1. Don’t be late.
Time is one of the most valuable gifts you can give. Be integral with your time. By being late, you’re telling that person you don’t value them – simply because you’re not valuing their time. Set your clock ten minutes back, wear a watch, or leave ten minutes early – whatever you do, don’t be late.
2. Own your shit.
If you have upset or disappointed someone – don’t try to justify it with an excuse. For example, if you’re late (see lesson one), don’t blame the traffic on the highway – there’s always going to be traffic, and you should have planned for it. Take ownership of what you could have done differently, apologize, and don’t let it happen again. Own your shit.
3. Timing is everything.
If you catch yourself dwelling on the ‘why’ – stop. If you’re asking yourself why you didn’t get the job or why he didn’t call you back – stop. That position has been filled and if he hasn’t called yet, he’s not going to. Sometimes you don’t need a why – sometimes (most of the time) it’s a combination of luck and being at the right place at the right time. Remember, timing is everything.
4. Be anything, but don’t be angry.
Nothing good or productive is achieved from a place of anger. By being angry, you don’t win – and you’re definitely not the bigger person. We waste a lot of energy by being angry – be sad, disappointed, and heartbroken – be anything, but don’t be angry.
5. Find a way to forgive.
Don’t confuse forgiveness with acceptance – they are not the same. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you agree with or condone what happened. Forgiveness doesn’t mean friendship. Let go of your resistance to forgive – it’s not about the other person and what they should have done differently. Forgiveness is about making peace with the things you cannot change. It’s about freeing yourself of all the negative emotions you’ve been carrying – find a way to forgive.
6. Laugh often.
Laughter is the most effective medicine out there. If you can find a way to laugh about it – do. It will heal you. Think of the people you laugh the most with – spend more time with those people. Laugh often.
7. Be selfish with yourself.
Always put your mental and physical health before others. It’s one thing to be selfless, and it’s another to be careless. If you’re not taking care of yourself, you won’t be in the position to take care of others. Be selfish with yourself.
8. Get comfortable with the uncomfortable.
You’ve witnessed a racist joke being shared – despite your discomfort, you laughed along or looked away awkwardly. You’ve thought about correcting your friends’ choice of language when they talked about the party being ‘gay’ or their parents acting ‘retarded.’ Thinking about it isn’t good enough – correct it. You’ve remained quiet all this time because it’s easy – it’s easy because it’s comfortable. The world doesn’t need easy and comfortable you. It needs vocal, driver of change you. Get comfortable with the uncomfortable.
9. Be generous.
Be generous – not with your wealth (that’s not as important), but with your knowledge. Your education and lived experiences are a privilege – and they are the most valuable things you own. Be generous.
10. Make independent decisions.
“I should go to university” or “I should apply for that position” – the concept that you ‘should’ do something is false. Your ‘should’ decisions are driven by ego, societal and social pressures. Try replacing should with want – do your goals change? Yes, I thought they might – let them. You decide what kind of life you want to live – and how beautiful is that? Don’t let other people’s opinions and perceptions influence your own decisions. And fuck those people who think they know what’s best for you – they don’t. Make independent decisions.
11. Everything in moderation, including moderation.
“Everything in moderation” – bullshit. Sometimes one chocolate bar will not suffice – when he breaks your heart, when you have a terrible day at work, or when you watch The Notebook for the tenth time – go ahead and have two, three, or four bars of chocolate. And after you do, don’t drown yourself in self-guilt afterward. You’re not a failure. And you don’t need to dedicate the next week to ‘working it off.’ You’re a human being with cravings. Don’t overcomplicate it. It’s fucking chocolate. Fuel your body with nourishing foods, drink lots of water – but please, still eat the chocolate.
Physical activity (a close second to laughter) is one of the most effective medicines out there. Remember – exercise is a celebration of what your body can do, it is not a punishment of what you last ate (don’t let society try to confuse you otherwise). Have fun with it – walk the dog, run along the beach, or go to Zumba class with your best friend (highly recommend the last option – hilarious). Can’t find time in your busy schedule? Own your shit and re-read number two. Exercise.
13. Be kind.
Do not underestimate the impact of your written and spoken words. You can easily influence a person’s mood, perspective, and sometimes – self-worth. Think before you speak. Stand up for those who are being mistreated. Frequently check in with those that you love. Tell the people you love that you love them – and then tell them what you love about them. The most beautiful people are kind people. Of all the things you can be-be kind.
14. Read often.
And no, Instagram captions do not count. Read a controversial news article, a recent medical study, a memoir, or a good book. A professor once told me, the smartest people in the world read every day – I believe this to be true. Read out loud – this will improve your communication skills. Read words you don’t understand – then, read about those words so you do understand them. Read to richen your creativity and imagination. You’ve learned to read. Now, it’s time to read to learn. Read often.
15. You can do anything, but not everything.
You’re a human being – I know, I forget sometimes too. You get excited, overwhelmed, or distracted – before you know it, you’re sleep deprived, starving, and anxious. Balance. It might be the most difficult, yet important, skill to master.Be ambitious. Set big goals. But, be realistic. Trust me – the exhausted, sleep deprived and starving you will thank me later. Note to self: you can do anything, but not everything.
16. Comparison is the thief of joy.
It’s so easy to compare yourself to others – especially at surface-level. The biggest thing I’ve learned is the way someone presents themselves is not an accurate depiction of how they feel. Don’t let someone else’s progress or achievements slow you down – instead, let it inspire you. Get curious. Find out how they got there – you might be surprised at what you find.
17. Connection is everything.
You are fuelled by connection – we all are. Your family, friends, colleagues, and peers provide you with innate human need – connection. Some of us feel more disconnected than others – each of us plays a role, do your part. Smile at strangers. Talk to the cashier at the check-out line. Make conversation with the barista. Start making a conscious effort to connect because it is everything. Connection is everything.
18. You are enough.
You have always been enough. You were never not enough. As you navigate through this thing called life – remember, there is someone who aspires to be just like you. There is someone who cannot imagine a world without you in it. Some of the most beautiful days of your life haven’t happened yet – and what a wonderful thought that is. You are doing the best you can, and that is more than enough. You are enough.