I am almost 42 years old, in the middle chapter of my life. Large volumes of experiences are now behind me, and large volumes are yet to come if I am lucky. I have been married for 18 years and started my marriage when I was a baby. I didn’t know anything when I started down the path of marriage with my young husband. I have birthed two kids and raised them to where they are now ages seven and nine. I have a dog I love as much as a person can love a dog and I have lost a dog that I also love although she has been gone for five years now. Over the course of time, and these great many life experiences, I have learned a few things. I’m a work in progress and still have so much to figure out but here are the things I do know.
Life is highs and lows.
As I get older and the passage of time becomes more evident and real, the more I experience these immense highs and crashing lows. I find myself wanting to take a mental snapshot of experiences I know I will never have again so I can preserve the high. At the same time, I almost fear these elevated moments because I know they will be accompanied by extreme plummeting lows. This is life. You cannot experience high without also experiencing low. It is part of our human journey, and it is important to accept and embrace both of these emotions.
It’s ok not to know.
In my younger years, I would spend so much time trying to figure life out, to nail down my spiritually, to have a concrete belief system. I wanted it all to make sense. At some point though, I chose to accept that I wasn’t going to have the answers and that was fine. Embracing the unknown is calming. Spinning your wheels trying to figure out the answers to all of life’s big questions can lead to an ultimate drain. It really is acceptable not have it all figured out.
Living in the past, especially the bad bits gets you nowhere. You will never be able to change the past, good or bad. The choices you make form you and you can never know what a different choice may have brought you in life. You learn from your choices because they form you so accept, embrace, and move on. Start fresh and grab each new day, learn something each day, and accept each day as it comes. It is all fleeting, and each experience is meaningful and powerful in some way. Just be.
Relationships are hard.
Marriage is hard and loads of work. The relationship with your children is difficult. Friendships aren’t easy either. It’s all work, nurturing, attention and time. It is so worth it, though. You can never expect your relationship not to take work, not to cause thoughtfulness, not to come with highs and lows, or to be on cruise control. I have mentally divorced and re-married my husband at least a hundred times over the course of our 18-year marriage. I have fallen in and out of and back in love with him at least that many times. All things worthwhile take effort. All things worthwhile change and grow over time. I have to apologize more than I ever thought possible to my spouse and my kids. They have to be forgiving and accepting of my flaws, and I have to be of theirs. They get the best of me and the worst of me because I love them the most. I frequently have to tell my friends that even if I fail them, I still love them with all my heart and I have to know the same is true on their side of our friendship. Relationships are a constant dance and somedays you have no rhythm and other days you are beautifully choreographed.
You make your own happiness.
Your happiness is all about your attitude and how you process the information of your life. You can learn from any experience, even the challenging ones. There is always knowledge to be gained. You make it or break it by how you process and categorize information within your own mind. You MUST look up TedTalks about positive and negative self-talk. You won’t regret it; there is such amazing information out there on this topic. You can literally change everything by the way you think. Your happiness largely relies on you.
Never, ever, ever be afraid to be giving. Generosity is so basic, so important and so empowering. Give of your time, your wealth, your heart, your kindness and your thoughts. Just give. We are all in the human experience together, and we are a community. Nourish your people. I have never regretted giving to the people I love.
That’s what I have in my library of knowledge at this moment. I’m sure as time passes, I will learn more and add to my list. I can’t see anything on this list fading away. These are my truths. I hope the things I have learned in my life help you to think about the things you have learned in your life. Your lessons might be completely different than mine, and that is great. I urge you spend a few minutes today thinking about your truths. This exercise made my mind work, brought my memories forward, and delivered much-needed introspection to my busy life.