. We're in control of our thoughts, decisions, and emotions, and only we can mold our destinies. We needn't become a product of our environment, so don't use a not-so-perfect childhood as an excuse not to be better.
"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your inner voice. And most important, dare to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary." - Steve Jobs
Day #10: More Random Stuff
- Everything is better with bacon. There is no logical reason why—it just is.
- The squirrel or rabbit will always change its directional mind, so swerving to miss it is pointless unless you have a death wish.
- People change. Try not to hold it against them; they're figuring it out, too.
- Trust your gut; it's usually right; especially when you've changed the answers on your test.
- Make extra copies of everything; the one thing you need is always the one you can't find.
- Teachers and professors always said one day I'd need Algebra. I'm still waiting.
- People may nag and complain that you do too much and need to slow down. It's not my pace that bothers me; it's that sudden stop at the end. Move at the speed that gets you to your goals!
- If it takes more than five adjectives to order your coffee, it's not coffee.
- It's not your job to make everyone happy. Has it worked yet?
- Clowns suck.
Day #11: Time
Time is a terrible thing to waste. You can never get it back or make more of it. Let anger and resentment go. In the end, it's you who pays the price. Time is not a renewable resource, so don't take it for granted.
"The bad news is time flies. The good news is you're the pilot." - Michael Altshuler
Day #12: Getting in Too Deep
We can't help getting into holes. Sometimes we fall in, sometimes we are pushed in, and sometimes we dig one deeper. We expect help getting out of a hole, but in most cases, only we can get ourselves out.
DAY #13: Childhood Memories
- "Wear clean underwear in case you're in an accident," never made sense to me. Why wouldn't I wear clean underwear? Plus, if I'm in an accident, I'm going to crap myself anyways.
- "This is going to hurt me more than it does you" is complete bull-shit. How heavy is that paddle or wooden spoon?
- "Because I said so" is not a valid reason and only causes further questioning that ultimately leads back to #2.
- "Eating raw potatoes and cake batter will give you worms." I always thought worms were neat, nice try, though.
- "I'll give you something to cry about"! And we're back to #2 again.
- "If you fall out of that tree and break your leg, don't come running to me"! And the point would be? I can't run, and #2 is coming again!
- "I hope I'm alive to see the day when your kids are as bad as you"! I wish today's kids were as bad as I was!
- "I can't wait till you have a home of your own so I can come over and make a mess in it." Well, those rotten kids you wished on me already beat you to it!
- "Those starving children in Africa would give anything for what's on your plate," I beg to differ. Everyone has their limits!
- "You think this is bad, just wait till your Dad gets home." Great, more of #2!
Day #14: Relationships
Sometimes you have to run away to see who'll run after you. Sometimes you have to talk quieter to see who's listening. Sometimes you have to step up to fight only to see who will fight for you.
"We are afraid to care too much, for fear that the other person does not care at all." - Eleanor Roosevelt
Day #15: Anger and Grudges
When it comes down to it, life is all about asses. We're either covering ours, kicking one, kissing one, or acting like one. Don't show your ass. Let go of grudges. They are useless wastes of time, emotions, and energy. Nothing good ever came from a grudge.
"An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind." - Mahatma Gandhi
Day #16: Aging
It's possible to age without "getting old." Age is just a number.
"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
Day #17: Dedication and Believing
I've never taken "no" for an answer when I believe in something. That defiance landed me in trouble as a kid, but it's served me well as an adult many times over!
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." - Winston Churchill
Day #18: Be True and Regret Nothing
Be yourself and not what others want to see. Never blame anyone if you get hurt because you took the risk and decided who or what was worth the while. Take chances. Say what's on your mind. Never say, "I wish I could, or I wish I were." Do it, make it happen, and have no regrets.
Day #19: Kindness and Paying It Forward
There are kind, selfless, generous people in this world, and random acts of kindness do happen when you least expect them. Pay those acts forward and never break the chain. Never devalue anyone.
"When a bird is alive, it eats ants. When the bird is dead, ants eat the bird. Time and circumstances can change at any time. Don't devalue or hurt anyone in life. You may be powerful today, but remember, time is more powerful than you. One tree makes a million match sticks, but only one match is needed to burn a million trees. So be good and do good." - Unknown
Day #20: Self-Gratification
It's okay to be selfish. The best way to be strong for others is by taking care of yourself first. Being selfish means gaining personal satisfaction from our life's choices, which allows us to become empowering and insightful.
Day #21: Clutter and Stuff
Clutter is a drain mentally and physically. When it comes down to it, all that "stuff" doesn't matter in the end. Hoarding or keeping things because you fear you might need them one day creates clutter. Clutter is toxic and depressing, so clear the path and create a clutter-free living space.
Day #22: More Random Stuff
- Men's boxer briefs are surprisingly comfortable.
- One day you'll be uncool in the eyes of your children.
- Memories and thoughts are priceless. Write them down when they happen. They'll come in handy when you want to list all the things you've learned.
- There's only one right way to hang the toilet paper, and I've been doing it wrong my whole life!
- Get shit done. Don't put off shit you can do today to add it to tomorrow's shit list.
- "Junk" is something you've kept for years and throw away three weeks before you need it.
- There are more stalkers than friends on Facebook. You don't have 500 friends.
- If your sister hits you, don't hit her back. Parents always catch the second person.
- Don't be afraid of daily exercise. It's better to be uncomfortable for one hour a day than dead for 24.
- You'll always think of amusing stuff to say after an argument than during one.
Day #23: Heartache and Disappointment
As we grow up, we learn people will let us down. We'll have our hearts broken, and we'll break hearts too. We'll lose people we love too soon. So, take too many pictures, try new and challenging things, love unconditionally, have no regrets, learn from every endeavor—good or bad—and forgive quickly.
Day #24: Creativity
If you can't find what you want, make it. If you can't find the picture you want, paint it. If you envy your neighbor's garden, plant one. Try new things; you may find your hidden talents.
Day #25: Winning and Losing
I love to run. Running isn't necessarily hard; it just takes practice and patience. Defeats are another chance to obtain a victory; an opportunity to work harder and push beyond your comfort zone. That's when the success is the sweetest because you know that you genuinely worked hard for it. There will be wins and losses in every journey throughout our life. Without defeats, there would be no victories because we would stop trying to be better.
"You were born to run. Maybe not that fast, maybe not that far, maybe not as efficiently as others. But to get up and move, to fire up that entire energy-producing, oxygen-delivering, bone-strengthening process we call running." - Florence Griffith-Joyner
Day #26: Confidence
You can be at your peak performance one day and your lowest ability the next. Just one muscle-pull away. Never give up on a comeback!
"Pain is weakness leaving the body. The question isn't how much more can you take, but how much more can you give. Just when you're ready to quit, your mind says push harder. You listen, sensing an inner strength that wasn't there before, and suddenly you discover you no longer feel the pain." - Unknown
Day #27: Forgiveness
The moment you forgive someone, you give them a second chance. By doing this, you challenge both of you to grow and become better individuals. Your ego might tell you to "let this person go," but what does your heart say? Listen to your heart. Forgiveness is not for the offender, but you.
"People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered; forgive them anyway." - Mother Teresa
Day #28: Setting Goals
Everyone should have a Bucket List, in my opinion. It's pretty easy to come up with 100 things that you want to achieve. Give it a shot then get busy marking items off!
Day #29: Parenting
Once your kids have grown, you're in an all-adult relationship. You no longer tell them how to conduct their life. You've taught them the tools to succeed; they must become individuals. Choices are theirs alone, and no matter what they decide, you are now in a supportive role, giving advice only when asked for, loving unconditionally, and making a mess in their house every chance you get to get them back!
"Parenting is a job you'll never resign from, yet you only have to be the boss for a short time, then you get demoted to a volunteer." - Debra Roberts (me)
Day #30: Love and Marriage
True love is passionate, fun, exciting, and organic. It's not something you look for; it's something that finds you; when you least expect it. "Marriage" is being best friends and enjoying one another's presence, no matter where you are or what you're doing. It's not about the things you do on an obligatory basis, like birthdays or anniversaries. It's the little things you do each day to make one another feel special and loved; spontaneously from the heart. Love isn't forced. There's a difference between being married and having a marriage. Ponder that.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
What is your greatest advice for one who is still young regarding peaceful and mindful living?
I think about this all the time, wishing I knew then what I know now. My best advice is to always listen and keep an open mind in every situation. Think before reacting (count to 10 slowly in your mind if that helps slow a negative reaction). Never judge anyone, always be accepting and put yourself in the shoes of others and think about how you would want to be treated if in the same situation.
As for life in general, seek out adventures and experiences, not "things". Go outside and soak it all in every chance you get. Travel near and far and your eyes will be opened to things you never imagined!; particularly other cultures, climates, and landscapes.Helpful 1
© 2018 Debra Roberts