I began writing this post, on five things that I’ve learned in my thirties which make me infinitely happier, a couple of months ago – before Covid-19 took us by force. It was shelved because I thought it might seem slightly tone-deaf, however as time goes on I realise just how much I appreciate this hard-earned wisdom and how much I want to share it with you. The following lessons – the five things I’ve learned in my thirties which make me infinitely happier – are, really, rules I live by. I hope that they inspire you to be more mindful about the seemingly inconsequential (but really not) aspects of your life.
Here they are – five things I’ve learned in my thirties that make my infinitely happier:
1. Trade your money for time, it’s an even more precious commodity.
Everyone (okay, most of us) have to live within a budget. Much of the time this means scrimping here so you can splurge there, however, I’ve recently come to a very liberating conclusion. My epiphany is that sometimes it is the wiser decision to spend your hard-earned money, if it’s done in a considered way. Ask yourself: is what your splashing out for going to save you time in the long run? Is there something else, more important that you could be doing with this time? Are you going to be happier with what this expense is offering you in return? It is, quite simply, a quality of life question.
2. Being body positive doesn’t mean not exercising.
Exercise is about so much more than weight loss. It makes your body work better, as well as your mind, and it has a huge impact on your mood. The way that someone looks isn’t necessarily an indicator of their fitness or health either, so there’s that too.
The body positive movement has made leaps and bounds in recent years but I will admit that I have used it once or twice in the past to justify not having to exercise or wanting to indulge in second helpings (or thirds). There is nothing wrong with occasionally doing either of these things – it’s all about moderation – but the point that I think I was missing was that this movement is as much about self-compassion and acknowledgement of what my body is capable of as it is a giant middle-finger up to contemporary beauty standards. We shouldn’t need to make justifications, to ourselves or others. I have found that once I moved beyond exercise as a punishment (for calories consumed) than I was able to really enjoy it for what it was – a celebration of my body, what it can do and what it will continue to be able to do if I care for it properly.
3. A capsule wardrobe is liberating.
At the start of the capsule wardrobe journey I felt like it was going against all of my instincts, but now that I’ve had some practice I can see that it gives me far more than it takes away. For me, it’s less about strict numbers and more about making sure everything I own works well together, sparks joy (to quote Marie Kondo), and doesn’t detract from the rest of my life. In essence, it’s about allowing myself to feel good without being robbed of all the rest that life has to offer; simplifying so that I’m not held back.
The concept of a capsule wardrobe is something that I struggled with for a long time. Clothing and textiles are a major weakness for me (so much so that I have a degree in apparel design and worked for a textile studio in NYC for a few years before moving to England) and I’ve been working – very slowly and deliberately – towards only having things which are of exceptional quality and that I really love. Yes, I do have far less choice, but I’m also far more comfortable and self-confident now.
4. Trying to be someone that you’re not won’t get you anywhere.
The older I get the more clear I become on who I am and what I need. The benefits of this? I’m happier and more grounded and self-aware. My relationships are also more genuine and I’m a better role model for my kids. I see the desire to try and be (or seem to be) someone that you are not as coming from one of two places; either you don’t really know yourself (in which case this is more accidental than intentional) or you don’t like yourself – or some element of yourself – and pretending to be someone else is easier than doing the work to fix it. Either way, pretending to be someone else is bloody exhausting. Yes, you might be able to keep up the charade for a little while, but eventually the truth will out.
I think that one of the perks of age is that it gives us the wisdom to be unashamedly ourselves. I certainly care far less about other’s opinions than I did in my youth. Today, my mindset is: I am who I am and if I’m not you’re cup of tea than that’s just fine. Also, if someone doesn’t make the effort to get to know me before making these decisions they aren’t worth my time anyway.
5. Tracking your period and knowing where you are in your cycle is revolutionary.
I have spent many, many years a victim of my overwhelming, all-consuming hormones. I’ve felt out of control far more times than I can count. It was the feature film of my teenage years and my early twenties, and only really changed after each of my babies was born. After my first two girls, my hormonal fluctuations mellowed drastically and I was virtually un-phased by my monthly cycle. Since Sybil was born, however, the fluctuations have amped back up again and those out of control feelings have started to come back. These days, when I feel this deep-seated disconnect come bubbling up to the surface it feels bittersweet. If you’re wondering how on earth I could possibly attach positive feelings to hormonal mood swings, it’s because being able to see them clearly now gives me the grace to recognise that I dealt with something very difficult when I was younger and handled it far better than I thought I did at the time.
Knowing where these big feelings come from doesn’t minimise them, but it does help me to ride them out. It keeps them from colouring other areas of my life, such as my relationships and marriage. It also helps that we (Andy and I) talk about my cycle and the hormonal mood swings. We have a thing that we do where whenever I start to get the uncontrollable, overwhelming feelings I tell him something along the lines of ‘I don’t think tonight is going to go very well for you,’ which is our way of making light and it always, always makes both of us laugh and me feel better.
Have any life wisdom of your own that you’re grateful for? I’d love to hear it, drop me a note in the comments or send me a message.
*Cover image from Pinterest (credit unknown).