35 Things

I turned 31 on July 5th. I wanted for nothing. I was grateful for everything.

I turned 31 on July 5th.

Ease typically accompanies me on birthdays, but oddly, I woke up wondering how I was supposed to feel. There was no longing, no illusory life milestones to fret about, no schedule, no stress. Just the perfect present of a summer day eager to be unraveled, in a city I love, with a person I love. I couldn’t help but laugh at the very human search for complacency in feelings of contentment.

I wanted for nothing. I was grateful for everything.

Before showering, I took to paper to remember what’s fortified me over the last decade, treasures I’ve stolen from strangers, family, friends, favorite writers, and thinkers that I’m taking into my new year. They’ve filled a well of wealth that never dries.

Here are 35 lessons I scribbled in my notebook that morning, rays from the hotel window lighting the way.

And yes, I tried to keep it cute and just do 31, but my hand had other plans.  

*If there are any lessons you find yourself holding near and dear year after year, I’d love to read them.

  1. Learn to turn your frustration into fascination. 

  2. Progress and perfection can’t share the same seat.

  3. In a highly distracted society, concentration is currency.

  4. What you are will never happen again.

  5. Learn to discipline your disappointment. 

  6. Work on your gifts and they’ll make room for you.

  7. You are your center. Go within, alone, and meet yourself often. 

  8. An ounce of example is worth a pound of advice.

  9. Everything is finite.

  10. Keep your council small.

  11. If it goes backward, then it has to go forward. 

  12. If you don’t pick it up (praise), you don’t have to put it down (criticism).

  13. Expect great things to happen to you.

  14. Live the questions.

  15. Pride cometh before the fall.

  16. You’re never alone in how you’re feeling, in what you’re experiencing. 

  17. The impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes. (Annie Dillard)

  18. You’re never as good as you think, never as bad.

  19. Respect the humanity of the people that serve you.

  20. A person only loses their present life. Live now.

  21. You must constantly ask yourself these questions: Who am I around? What are they doing to me? What have they got me reading? What have they got me saying? Where do they have me going? What do they have me thinking? And most importantly, what do they have me becoming? Then ask yourself the big question: Is that okay? (Jim Rohn)

    1. Also, ask yourself what you’re doing to/for others, etc. 

  22. Tell your people you love them, loud and often.

  23. Create for an audience of one: yourself

  24. Who you choose as your partner will be one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. Take your mf’in time.

  25. You are capable of complexity. 

  26. You become what you think about.

  27. No one can tell your story better than you.

  28. Decide what you're saving/investing for, then automate, automate, automate.

  29. There’s a stark difference between sharing your feelings and leaking.

  30. There are no rules. Remember that the people that make them break them.

  31. You’ll always regress to your mean. Work on improving your normal.

  32. Forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice. (Octavia Butler)

  33. It’s been done before, but not by you.

  34. Move with purpose, urgency, and conviction.

  35. What you withhold from life, life withholds from you. What you give to life, life will give to you.