I’m twenty-five, and enlightened by life

In lieu of my quarter life crisis, ahem, celebration of life, I wanted to relate the theme of this week’s Motivational Monday blog post to 25 lessons I’ve learned that pertain to obtaining happiness. I may only be 25-years-young, but I’d like to think I’m wise and yet always learning something each day in the crazy thing we call life.

When I came up with the name of my blog a few years ago, I wanted my focus to be on health and fitness through workouts, recipes, and posts that would leave people feeling upbeat, energized, and inspired to live a healthier and happier lifestyle. I’m a very optimistic person, but I’m also a realist. Because of this, I recognize that every day is not going to be sunshine, frozen yogurt, walks in the park, and having the best day of your life. But I try to turn every situation into an opportunity to grow, learn, and walk away with a smile and embrace adversity by utilizing it for a lesson learned. It’s easy to smile when the road is smooth and the sun is out, but to find that same smile when traveling on a rocky path and you can’t find the sun behind the clouds for miles, now that is a challenge. Though I’m only 25 years young, I’d like to think those years have helped me find at least 25 concepts and ideas that have shown me we live in a world full of more opportunities to be happy, than not.

Live simply. Less is more and living life more simply makes everything feel lighter, more manageable, less overwhelming, and it’s easier to recognize what makes you happy and eliminate the toxicity in your life.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try, and try again. If we all achieved what we’re chasing after the first time around, it wouldn’t make the journey nearly as enjoyable and we wouldn’t appreciate what we do obtain in the end as much as we could.

…and even if you don’t succeed at what you set out to accomplish, there is no such thing as failure. Really. Think about your last “failure” and what you learned in the end. People spend a fortune on education when some of the best lessons in life are developed from times where we didn’t get what we initially sought after.

The body is a temple. We only have one and one life to worship it and thank it for getting us through all that it does. Why would one want to disrespect it through negative thoughts, actions, and putting toxins in it? I feel my happiest and at my best when I’m feeding my body right and have positive body talk.

But you better occasionally eat that piece of cheesecake/macaroon/cronut/irresistible temptation! Life isn’t about deprivation, it’s about moderation and balance. And the sooner one can recognize that, the easier it is to live a balanced, satisfying life.

Do one kind act a day, and I bet you’ll feel better about whatever is that is causing you displeasure in your life. Compliment a stranger, stop on the sidewalk to listen to what that person handing out brochures has to say, carry groceries for a mom with her hands full, or surprise someone with a letter to tell them you’re thinking of them.

Value education and never stop asking questions. I love learning and – I never thought I’d say this – I miss college courses. There’s something satisfying and empowering about opening your mind to new concepts and ideas.

Journal. Take time to acknowledge every good point because every day has one, even the most gloomy of them all. I’ve found that by writing down my highlight at the end of each day and goals each week, it’s easier to be optimistic and it allows me to reflect and appreciate the point I am at in my life.

 

“Do something each day that scares you.” Go outside your comfort zone. There is a whole world out there to explore, but how will you know if you limit yourself to what you already know and are familiar with?

A penny found on heads brings happiness. Even if it doesn’t bring luck, it sure has the ability to make me look at everything with a more optimistic view because I believe that good luck must be on its way.

Speak up. If there’s one thing New York has given me, it is a back bone and the power to speak up when need be. There’s a way to be vocal and express your opinions and concerns, while still being respectful to those around you.

Stop comparing yourself to others. Life would be dull and pointless if we all shared the same interests, beliefs, and looked the same. Embrace what makes you different, and respect others for what sets them apart.

Everyone has the ability to be kind, and should be treated with kindness. Yes, even those unfriendly, rude New Yorkers! It just takes one person opening up to the other and extending an act of kindness. I truly believe this idea and have seen proof of it on many occasions while living in the city. Even a smile can turn any day around for the better. Whether it’s from a child with a chocolate milk mustache, a beautiful passing by stranger, an elderly man with no teeth, a dear friend you haven’t seen in ages, or you smiling back at yourself in the mirror. Smiles are one of the most powerful tools and gifts in the world.

Avoid procrastinating. Laundry won’t wash itself and that list of things to do will just start to weight you down. Along with that, why wait on setting out to accomplish what you really want in life? There’s no time like the present to start crossing things off your bucket list instead of waiting for the timing to be just right, because there will always be something that will hold you back.

Life isn’t a race to the finish line though. Sometimes it’s okay to let the laundry sit an extra day to go out and take advantage of a sunny, summer day. When life gives you the option to take the fast lane or take the detour, choose the detour because you never know what opportunities and life experience you could be missing out on by taking the fast track.

Travel and explore the world around you. Even if it’s just a weekend trip to a town a few hours away. Meeting new people and exploring a different place will enrich your life and allows you to feel empowered.

Surround yourself with optimistic, supportive, and caring people who want the absolute best life has to offer for both, and for themselves. And you’ll realize there’s no mountain too high to climb and no day too rainy to dance in.

Unplug and recharge yourself. We are always on the go and feel attached to our devices. Sometimes it’s okay to turn the phone off, unplug the computer, and just be. Take a look around you, soak in your surroundings.

Don’t be afraid to look stupid. Dance in the middle of a crowded subway. Sing at the top of your lungs while running in the park. Jump up and down in public. Why hide what you’re feeling inside when you feel happy, sad, goofy, or just feel the urge to get up and express yourself?

 

Have your go to “happy shaky knee dance” song. Music is another powerful tool. It can pull at our heart’s strings and open our soul to vulnerability, happiness, and inspire us to move mountains!

Go after what you want. Never, ever allow someone to say you can’t do something or get in between you and what you want in life. Instead, use that as the fire in your belly to push yourself even harder.

and always have something to work towards. Having goals helps to give more meaning to life. It gives us something to aspire to be and a direction to go in when we feel lost. It also helps to prevent life from ever getting stale and dull. As my mother would say, “Only boring people are bored.” Have something to work towards, and you’ll never be bored.

Find what you’re passionate about, and do something about it. I’ve had a theory for quite some time that yoga, laughter, and chocolate could solve World Peace. I’ve realized that idea is a bit extreme, but I’ve also realized just why I felt that way. Because they are all things I’m passionate about. And when we are passionate about something, we tend to give power to that something.

But the most important thing that I’ve learned about happiness, is that you can’t go chasing it or trying to find it because happiness has a way of finding you. If you’re involving yourself in things that you have faith in, activities that you enjoy, and surrounding yourself with people who bring positive energy into your life, then ultimately happiness will find its way into your life. And when it does find you, don’t ignore it and do whatever you can to keep this feeling. What you should ignore is what causes unhappiness. It seems like such a simple idea, but it wasn’t until this year that I really understood what this means.

I moved to New York to chase after a dream of mine, and along the way I achieved so much more. I became a stronger, more confident woman after many, and I mean many challenges. I learned more about the world around me. I made stronger connections with people in a shorter period of time than it takes for me to “yelp” what I want to have for dinner some nights. And while it was a terrifying, and a slightly disheartening idea to grasp, I discovered what my ambition in life is. Actually, I knew the whole time what my ambition was. But I realized how I wanted to go about achieving my ambition.

One of my favorite quotes of all times – and I’m a huge quote fanatic – is by Maya Angelou. “People may forget what you say, they may forget what you do, but they will never forget the way you made them feel.” I’ve always been a woman of action who wants to contribute and make the world a better place, not to sound too cheesy. But over the last few months, I feel as if I could be doing so much more to do just that. So for my 25th birthday gift to myself, I decided to combine two things I’m passionate about. Yoga and motivational speaking. I’ve always been inspired by my yoga teachers and have left every class I’ve gone into feeling better than I did when I walked in. That being said, I’m ecstatic to announce that in October I will be transitioning from a city of 8.3 million people that never sleeps, to a place known as “The Island of the Gods” and “Paradise Island” where I will be taking a yoga teacher training class through YogaWorks in Bali, Indonesia. From there, I hope to come back and start teaching classes while I work up to opening up my own studio that will offer a few donation based classes where those donations will help provide shelter for women and children.

That’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned right there. Is that when you know what makes you happy, embrace it and don’t ignore it. Life is too short to be doing something that doesn’t make you smile more often than not when you wake up in the morning. Yes, there will be days where the sun can’t find its way out of the clouds. But it never stays tucked away forever. So enjoy the sunshine when it’s out, and find a way to recognize the beauty in an overcast day as well for you never know what will happen when you release the negativity in your life and find a way to be positive and embrace adversity.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about living a happy, balanced life?

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