My wonderful friends in Brazil put a book together for me as a going away gift, and left a few pages blank with prompts on them. One of those pages inspired this post. Thank you, Maxine.
Here are my top 10 life lessons for living a happy life.
- Take care of yourself. Self-love and self-care must come first.
In many ways I already knew this one, or else I wouldn’t have ever gone to Brazil, but I learned how to live it fully in these two years. Creating a healthy work/life balance was very important to me here, and I often spent time cooking, painting, walking, or watching my favorite shows after work instead of grading and planning (though there was still plenty of that!). Journaling and yoga were also big parts of my self-care. I encourage everything to find what works for them!
- We need each other, our hive, our tribe.
Once I learned how to love myself, the friendships in my life blossomed. The respect I had for myself set the standard for what I expected of others. My time in Sao Paulo would certainly not be so memorable and cherished if it wasn’t for the amazing people I got to work with, travel with, party with, cook with, paint with, teach with etc. They built me up, and taught me just how wonderful it is to surround yourself with positive people. Also important: we don’t need EVERYONE and there are some people who we certainly don’t need in our life, but we need others, we need like-minded people in our circle and people who push us outside of our comfort zone.
- Be open, and the world will be open to you. Be kind, and the world will be kind to you.
So many people in my life before I moved from the U.S. were full of warnings and advice, were full of fear for my move. Thank you all for caring, but in my experience, it is carrying fear which invites evil. Send out the energy you wish you receive, and it seems…you shall!
- Look up.
What a beautiful and wonderful and amazing world we live in! Take it all in! People miss so much when we spend too much time on technology or in our own heads. Predators look for people who are distracted, so looking up and seeing who and what is around me makes me more safe. I didn’t stay out of harm’s way by retreating into my phone and remaining naively blissful; I was awake to the world around me, and looked at people and situations with a keen eye and was able to entirely AVOID harm by being mindful or my surroundings and being present in each moment.
- Dreams don’t work unless you do.
Nothing is going to come to you for free. You have to set your intentions, let the universe know, and then work all the damn time to make those dreams come true. I am the happiest I have ever been in my life, and if that isn’t a dream come true, I don’t know what is!
- Walk barefoot in the grass.
This one means so much more than this specific action. It means to take time for yourself to take in your surroundings and connect to this beautiful Earth. In Brazil, I would often take my shoes off and walk around the soccer field during my lunch break. It was so energizing. To touch nature, to place your feet in the sand, in a stream…there is something so grounding about bare feet in nature.
- Stay present.
Mindfulness has been a years-long journey for me that has brought exponential joy into my life. From more fully enjoying the taste of my food, to engagingmore meaningfully with the person across the table from me, to listening to my body and my emotions more, bringing more attention and mindfulness to each moment has made everything better. And related to #4, it has also kept me safe. I have avoided several awkward, if not unsafe, situations by just paying more attention to the energy around me.
- Always go on the adventure.
I’ve definitely embraced the “better an ‘oh well’ than a ‘what if?’” mindset, and have been rewarded for it greatly. Not only have I gotten to see incredible places, I have gotten to learn these life lessons authentically. Traveling also increases empathy, and who couldn’t use more of that?! I encourage everyone to go see the world, as far away from home as they are able to!
My top 10 places to visit in Brazil list is coming soon!
- Stay positive.
This relates to so many, but it bears repeating. I used to have a very negative internal monologue. Becoming aware of that and taking systematic steps to change it, such as keeping a gratitude journal, have helped me be so much happier and so much less stressed and anxious. It’s also one of those pieces of advices that used to make me roll my eyes, but until you live it, you can never know how much it will change your life.
- People are good.
Again, this one goes back to #3, but this was a resounding lesson from my two years abroad. Despite not even being able to speak portuguese well, I was immersed to so many heartwarming interactions. In the middle of the largest city in South America, in the middle of a torrential rain, in the middle of my walk home, I hopped on a city bus. A complete stranger reached out and handed me an empty shopping bag, noticing before I did that the one in which I was carrying extra items home from work had disintegrated in the rain and was barely holding said items in any longer. Countless times when I was traveling, people greeted me with warm smiles, tips about the best local bakery, I even shared a table at a busy restaurant with a family one night and had a wonderful time laughing and sharing food–we didn’t even speak the same language! In a world where we are so often flooded with bad news about terrible things happening (and don’t get me wrong, they are happening and it’s important to stay engaged and do everything we can to make this world a better place), it is VITAL to remember how many GOOD people there are. How GOOD people are. We have some screwed up systems, for sure, but individually, 99% of people are good. Don’t trust me? I suggest you get out of your house (without a cell phone) and go see for yourself!
Thanks for reading! More to come soon about my next journey, the Tour of Hope with LindseyLou!