I’m not sure how it happened, but here I am about to celebrate my 43rd birthday. While I certainly haven’t figured out all of life’s secrets, I have learned my fair share of important lessons, leaving me feeling much more balanced, fulfilled, and hopeful today than I have ever felt as I approached any of my other birthdays.

So, in honor of my 43rd birthday, I give you 44 (1 for each year plus 1 for good luck) of the most important lessons I’ve learned so far:

In no particular order:

  1. Don’t borrow anxiety from the future. It’s simply not a good investment of your time.
  2. Your biggest enemy is you. In the words of Milli Vanilli (or whoever really wrote their songs), you know it’s true.
  3. You can either make changes or make excuses. Change is one of the hardest things we can do in life which is why we resist it so much.
  4. Choose people who choose you. You aren’t for everyone and not everyone is for you — when you choose each other mutually, that’s the good stuff.
  5. Nachos and tacos make almost anything better. They are pure magic and I will never turn them down.
  6. Make time to rest and recharge — it won’t just happen magically. You make time and plans for everything and everyone else, it’s time to do it for yourself too.
  7. Perfection is a myth. So, let’s stop chasing after it as if it’s attainable.
  8. You are not responsible for other people’s happiness. You aren’t — even if they think you are.
  9. Never underestimate the power of an unexpected text or phone call. You might be someone’s last hope.
  10. You don’t have to fight every battle. It’s ok to let others fight the battles sometimes too.
  11. It’s ok not to be ok. Part of being human is having feelings and sometimes those feelings are just plain painful.
  12. Closure does not exist. Much like perfection, it’s a myth we keep trying to chase.
  13. Real friends don’t keep score. Real friends understand that sometimes we just can’t show up as the best versions of ourselves — and they love us anyway.
  14. Don’t give other people’s opinions of you more attention than they deserve. You are never going to please everyone or make everyone like you — stop trying.
  15. Sometimes you just have to feel your feelings. All of them-even the ugly ones. If you don’t feel them, I promise you at some point they will spill out anyway.
  16. Don’t drink cheap tequila. Just don’t do it. Spend the extra money for the good stuff.
  17. You can hear a lot by listening to the silence. It can be uncomfortable to sit in that silent space but so much can be heard there.
  18. An authentic life requires vulnerability and risk. Being authentic can be terrifying but the rewards are worth it.
  19. Your mistakes do not define you — how you correct them does. We all make mistakes — how we respond is what matters most.
  20. Real is better than perfect. Remember that perfection doesn’t exist. Show up as your real self.
  21. Time doesn’t heal all wounds. Some hurts are just too big.
  22. Sometimes the greatest gift you can give someone is to just listen. How nice does it feel when others give us space and just listen? Let’s remember to do that for others. 
  23. The best investment to make is in yourself. YOU are an investment that is worth the return.
  24. Parenting teenagers is equal parts trying to hold on and trying to let go. It’s a constant struggle between the two sides.
  25. It’s ok to be proud of yourself. Let’s stop pretending like it’s rude to be proud of ourselves-your accomplishments are worth sharing and celebrating!
  26. Your worth is not determined by others. Your worth is determined by you and by you alone.
  27. People will treat you how you let them treat you. Stop letting people walk all over you.
  28. A little bit of kindness can make a lot of impact. A tiny bit of kindness can brighten someone’s entire week.
  29. What you think you know about someone’s situation is never the full story. We never know the full story about someone else’s life-especially when we think we do.
  30. It’s ok to walk away from toxicity. In fact, it’s necessary for survival.
  31. Not everyone is going to like you — and it’s ok. Once you accept this fact life becomes a whole lot easier.
  32. Life’s uncomfortable moments can be where we grow the most. These moments are where so much learning can occur.
  33. Self-care is not selfish. Making time to care for yourself sometimes means putting yourself first-that doesn’t make it selfish.
  34. No is a complete sentence. You don’t always owe others an explanation.
  35. Sometimes the best way to create space for your teen to talk with you is to get in the car and drive with them. Something truly magical happens every time.
  36. When you seek approval from everyone else, you lose sight of the real you. Stop twisting yourself into a pretzel to make everyone happy. 
  37. When in doubt, reach out. If you are thinking of someone, let them know.
  38. There is beauty in the simple. Sometimes less is more.
  39. You have to look for the glimmers of hope — always. They are always there-sometimes we just have to work harder to find them.
  40. Celebrate the little moments — they become the big moments. Life is really all about our individual collections of beautiful little moments that tell the full story of our lives.
  41. Lean into the things that scare you. Sometimes those are the things we need most.
  42. It’s ok to ask for help. It’s more than ok-it’s necessary.
  43. Don’t believe the lies your depression and anxiety tell you. They will tell you so many lies-you don’t have to believe them.
  44. We all are works in progress. So let’s show each other and ourselves a bit more grace.

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About the Author: Jenni Brennan
As a therapist, author, podcast host, and professor, I provide education, resources, and support to people in the areas of grief, mental health, parenting, and relationships. While the content may sometimes be heavy, I strive to explore it in a way that is light, positive, and inspirational. My Website

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