10 lessons I’d share with the younger me

There’s something extremely gratifying in telling someone else “I told you so.” Knowing our beliefs or opinions were correct makes us feel justified and empowered.  I don’t know about you, but I occasionally struggle to take the advice of others, often believing that they don’t truly understand my situation or my perspective.  With that in mind, I recently pondered what advice I might give to myself or wish that I could’ve given that might have helped me experience life differently. So here goes, the top 10 lessons I’d share with the younger me to empower me to LIVE TO THE FULL the live I’ve been given.

Lesson #1: Be grateful.

Begin and end each day expressing thanks for something in your life. (No fair using the same thing twice.) Regardless of how dark the day, there is always something to be thankful for. (Simple things count, like the sunrise/sunset, especially if they make you smile.)

Lesson #2: You have a stake in your happiness

Most of the time, you can choose to create your own happiness. Even in the face of trial, you can either choose to see the good in the situation or dwell on the bad. Find what makes you happy and when things are hard, focus on those things, and don’t forget look for ways to express thanks.

Lesson #3: Make plans, but always be ready for change

Making plans helps you dream and work toward a goal, but you must be ready for your plans to change. Life has a way of turning plans on their heads in the space of a moment. Embrace the change as what it is – a new adventure.  Make a new plan, learn, and grow.  Believe in yourself – you’ve got this!

Lesson #4: Always leave room for failure

When you accept challenges, there’s a strong likelihood that at some point, you won’t be able to figure things out. That’s okay. Accept your failures along with your successes. As Thomas Edison said “I didn’t fail to create the lightbulb 1000 times, I learned 1000 ways not to create a lightbulb.”

Lesson #5: All relationships take work (including friendships)

People know that marriages and romantic relationships take work, but the same applies to friendships. True friends fight and work through it. They set aside time to spend together. All relationships need to be nurtured and pruned in order to blossom. Putting in the effort can seem like a daunting task, but the friendships and relationships that result are worth the effort. Having people who know you deeply and love you unconditionally is worth it.

Lesson #6: Embrace your quirks

Everyone has weird habits or unique experiences. Love yours and share them with the world. How do you know who you’re really connecting with if you’re not being entirely yourself?

Lesson #7: Confidence is more powerful than you think

You have the right to believe you are important, beautiful and strong. Your confidence will help you push yourself out of your comfort zone, take risks and succeed in situations you would never have thought possible. Even when you doubt yourself, stand strong and be yourself (even if it feels like you are faking it).  Keep going until you believe it and others will too.

Lesson #8: Learn to love being alone

Spending time with yourself can be just as enjoyable as being with others. Don’t be afraid to go to a concert on your own or grab dinner solo. You’ll find you actually love just hanging out with you.

Lesson #9: Your health is important

Mind, body and spirit – the whole person. Like it or not your health is key to your happiness. So please take care of ALL of you. Exercise, eat well, rest, cry, and laugh. That’s right – respect your heart/emotions, it matters!

Lesson #10: Every once in a while, indulge

Or as Tom and Donna from Parks and Rec say, “Treat yo’ self.” Buy yourself that bold shade of lipstick or eat a container full of ice cream every once in a while.

So, younger me, I hope you’ll take to heart these lessons because I love you and only want the best for you. Don’t make me tell you, “I told you so.”

Iris Proctor
Iris is the director of ArborWoman.