Life Lessons Learned from Aging
I must confess that my life would have been so much happier in my childhood and earlier adulthood, if I had discovered then, what I know now. All of the universal life lessons that I learned from my positive and negative relationships and experiences throughout my life, has now prepared me for creating, appreciating, and living a joyful life.
My journey of self discovery wasn’t a speedy journey, and I veered off my path many times. In my book, Evolving: My Lessons of Self-Discovery, I take readers on that windy journey and highlight all of the universal life lessons that each of my unique relationships and life situations has taught me. These are the five most important lessons that were revealed to me along my path.
Money, material possessions, job titles, and other external influences will not bring us lasting happiness. They may make us happy for a short period of time, but that happiness cannot be sustained because there are too many variables with external motivators. We can lose them just as fast as we attain them. I have come to realize that happiness really is an inside job. I have watched others who obsessed with material things who never remained happy. Personally, I never discovered true contentment during the years of climbing the corporate ladder and chasing more impressive salaries and job titles. True happiness can only come internally from within ourselves. The path to an enduring joyful life is to become our true and authentic selves and to align our morals and values with everything in our lives.
How many of us are guilty of judging others? I bet that most of us are. We have been socialized by our societies and cultures to attach only to others who are familiar and similar to us. The reality is that we are all unique individuals. We gain so much more by understanding and accepting individuals for who they really are. Acceptance rewards us with rich relationships and new perspectives that we didn’t even consider. We miss out on opportunities for fostering relationships when we make assumptions because we have judged others. In my earlier years, I dismissed many people, because I didn’t take the time to get to know who they really were. As I watched others who regularly practised acceptance, I saw firsthand how successful they were at nurturing a wide and diverse community of family and friends.
When we see outwardly behaviours of yelling, screaming, hitting and other angry outbursts, it is often indicative of a person with a closed heart. The individual likely has stored deep pain within themselves that they haven’t released. I witnessed this firsthand with others who had addiction issues that became their way of masking that pain. I didn’t come to understand the main cause of anger until well into my adulthood. I have witnessed many similar angry behaviours over the years from others who have a closed heart and I have come to understand that hurt people hurt others. Living with an open heart is the only path to a life filled with peace and joy.
We all carry grievances and grudges within us. It is almost impossible to go through life without experiencing hurt. Forgiveness is a gift that we give ourselves. When we forgive, we release all of our stored pent-up hurt, pain, and negative feelings that we have internalized and we free all of the negative thoughts that we have towards the person who wronged us. Holding onto anger and holding grudges only hurts us if we don’t release it. It took many years for me to forgive others who deeply hurt me. When I finally learned to replace negative thoughts with compassionate and positive thoughts, my heart finally opened and I felt truly at peace. The saying is that unforgiveness is like drinking poison, and until I learned to forgive, I was only hurting myself.
Love is the most important lesson for all of us to learn and embrace in this life. We can only love wholeheartedly when we stop putting conditions on love and we learn to love unconditionally. When our hearts are open, they are capable of expanding endlessly. I was guilty of placing too many conditions on love in my earlier years. I now feel truly blessed for all of my loving relationships and have learned to love fully. The older I get, the more I realize how important love is and how love it is never to be taken for granted.
I am profoundly grateful for all of the valuable life lessons that I have learned along my journey and that have now become essential to living my joyful life.