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40 Lessons I learned in 40 Years

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Today is my 40th birthday and I was thinking about all the things I’ve learned over the past four decades and thought I would share with you some of the most important things that have changed my life thus far. I suspect I’ll learn even more in the next four decades. I’ll keep you posted.

  1. Worrying is a waste of time. It doesn’t change anything and most of your worries never come to pass anyways.
  2. A handwritten thank you note is still important, maybe even more so today than it was in the past.
  3. Your past mistakes don’t define you. Progress is always better than perfection.
  4. Others make mistakes too. Forgive generously as you would hope to be forgiven.
  5. Never assume anything. People and situations are much more complex than you think. Give someone the benefit of the doubt.
  6. Everyone is trying their best even if it doesn’t appear that way. If they knew better, they’d do better.
  7. Open-mindedness can be one of your greatest assets. Remember, you don’t know as much as you think you do.
  8. Lessons often come from people and situations you’d never choose to learn from. My biggest breakthroughs have come through after my biggest breakdowns.
  9. It’s always about you. You are the common denominator in your life experiences. Stop blaming others and start taking responsibility.
  10. Your life can change in a moment. Meeting one person, saying yes to an opportunity or no to another can impact the course of your life. The challenge is you never know which one it will be.
  11. How you treat anyone matters immensely. Are you kind to those who are different than you? Do you show love to all? This is one of your greatest assets.
  12. Be free from judgment of yourself and others. Be humble.
  13. Allow your children to teach you where you need to grow up. They will expose your weaknesses. Will you embrace this gift and grow or shut them down with control?
  14. Laughing solves almost everything.
  15. Focus on what is right in any situation.
  16. Offer to help without being asked. See a need and lend a hand.
  17. Be generous with compliments and smiles.
  18. Hugs too.
  19. Listen to understand rather than be understood.
  20. Ask more questions and listen to the answers.
  21. Choose your friends wisely. They are a mirror of you.
  22. Healthy boundaries create healthy relationships which create happy emotions. If you’re feelings are negative more often than not, reassess your boundaries. What are you tolerating? What can you change?
  23. Exercise is better than medicine, drugs or alcohol to improve your mood.
  24. A conscious contact to God of your understanding is vital. Pray daily, offer gratitude, let go of control.
  25. Be flexible. Rigid plans snap in a storm. Life is more fun when you go with the flow.
  26. Know that you aren’t right. Your way is a way. There are others too. This goes back to number seven, be open-minded.
  27. Seek answers from within. Use a pen and paper to write through a problem rather than first asking for advice from others. Give your intuition a chance to guide you.
  28. Trust the process of life. Know that all things are working together for your good.
  29. Seek out a mentor. Attach yourself to someone who is living a life you desire. Read their books and blogs. Support their work, email them and thank them for their time to help you, even if from a distance. Ask nothing in return.
  30. Live in this moment. Focus on your sphere of influence. Do what you can to make your part of the world a better place.
  31. Support a cause you care deeply about. Give time or money or both.
  32. Read a minimum of one non-fiction book per month. Invest 30 minutes per day in your personal development.
  33. Stop watching TV. It’s a waste of time.
  34. Give experiences to others rather than gifts. We all have enough stuff. Give a gift card to a favorite restaurant, a mani-pedi, tickets to a show. Doing is always better than having.
  35. Make sure you have built residual income streams into your life. Whether it’s a business or investment, always plan for a way to make money that doesn’t require your time.
  36. Partner with the right people. Look for those who have strengths you don’t and who have a positive growth mindset.
  37. Invest time into your parents, spouse, and kids. A success without healthy strong primary relationships will ultimately be meaningless.
  38. Acceptance of what is and the courage to change yourself, your actions, beliefs, is the key to positive growth.
  39. Unexpected events even seemingly bad or unwanted can often be your biggest catalyst for change. See them as a gift and ask God to be open to the lesson you are learning.
  40. Be proactive. Stop waiting for a crisis to change. If you can see a better way, if you have the gift of clarity that you are on the wrong path, get off it. Don’t wait for the inevitable. Choose to spare yourself needless suffering and champion on to greatness.

Which of these 40 made the most impact on you? Which lessons have you mastered? Which lessons are you still trying to learn? What others can you impart to me today? I hope you have a beautiful day. I’m spending mine on a boat with my family and then going to a concert with some friends this evening. Hope you all have a happy, healthy year ahead. Thank you for being here.