Today is my 43rd birthday. Happy birthday to me! I had initially thought I’d kick of this blog off with a “43 things I’ve learned in 43 years” kind of post.  When I began to write, however, I saw that the list of 43 lessons, while valuable, was  just too much to digest in a short amount of time. Instead, I’ve chosen to condense that list down to five lessons learned over the past year that have radically changed my life.

A year ago today, I was unhappy, overweight, lonely and stressed. I numbed my feelings with work and food.  Today, I live life in the zone.   I’ve dropped 20 pounds (and a heck of a lot more).   Every morning I wake next to an amazing man who far exceeds my  dreams.  My life is filled with joy, love, and happiness.    This incredible change is the direct result of five important life lessons I learned over the past year.

Lesson One:  Acceptance Leads to Self-Love

Living life in the zone means  accepting yourself exactly as you are in this moment.  Acceptance doesn’t mean  choosing to remain stuck. Instead, it means choosing to end the argument with reality.  Byron Katie, author of Loving What Is, said if you argue with reality, you will lose 100% of the time.   Acceptance and self love make us stronger,  independent.  Acceptance also allows us to make the changes in our life we desire from a place of love. From the moment I began to accept myself I was able to  forgive myself for not being perfect.  That is when my life began to transform.

The bonus is that when you begin to love yourself, you also allow others to love you – the real you.  And the real you  is utterly fabulous.

Lesson Two:  Your Life is Your Business

Choosing a life path based on the expectations of our parents, friends, or society  is a sure-fire way to end up miserable at 40.  Don’t live life according to other people’s rules. Dig down deep. Listen to your heart. Figure out what works best for YOU.

Byron Katie talks about three kinds of business: yours, theirs and God’s.  People will talk about you and may even say nasty things about you.  They will comment on your clothes, you weight, your choice of friends or love interest.  People will judge you, because they are too afraid to look within.  Release the worry of their business and create your own rules and cultivate a life of your choosing.

What other people think of us is their business. There is nothing we can do to change others.  The only control we have is to make decisions for ourselves:  that’s our business and no one else’s.  Remember that you are the only one that lives inside your skin, lives your daily life, and faces yourself in the mirror each day.  If you are living true to what is best for you, then that’s all that matters.

Lesson Three:  Listen to Your Heart.  And. Take a Leap of Faith

Every one of us has inner voices.  Some of the voices tell us that we aren’t good enough for happiness, for love, for contentment.  These are the voices that try to trip us up, and keep us completely stuck inside the box of life we have created.  Each of us also has a tiny inner voice that lives within.  Some folks may call it intuition of the voice of your true self.    I call it the voice of your heart.  It may be difficult for you to hear, because it’s been silenced for so long, however, if you just give it a chance to be heard, it will guide you along the right path.

I’ve long been a believer that the answers to many of life’s questions can be found within ourselves, but we have to be willing to dig in.   Sometimes, the digging in simply requires slowing down and listening into our heart. Whenever I have a big decision to make, I find my right path is presented before me when I listen to my heart.  The second part of this is important:  you have to take action.  After listening to your heart,  grab courage by the horns and take a flying leap of faith.  I’ll never say that it’s easy to do so.  In fact, it can be downright scary.  But you’ll be rewarded BIG when you do.

This lesson has led me to the path of fulfillment in my professional and personal life.  I am thriving in a business that I fulfills me (coaching) and for the first time in my life, living a fully honest relationship with a man who loves me for exactly who I am.

Lesson Four:   You Don’t Have to Do Everything On Your Own

I used to believe that in order to be successful and happy, I needed to do everything on my own.   Wow, was I ever wrong.   By learning that it was OK to ask for help, I opened myself up to the wisdom of others.   Sometimes, we are able to self-coach ourselves, and talk ourselves off a ledge and are able to stay in a space of positive energy.    Sometimes, a few moments in prayer or meditation will give us strength.  Other times, though, we need the voices of other people to talk through a challenge or an idea.  This is the reason I have cultivated a support society of friends and colleagues.  This is why I have a coach.  This is why I hired a copy editor to assist me with my website. This is why I offer a “Grip It & Rip It” emergency call for my clients.  I have discovered that my life is much more joyful when I find the courage within myself to admit that sometimes,  I need a little help and indeed, don’t have all the answers.

Learning that  I’m allowed to ask for help has actually guided me to be more independent and love myself more.  It’s also led me to a feeling of wholeness with the universe and the knowledge that I am indeed a strong individual.

Lesson Five:  It’s Okay to be Happy.

Let’s face it.  The world is full of miserable people who want company.  You can choose to bond with others through shared misery, complaining, and unhappiness.  Or.  You can choose to find gratitude and joy in the every day.    Others will try to squash your joy.  Others (and the voices of the past) may tell you that you don’t deserve to be happy.  When you fully learn the lesson that no matter what anyone else may have to say, it’s OK to be happy, you’re life will change.   And you’ll find that the more abundance of joy you embrace, the more you will be able to shine your light of happiness to the world.  That energy will grow, and you’ll find that happiness will be returned to you ten-fold.  Don’t let “them” guilt you into feeling your life is full of lack, when it’s full of abundant joy.

No matter how many Negative Nellies there are in the world that tell you that life is full of misery and woe, you can face the world with the knowledge that it’s okay to be happy.  Every moment you shine your light of happiness to the world, you’ll find that that energy will be returned to you in every day interactions.

I’m about to head to the golf course for a 9-hole playing lesson.  I’m looking forward to working with a pro to help me on my short game (along with the other parts of my game!)

I hope that you will celebrate my birthday with me. I wish for you to have the kind of joy and happiness I have on this day as I feel.  In honor of my birthday, treat yourself with a little extra kindness, play a little golf, and toast the day with a good glass of wine. If you’d like to begin your own journey with a coach, I’d love to hear from you.

Want to take a trip down my memory lane? Here’s where you can find my past birthday posts
Looking for ways to celebrate YOU and your life? No need to wait for your next birthday. Click here to read articles on how to love your perfectly imperfect life.

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