When I turned 30 I sat down and wrote a list of everything I accomplished and everything I wanted to achieve in life. I decided today, for my birthday, to do a similar exercise but this time write down 33 lessons I have learned and that are really important to me and probably define the person I am the most. I didn’t have intentions to share as it isn’t travel related but when I finished I thought wow I wish I learned some of these earlier in life so I hope in sharing this post with you that maybe it can help even one person I would be incredibly grateful. We will be back to travel-related content tomorrow, promise!
So it isn’t all words I thought I’d share some pictures I never shared before. Enjoy!
1. Don’t take everything so seriously.
Life is too short to take everything so seriously or to heart. It is better to let some of it go, leave it to the wind. We cannot handle all of the bad that comes to us and we aren’t expected to. You aren’t being weak or spineless for not defending yourself or being upset, you are just choosing your battles.
2. An extra pair of socks go a long way.
This is true for a lot of situations! If you happen to get stuck in the rain, step into a puddle, or maybe you have had a very sweaty day a fresh pair of socks can make a world of a difference for happy feet.
3. Hydrate, hydrate, and hydrate.
Yeah, I sound like a mom. Hydration can help solve a lot of problems like headaches, fatigue, bad skin, hangovers, hunger, you name it and water solves it. Bonus points for reusable water bottles.
4. Don’t buy stuff you don’t need to impress people you don’t care about.
They don’t really care about it anyway. Spend your money and time on the things you love because at the end of the day it will make you the happiest. A house full of stuff won’t.
5. Everyone has their own struggle.
When you encounter a person you are probably only experiencing mere minutes out of a whole lifetime. Each and every one of us has our own struggle. It isn’t a game of who struggles more it should be about patience and compassion so that in each moment we can learn something new and pass that along.
6. There is no shame in falling asleep before 10 pm.
I used to feel guilty not going out on the weekends, but if that is not a priority for me, then it isn’t. Some people love the nightlife and others love their sleep.
7. Procrastination only cuts into your time!
I still struggle with this because I just love a good procrastination session but the biggest lesson I learned is that it only gives me less time to do the things I love and want to do. When I procrastinate I am doing really mindless things like scrolling social media. Now I try to push myself to get my work done early and enjoy the rest of the day.
8. Take that trip
This is more of stop making excuses. If you want to do something, make it happen. Saying it over and over again without action won’t make things magically appear. Also if you are planning on taking that trip… I might have some info for you.
9. Don’t forget gratitude
Gratitude for yourself, others, and the world around you. We are all so fortunate to be living breathing beings on this earth and every day is a gift. Every time you turn on the hot water for your shower, be grateful. Every time you can get a glass of water from the sink, be grateful.
10. Also, don’t forget your manners!
This goes with #9 being grateful and polite to others can get you far in life. Simple please and thank yous can open a lot of doors and show basic respect when asking or receiving something.
11. There might be a lot of bad in the world but people are generally good and kind-hearted.
They really are. We are faced with a lot of awful things in the media and news. Repeated images of violence, death, corruption, etc that while they are happening, are not the images of everyday life. In my experience of traveling around it is that most people are generous and kind and are willing to give a helping hand when you need it.
12. Be open-minded to others.
You don’t have to love everything someone else does. If someone loves to spend their money on fancy clothes or their free time playing video games that doesn’t affect your life. You don’t need to create that negativity making fun of someone else for not being exactly like you. I’m so happy we are all different, otherwise, the world would be boring.
13. If you don’t have anything nice to say, keep your mouth shut.
This is similar to #12 but pertains to everything. I’m not saying don’t stand up for what you believe in because that is important. I’ve learned that the more negative thoughts I have or things I say, the worse I feel, and saying not nice things to people doesn’t make them feel good either. You accomplish nothing in the scheme of the entire world to say something cruel.
14. Take the picture.
I’ve learned this but I really need to implement it more often. So many times I don’t take that pictures of myself fearing ridicule… who cares! If I want my selfie in front of a pretty tree or a picture of my meal – I’m allowed! It doesn’t hurt anyone else and if it makes me happy I don’t need to let someone else take that away from me.
15. Your memory ages faster than you.
So take that picture and keep that journal because you will forget. I have a pretty strong photographic memory but as the years pile on, the memories really do start to fade. That is why I love to try to take pictures, make scrapbooks, and even videos of some of my experiences.
16. Learn how to cook one dish really really well.
This is a fun life hack in case you are throwing a dinner party, have a dinner date coming over, or just want to treat yourself. I have a few dishes that I enjoy making and really love to eat.
17. Health is not just what you eat but also physical and mental.
It isn’t just about eating healthy food, although that is a huge part of it. It is also about being healthy and strong through working out and taking care of your mental health whether it is taking time for yourself, seeking out help, or reaching out to friends. Health is a whole package!
18. Be more present.
I struggle with anxiety but the more I focus on being in the very moment that I am in it helps me cope. It is easier said than done. My mind is often in 100 different places, 10 steps ahead of most, and going 1000mph. It is a blessing and a curse. Being present in the moment is the most valuable thing I’ve probably learned. Put your phone away and spend time not only with company but also yourself.
19. Spend time in nature.
Nature has a healing aspect to it. Each week or month it is important to take time turned off from technology and spending it with nature. A beautiful reminder of how small we are and how beautiful the world is.
20. Keep a plant or two.
I just think plants are a beautiful part of a home. They are also good for air quality, increasing humidity, reducing dust levels, and some research states they help with mental health and your immune system. I believe they can be a very calming hobby to help with mindfulness, too!
21. Ask questions.
Curious about something? Don’t understand? Ask! You probably aren’t the only one who feels uncomfortable for not knowing and by asking you are not only helping increase your knowledge but of those around you. There is no shame in not knowing something, only in not having a willingness to learn. So many times I was afraid to look stupid and didn’t ask and now that the moment has passed I lost the opportunity.
22. Try new things.
New things can surprise you! This can be from trying new foods or overcoming a fear to even just trying a new hobby. You don’t have to fully commit to something just because you attempted to learn it. I see so many people pass shame for starting projects and not finishing them. There is a reason they are unfinished! Sometimes we try stuff and it just doesn’t work out. No worries! In the process, you have tried to expand your horizon and maybe learned some useful skills that translate to other things.
23. Do what makes YOU happy.
If you live on social media then life seems pretty standard for the things you should be interested in, music you listen to, the clothes you wear, hobbies you engage in. Meh, who cares if you have a passion for castles, collecting non-fiction books, and listen only to music others call boring if it makes you happy keep doing it! I don’t need to go to that music festival or visit that city because everyone else does. I don’t need to wear dresses and pose in pictures all girlie if I don’t want to. Life is easier if you stop trying to play catch up with everyone else.
24. Don’t let 18-year-old you take 100k in loans for future you.
This is a more practical one. I know it is easy to say “I need a degree and so, therefore, I will take all of the loans”. That is not 100% true. Especially today. I have so many friends drowning in debt and I see how unhappy their lives are. They take on jobs they hate, they take on 3 jobs they hate, they have no time for anything, and all of their work is going to degrees that didn’t exactly pan out how they anticipated. Be mindful about how you proceed with this step of your life. While I don’t regret getting my degree for a moment. If I could go back I would have done things differently, like took more classes at community college before transferring to a larger school.
25. Learn something new every year.
Learning shouldn’t stop when you finish school. Learning new things keeps your mind active and expands your interests and knowledge. I’m constantly learning – usually new languages for the past 6 years – but it is still something that’s a valuable skill that helps me in life. There are so many websites, forums, and apps to learn new things, YouTube videos, or sites like Skillshare or Udemy.
26. Keep in touch with friends and family.
I’m not saying be the one always keeping in touch, but take an active part in messaging them or calling them up to see how they are. Sometimes someone might not be pulling their end because they are going through a rough patch, and a simple “How are you?” can go a long way!
27. What some jerk on the internet says doesn’t define your life.
There is a difference between being open to constructive criticism and someone being an asshole. Internet bullies don’t deserve any attention. There are mute and block buttons for a reason. Don’t waste your time on someone who clearly doesn’t care about you, they are just spreading hate through a screen.
28. Sunscreen and sunglasses are your best friend.
At 33 most people think I am still in my 20’s which I have mixed feelings about, but for now, I’m happy about it. The main reason? I stayed out of the sun and tanning beds while every other girl I knew was bathing in tanning oil and baking outside for hours. The sunglasses are to protect your eyes and minimize the squinting (fewer wrinkles!).
29. Invest in yourself.
You have one body (for now) and one life. Invest in your health with the food you eat, invest in your physical and mental health (as discussed above), but also invest in your hopes and dreams. If you want to start a business – go for it. If you want to travel the world – go for it. Prioritize the things you daydream about and make them happen. Set aside time or money every day to get yourself closer to the life you want.
30. Pay it forward.
Of all of the things I have done in my life and things I have learned the most meaningful are probably when I pay it forward. I try to help out everyone I can in need, I pass on my knowledge, my time, my old clothes and shoes. Many people have helped me get where I am today and I am always looking to do the same for someone else. We all have something to offer.
31. Time doesn’t mean anything.
I couldn’t think of a catchy rule for this but I think this hits it just right. It doesn’t matter if you are 25, 33, or 40 you all have the same moment – right now. This means that just because you have been with a partner for 5+ years doesn’t mean you have to stay with them forever. If you aren’t happy, move on. If you got a degree in something and worked 10 years in a job but hate it more than anything, start over. There is no set year when you should have your career or be married or have a family. Life happens when it happens. What matters is that you take an active role in it.
32. Listen to your body and your heart.
Our bodies are pretty smart. If you are feeling tired or not able to do something, listen to it. If you are feeling unsure about something, listen to your thoughts. If it doesn’t feel right, walk away. We don’t have to please every single person – only ourselves. If something doesn’t work out it isn’t the end of the world. The best we can do is to be honest with ourselves and our heart will guide the rest.
33. Tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone.
I say this so often but it really is the truest lesson of them all. You are not promised tomorrow or even the next hour. There is no such thing as expiry date for us humans. We live until we don’t which can be any single moment. It is terrifying, and it should be, but it should also serve as a compass to spend your time wisely. Spend your time with people you love and admire, surround yourself with positivity and not hate, work in a job that doesn’t make you come home and cry every single day. If you don’t love them, leave them. If you don’t want to, don’t. Being alive is a really beautiful thing, so enjoy every moment you have.
Thank you as always for reading and feel free to share your life lessons in the comments below! We can always learn from one another. -Helene
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Owner of wanderinghelene.com. Anthropologist, content creator, castle explorer, coffee drinker, and lover of markets and very old places!