Tuesday, April 14, 2015

36 things in 36 years.

A much-belated revision of my 36th year reflections on what makes a good life:

1) Release anxiety around things you cannot change. Worrying literally changes nothing.
2) Surround yourself with people who share your deeply-held values.
3) Spend a lot of time by yourself. Take yourself on dates.
4) Get plenty of sleep, and don't wake up to an alarm unless you absolutely have to.
5) Intentionally engage in meaningful conversation. Do your best to avoid gossip and useless chatter (unless it's very funny, in which case it's totally fine.)
6) Practice yoga (almost) every day. When you can't practice, at least try to pay attention to your breath.
7) Allow yourself to be called to action by a cause that inspires you.
8) Speak out against any injustice you perceive. "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." (MLK)
9) Love the people you love as best you can, and tell them every chance you get how much you value and appreciate them.
10) Do work that satisfies your spirit and makes you feel like you're making a positive contribution to the world.
11) Let yourself be deeply seen, at least by the few people you trust to share that space with. Vulnerability is hard, but it's worth it.
12) Write a lot, whenever you feel like it, about whatever compels you. Share what you write if you want to, but understand that it doesn't matter whether anybody else wants to read it. Write because it makes you happy.
13) Ask endless questions, listen to the answers, and be open to learning from others.
14) Synthesize what you learn into carefully considered positions so that you aren't just parroting talking points, but rather expressing opinions that reflect your values.
15) Diversify your social circle. Make new friends. Keep the old ones that are still "your people", but understand and accept that the friendship tree needs occasional pruning. People grow apart, and that's okay.
16) Stop needing people to like you. It is far preferable to be respected, so the energy is better spent becoming a person worth respecting.
17) Be single for a while if you usually aren't. There is value in learning how to be alone.
18) If you are single and you want to have sex with people you aren't in a relationship with, you can totally do that (assuming they are free of obligation to others as well). Don't ever feel ashamed of sex, but do honor yourself by only sharing your body with people you trust and feel safe with.
19) Touch the people you love in the sweetest way you can manage. Always give good, two-arm hugs. Squeeze, don't pat.
20) Don't be motivated by money, because money is only a tool and has no intrinsic value. It is important to have some, of course, but it will never make you happy in and of itself. It's far better to be motivated by doing good work.
21) Be as honest but also as kind as possible with all of your communication. It is a delicate balance.
22) This includes communication with yourself, so be gentle with your self-talk. I saw a meme once that read, "Be nice to yourself. It's hard to be happy when someone's being mean to you all the time." So true.
23) Have a team of trusted advisors to consult with for major decisions, and make sure to keep some people on your team who are not afraid to challenge and call you out. You need those people.
24) Solicit advice and wisdom, and listen to it, but ultimately keep your own counsel. You know in your bones what is right for you.
25) Don't wait until you're "ready". If you wait until you feel prepared and fully qualified, you'll never do anything.
26) Perfection is not a thing. Strive to do your best, but skip the part where you have to make it perfect.
27) Sing loudly and often, if for no other reason than because it makes you happy. (If you happen to also get paid for singing, consider it a bonus.)
28) It is a gift when someone opens up to you; be a person others can trust with their innermost thoughts and feelings. Do not share words said to you in confidence.
29) Never intentionally cause harm, but take responsibility and apologize with sincerity when you accidentally do cause harm (because you will).
30) Accept all sincere apologies. In resolving conflict, always strive for a win-win. It rarely matters who was "right".
31) Do not respond to anything while you’re “in your feelings”, whether that feeling be hurt, anger, frustration, or irritation. If something pings your feelings, wait a minute before you reply, because anything you say immediately will just be reactionary.
32) Most things are not personal. I repeat: most things are not personal. Other people’s actions, largely, have nothing to do with you. Ask for clarification before you decide to take something personally.
33) Avoid passive-aggressiveness. That thing where you say it’s fine but it’s really not fine? Stop doing that. Own your needs, wants, and desires. State them clearly. Do not expect others to read your mind. You can’t get mad for not getting something you never asked for.
34) Love your body. All of it. It’s an amazing, beautiful thing and also it’s the only one you get. Keep in mind that any lover worth having will love all of you, including all the parts you're insecure about. Get out of your head. Worrying about how your body looks robs you and your lover of pleasures that are rightfully yours to enjoy.
35) Go out for a leisurely breakfast whenever you can. Morning coffee is the best part of every day; savor it.
36) Practice gratitude.