35 Lessons in 35 Years

Today is my 35th birthday, and I wanted to share some of the things that I have learned in my 35 years. While I have a ton of things yet to learn, I thought I’d write down some quick life lessons. These aren’t all of the life lessons I’ve learned. I don’t even know that these are the most important. But they are the ones that I think of at this stage of my life. They’re listed in no particular order. It’s just some of things I’m reflecting on for my b-day.

  1. Be nice. You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. People always appreciate it when you’re nice to them. You’d be surprised what people will do for you if you’re nice.
  2. Follow your dreams – no matter what. When I was going to college, I learned an important lesson. I wanted to go to Wellesley College, but went to University of Minnesota because they offered me a scholarship. Instead of following my dream, I sold myself to the highest bidder, and I have regretted it ever since. Follow your dreams!
  3. Listen more than you speak. You learn so much when you listen first.
  4. Do what you can, when you can. Don’t procrastinate. If you can do it now, then do it. You never know what will come up later.
  5. Mind your manners. Say “please” and “thank you.” Always. Let others go before you. Say “excuse me.”  Wait your turn. And be gracious to those with those who do not have good manners.
  6. Help others. Be helpful. You never know when you’ll need somebody to help you.
  7. Learn every day. It is so important to keep learning and growing as a person. The possibility of learning something new makes life exciting.
  8. Follow the golden path. Do what makes you happy.
  9. More is not always better. Quality is more important than quantity.
  10. Kind words are better. It is not necessary to be hurtful.
  11. Play nice with the other kids. The ability to work well with others will take you far in life.
  12. Tomorrow is not promised. Live every day to the fullest!
  13. Write as much as possible. Writing is good for the soul.
  14. Be unique. Do you. Don’t get caught up in what’s popular, or what works for someone else. Do what you do well. Don’t try to be like anyone else.
  15. Try again. You know what they say: “If at at first you don’t succeed…”
  16. Remember regret. Sometimes we regret what we do. More often, though, we regret what we don’t do. Before you let an opportunity pass, ask yourself “Will I regret it if I don’t?”
  17. Be practical. Beauty is great. Practicality is better.
  18. Haste makes waste. Don’t rush. It only increases the chance that you’ll make a mistake. Work only as quickly as you are able to without sacrificing performance.
  19. Slow is good. I believe in this. I believe in natural, homemade, and authentic. But it takes time to make real food, and to do things by hand. That’s ok. The result is worth it.
  20. Plan properly. I love planning because it makes me more efficient.
  21. Ask for help. This is really, really hard for me to do. But it must be done. We all need help from time to time. When that time comes, don’t be ashamed to ask for help.
  22. Be thorough. Look at things carefully. Make sure you packed everything. Proofread. Don’t be afraid to go over things a second, or third, or eighth time just to double check.
  23. Don’t be afraid of change. Change can be good. Embrace the changes that you face.
  24. Love others. Treat others with kindness and respect.
  25. Be present. Live in the moment. Be hopeful about the future, but don’t forget to enjoy the present.
  26. Praise others for a job well done. Praise others generously. Everyone likes to know that they have done something well.
  27. Do your research. Don’t believe everything you see and hear. Look for yourself. Consult reputable sources, and form your own opinion.
  28. Make friends. Talk to people – at the store, at work, at school, or wherever. You never know where you will meet a new friend.
  29. Read widely. I always encourage reading because you can learn so much. Read often, and read on a variety of topics. This will also help your writing.
  30. Money isn’t everything. Life is about so much more than money. Money doesn’t buy happiness, or even a good night’s sleep. The fact that a person has a lot of money doesn’t necessarily mean that they are successful. Recognize that a person’s financial status is only a small part of the picture.
  31. Try new things. Life is full of adventures to be had. Explore! Try different foods, go to exotic locations, and try crazy things. Zip-lining through the rainforest, anyone?
  32. Appreciate beauty. Beauty is everywhere. Take time to notice the beauty of flowers, the sunset, or a child’s smile. Definitely appreciate your own beauty.
  33. Find an escape. I suppose I should clarify: find a healthy escape. I’m not talking about turning to drugs or alcohol. I mean find a healthy way to detach from life and enjoy yourself. Get lost in a book. Do some yoga. Go for a run.
  34. Take your time. Don’t rush. Think and pray over decisions. Get to know someone before marrying them (thank God I learned this one in time!).
  35. Always have a backup plan. You never know what will happen and you always want to be ready. You can’t plan for everything, but do the best that you can.

I feel like I’ve learned a lot, but I am looking forward to learning so much more. I hope to meet more people, have more experiences, and go more places. As I reach this milestone, I am really expecting to start a new chapter in my life – one of great blessing and great joy. And I pray for a lifetime of joy and blessing for you, too. Looking forward to another great year!

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