66 Life Lessons to Bring You Happiness & Joy in the New Year
What Do You Know?
As we journey through this epic adventure called life, we pick up a thing or two about the things that matter, the things that make life better, and the things that can send us down completely unfulfilling paths.
These are our life lessons, and when shared they have the opportunity to benefit those in our immediate circle, and sometimes, way beyond.
An old friend used to open a conversation with the question, "What do you know?" This was an invitation to share personal insights about life, about joy and pain, and about the human condition.
By openly sharing what we've learned and comparing notes in a spacious non-judgmental way, a real sense of connection, validation and support arises. There's acknowledgment that we're all doing the best we can with what we have and that we're all on separate but overlapping paths.
Inspired to leave a legacy of my "knowings" to my children, I decided to write down what I know. These are the things that experience has taught me so far and I hope that my children benefit in some way from my insights.
Maybe you will find something that resonates with you too.
1. One of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself is the commitment to understanding yourself and increasing your self awareness. If you do nothing else with your life do that. You will be rich beyond measure.
2. Learning to live with uncertainty is an important skill. When you can comfortably (or even uncomfortably) live with uncertainty, anything is possible.
3. Some people will never recognize the good in you simply because they would have to completely reevaluate who they are to do so.
"Some people are in your life solely to show you how not to be. Study them carefully and do the exact opposite."
4. Taking risks is good for you, even if you don’t get the result you imagined.
5. Listening to someone without judgement is one of the simplest and most beautiful forms of love that there is.
6. Thoughts are not facts. They certainly feel like they are though. Once you start meditating regularly you’ll watch the kind of crap your mind comes up with just because it wants something to cling to and you’ll laugh gently at all the times you got fired up over just a thought.
7. Opinions are like butt-holes. Everyone has one and they all stink. Don’t take your opinions too seriously. If you have an open mind you’re just one piece of information away from changing your opinion anyway.
8. Validation is a deep human need. Validation is simply the acceptance that what you're experiencing right now is real and true to you, and what others are experiencing is real and true to them. These do not need to be shared experiences. Validate yourself and others often.
9. Never try to force a child into a mold that doesn’t fit them. Children want and need to be accepted for who they are. As their parent, you need to expand to accommodate them, not the other way around.
10. Buddha said “If you think so, so. If you think not so, not so.” Your mindset is everything. If you only look for the negative that’s all you’ll find.
11. Never rely on one source for your information. Learn how to research, how to find the best experts on a topic, how to critically evaluate information and how to always allow for more and better information to be discovered.
12. Some people are in your life solely to show you how not to be. Study them carefully and do the exact opposite.
13. You can learn far more from your children than they will ever learn from you, if you’re open to it.
14. The assumptions we make about others are usually wrong. Get curious. Fact check and ask questions instead of assuming.
15. What we eat affects everything, including our mental health.
16. The best time to do something is usually NOW.
"Listening to someone without judgement is one of the simplest and most beautiful forms of love there is."
17. Every feeling and thought you have is ok. Work on radical self acceptance and loving the totality of who you are.
18. Stay away from gossip and drama. Nothing good ever comes from it.
19. Never feel obligated to say yes when you want to say no. Trust your own judgement about what's best for you.
20. Obligation is the thief of motivation and an amazing tool for manipulation. Drop it.
21. Uncommunicated expectations are the thief of joy. When we have an expectation of another, but fail to inform them, conflict will normally follow.
22. Life is a lot of fun without alcohol.
23. Spend your thinking time considering how you can improve your life, not how everyone else “should” be improving theirs. You do you and let other people be the experts on what’s good for them.
24. What’s obvious to us is rarely obvious to others. Communicate to share your vision.
25. Advice is rarely helpful unless someone has specifically asked for it. In fact, unsolicited advice giving is really annoying to most people.
26. It’s true that the greatest gifts will be found in your deepest pain, but it will probably take a long time to find the treasure. Keep digging for it until you find it.
27. Listen to feedback when it’s given with love. Other people can see parts of us that we are blind to.
28. Don’t allow other people’s negative judgments of you to define you. They usually say more about them than they do you.
29. Life is full of paradox and subtle differentiations.
"Spend your thinking time considering how you can improve your life, not how everyone else “should” be improving theirs. You do you and let other people be the experts on what’s good for them."
30. Once you have truly loved someone they will always be part of you, even after they have passed away. You can connect with them any time you wish by simply closing your eyes and remembering how you felt when you were together.
31. Love always feels good. If it doesn’t feel good inside your body something else is going on (like ego games, power plays, possessiveness etc).
32. Your emotions are your inner guidance system. Listen carefully and allow them to inform you on what’s good or bad for you.
33. Learn some basic psychology. Specifically defense mechanisms, the drama triangle, attachment patterns, and ego games. You will understand many of your social interactions much better and you will be less likely to fall into destructive patterns that hurt yourself and others.
34. One of the most powerful and protective words you have at your disposal is NO. Practice saying it and getting comfortable with it.
35. Minor boundary overstepping is common, but feel empowered to let go of people who continually disrespect your boundaries or who cross them more aggressively. There's no need to subject yourself to people who disrespect you. Your number one priority is keeping yourself safe.
36. Boundary negotiations are one of the hardest things about human relationships. Respect, trust and communication are essential for healthy navigation.
37. You can quieten the negative commentary in your mind by speaking directly to it. “Thank you, but that isn’t helping me right now” works well. Strangely enough, the negative part of you is actually trying to protect you which is why a thank you helps dissipate the energy. It feels acknowledged enough to let go of its insistence.
38. Say something nice to yourself when you see yourself in the mirror.
"What’s obvious to us is rarely obvious to others. Communicate to share your vision."
39. There is a child inside of you that needs your unconditional love, care and acceptance. Once you’ve learned to give that to him or her, everything else falls into place.
40. Don’t let others define your priorities for you or make you feel bad about having different priorities to them. They may not understand yours, but that’s for them to deal with.
41. Many people will misinterpret who you are unless you tell them. Use your words as well as your actions if you want to be known.
42. If someone doesn’t want to listen when you share your deepest self, maybe it’s time to love them and move on. Sharing of your deepest thoughts and feelings is a gift to those around you.
43. When someone is sad and you don’t have the words to comfort them, hold their hand and offer your loving presence.
44. Words matter. Practice using positive statements instead of negative ones and see how things change for you and those around you. After a little while it becomes second nature to think and speak in a more positive way.
45. There is no weakness in needing help or support. Humans are interconnected social beings, not solitary ones. Just make sure you ask the right people (ie: the ones that have support to give). Paying for it in the form of therapy is often the best way to go.
46. You were born perfect regardless of what anyone else has told you, implied or led you to believe. When you peel back the social conditioning, the judgments, the accusations, the punishments, the “training”, and any sense of unworthiness instilled in you, you will be free to be your original perfectly imperfect self. It may be a lifelong quest, but it is one worth taking.
47. There are a few practical things in life that need sorting for your security and peace of mind, the rest of the time feel free to have fun. There are no extra points for being serious all the time.
48. Avoid the path of least resistance. It’s dull and unsatisfying. The things that require effort generally bring the most rewards and satisfaction.
49. Fear is our greatest enemy. Fear of risk, fear of change, fear of connection, fear of failure, fear of looking stupid and fear of being wrong keep us in avoidant patterns that are the antithesis of life.
50. We all make mistakes and we’re all imperfect, it’s just that some people’s mistakes and imperfections are more visible than others. Be humble.
51. Some people are only happy when putting other people down. If you're being put down, feel empowered to challenge it or walk away. Don't be a masochist.
52. When you ask someone how they are, use all your energy to be open to listening to their answer. This is the gift of presence.
"You will find a lot of joy in lifting other people up. Do as much of that as you can."
53. Small changes can have really big positive effects on your life. For instance, taking Vitamin D3 every day, drinking enough water or allowing yourself 10 minutes to quietly focus on your breath.
54. Eating junk will make you feel like junk eventually.
55. If you have minor, annoying health issues with no obvious cause like sinusitis, GERD, digestive issues, diarrhea, headaches, low energy and joint pain, cut out grains, dairy and soy for a couple of months and see how much better you feel.
56. Caffeine can wreak havoc in your body without you realizing.
57. When trust is broken, sometimes it never comes back regardless of how much you may want it to. The only thing to do is accept the situation and love yourself nevertheless.
58. Do more of the things that bring you joy. Try new things and be open to joy coming from unexpected sources, because it often does.
59. You will find a lot of joy in lifting other people up. Do as much of that as you can.
"When someone is sad and you don’t have the words to comfort them, hold their hand and offer your loving presence."
60. If you feel like a victim, then you will have had at least one traumatic experience where you were, in fact, the victim. Acknowledge that truth and get the help you need to move through it.
61. Like the weaker dog who shows his belly in submission to the stronger dog, the place of victim hood feels safer in its submissiveness. But it is a place of stagnation. It's not healthy for you to stay there. Get support to help you find your inner strength.
62. Some people will actively try to destroy you (usually in very underhanded ways) if they sense you are smarter, more powerful, more sensitive or more talented than they are. Watch out for this tendency in others, and if found, avoid them like the plague.
63. It's important to acknowledge and celebrate your positive qualities. This can be difficult if no one has ever helped you verbalize what they are. Use my popular guide on identifying your positive qualities in which you'll discover lots of words to describe yourself.
64. If you grew up feeling that something was wrong with you, you were probably the family scapegoat who was blamed for everything. This is a common, but extremely damaging dynamic that many families play out due to their own ignorance and lack of self awareness. Ultimately you need to know that they were wrong and there is actually NOTHING wrong with you.
65. Life is about love and connection, not about the collection of material things. You won't get to the end of your life and wish you had more money, houses or things, so be mindful of where you focus your energy.
66. There is a whole universe full of possibilities out there. Suspend all judgment, and step outside of your limited focus to access them.
I would love to know what you know too. Please feel free to share your life lessons with us in the comment section below.
Questions & Answers
© 2019 Susana Smith