As I’m about to turn 35 I wanted to check in with myself and my inner child; how am I doing as my life journey unfolds? What have I learnt? What can I take with me as the journey continues?
Five attitudes surface as I investigate what it means to grow older, and how I relate to myself and to the world: acceptance, humility, courage, compassion and gratitude.
By accepting whatever life gives me, I open myself up to life as it is and that creates presence, agency and ease. When I was younger, I did create a lot of suffering for myself by resisting experiences that were far beyond my control. Acceptance is a big one for me; and I’m still learning and leaning into it. It’s of course so much easier to accept all that feels good and right in the moment, but there just is no other way with the unpleasant and harder gifts of life. Acceptance also entails self-acceptance; embracing myself with everything – even the disappointments, the mistakes, the less desired sides of my personality. Acceptance in its essence feels like love towards myself and love for life in its full aliveness.
I’ve come to understand how there is so much that I’ll never learn, that I’ll never be drawn to, and that I’ll never do in life. I’m a small part of something much larger, and that brings about a sense of humility. Generations where here before me and generations will be here after me. It feels comforting and brings perspective. And somehow it motivates me to explore; how can I best play my small part? How can I contribute?
I know that it takes courage to follow my own heart and my own truth regardless of what I meet of expectations from others or from society. I remember being asked (in a most untraditional job interview) what I wanted to be written on my gravestone when I died. The answer came without hesitation: That I had lived a life true to myself. I guess when I look back most of my mayor decisions have been made from this place inside of me that navigates from its own compass. But it has not always been easy – and still isn’t. I think that for every person it takes courage to actually check in with themselves and listen to what feels right, real and necessary for themselves.
Understanding that life is challenging, and that we all really do our best with what we have brings about a sense of compassion towards myself and towards others. How can I continuously relate to myself with greater compassion? When I look into the eyes of the one-and-a-half-year-old girl I was on the picture, I can’t help but feel compassion for her. When I remember that in my true essence, I am still that child, and so is everyone else, that becomes a shortcut to meeting myself and the world with compassion – even when I experience unwanted emotions, setbacks, and feel things intensively.
Gratitude shifts the perspective from the ever-striving mind’s obsession with the future and with accomplishing this and that. Gratitude takes me back to here and now, to all that I have, am given, am experiencing. As I drive on my motorbike through the curvy roads in the shade from the large orange Flame of the Forest tree I feel so alive, and I’m grateful to be alive! All the mindfulness and happiness studies surfacing at these days point to the power of practicing gratitude. It shows that we can actually shape our brains by focusing on what we feel grateful for, and that the more we practice gratitude the happier we feel.
Today I am grateful for:
- my body with its ability to move, express - and to feel, sense and guide me
- having dance, music and art as a part of my daily life
- great friends near and far
- my parents for giving me this life and my whole family
- the many teachers I’ve encountered and who’ve helped me understand myself and this life a bit better
- everything that I have been given
What are you grateful for?
I know they say that age is just a number - and really in many ways I feel like that too. However there’s something to 35 that seems like a new and exciting stepping stone, and it is with anticipation and trust that I’m about to enter another phase of my life...