Thirty: Life lessons and realizations

Cheers to 30 years!

I officially turned 30 years old recently. For most people, their 20’s consist of the “need” to be financially and emotionally independent, landing a fulfilling career and finding a deeper purpose in this world. That was true for me, too. I spent this last decade focusing on my “self” and self-serving goals — finding a stable job, getting married, buying a house, travelling, etc. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I do not regret any of it. I think it’s completely natural to want to improve ourselves and our lives in this ever advancing civilization.

Now that I’m a bit older, it’s safe to assume that I’m a bit wiser, too. I see things with more clarity, and my priorities have shifted. So if I were to give advise to my younger self (or to anyone who needs it) here’s what I’d tell her (or them)…

Value relationships above all else. Agree to disagree. There will always be differences in opinions and beliefs but aim for that middle ground, always. This can also mean having to ditch the music festival that you’ve already bought tickets to (and took a year to plan) just so you can be present for your grandma’s 90th birthday, or postponing that home improvement you’ve been saving up for to attend to your dad’s medical needs. So be it.

I’m lucky because the hubby and I can take our jobs with us anywhere we go. I know that’s not the case for most people. But that should give you all the more reason to grab every opportunity to see friends and family when you can. It will all be worth it. Because in the course of your lifetime, these are the things that matter.

Listen to your body. I used to think people who did yoga or ate salads for lunch were posers and were only doing it to gain attention (sorry!). I know better now and I’ve since learned that there’s more to working out and eating well than just posting instagram-worthy photos.

Almost 90 percent of deaths in most developed countries are caused by preventable diseases like diabetes or hypertension. I personally have lost family members because of poor diet and unhealthy lifestyles and that’s some scary sh*t. I’m not saying everyone should go vegan or be weightlifters. A simple walk every morning to buy pandesal or slowly eliminating sugar from your diet will do. As with everything else, moderation is key.

Health truly is wealth. We need to listen to our bodies and take care of it the best way we can so we can live long enough to see our grandchildren’s children or contribute as much as we can to the betterment of the world.

Love unconditionally and freely. A belief (or principle) I’ve held on to for as long as I can remember. I’ve always been fearless when it came to love. There’s just no other way, I think. I must admit, it gave me the worst heartbreaks and some of the most embarrassing moments but I would not change a thing. Besides, it ultimately led me to the love of my life and best friend, so yay!

To quote one of my favorite movies, “Anything less than mad, passionate, extraordinary love is a waste of time. There are too many mediocre things in life to deal with and love shouldn’t be one of them.”

Be generous in your days of plenty. The old adage “the more you give, the more you receive” still holds true to this day, and this truth becomes even more evident as I age. I found that when you give selflessly, you gain a certain internal happiness and peace, as if God is giving you a mild tap on the back to say “atta girl!!”

We’ve seen it so many times, those who have the least are actually the most generous. I’m not just referring to being generous materially, but in all aspects. Be generous with your time, talent, attention, knowledge or whatever it is you have that others need or lack.

As Abdu’l-Baha would put it, “The master key to self-mastery is self forgetting.”

Embrace spirituality. I’m not going to go all extremist and say you must follow a certain religion or else you’ll go to hell. You probably don’t even believe in hell so there’s no point

Spirituality could be as simple as finding some time to stop, breathe and evaluate your life. To “stop by the woods on a snowy evening” as Frost would put it. For others, it could mean grabbing your board and waiting for the ocean to give you the perfect wave (I honestly had no idea how spiritual surfing was until I tried it myself). Or making beautiful art and having meaningful conversations. For others still, it could mean setting aside a few minutes every day to pray and meditate.

Baha’u’llah (the founder of the Baha’i Faith) teaches us that the best way to practice spirituality is to serve mankind. Whatever it is that helps you find peace amidst the chaos and helps your soul grow, do that.

Senescence is a beautiful thing (and a beautiful word). Scary, but beautiful. I thank God for giving me 30 awesome years of awkward transitions and life-changing epiphanies and I look forward to more. The best is yet to come.