A few words to live by

Today’s post is a little less travel themed and a bit more focused on life lessons. Seeing as I turned 27 this week (happy birthday to me!) I thought I’d share a few of the life lessons I’ve learned and I’m trying to live by. None of these lessons are mind blowing, and I’m sure you’ve grown up hearing many of them, but let this be a friendly reminder to go out there and live well.

Feeling the farmer vibes on a Canadian road trip.

Be happy where you are.

My early twenties were filled with the need to escape and be in far off places – I was probably just trying to run away from myself and my lack of direction, but these past few years have taught me to try to find happiness wherever I am. Life will always have its little challenges whether you’re somewhere in the Toronto suburbs, in a rowdy Korean classroom, or on an idyllic Thai beach along the Andaman Sea. Don’t run away from your problems. Face them, face yourself, and find happiness around you. Happiness is not a destination, it’s a state of mind.

Focus on the positive.

Why waste all your energy being negative and worrying about every little thing that could go wrong? Look at things from a positive angle and you’ll find that your problems often aren’t as big as they seem. Focus on finding solutions as opposed to dwelling on the problem.

have a better tomorrow

Stop worrying about the future.

The future. We spend so much time worrying about it. Why? I want to be a person who lives in the present and takes the future in stride. Deal with things as they come. This doesn’t mean I don’t plan for the future – I do think ahead and make decisions that will be beneficial down the line, but I don’t spend my days worrying about what I’m going to be doing 5 years from now.

Make a change if you need to.

Sometimes in life you have to make changes. If you’ve been banging your head against the door trying to make a specific project work and things just aren’t moving forward, well then maybe it’s time to try something new. It’s not giving up, it’s moving forward.

People’s opinions are just opinions.

It seems everyone out there has an opinion on how others should live their lives. If you listen to too many of them it’ll muddle your thoughts. There are only a handful of people whose opinions I value and those are the ones of my immediate family and life-long friends who sometimes know me better than I know myself. I think you should listen to the wisdom of those closest to you (those who have your best interest at heart), but ultimately, you’re the one responsible for your choices.

Happiness is found when you stop comparing

Stop comparing yourself to others.

“Her skin complexion is clearer than mine. He has more Instagram followers than I do. Their vacation to Fiji looked so much better than my summer trip to North Carolina…blah blah blah. Comparison is the thief of joy. Theodore Roosevelt spoke those words and they are as true as can be. No good comes from comparing yourself to others, so just stop doing it. It’ll take some practice, but it’ll completely change the way you feel about yourself.

Don’t get involved in the drama.

There are people out there whose lives revolve around stirring the pot. Gossiping, stabbing remarks, sharing others’ secrets. Just step away from it. Who cares what so-and-so is up to. And do you really want to be hearing about it from a third person? Gossiping always comes back to bite you in the ass, so you’re better off spending your time on something a little more productive.

Invest time in your relationships.

Being away from home for long periods of time has taught me to value the relationships I once took for granted. Whenever I’m away, I make it a priority to skype with my family on weekends, phone my grandma, and send postcards and emails to friends. I want those in my life to know that just because I’m miles away from home, doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten about them or don’t care.

Pink nails on computer

Choose what you want to invest your time in.

These past few months I’ve been thinking a lot about what projects I want to see grow. I sometimes take on too many projects at a time, but I find when I do this I can’t really do my best in any specific area because my time and my attention are being pulled in too many different directions. There are certain artistic endeavours that I want to see grow, and this means there are certain things I need to cut out. It’s all about prioritizing.

Learn to say no.

This applies to me and work. I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the requests I get from people. The people-pleaser in me wants to help everyone out, but I’ve had to learn to say ‘no’ and be firm with that no. It’s not about being snobby; it’s about the fact that there is only 1 of me and I only have 24 hours in the day – 8 of which I want to spend sleeping!

Don’t let work become all-consuming.

Having grown up in South America I know that in some of parts of the world people know how to live a life that’s not consumed by their work. They meet up with friends for coffee (midweek!), they drop by for visits unannounced, they leave work for their mid-afternoon siestas, and then gather to dine as a family. Work is just what they do, but it’s not who they are; I think that’s one thing we’ve forgotten in North America.

Central Park in the summertime.

Go for a walk and clear your head.

Walking helps clear my mind. While I was in university I discovered that if I was stumped on an essay, I just needed to walk and the ideas would come to me. I would start to form a thesis and develop subsequent paragraphs in my head as I walked through the park. There’s something about getting fresh air and being surrounded my nature that allows the ideas in your subconscious to rise up. You should try it.

Spend more time outdoors.

Watch the sunset. Hike a mountain. Dip your feet in the sea. One of the greatest little pleasures is communing with nature.

Do-One-Thing-A-Day-That-Scares-You

Challenge yourself.

I often like to stay in my comfort zone and there are times when I find myself shrinking away from trying new things. Whenever this happens, I like to remind myself of a famous quote by Eleanor Roosevelt which reads, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” This doesn’t mean I go chasing thrills every day, but I do try to get out of my comfort zone when the opportunity presents itself.

Encourage others.

If you see someone doing something well, praise them for it. One thing I noticed during my year teaching in South Korea was that certain students did not receive enough encouragement at home. They doubted their own potential and many of their artistic endeavours often went unnoticed. Encourage those around you, because that might be the little push they need to pursue their own dreams.

Eat well!

There is so much good food to be savoured – spicy curries, pho, fresh rice rolls, mango sticky rice, coconut shakes – don’t waste it by being a picky eater! Experiment with new flavours.

And that’s my little pep talk to you, so now go out there, live well, and be happy.

What life lessons are you trying to apply to your life?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Join the Conversation

32 Comments

  1. I love this. What a great way to remember to stay positive. It’s so easy to get caught up. It’s a shame we must remind ourselves to be good to ourselves and each other! Sometimes writing it all out, or reading it, is all the reminder we need to refocus. Thank you for this Audrey!

  2. says: Charlie

    Great lessons. You’re right they’re not mind blowing, they’re lesson we all know but still it’s hard to always apply them to life. Thanks for this little reminder to make the most of life 🙂 I’ve been considering the life lessons I’ve learnt recently, I actually wrote about them only a week ago, for me I’ve been trying to really identify what I want from life and what makes me happy and then going for it. I’ve realised I spend too much time trying to achieve all my goals and not focusing on doing what makes me most happy – it’s crazy that we have to remind ourselves at times to do what makes us happy but sometimes we need to refocus and get back on track. Happy birthday by the way!

  3. says: Naomi

    Happy birthday first and foremost and thanks for the wise words – I’m having a massively melodramatic quarter life crisis and these words are the sort I need to bear in mind!

  4. says: Katie Battaglia

    Happy Birthday! Thanks for the positive read! I know sometimes I can get caught up in comparing myself to others. I’ve recently come home from my first year of travel and want to save more money to go back abroad long term. However, it is really difficult for me to see my friends establish their careers and settle down because I can’t help but feel pressure that I should be doing the same in my mid-twenties. I’m trying to remind myself that there is no “right way” to live and I should find my own happiness in the choices that I feel are best for me. Long walks definitely help my thinking process! 🙂

  5. says: Justine

    These are all such great philosophies. They seem so simple but it’s so easy to get caught up in life’s drama. Staying positive is so important, not just when traveling but all of the time. Happy birthday 🙂

  6. says: Ivana

    I agree very much with minding own business and not caring about others’ ‘opinions’ and avoiding gossiping. Does not bring any good. What I’ve been learning on the road is also not to blame anyone for anything that goes wrong, which teaches me to be more responsible for what I’m doing.

  7. says: Charli

    This is just what I needed to read this morning Audrey 🙂 Thanks for the digital pick me up! Great lessons for everyday.

  8. says: Rachel of Hippie in Heels

    great tips 🙂 considering where I live I should be in nature more than I am… I need to get over my fear of snakes so I can take more hikes. I also need to ONLY be sleeping 8 hours a day instead of 10! it’s my downfall lol… I can’t complain about working too much, actually I don’t work enough and wish I had more opportunities or knew how to reach out for them better. I’m hoping to find a new way to work/be creative other than my blog. I have to keep busy or I start to miss nursing! These tips really made me think- thanks!

  9. says: Mike of Mapless Mike

    Beautiful, Audrey! This made my day! I laughed at the last piece of advice about being a picky eater because that is one of my biggest pet peeves.

    1. says: STOFFEL

      DEAR AUDREY, ALWAYS WAITING FOR YOUR LETTER. THANKYOU.
      HAPPY BIRTHDAY.
      COMMENT:

      LIVE THE LIFE YOU LOVE

      LOVE THE LIFE YOU LIVE

  10. says: Maria Falvey

    Wise words from one so young. Right off the bat Audrey you’re hitting the nail squarely on the head – Be happy with yourself and wherever you are – a person can travel, but they always wake up with themselves… you can’t get away from you. Oh! Happy 27 and many happy returns.

  11. says: Derek

    It feels good to have a quick overview of advice like this. I agree with you that investing in your relationships is very important. “Happiness is only real when shared”

  12. says: Sacha @ The Beautiful Travel Hangover

    I agree with all these things. But mostly with learning to say no. I still have a lot of trouble with this and sometimes it got me in really unpleasant situations. Really, say no if you have to and be clear about it. I learned this the hard way!

  13. says: Ashley

    This is a great list! Loved that you wrote “happiness is not a destination, it’s a state of mind”- so true! Being thankful and expressing gratitude on a daily basis is the best lesson I’ve learned to apply to my life.

  14. says: Illia

    Great quotes! I try to live according to one of them, but slightly modified: “Do one thing every day that brings the most joy to you”. 🙂

  15. says: Jasmine

    Happy birthday Audrey . I loved the part about not getting involved in drama. I realised that I could eliminate drama from my life a few tears ago and it has made a WORLD OF DIFFERENCE. Thank you for this post, it’s a nice reminder of things I need to try regularly. Best wishes for your 27th year ahead!

  16. says: Alexandra C.

    Happy Birthday! 🙂 I turned 24 this month, and I am working on making a fun 30 by 30 list and/or a 101 things in 1,001 days list. I love this list!! So many good reminders on there. I have really been noticing how wonderful and noticeable it can be to make even small changes, or ones that you were afraid to make. 🙂 Good luck this year! XO-Alexandra

    Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things

  17. says: Renuka

    Seriously great lessons. I just have one thing to add – keep procrastination out of your life! Don’t postpone anything that you can do today.

  18. says: Franca

    I totally relate especially with minding your own business, I don’t like when others put their noises into my things and I don’t do it myself either.

  19. says: Carmen

    Loved this post. I think I might book mark it for days I’m feeling like I’ve got too much on my plate, so that I can remember to be thankful for what I have. Happy birthday to you! 🙂

  20. says: Glamourous Traveller

    Good advice. I definitely have realized that living in there here and now, living within your means and knowing that it’s ok to live within your means can keep you happy and content.

    Comparing oneself to another is just a recipe for disaster especially in this day and age of social media where people tend to only showcase the best of what they have giving an extremely unbalanced view of how life really is

  21. says: Cyra

    Great tips Audrey. They are simple little things that anyone can apply to their lives no matter where they are in the world. Positivity is a great thing 🙂

  22. says: Backpacking Panda

    Thanks for all the possitive tips, it’s true that sometimes we forget to focus on the beautiful side of life, we worry too much and scared too much. Sometimes you need to stop, breath, smile, and just be grateful for the all the amazing things that this world offers.(=

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