I was laying in bed the other night unable to sleep as was particularly humid and as I lay there, my mind turned to that of my children, how they were growing so quickly and how individual they all were as people. I began to imagine where their life paths might take them as they grew up and what sort of choices they would make. I then reflected a little on my own path in life and how as I’d reached my forties I had gathered some important values that I work hard to live by. These values are based on my own life experiences, what my relationships have taught me and the wisdom handed down from my own mother.
Whilst I fully expect my children to learn from their own experiences and develop their own set of values, I also believe that they learn a lot from watching how we live our lives as parents rather than simply by what ‘advice’ we give them. However, if I could pass down some advice to help them with the challenges life will inevitably throw their way, this would be what I’d say…
BELIEVE IN YOURSELF
Over the years I haven’t always believed in myself. At times I have lacked confidence in my decisions and doubted my thoughts. I have sought validation from others when really I should have looked inwardly rather than outwardly to guide me, because ultimately the only person leading this life of mine is me. Although, by nature, I am someone who has always been open and shared my feelings and thoughts with close friends and family when making decisions or dealing with problems, I have learned as I’ve got older to ultimately trust my gut on situations.
The negative voice has the ability to be strong in all of us if we allow it to be, but by becoming self aware, I have learned to recognise this voice and to challenge it with a more positive belief system. I try my best to control my mind rather than let ‘it’ control me. Believing in yourself and having a strong sense of self worth will really help you in life, particularly if things get tough. Stay true to who you are and always remember to be yourself – unless you’re having a bad day (in which case, try hard to be someone else) 🙂
LOOK AFTER YOUR BODY AND YOUR MIND
I’m probably not the first to admit that when I was younger I took my health for granted. I ate what I wanted (and probably way too much junk food), I socialised and drank a lot more and I didn’t get enough sleep. I didn’t completely neglect my health by any stretch but looking back, I know I could have done better at looking after myself! Looking after your body and your mind is so important. We are finally living in society that is slowly opening up to talking about mental health which for me comes above almost everything. Your body is the vehicle and your mind is the driver.
It’s so important to be aware of your mental health and to do your best to look after it, because having a healthy mind along with a healthy body will be the two most important things you will need to help create a happy and fulfilling life. Where you can eat healthily, stay active, don’t drink to excess (trust me – the hangovers or the embarrassment over ‘about last night’ are just not worth it!) and work on creating a positive mindset. It’s not easy to always see the positive in everything but the ‘desire’ to be positive should ultimately always help you find your way back to where you want or need to be.
LIVE IN THE MOMENT
Life goes by so quickly and if you don’t look up once in a while, you may miss it (as the saying goes!). Don’t live in the past, it may make you depressed and if you live too much in the future it may make you anxious. Live in the present to feel your most at peace.
It’s great to plan for the future but it’s also important to appreciate the moment and focus on the day you’re in – but also consider The Cookie Monster’s advice ‘Today, me will live in the moment, unless it’s unpleasant, in which case me will eat a cookie’. Haha!
Being kind is one of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself and those around you. Not everyone you meet in life will be kind to you and people will inevitably let you down but it’s so important not to let that stop you from being kind to yourself and others.
Don’t beat yourself up about things, learn from them and think about what you have achieved rather than what you haven’t. I spent too much of my life as a younger woman being hard on myself if I felt I’d screwed up. Remember, just because you did something that may be considered ‘stupid’ does not mean you are a stupid person. It just means you made a mistake, which actually has its upside because hopefully you’ll learn something valuable which will equip you to deal better with things next time round! Life’s about making progress.
Be kind to friends and family too as well as people you meet in your day. You never know how your words or actions may affect someone for better or worse, especially if you don’t know what they are going through. Kindness is one of the most important qualities a person can possess and sharing it, is what makes the world a beautiful place to be.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO FAIL
There is an expression ‘What if I fall? Oh but darling, what if you fly?’. Failure in some way or another is part of life and is not something you should fear. You failed to get that job, that guy or girl you liked so much, you ‘failed to make it work’, you couldn’t do it or you simply made a mistake.
Nobody gets through life without having experienced some form of failure unless they’ve done nothing at all! Failure when dealt with in the right way can have a really positive impact, because it helps you grow as a person. It arms you with life tools and teaches you valuable lessons.
Don’t be defined negatively by failure. Some of the most successful people in the world have experienced multiple failures in life which were all necessary to get to where they needed to be. The key to dealing with failure is to not give up on yourself. If it didn’t work, look at why and do something different.
DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS
Don’t give yourself a hard time comparing yourself to other people because it’s a recipe for misery. If you look, you’ll always find someone you deem more successful, or better looking, with a better body, or more money or a hotter partner, with a bigger house and a more ‘exciting’ life (don’t worry, I don’t like her either haha!!). But joking aside, I try hard not to compare my life with others. If I find myself doing it, I stop and bring myself back to a place of gratitude for what I have.
Instead I concentrate on being the best version of myself. I can’t be someone else, I can only be who I am, so what use is it to compare? The only time I look at other people is to seek inspiration or to learn from their success. This is a positive way to invest your energy.
However, remember that no one persons journey is the same. Two people could live exactly the same life and have very different perspectives on it. We are all unique and it’s up to you as an individual to try your best to create the life you want.
MAKE LIFE AN ADVENTURE!
Life is unlikely to be fun every day but the journey of life can be an adventure! Make time for travel and having (really safe and responsible) fun! Enjoy the simple pleasures of life, relaxation, time with friends and family, watching a sunset, finding a new hobby that you love. The more you do, the more interesting your life will become.
You don’t need to put pressure on yourself to do it all but you do owe it to yourself to make your life the best it can be. None of us know when our last day will be so make as many of them as you can count. I have always said I want my life to read back like an interesting book, it’s up to you, how much of a page turner it’s going to be!
LIVE WITH GRATITUDE
I have so much gratitude for everything I have in life and I take nothing for granted. I am grateful to my amazing parents for their endless support, to my partner for his love and for my three healthy children. I am grateful for my health, for the opportunities I’ve had, for the things I have learned – even when those lessons have been hard ones. Appreciating what you have is so important because it helps keep you grounded.
Even when life may feel like it’s at its worst, there should always be something to feel grateful for no matter how small that something may feel at the time. Life is so fleeting and time moves so quickly. You may not have everything you want in life but if you focus negatively on that, rather than what you do have you are only going to make yourself miserable. Instead be grateful for what you have right now and work with passion towards creating the life you really want!
One thing you can be certain of in life is change. Change happens to all of us, some of it you will welcome and see as a positive and some of it you may struggle with. Change after all can be unsettling and life may feel disrupted for a while. Fear of change, to me, is closely linked to fear of the unknown. However, through change can come personal growth and although it may feel like a painful process the most important thing you can do for yourself, is to stop fighting it and start building on what is to come.
I have learned that no matter what changes life throws at me, I have to adapt to not only survive but to flourish too. This is when life deals you external changes that feel beyond your control. There will also be changes you choose to make for yourself. Some of them will feel like hard decisions to make but this comes back to believing in yourself and trusting your gut.
There are changes you will experience within yourself. My biggest hope is that these will always be positive ones and that they will be changes you choose to make. Even if it hurts at the time, know that with internal change you evolve and as you evolve you will gain wisdom – and wisdom is the ability to learn from change.
Finally, know this. Nothing my darlings grows without a little rain, so endure the storms and remember to always look for the rainbows that are waiting at the end of them…