So, it’s my birthday.  For anyone that knows me well you are probably surprised that I am even acknowledging it, as I usually just hope it passes by with little attention.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a good party, I would just generally prefer to be celebrating someone else’s big day or event. 

But, instead of ignoring “my day” this year, I have decided to reflect on the past year and everything I have learned. The wisdom and learning that occurred for me this year is reason to celebrate and more importantly a reason to be full of gratitude. I guess the silver lining in getting another year older is how much you can actually learn in a year. 

Here are five MAJOR lessons that I learned this year:

1. Say “Hi!”  Saying “hi” to more people this year has changed my life, although I’m not exactly sure when or how I started speaking to more people.  Perhaps it was spending a lot of time in a small town where people are just a bit friendlier, perhaps it is that I am constantly out walking the dogs and meeting people or perhaps it is just because as I have been choosing to be happy more and more this friendly energy radiates. Regardless of how it started, it has been a game changer for me. I have had the opportunity to talk to so many interesting people and to connect with people that I never would have connected with had I not said, “hello.” So be friendly, say hello to your neighbors and remember that a lifelong relationship may begin with a simple, “hi.” 

2. Ask For What You Want.  If you don’t ask for something, chances are you won’t get it.  Speak up for yourself and be your own advocate.  The worst thing someone can say is “no” and chances are there are many more people you can ask. This has been a huge lesson that I learned this year and not only does it get you what you want (or closer to what you want) it is good practice for speaking up for yourself. Once you do this and realize how “not scary” it is after all, you will become your own best advocate which is a beautiful thing.

3. Shut-Up. I know, I know, after I’ve already told you to say “hi” to more people and to ask for your you want, now I am telling you to shut it up.  Here is what I mean: If you’re anything like me, you like to talk, you like to say how you feel and you just love to get your point across in about 167 different ways- and that’s OK. But, there are often times when listening is much more important than spewing off your “I feel this…when” statements. Take a deep breath and get in touch with what the person you are speaking with has to say. Listen. Practice truly listening and then focus on a thoughtful response that will create a positive outcome for all. The last word is never as important as mutual understanding and respect.

4. Stop Trying To Be Normal. As I referenced in an earlier blog post, being “normal” is for the birds.  If your BFF is married with two kids and you are still trying to hunt down late night pizza with all the single ladies, enjoy it. If you quit your job to follow your passion and everyone is out buying his or her dream home while you suck it up in your parents’ basement for a while, cheers! Remember, comparison is the thief of joy and trying to fit into societal norms for the sake of fitting in will never be as gratifying as living your dream life. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing.  If you are making healthy, good decisions for yourself then you don’t need approval from anyone else.

5. One Day At A Time. This has been in my head everyday for the past year. When worry and wonder begin to flood my mind I resort to this simple phrase taught to me by my life coach. Taking it one day at a time does not mean living like the world is going to end tomorrow. It simply means to focus on what you can do today and don’t get all wrapped up in worrying about the future. You can only control yourself in the present anyway, so too much worry is really just waste. Release the pressure of everything that could happen and take it one day at a time.  

Thanks for all of the birthday wishes and cheers to another year of happiness, love and greatness! 

<3 Liv