Writer, Advisor + Consultant

36 Life Lessons

I’ve been learning a lot of lessons lately, and since I’m turning 36 I thought writing a post called 36 life lessons would be fitting (and a snazzy title 😉

So in no particular order here are 36 life lessons – Maybe when I’m 72 I’ll write another article with 72 lessons 😉 For now, here goes:

  1. Everything matters. Sometimes I look back and think “Did I waste years travelling around Central America and immersing myself in the local culture? After all I could have been building up some corporate career like most people my age” But recently, as I found myself working in remote communities up Way North it was clear that it was precisely my time spent in small remote communities in the South that prepared me for this moment. One man in the airport who called me a rookie to the north said “Wow you don’t have that deer in headlight look I see on most people who come here for the first time.” I think it’s because my days in small sleepy villages in Central America prepped me for this. So wherever you are in life–even if it seems like it doesn’t matter or won’t build your future – it all adds up, and it all matters.
  2. Nothing matters. I had to add this one to be snarky, and because there is truth in contrast. As much as every little thing adds up, it’s just as important to not take things too seriously. I once heard a quote that goes “In the end everything is ok, and if its not ok it’s not the end” It’s so easy to stress about small details, I’ve been doing that a lot lately when what seems like “Big Plans” fall through, but in the end, things worked out, or the things I didn’t worry about happened and even then it was all ok. So it’s a lesson I practice on the daily. “Nothing matters” is really a mantra by another name–it’s called “The Art of Chilling.”
  3.  You can try to control things, but it will control you. For years I tried to control certain relationships in my life. I thought if I was just “quiet” enough or “good” enough things would be OK. The moment I released control and allowed the pieces to fall, I saw the truth of the relationship. I saw that what I was trying to hold together was never there. When you relinquish control you can see the truth.
  4. Surrender is your friend. Surrender is a daily practice, one I’m called to deepen on the daily. I don’t have this one figured out at all, but I know with certainty that as I heighten my awareness to it and remind myself to surrender–an ease falls around me, and it really makes everything better.
  5. Other people are who they are. It’s common to have an image of another person and not see them for who they are. A common example is putting a celebrity on a pedestal, or having an image of a certain mentor or friend–how they should be versus who they are. It’s common to get wrapped up in illusion. The sooner we can see another for who they are–the sooner we give themselves and ourselves freedom
  6. Life is short–take a risk. It’s too easy to stay in your comforts. I recently I left my comfort and although I’ve been presented with many unforeseen challenges, I’m still really grateful I left my comfort so I can learn from this new journey.
  7. Gratitude is a savior. It’s easy to be a complainer and complaining is contagious. Gratitude is the antidote: medicine reminding us of all that we do have.
  8. Stay humble. When I lived in Vancouver I used to go to the ocean every morning. All of nature carries energy and there were two rocks by the ocean I’d go visit: one of the rocks became “humble” rock due to its immense grounding energy. It reminded me daily to stay humble and grounded.
  9. Never forget your light. At the same time, the second rock carried an uplifting energy and the message was –don’t forget to live in your light. Living in your light doesn’t mean to forget humility. Living in your light calls you to step up and emerge in the entirety of what you have to offer and to dare to showcase it.
  10. Go somewhere remote. Whether you go to a small village or deep wilderness camping – getting away from your daily comforts helps you remember how lucky you are. When you get out of your comforts, it helps you appreciate all you have.
  11. Frame of reference is everything. I went from Vancouver to Yellowknife. People called this place a city and for the last few weeks I laughed in my head thinking this is a small town with barely anything! Then I went up to small communities way more North and all of a sudden I understood why Yellowknife is the Big City. Frame of reference really is everything. One more example: when you work a 90 hour week and go down to 60 hours you think you have work-life balance. But when you’re used to working a 40-hour week and then work 60-hours you think life is out of balance. Frame of Reference is everything.
  12. Choice makes the world go around. We often have more choice than we recognize on a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual level. Lately I’ve been experiencing how powerful choice is. Choice arises in our actions but is just as powerful in how we think, speak, and desire from our heart. Our choices, even on a metaphysical level impact our reality
  13. People will believe what you tell them so be careful about putting yourself down! It’s common to put yourself down, and sometimes we do it as a defense mechanism. Be careful: people may end up believing you on some level. Instead, see if you can throw the negative self-talk in the cosmic trashcan and focus on the issue at hand. Putting yourself down isn’t helping anybody.
  14. Believe what people tell you – This I learned from a wise woman. Apparently her therapist gave her this advice regarding her ex-husband. If your partner keeps telling you “I’m not as good as you think I am, I just can’t commit to you that way” believe them, versus hoping they’ll change or that they’re “just saying it.” That’s just one example and it can show up anywhere: from relationships to work life – when people tell you something about themselves, listen.
  15. Impermanence is real. Sometimes we’re in a situation where we feel stuck. We feel like things may never change. Some challenging situations stick around longer than we hope but things are always changing. Most recently I used to wonder how I’d ever leave my previous life circumstance and then, faster than I could have imagined multiple elements shifted. Even now as I traverse the changes, I remember the power of impermanence.
  16. Boundaries are important. Our boundaries help us navigate the world. Boundaries help us know where we end and another begins. In some relationships boundaries can be harder to define or enforce, but if we don’t we’ll be pushed to the point of burning out, sabotaging ourselves and the other person. The best way to define your boundaries is to check in with your feelings. If it doesn’t feel OK–it’s Not Ok.
  17. It’s safe to trust your intuition. Our gut feelings can be scary to believe. It can feel like magical thinking, but when we dare to follow our inclinations it leads us to the right place. Lately I’m re-experiencing this one. There are certain things I know deep inside that have yet to manifest. However since I’ve recently had this experience: a deep inner knowing that did manifest (it just took longer than I expected) I’m doing my best to be with my current knowing and navigate it with slightly more grace.
  18. Find Humor everywhere. Every day there’s something to laugh at. Lately, the ravens make me laugh a lot. They make the coolest sounds. But it could be anything – even the ludicrous things (Sometimes especially the ludicrous things!).
  19. You have no idea what another person is thinking of you: and even if you do–you can’t change it. So in the end, the more you can let that go, the better your life will be
  20. Forgive yourself more often. We’re often hardest on ourselves. Imagine if every day you could practice self-compassion and self-forgiveness?
  21. Forgive others more often. Now I’m not talking about The Big Things that require time where forgiveness is more like the grief process (You can’t do a spiritual bypass and jump straight to forgiveness all the time). However, I am talking more about the little things that you can shake off fast. Like the driver who cuts you off, the person who brushes past you because they weren’t looking where they were going, even the person who spills their drink over you. The little things. The more you can lend compassion to another the happier you’ll be.
  22. Meditate every day. Even 2 minutes. I’m still an advocate of the 5-minute meditation but seriously, taking a conscious few minutes every morning to sit up in bed and be with yourself, your breath, and your mind–is one of the most important things you can do. Especially when you have a million things to do–the more important it becomes to take time out for your mind and soul.
  23. Exercise everyday. Our body is built to move. And I don’t mean you have to hit the gym every day. Science has proven that three 10-minute walks is as effective as a 30-minute walk. All the activity you do in a day adds up, and some days you’ll be more active than others, but make it a priority for your physical, mental, and emotional health to move every day.
  24. It’s never too late. Life is not linear, even if our culture tells us that by a certain age we should have certain things or be at a certain place. There’s a reason the mid-life crisis is a cultural phenomena. The so-called mid-life crisis is simply the soul crisis. The soul cries for a change, and sometimes we wake up and realize we have a dream we haven’t lived. Well, it’s never too late to make a change. Sometimes even changing one-thing changes everything.
  25. Practice patience–things take time to develop. Things often take longer than we want. Especially in our current “now” society where everything is instant–we expect instant results. But the most important things in life cannot be rushed. There’s no insta-social media button for real love, career advancement, or expertise in a subject area. Certain things take time to develop.
  26. Living in the place of Not Knowing is a virtue. It’s so common to want certainty yet so much is unknown. Being able to be in the place of not knowing is a difficult yet rewarding practice.
  27. Stay Open. There might be things today you’ll say you’d never do but you might find yourself doing them. Staying open is important to growth and expanding your life.
  28. Do something for a stranger. I don’t know where I read this, maybe it was Oprah magazine, but I once read about letting someone go ahead of you in the line at the grocery store. I finally tried it the other day. You’d think I’d given them a hundred dollars. Seriously –little things can make someone else’s day and in the end you feel better.
  29. A smile goes a long way. Some days we just want or need to keep our head down. But when you can, when you remember – look up, and smile, especially at a stranger, you might just make their day.
  30. Choose your priorities. Priorities are bound to change over time. I recommend taking out a piece of paper and deciding your top 5 priorities for the month. Then, once a week revisit this list and re-determine if your priorities are still your priorities. Your priorities will inform your actions–and your life.
  31. Accept help. For the longest time I never wanted to ask for help, but when you do: whether it’s physical, mental, or emotional support – it helps open the gates for the other person too.
  32. Give help. When you can. Be the listening ear, give your neighbor butter, it could be simple things or big things. A wise friend of mine told me, it’s only when we help another that friendship is truly formed.
  33. We’re all in-process: when we remember that we’re all in the process of becoming: we’re all learning, we’re all growing, nobody is perfect, then we can have more compassion for ourselves and for others.
  34. Awareness is everything. Awareness changes everything. Awareness is confronting and scary. Awareness will awaken you to all of you including the shadow: the parts of yourself that you don’t really want to acknowledge or see, but when you do, it gives you choice: only when you acknowledge and become aware of all of yourself can you begin to choose which areas you want to shift, and how you want to grow.
  35. Treat yourself more often. It could be little things or big things. Gift yourself more often especially if you normally don’t.
  36. Spirit is always with you. Spirit can mean different things to different people. Some people find spirit in nature, a feeling in their heart, or any other multitude of places. I’ve found that when I feel alone or don’t know how to get through something I remember that Spirit is here with me. Some people have family and some don’t. We all have different degrees of friendships that may come and go according to where we live or what activities we’re apart of. The one constant we have is our relationship with our self and The Universe/Spirit/Intuition/Soul/Life….Life has a way of carrying us…Just when we think we need to figure it all out there are unseen forces at work…


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5 comments… add one
  • Heidi B Barkwell November 27, 2017,

    FabulouZ reminder….thx Tova…I loved 13 n 33!!!

    • Tova Payne November 27, 2017,

      Thank you Heidi (hugs)

  • Alexandra November 2, 2017,

    Bountiful wisdom you share here !!

    Many appreciations, much love to you

    • Tova Payne November 2, 2017,

      Thank You Alexandra! (Hugs)


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