Thursday, 11 June 2015

25 life lessons in 25 years

Today I have officially been on this planet for 25 years. Two and a half decades. That's a quarter of a century. And yes, I know, that's halfway to 50 (yikes!).

25 is an age where you're not so young that you can get away with acting like a student all the time, but equally you're not quite old enough to warrant being an fully fledged "adult" all the time. It's very much an in-between stage - for most of us by this stage we've left education and have got our feet on the employment ladder, but at the same time we're still figuring out exactly where we want to go - constantly questioning our life choices up until this point and whether we're on the "right" path.

It can be quite a pressured time, the Quarter-Life Crisis seems to be a real thing nowadays, and it can be hard to know exactly what you should be doing with your life at this stage. Luckily I think I've prematurely had my Quarter-Life Crisis - over the last year I have completely transformed my life and changed my path - all that change is a little overwhelming, ridiculously exciting, and has given me the inspiration to be a little reflective. It encourage me to think about what I've learned over the years, and what's important to me now, so I thought I'd put together a little list of life lessons that mean something to me. I hope you enjoy reading them, and that they reassure you that age really is just a number, it's more about who you are as a person, how you feel in yourself, and how you interact with your world. So, without further ado, here are my 25 life lessons:

1. Love wins. This is my most important life lesson and I'm putting it as number one so that if it's the only one you read in my list I'll be happy! Love wins in every situation. It's always better to show love than any other option; whether it's with your family, friends, colleagues, strangers, enemies - if you love then you can't lose and you'll always go to bed feeling content. <3

2. Never stop learning. As geeky as that makes me sound it actually keeps life pretty exciting. Look at every new day as an opportunity to learn new things and you'll never be disappointed. We will never know everything, and that's okay, but I sure want to learn as much as I can in the time that I have.

3. Patience really is a virtue. Sometimes being patient is hard, but in recent years I've done my best to practice being patient when the urge for impatience arrives. I'm waiting for a bus and it's not arrived on time - the younger me would become agitated and annoyed that the bus is going to be late, but now I try to breath and to focus on the positive, such as it means I can stand for a few more minutes out in the fresh air. It's a really small mind-shift but it makes a massive difference to everyday life.

4. If you want to dance, dance. If you want to sing, sing. If you want to cartwheel, cartwheel. Basically if you want to do anything that is an expression of your happiness, of your true being, then do it! The other day I was finishing up a really good workout in the park, and I got a sudden urge to cartwheel down the hill on my way home - the sun was shining, I was feeling super happy, so I just thought f*ck it, did a cartwheel, felt even more happy. #noregrets

5. Surround yourself with people who genuinely care about you. Do not worry about spending time with those who bring you down. Life is too short to spend time with people who drain you - you deserve to have people around you who care, who make you happy, and who are there to help build you as a person. Do not feel bad for ditching the drains.

6. Family and friends first. They are the ones who raised you, who know you inside-out, who will always love you no matter how much of an idiot you can be sometimes. Love them, show them gratitude, and always put them first.

7. Always show compassion. There is always someone in the world who needs your compassion. You never know what people are going through, so be kind, be there, and be compassionate. If you do this for others I can almost guarantee that they will do it for you when you need it most.

8. Look after your body. "You only get one body, you better look after it" - Papa J has often said this to me, and as cheesy as it sounds, he is 100% right on this one. You really do only get one body - one home for your soul to live in - and so to me it's a no-brainer that we care for our bodies as much as we can. My rules are: sweat at least 5 times a week, eat healthily (but don't deny yourself the odd treat), always wear suncream in the sun, drink enough water, get enough sleep, and exercise your smile muscles regularly.

9. Embrace change. Nothing stays the same in life. It is constantly changing. Therefore it is always best to accept that nothing will stay the same, but no matter what happens in life know that you can and will adapt.

10. Travel as much as you can. One of my favourite sayings goes something like this "spending money on travelling is the only spending that will make you richer" (I'm not sure if that's quite right, but you get the gist!). It is so true that travel enriches our lives - it challenges us, it introduces us to new cultures and ideas, it excites us, it inspires us, and ultimately it changes us. I've yet to meet a single soul who has regretted travelling, and that's because it really is one of the most amazing gifts you can give yourself. This is an AMAZING world we live in, go and explore it!

Me, some of my beautiful yoginis & our mate on the phone in Kerala, India, 2015

11. Practice an attitude of gratitude. We all have many things to be grateful for: waking up each morning to a new day, having the capacity to breath, to feel, to live. Anything on top of this is a bonus, and I am so fortunate to have many things on top of this to be grateful for. Always be grateful and appreciate what you have.

12. It's okay to make mistakes. And boy have I made a few in my time! We all make mistakes - it's part of our human nature, and is essential for our growth. But the most important thing is that we learn from our mistakes, and use them as opportunities to improve.

13. Push your boundaries. Get out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself. Only by doing this can we grow and learn that we are capable of much more than we ever could have imagined. Face your fears and beat them - I promise it'll feel damn good when you do!

Falling out of an inversion, Bermuda, 2014

14. Never take yourself too seriously. Life is too short to take yourself seriously, it only ends up causing anxiety and stress - so let it go, relax, and smile! If I mess up or do something totally stupid I used to feel so embarrassed and would close up, but now I've learnt that it's okay to look like a wally sometimes - after all if you can laugh at yourself in these situations, then others will laugh too, and you're bringing some happiness into their day.

15. Always look for the positive. And always be positive whenever possible. Bad things will happen in your life, you will suffer pain, you will feel grief, you will face challenges - but it's how we respond in these circumstances that will help to build us. Something positive can always be found in the negative, you might just have to work that little bit harder to find it. Buddha once said: "Every experience, no matter how bad it seems, holds within it a blessing of some kind. The goal is to find it." Wise words Big B.

16. Everything is OM. In non-yogi terms this means that everything, everyone, every being is inextricably linked. We are all one. Each and every little thing you do and say will have repercussions  on other beings. Throw a plastic bottle in the bin - you're adding to the waste we create, and ultimately to pollution. Smile at a stranger - you brighten their day and you never know what difference that might make. Give a friend advice - you may well change their course of action. It's the butterfly effect. We are all connected. We are all one. Everything is OM!

17. Be humble. But never undervalue yourself. Too many people in this world are either too proud or under-confident. It's very hard to find the right balance.  Being humble is super important - no one appreciates a boaster - but equally be quietly confident in yourself and your abilities so as not to undervalue yourself. You are important, but so is everyone else - we are all equal.

18. Take time for yourself as regularly as you can. To be the best version of you, you must take time for yourself. I do this through my individual yoga practice - I try to practice outside of the classes I teach at least 5 times a week - of course as a yoga teacher this is essential to help me deepen my own practice and to practice what I preach, but it also provides me with time to just BE. I spend time with myself, check-in with how I'm feeling, and show myself a little love. You are super important, so make sure you're looking after numero uno!

19. Follow your dreams. Do what makes you happy. I have learnt this lesson in the most incredible way - by actually following my dreams, and now I'm living them! If something brings you happiness then chase it, grab it with two hands, and don't let go. If you want to do something, do it. Life really is too short to be doing things that don't bring you happiness, so stop spending time on these things, instead use your energy to follow your dreams, and be happy :)

Dreamcatcher, Varkala, India, 2015

20. Don't compare yourself to others. This is one that I still struggle with, but whoever said that "comparison is the thief of joy" really did hit the nail on the head. There is always going to be someone who seems to be more intelligent than you, happier than you, prettier than you, richer than you, more successful than you - but by comparing yourself it's likely that you'll just make yourself unhappy. Try to be strong in the knowledge that there is only one you, you are totally unique, and no one can do you quite like you can.

21. Going out is great, but so is a night in on the sofa! Also under this life lesson comes: wine is great, but so is a cup of tea. Basically 25 is a great age because I still feel young enough to drink too much and go crazy on the dance floor, but equally I'm very comfortable admitting that I very much enjoy a night in watching Netflix and drinking tea!

22. Never accept anything less than you deserve. This is one I've learnt the hard way. For a long time I did settle for a situation that was less than I deserved, but the older and wiser I've become I've realised that I don't have to do this, and that I deserve something better. Too often people settle for less, and this will only result in unhappiness and bitterness, neither of which are healthy. So be true to yourself and know that you do not have to accept anything less than you deserve.

23. Try not to judge. You never know what a person has been through, so try not to judge them until you've walked a mile in their shoes. This is hard to do. It's our natural human reaction to make judgements on people, but actually who are you to judge them? You don't know what they've been through and therefore you cannot fully understand their actions. Have an open heart and make it your responsibility to love rather than to judge.

24. Let go of expectations. If you don't have expectations then you cannot be let down, but if something amazing does happen then you'll appreciate it even more because you didn't expect it! Again, this is hard to do, and I don't think I'll ever fully master this lesson, but it's something I'm going to work at because ultimately letting go of expectations naturally makes us more flexible, more appreciative, and leads to a more exciting and unexpected life.

25. 25 isn't that old! There is still time to enjoy being young, but also to enjoy being that little bit wiser than I was a few years ago...maybe 25 won't be so bad after all!

So there we have it, my 25 life lessons in 25 years. They're in no particular order and there are so many others I could have included. Life is about learning, evolving and adapting. It is beautiful, terrifying, amazing, challenging, unpredictable - and I plan to live it, to feel it, to absorb every single moment. You never know how long you've got so I'm going to make the most of it whilst I'm here, and I hope you do the same!

Thank you so much to all my beautiful family and friends who have supported me, loved me, and inspired me over my first 25 years on this planet - I love you all millions and am so blessed to have you in my life.

Have a beautiful day everyone!

Love Lucy x

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