Yesterday, I had a heart-sinking conversation with an old friend. This friend is a vibrant, fun-loving, musical, inspired-by-Nature young person – but after a long overdue catch-up, it became painfully obvious that there was little to no evidence of this beautiful soul in his daily existence. When I pointed this out to my friend, he quickly changed the subject. I went with the turn of topics, but my heart has remained in that sad place.
My conviction that authentic living is the key to health and happiness didn’t come out of thin air. I didn’t read about it anywhere and say, “That’s a great belief – I’ll subscribe to that.” I lived the experience of missing ME in my own life and felt its effects, and I also was gifted some incredible lessons by my mom leading up to and through her passing in 2009.
Last night I had a dream about my mom; we hung out at the pool she used to take me to for my swimming lessons. In the dream, I was thanking her for everything she did for me and all of the things I learned from her.
Today I want to share with you 5 lessons I learned from my mom about how to live a life that is authentic.
1. Remember: You are mortal.
Mortal is fancy speak for, you are going to die one day. (When we take away the fancy speak, we can say the things that really affect people.) My mom was 53 when she was given a diagnosis of a terminal illness, and just shy of 56 when she died. She didn’t retire and do all the things that come with that. She just worked her butt off and then was told her body would deteriorate over the next few years until her eventual death. And she was given notice! Not everyone is. I’m being blunt, but that’s a pretty important lesson, don’t you think? One thing I always ask myself is, if today was the last day of my life would I have wanted to do X or would I have been more satisfied with Y?
Remembering you are
mortal going to die one day can motivate you to make the choices that appeal to your true Self. So, please don’t forget it.
2. Talk about ideas, then act on them.
From the time I was in high school, my mom would say to me, “Talk to people about ideas.” There are many things we can do with the time we engage with others: we can argue, complain, whine, gossip, or we can inspire, be inspired, question, contemplate, listen and learn. Not that every interaction has to be meaningful and super deep (although, those interactions are awesome, if you ask me), but use your time wisely. Discuss ideas, not people.
And then when you get those ideas, take another step and act on them. Because…#1.
3. Have confidence in yourself.
When giving me a pep talk, my mom would always say, “Think to yourself: I am SOMEbody!” It was important to her that I be bold. I can see now, as a mom, how you can want that for your kids, but how it’s not always easy to do for yourself. But seriously…#1, right? So, you might as well believe that you can do what you want to do and go forth confidently. Not everyone will like it. Not everyone will believe in you. Not everyone will think your dreams are as awesome as they are. Not everyone will want to do the things YOU want to do. (Doesn’t mean you can’t do them!)
In the end, your regrets are your own. And it’s always best to keep those to a minimum.
4. Kai, pih neh jhalsa…which translates to eat, drink and be merry.
We worry a lot about everything these days, and too often we worry about the things we can’t change or have no control over. You can take this invitation to ‘eat, drink and be merry’ literally or figuratively, but the bottom line is, please enjoy yourself.
Take time off. Save up for a vacation (and then GO on one!). Spend an entire Sunday at the park. Yes, the laundry will pile up (trust me, that is a tried and true fact), but that Sunday will never come again. Be reasonable when you are striving for good health; if you are watching what you eat, don’t let yourself go into a state of deprivation. That’s awful for your psyche. Enjoy where you are and enjoy the process of moving forward in your health. Eat your lunch on a sunny patio. Take in a movie or a play.
Enjoy the pleasures of this life, whatever that means to you. Not what it means to anyone else. Because…#1.
5. When you give, give with your whole heart.
My mom said this a lot, too. I’m going to take this expression and blow it up to mean: When you give yourself to this world, give the world your whole Self. Show up, totally. Say, this is me. I’m weird. I’m quirky. I like peanut butter and honey. (That’s not weird, though, right? My kids think it’s weird.)
How about looking at it this way: When you believe in something, believe in it with everything you have. Stand for something and not in a wishy-washy, yeah-I-kind-of-believe way, but in a YES, THIS IS IMPORTANT kind of way. This can be as simple as, if you think it’s important for families to get together often, host a BBQ. Often.
If you think it’s important for kids to have access to play equipment, join the organizations that strive to provide them.
If there is a void and a need, fill that void and need. Do it because your authentic Self wants to do this. Before…#1 happens.
You guys, I learned these lessons from my mom, not on her deathbed but throughout my life. Some of them she lived, some of them were her regrets, but all of them she’d want you to know. I had to share them today after glimpsing into my friend’s life and seeing that so many of these messages were needed.
If you can take one of them today and act on it, that would be just awesome. Which one resonated most with you?