Today, I turn 34. Unlike some people, I LOVE aging because life seems to get better every year, partly because I know I am also getting wiser! My book is also getting thicker because I cherish every single experience.
Four years ago, I wrote the 28 lessons I’ve Learned in Life and so much has changed since then. I walked away from a comfortable and high-paying career. I went to travel the world for two years. Then I sacrificed everything and moved back home to start a life with someone. As I continue to experience good and bad times, I am continuously learning, growing, and reflecting.
Six years ago, I left my conservative and normal life behind. I experienced and did more in three years of life than the prior 27 (I achieved a lot up to 27 but it was your typical school + career path). It’s a blessing and a curse at the same time because when you open yourself up to all these experiences, you are going to feel the good AND the bad. Sometimes I feel like I’ve seen too much, and was punched in the face with reality– which makes me want to go back to my naive and conventional life. At the same time, this was the best thing that ever happened to me because you can’t live a fulfilled life without seeing it all (IMO). I would do it all over again and again, experiencing intense joy and intense pain. That’s the only way you can grow as a person.
When I was a teenager, I was dating this guy who had the name “cynical” in his username but I never understood that in my young, naive, and perfect life back then. Now that I’ve seen and experience all that I have, I feel as if I am more of a cynical person, however even less judgemental, and more open-minded than ever. I can write a book about my life right now and not regret anything because it’s been a pretty interesting and adventurous one.
This year I turn 34. I remember I was so excited to turn 30 (and gifted myself a Triple Ventoux that year to celebrate) because I knew that with age comes wisdom. I had recently gone through another paradigm shift and another chapter in my life is about to begin. I left my ‘perfect’ life at 28 asking the universe to shake my life up because I had an intention to live a life worth writing a book about one day. Be careful what you asked for because that’s exactly what she did!
Life is such a beautiful adventure and I’m so grateful to have gone through everything I’ve had to go through. Never stop dreaming.
Here are 34 more lessons I’ve learned since I am turning 34 today:
My #1 happiness hack is to live in a constant state of awe.
I maybe annoying but I get excited for the tiniest things (a flaky croissant!! a cute doodle!!), and I truly FEEL this excitement. When you are grateful for everything around you, nothing can bring you down. And if it does, you can get back to baseline pretty quickly just by embodying this mindset. Happiness is not about getting what you want. Happiness is about being grateful for what you have. If your friends gets annoyed at you, FIND NEW FRIENDS because I assure you, you will find people who gets excited about life as much as you do!
Always be confident and believe in yourself.
You MUST embody this feeling 100%. You have to tell yourself that you will always make it no matter what. The one thing I noticed with successful people is that they KNOW they will always make it. Their confidence shines through because they never stop having faith in themselves, which drives action. On top of that, when you start believing in yourself, you will start to attract what you deserve.
Permanently take the words ‘I can’t’ out of your vocabulary!
Your mind is always listening and storing data in your subconscious, and that includes all those limiting beliefs you say to yourself. I got to where I am today because I truly have faith in myself and I changed the way I spoke to myself when I began my journey over a decade ago. It began with fitness for me, and I never ever told myself I wasn’t capable of finishing a workout. It just became a mindset of unlimited potential and abundance. Abundance is a state of mind and you can also apply this onto your self-worth. You may have bad days but being aware and pulling yourself back to baseline will be your greatest super-power.
Life is too short to only live for weekends.
After leaving a 9-5, this was one mindset shift I had to adopt. I quit my job because I craved for time freedom but it was still a challenge to remind myself that I can still go out and party on a Tuesday night because I make my own schedule!
What people think of you is a reflection of their innerworld.
You are not intimidating. The are intimidated. If someone dislikes you, you are simply triggering something they dislike about themselves so don’t take it personally. Never let anyone dim your light and just keep on doing your thing. People are usually too self-absorbed or have no time to truly care about what you’re doing anyway! People who are happy with their lives will never say or do anything bad to you. However it goes both ways! If someone or something makes you react negatively. the first thing you do it LOOK INTO YOURSELF.
Unconventional lives are more conventional than society makes you think.
If you want to experience all this, you need to become unconventional yourself and be opened to NOT living a vanilla life. You cannot build a new reality until you shatter the old one first.
Say yes to everything and be open to everything.
I read ‘The Surrender Experiment” in 2015 and it changed my life in ways I could never imagine. You may also start to see the unconventional. 😉
Unlearning is is just as hard, if not harder, than learning.
You cannot see beyond your own perception because your perception creates your reality. Since 90% of everything we feel / think / say / do has already been conditioned within your subconscious, we should focus on unlearning old paradigms because being able to see opposing views is the highest level of a functioning brain. To unlearn, start changing your habits and do something new.
If you are reading this, you are probably as privileged as I am, or at least more privileged than someone else. I am middle-class but I’ve lived in the wealthiest postal code in the world, and also spent an entire summer building a business in one of the poorest small towns in my country. I had a few customers that were scrapping by just to survive due to economical reasons, mental health, broken families, upbringing, etc.— yet after talking and listening to each one of their stories, I had to constantly remind myself to be grateful for what I have and the “luck” of being born to solid parents. These were the kindest people you will ever meet despite the hardships they face every single day. Honestly, it was a little depressing experiencing the highest and the lowest of society but it sure did put me in my place, and I have never been so humbled in my life.
Nothing lasts forever.
Life is a constant evolution of change and growth. Nothing will ever be perfect because once things seem perfect, you are going to want more (blame dopamine because Mother Nature wired us to survive). When I had a stable life, I wanted my freedom. I got my freedom and after a couple of years of that, I wanted stability. Then I had stability and was growing restless. Got my freedom and now I want security once again! Hah. There was a time I had too much freedom and not enough routine routine so it is began to affect my discipline and all the good habits I spent so much time cultivating was starting to slide. Funny how life works, hey? But that’s what makes it so worthwhile and we should always up for a challenge. It’s a mindset shift!
There is nothing more important than having a home.
After getting on a plane every other week for 2+ years and staying at friends’ places and occasionally my own apartment when I had no tenants, I realized I just wanted a home. Again, the grass is always greener on the other side! Because when you stay put for too long, you may have an innate urge to fly again.
Life doesn’t suck. You may just suck at living it.
Think about that! Life only gets better if you let it. Life only gets better if you are willing to do the work. How you perceive the world, the actions you choose to take, and every decision you make will drive the direction of your life. However, don’t be afraid to make mistakes! I embrace all my failures as valuable lessons. It’s okay to make mistakes once but don’t make the same ones over and over.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Traveling and experiences are only worthwhile if you have someone to share it with.
Solo-traveling when you are young has it’s perks because you gain independence but travel with someone special as much as you can. My ideal way to travel is to go somewhere by myself on a bike tour and THEN meet up with friends after to party.
To get to where you want to go, you HAVE to know where you are going.
They tell you to make moodboards and visualize your future and it is so cliche but it’s the truth. Your brain cannot understand or make things up if it hasn’t experienced it before. Visualization and having a clear picture of your future self and where you want to be is the first step towards reaching your goals because it’s only then you can begin to write down a step-by-step plan. How you behave today will ensure you are in alignment with the vision you have for your future.
Anxiety, PTSD, and trauma is real and needs to be talked about.
After being hit by a car last year on my bicycle in 2018, seeing someone I was trying to help almost die in front of me, starting a business in a small town with patients mostly on welfare or addicted to substances, watching close friends suffer from depression and substance abuse, being thrown into few toxic situations, seeing the person you love make bad decisions due to unresolved trauma and being a punching bag for it, and being in a head-on motor vehicle collision in 2019, leaving a toxic + emotional abusive environment, then finally being thrown into a global pandemic … I realized how important it is to talk about mental health.
Don’t be ashamed to speak up because there are so many people suffering in silence. There are so many ways to deal with it, and it’s important to be there (and be authentic) for everyone around you. If you open up and share your story, you will encourage others to do the same. That is how healing begins. Remove the stigma.
My healing journey hasn’t been easy but in my mind, it’s been spectacular because I KNOW how evolved I am going to be coming out of it. I won’t change anything that has happened in my life. I went through some relentless emotional trauma but I ONLY remember the wins because of the last decade of hardcore mindset + discipline + resilience training I willingly put myself through. It’s kind of like riding a bicycle. We suffer hard while climbing mountains or trying to keep up but we keep on crawling back for more because we clearly only remember the benefits and good times.
Start your mindset training as early as you can. You won’t regret it!
Understand what toxic positivity is.
Being positive ALL the time may mean you are running away from your problems. Always be aware of the situation and know it’s okay to be “negative” sometimes. You either deal with it or let it become a burden in your life. I was in a situation for a long time where I never felt safe expressing myself because my partner then would downplay it, undermine me, laugh, or compare it to someone else’s bigger problems (because he didn’t understand how to deal with emotions and had unresolved trauma). I was in a chronic state of fear and anxiety and am still healing from it today. I still experience those feelings in my body (heart racing, bloating, brain fog, sweating) when I enter places that triggers trauma response in my body even though my conscious mind seems to be healed. Your body keeps really score.
Unresolved trauma is like constant malware draining energy from your mind + body.
We all have some sort of trauma. The most dangerous thing is to pretend you don’t have it, sweep it under the carpet, and then unintentionally project it onto the people closest to you. We all have a responsibility to work on ourselves so this doesn’t happen, and so we don’t pass it onto our children because generational trauma is also real. I watched unresolved trauma ruin lives, and it was traumatic experience just seeing it unfold in front of you.
You are the average of the people closest to you.
The last few years, I’ve gone through some pretty intense experiences and saw this unfold my own eyes. I had spent a decade building good habits and living a pretty well-balanced, yet disciplined lifestyle. I was always focused on growth and personal development. For a while, I was surrounded by people who meant well but didn’t have any of these. Perhaps they were attracted to me because they wanted growth but after a few years, nothing was happening. I hold myself to extremely high standards and I expect everyone around me to be leveled or levelling.
My habits began slipping and I was picking up some bad ones. I remember one day telling myself that I do not like the person I was becoming. I was not showing up as my best self. My instinct was screaming at me to leave because I can’t be responsible for someone else’s growth while sabotaging my own. I left that environment and I have never felt better—I simply feel like myself again! I just hope I had planted some seeds!
Respect is everything. Keeping your word is everything. Consistency is everything.
If you feel someone isn’t respecting you, it is time to walk in the opposite direction. If you say you are going to do something, do it and be consistent. Consistency builds trust. I learned that when I start losing trust and respect in people is when they start becoming inconsistent with their words and actions.
Go out of the way for anyone you care about.
Remember birthdays. Bring a cake. What they like in their coffee. Their favourite ice cream flavour. All the small things matter!
Don’t debate with someone whose already made up their mind.
Most people have already make up their mind due to past conditioning. Our brain is like a computer which only sorts data. If the data you are perceiving doesn’t make sense with what is already stored in your brain from all your past experiences, it will never find a logical answer.
You can’t help anyone who isn’t ready to be helped.
Everyone will be ready when they are ready. Don’t feel too bad about it. But you can plant seeds (ideas) in people’s heads because they will pull it out of their subconscious memory once they are ready to do change their life.
Deal with things when it happens.
No need to stress or worry about what has or has not happened yet. Of course, this has gotten me into trouble in the past (missing flights, showing up too late or too early, etc), so also remember to be mindful. 😉 However having this mindset was one of the main reasons why I succeed in my fitness because I trained my mind to not even think about that next hill or the next set of 100 burpees until I was actually doing it.
Nothing is more important than taking time for yourself.
Again, if you can’t help yourself, you have nothing good to offer to the world. MAKE the time to do something for yourself whether it is a bike ride, a massage, a solitary stroll in the park… my “me time” is so precious and 100% non-negotiable.
Don’t let technology use you!
We are so privileged to live in an era where we have a world of knowledge at our fingertips. Are you wasting your time mindlessly scrolling through your feeds, and drowning in materialistic and shallow content, or have you curated everything you see so that it will benefit your mind + body + soul? Learning and staying curious will be your biggest asset in a world that is changing quicker than you can imagine. Don’t get left behind!
Journaling and the act of writing things down have more power than you can ever imagine.
The act of writing things down uses a different part of your brain than reading, speaking, and thinking, If you want to solve a problem or figure out your thoughts, get into the habit of journaling. I’ve been religiously journaling daily for two years and it has made profound changes in my life! Journaling also improves memory and mood, reduces stress and anxiety, strengthens your emotional intelligence, and will evoke self-awareness + mindfulness + creativity, and maintaining this habit will strengthen your discipline. If you want to level up, start journaling!!
If you’re not meditating or doing breathwork, you’re missing out on the universe’s #1 secret.
Journaling and meditation would be the two things I would recommend you start with if you want to level up your life! You can even begin with 3 minutes a day because 3 is better than zero! You’ve probably seen some of the scientific literature on the proven benefits of meditation including how your brain waves are effected.
Breathwork is also your secret weapon a secret weapon most of us don’t realize we have. The majority of us are living in a chronically stressed state (flight-or-flight mode) and don’t realize we are wired to have an “off switch” to calm down your sympathetic nervous system— it’s called breathing! Breathwork stimulates the vagus nerve which acts as a brake to your stress response, which then activates your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS, rest or digest mode), reducing your heart rate + blood pressure and bringing you to a state of calm. You are using your breath to signal to your body that it is safe, and no longer running from the lion. Our bodies are intelligent but unfortunately we think we know more than Mother Nature so we don’t listen and sabotage ourselves.
Entrepreneurship is constant problem solving.
It takes hardcore grit and resilience. It’s not for the faint of heart.
If you want attract a certain type of person in your life, you have to become that person first.
You attract people at the level that you’re at. Your life is a reflection of your inner being. Your external life is a mirror of what is happening inside of you. If you want change, you must start doing something different. If you want something in your life, you have to be tuned into that frequency and become it yourself. It begins with innerwork and personal development! If you want to change your life, you must first change your habits. Your habits dictate your future. You don’t become successful, you attract success.
Relationships will always be constant work.
Nothing worthwhile comes easy. Personally, it is important to find a partner with the same values, does their innerwork and understands their own traumas, and one who never gives up. If you have a partner who has their heads in the clouds and believes in fairy tales, yet doesn’t do innerwork, understand the attachment theory, and doesn’t believe in therapy; you should reevaluate your relationship. I also learned to listen to my gut because it will always sense when something isn’t right for you.
We live in an abundant world full with endless opportunities.
Unfortunately you’re not going to see this until you are willing to get uncomfortable. There is seriously so much more to the world than you can ever imagine. If you think somethings don’t happen or exist, trust me, it does. Stay open-minded. Get out of your bubble and welcome ALL experiences with open arms. Let’s just say that in the last 6 years, I’ve experienced and seen so many things and unconventional lifestyles people would never even imagine.
It’s okay NOT to know!
My holistic practitioner always says, “Katy, your mind is like a hamster wheel” and he conveyed this quote to me. I grew up as an extremely deep thinker, often overwhelmed by the universe because I was gifted with “knowing things” growing up. I always had a deep understanding of how things worked (I see images flash in my head– its hard for me to articulate and get these meanings outside of my own head) and it was so fascinating to me so that’s what drives my curiosity! And the need to learn more and try to make sense of everything. By reiterating this quote to myself, I remind myself I occasionally need to surrender to the mysteries of the universe so I don’t stress myself out with knowing.
Trust the process.
This is going to be my next tattoo because I used this mantra to get out of a tough time in my life. In the end, I realized I had to trust my intuition. I vividly remember 3 years ago when I was laying in bed being in a very hopeless situation, and something in my head told myself that my body is screaming at me to get away from that environment I was in. It took me 2 years to untangle myself because it is one thing to know, and another thing to be ready to do it when so much time has already been invested. Ever since then, I always use that as a reminder to trust my gut. Our body is intelligent and it never lies.
Talk Philosophy. Live Philosophy. Have a Philosophy.
I read a lot of fiction when I was younger and I was addicted to history. I’ve always felt like an old soul because I always felt like I lived in those eras. I would use to read about intellectuals gathering in French cafes as a center for artistic and literary discussion and debate. I didn’t really understand what it meant then but the feeling was familiar and it was always my idea of romance. I always wanted to be a part of that culture but I realized I was not necessarily “book smart” because I’m equal parts super rational yet an airy-creative.
As I got older, I understood it was simply the need to talk philosophy. Fresh ideas and innovation happens when you are immersed in an open-minded space for creativity to be challenged and flourish. This is why it’s so important to be surrounded by people who talk about ideas, and if you aren’t, perhaps you can try spearhead those conversations! Begin with creating a safe environment for free thinkers to express their emotions and discuss ideas without any judgement.
The huge Paris world centers twice, thrice daily; it is at the café; it gossips at the café, it intrigues and the café; it plots, it dreams, it suffers, it hopes, at the café.”