Let's start this bad boy off by saying a)Happy birthday to me! & b) I'm sharing this because I love reading these kinds of posts....especially when the lessons are the typical idioms you hear again and again. Without further ado, here they are!
1. When people say happiness is a decision, there is a little more to it than that. During my anxiety ridden early 20’s, I remember googling, “how to be happy” and the answer that came up the most was that happiness was a decision…so I decided to be happy over and over again but it never seemed to stick. I think deciding to be happy is just one component of happiness (a really important one though). My most sustained happiness has come over the past year because I: 1) chose to trust myself 2) made decisions that I respected myself for 3) actively tried to stop comparing my life to other people’s 4) deepened my relationships and 5) truly committed to the things I said I would do.
2. I have to be my biggest supporter. I remember watching a Beyoncé interview where the interviewer asked her who her best friend was and in typical Bey manner, she said, “me” (I know the non-beyhive is giving major side eye right now lol). I thought it was a rehearsed answer and moved on at the time, but as I’ve gotten older I have come to realize that you really do have to be your own best friend. Nobody can take care of you if you don’t take care of you. Nobody can truly stand up for you if you don’t stand up for you. Sometimes people will want to support you, but if you are not the president of your own fan club, you make it hard for them. And there will be times when nobody will want to wave your flag, and it is especially in those moments that you will need to treat yourself with the same kindness you’d treat your best friend.
3. Spend time on the things you say are important to you. You want to be a better family member? You should probably prioritize time spent with them instead of assuming they’ll be around tomorrow. You want to start a company? You need to spend time working on the things that move you closer to making that a reality instead of spending time thinking about all the things you need to do to start a company. Time is extremely fleeting. You will regret the things you didn’t do because of poor planning or self-doubt.
4. My body tells me everything I need to know. This applies physically and emotionally. For a long time, I used to try and fix any anxiety or any weirdness I felt because I thought I was wrong to feel that way. But I’ve learned that weird feeling is my gut and it is usually telling me to change course. And I know it is reliable because I am at peace when I do things that feel right. And physically, if you feel exhausted everyday after lunch, it is time to change what you eat for lunch. If you wake up tired, you need to change your sleep schedule. And so on and so forth. Your body knows all your secrets.
5. Bring the fun. Not to be a Debbie Downer, but life is hard! You will be sad a lot. In fact, if you don't pay attention, you could spend a lot of time distressed about the state of the world. People are killing each other, the earth is melting, my Zara shoes cut my heels while I break them in. There is a lot going on. Stop depending on events, people, the weather, the place, etc to be fun. Instead be the person that laughs the deepest, go skinny dipping, flirt with the waiter, do what makes you happy. That is what brings the fun!
6. Grand success is a myth someone’s ego created. The only success that matters is the kind where you solve your own or someone else’s problem. Everything else is an illusion. If you achieve one major goal (aka succeed), you will eventually feel the need to succeed at another major goal. Grand success is not real. Just live your life and do good work.
7. Speak up for the things/causes/people you believe in. Although my 9-5 is in public policy, most of my friends know that I hate politics. And it is mostly because the whole thing feels like a big sham that future generations will laugh at us for. But individual lives are deeply affected by large-scale decisions like deciding to go to war or supporting a bill that targets marginalized subsets of our populations. So it is imperative that I say something about the issues that bother me because it could change things for 1 person…and that in and of itself is powerful.
That last lesson is actually why I am launching the #LongWayFromHomeCampaign today instead of partying with friends. I have been extremely blessed this year but I am deeply saddened by the state of the world. I a especially heartbroken by the Syrian crisis because over half of Syria's pre-war population - that's more than 11 million people - have either been killed or had to flee from their homes. If like me, you believe that giving back matters, please donate something (even a dollar counts) HERE to support Syrian refugees.