I woke up on my 30th birthday feeling odd, but very happy.
I realized that for the first time in years, I was embracing my birthday rather than (un)welcoming it with anxiety.
More than previous birthdays, I was aware of how lucky I was to age with the people, love and stories I had in my life. Gratitude replaced angst. Confidence replaced fear. It was definitely the best way to celebrate a milestone birthday.
“My 30 Things at 30” is a reflection of some of the core philosophies I live by—all of which bring me joy and light.
1. When you feel like no one understands, find solace in music. It seems there is always at least one song that can fill a part of the void in your heart.
2. Whenever possible, leave your city and explore somewhere new. It makes home that much better to come back to. Or maybe you learn that you’ve outgrown your home, which is good too.
3. Those mornings when you wake up wondering “Why am I still here, doing the same thing?” will eventually propel you to make a change. The less you resist that push, and the faster you act on it, the wiser.
4. I often wonder why people are so scared of being lost, on the road and in life. It’s kind of a cool feeling. Let it surprise you with the unexpected. Don’t be scared unless you feel like you’ll be lost forever. Then it’s time to craft a road map.
5. Hang out with small people regularly. Kids are best at reminding you to slow life down, to speak more clearly, and to notice the details—like shoelaces, crumbs and sticky fingers.
6. If you’re ever with someone who makes you wonder “why” instead of “how” you are with them, it means you’re with the wrong person.
7. Being with the right person feels effortless because all actions suddenly become motivated by love, rather than obligation.
8. It’s often the case you don’t understand how much your own parents sacrificed and compromised until you become a parent yourself. The earlier you realize this, the earlier you can truly learn to appreciate your parents as an individual and as a unit.
9. The first time you have to give your parents advice is weird. It’s even weirder when they listen. It really sucks when they don’t.
10. Sometimes I look at my best friends and wonder if I would ever get anywhere in life without them. I don’t think I would ever be strong or brave enough to do it alone.
11. Figure out what sort of books intrigue you, then read regularly.
12. Figure out what sort of organizations move you, then volunteer regularly.
13. When something dumb or unfair happens, either do something about it or learn to laugh it off as soon as possible. Alternatively, be proactive about preventing dumb things from happening.
14. The best gift you can give yourself is to learn to feel comfortable in your own skin. Build your confidence up slowly and surely—it helps to grow up with glasses and braces.
15. Being cool is relative to being lame. Don’t be so cool that you become lame.
16. Get your own life. Spend some quality and dedicated time developing your own interests and passions. The goal of course is to turn passion into living, which is challenging but worth trying.
17. I borrowed this one, and am trying to actively apply it to my life: “Don’t treat your stomach like a garbage can.” (It has been challenging but very satisfying so far.)
18. Be gentle with people you meet. You have yet to learn what they are about, or why they are the way they are.
19. Shower those you love with lots of affection; it’s the sweetest thing. Babies thrive off affection. I believe adults do too.
20. Make it a habit to say “thank you” in a way that ensures the other person really understands. Feeling appreciated inspires people to do great things.
21. Seeing the beauty in others, mirror the beauty that exist in yourself.
22. Have a few signature dishes you can cook up in the kitchen. There’s nothing more satisfying than feeding your friends and family.
23. Your age and body may grow older, but let your heart and soul remain forever young.
24. It’s impossible to know everything, so seek guidance from the infinite resources made available around you. Start by asking the first question.
25. Holding onto grudges is really silly—it’s giving someone power to have a negative effect on you longer than necessary.
26. I hate when I hear someone say: “You laugh too loud.” Laughing is the most wonderful sound in the world. It should be celebrated.
27. Rad. Intelligent. Beautiful. Happy. Be any or all of those things, and make it infectious.
28. Act the fool. It’s so much fun.
29. The worse thing is not lying to someone else. It’s lying to yourself.
30. Go ahead, live by any philosophy you want. Just live it, now.
Nadia Mah dreams to one day be the best selling author of children books. For now, she is building a career in marketing, traveling as often as possible, and hosting (scrumptious) dinner parties.
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