So I turned 42 the other day. Yep, I’m one of those crazy people who claim their age and feel no need to hide it. I subscribe to the philosophy that as I get older, I get better. Age and experience have offered me increased wisdom and a deeper understanding of who I am, why I’m here and how I can make a difference in the world. They also continue to impress upon me the fact that there is still so much more learning and growing to be done.
And it was during this birthday contemplation, I decided to share some of the life lessons I’ve learned along the way, and the impact they can have on your life. Many of them will seem like such simple concepts, yet the majority of people in the world haven’t mastered them. You may recognize some, or maybe even all of these lessons. My goal here isn’t to stump my readers with obscure knowledge and B-side concepts, instead my hope is that the information provided is transparent, easily digestible and something that leads to spiritual and emotional reflection and growth. So without further adieu, here are 10 life lessons I’ve learned along the way and how they can impact your life.
- Stop comparing yourself to others. Comparison leads to separation and judgment of yourself and others. Recognize you are enough just as you are and that we are all on our own unique and incomparable path.
- Let go of the need to be perfect. This form of control keeps us constantly trying and constantly failing to live up to an unrealistic ideal of who we think we should be. If only I were thinner, prettier, stronger, smarter, etc. Let go of your need to be perfect and see just how much happier (and easier) life can be.
- Own your vulnerabilities. We all have them. So why do most us look at them as some sort of shortcoming and weakness and pretend they don’t exist? The fact of the matter is, it’s only when you’re able to own, accept and learn from your vulnerabilities that you’re able to treat yourself, and others, with the compassion, understanding and forgiveness we all richly deserve.
- Learn to say no in your life. In order to be there for the people in your life, you need to be there for yourself first. So learn to be okay with saying no to others so you make the time for those things that add meaning and enrichment to your life. You’re not a bad person for making yourself a priority.
- Don’t keep company with the wrong people.You’ve heard it said time and time again, you are the company you keep. So why not surround yourself with people who let you be the real you, support your dreams and foster an atmosphere of acceptance and love.
- Stop trying to control every aspect of your life. A kissing cousin of perfectionism, control is another enemy of peace of mind and happiness. You can have a beautiful, meaningful and fulfilled life without micromanaging every aspect of it. You just need to have faith, accept that things won’t always go as planned and not be afraid to ask for help, either from your higher power or from your loved one.
- Stop trying to be someone else. Trying to live in the mold of others people’s expectations is a fool’s errand. It’s an exhaustive effort that takes us farther away from who we really are. Impress others by following your own path and find your acceptance by leading a fully realized and uncompromised existence.
- Learn to move past fear. Fear is without a doubt the greatest paralyzer in the world today. Fear of failure, fear of success and fear of judgment by others debilitate people and keep them from pursuing their dreams. Recognize that you only have one life to live and that you don’t want to be on your deathbed filled with regret over what could have been. Identify what it is that makes you afraid, ask yourself if it is rational (or even real) and move past it in pursuit of your dreams.
- Live in the now. We spend too much time regretting the past and dreaming of the future. We trap ourselves into feelings of guilt and embarrassment by holding on to shameful or humiliating memories and putting them on perpetual playback in our heads. Conversely, we propel ourselves into the future by dreaming of the day when we will have everything we think we need to have a perfect life. But it’s only when we stay presently focused, grateful for everything we have and dedicated to our life’s journey (not the destination) that we learn, grow and become the people we’re meant to be.
- Stop gossiping. I’ll let you in on a secret. People only gossip for one reason, insecurity, plain and simple. They figure if they’re pointing the finger at someone else, no one will be able to see what they’re trying to hide about themselves. This nasty little habit does nothing but create separation and judgment in the world. So the next time you’re thinking about joining in on a gossip session, remind yourself of your own inner work, learn to practice compassion and end the conversation before it has a chance to begin.
KEEP MOVING FORWARD!
Joel Readence is a Life and Executive Coach working with gay men, and others, in areas such as spirituality, life purpose, relationships, personal identity and career exploration. He works off of the belief that with the right guidance, anyone can create life-changing shifts in their perspective that can break down self-imposed barriers and reconnect them to their true selves. Joel works with individuals and groups, and partners with his clients to help them overcome fear of success, failure and judgment by others to help them identify their dreams and reach their full, self-expressed potential.