10 Things I Wish I’d Known About Life When I Was 21.

Via Amber Dehn
on May 25, 2010
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1. Thoughts create things

2. The only limitations that we have are the ones we place upon ourselves.

3. Sometimes relationships change, and people come and go. The only person I am with forever is myself.

4. We are what we eat. If you eat baked, fried or cooked things, you will feel baked,  fried and cooked.

5. Really great sleep is really important.

6. So is really great sex.

7. Don’t worry so much.

8. Yes, sunscreen, multi-vitamins and leafy green vegetables are good for me. (Thanks Mom!) I guess this means that other people may know something I don’t.

9. Nothing beats a good haircut, and workout clothes that fit right.

10. I am responsible only for myself…no one else.

11. Oh oh oh! An extra one…Yoga is amazing!



About Amber Dehn

Amber loves yoga, pancakes and going on adventures. A business and yoga teacher, Amber enjoys writing and teaching about such things. Learn more about what she is up to her website and on the Be Bold with your Life Facebook page.


15 Responses to “10 Things I Wish I’d Known About Life When I Was 21.”

  1. Dear Amber, Namaskar.

    Interesting list – though some are possibly questionable items. For instance:

    "10. I am responsible only for myself…no one else."

    Is this not the height of materialism and selfishness: To only care about oneself. The way of the yogi is to create a mental outlook that is linked with the welfare of all. If someone is being attacked, abused discriminated against, then it is our moral duty to intercede. That brings social justice. That is what a responsible, awakened, concerned and conscious citizen will do. To merely look the other way and creep back into one's own shell of individualism is not our way. So many communities, institutions, & societies have fallen when such a narrow-minded approach is taken. Our responsibility is towards all – those whom we know personally and those whom we don't. We are one universal family – and being a family member means being concerned for all.

    Perhaps you meant the point in a different way – if so, then please consider changing the wording.


  2. Ekapada Rajakapo says:

    I discovered yoga in a life-changing way at age 45, and for a while I regretted that it took me so long to find it. I wish I knew about yoga, I lamented, when I was 21! Or 18. Or 14.. But then I realized, if I had discovered yoga at 21, I would never have experienced its power to reverse aging, the years zipping backward, tight joints becoming lose again, vitality returning, sudden new powers of flight, the experience of waking up feeling ecstatic–a feeling I thought exclusive to adolescence. Who is it who first said, "When the student is ready, the guru will come?"

    This is a lovely list. I also wish I knew these things at 21. But I'm grateful to have learned them later.

  3. I actually agree with Amber's wording. As a buddhist I've taken the Bodhisattva vow, which means working for the benefit of all sentient beings. However, before you take the Bodhisattva vow you need to take the Refuge Vow in which you take responsibility for yourself. You admit that nothing out there is going to save you, that nothing out there can serve as your excuse any longer. We're not all on the Mahayana path…. and even if we are it starts with our own right action. How can you help others if you haven't helped yourself?

  4. Satyam says:

    Dear Boulder Native,

    Your reasoning & explanation of your vow of Bodhisattva is quite beautiful, taking personal responsibility is quite important and in your vow of personal responsibility you commit yourself to "working for the benefit of all sentient beings." You do not say, "I am responsible only for myself…no one else."

    Whatever Amber's intention may be, the "no one else" phrase does not do justice to the idea of living a life of personal responsibility that includes serving others, helping them grow and shouldering their burdens when needed.

    That line to me emanates self-centered materialism, not conscious living and collective welfare.


  5. GretaCargo says:

    Beautifully written, Amber!

    To the other comments about No. 10, the benefit of the doubt here might link this thought to the "oxygen mask" metaphor. We put those on first in an emergency before those next to us, even children, so that we are better able to help others. Others are still responsible for their own behavior.

    I too seek to help the welfare of others, but they must be responsible to and for themselves.

  6. You're right about the intent of the phrase representing ignorance to collective welfare, Satyam. Individualizing responsibility is a great way to motivate oneself towards personal goals, but for example, if you have baby, I don't think there's any doubt that you're responsible for the wellbeing of the child you bear.

    Maybe a better lesson than that one is, "My first priority is my wellbeing," or "The only one to be held responsible for me is myself."

    To be honest, I still agree with you for the most part, Amber, I do think that responsibility for one's self should be taken before that of anyone else's, but as social a species as we are, we depend on others for our own wellbeing, and tend to empathize with them. Your 1-3 are fantastic! I only recently learned about breaking my limitations. I'm now learning how my thoughts and actions can positively affect others and the world. And I really liked your straightforward view on the fact that relationships do change, inevitably.

    ॐ Gaurav.

  7. Amber says:

    Hello everyone,

    Thanks for your beautiful and thoughtful comments.

    I absolutely believe in the interconnectedness of everyone and everything… as the African saying goes, " To go fast, go alone. To go far, travel together." Mostly what I meant by "Taking responsibility for one's self" can be seen in my article on '8 Ways to Take Responsibility for Yourself' ; how to take responsibility for one's self, in a healthy, balanced, interconnected way, that also blesses and harmonizes with truth and humanity's true goals as a whole. Our inner worlds create our outer worlds, and by taking responsibility for ourselves, we are then able to reach out and help others with much more power than if we did not.

  8. Candice says:

    Thanks Amber! I agree with your wording in number 1. It doesn't denote a lack of compassion for others at all. So often we are so busy worrying about what other people are doing, what other people are saying, (or writing?!) that we are wrapped up in judgment. So busy pointing out other people'sperceived flaws that we continue to ignore and justify our own flaws. We spend too much time attacking other people because it's too painful to look at our own actions. When you take responsibility for yourself, you change the way you see things and act more CONSCIOUSLY, thereby more compassionately. You have to start with yourself, it is the only real change you can make.

  9. Abigail says:

    Amber, this is fantastic. I love the pared down, pithy simplicity, and especially the undercurrent throughout: in the end, it's just you (universal you!).

  10. Really wonderful. I love #1…it has been one of my favorite lessons. I understood completely what you meant with #10. As someone who often tries to fix everything, make everything ok all the time with everyone (yes, I'm a middle child), one of the most difficult lessons I've learned it letting go of taking responsibility for everyone else's actions. We can, however, control our own actions, and choose to commit to a life filled with compassion and care for others. I think it is by honoring ourselves that we best honor others. Great thoughts. xo

  11. oldfart says:

    and how old are you now, Amber — 25?

    (sorry, I couldn't resist : )

    no matter what age you are now, it will be interesting to see how your list evolves over time… what items remain, how their order changes, which ones get replaced and what they get replaced by… just when you think you've got it all figured out!

    long life and fruitful practice to you

  12. ARCreated says:

    and really great sex 🙂

    YOU are what you eat…


  13. Bruce Cameron says:

    May I suggest reading Yama niyama

  14. I think that is right. You cannot put the responsibility on someone for what becomes of you. You alone makes you who you are.

  15. occultfan says:

    Reminds me of the Baz Luhrmann song about his address to the class of '99 about sunscreen. Oh, nostalgia.