11 Important Lessons from 2016

2016 has been a year. Whether you’re on the side that had a blast (if that side exists) or the side that feels hungover from the monstrosities, there has been a little something for everyone.

As excited as I am for the adventures that await in 2017, I felt it proper to collectively gather the notes I had jotted down mentally throughout 2016 …. pause, reflect, and create. What follows are the lessons that had the largest impact on my life throughout the year. Maybe you can relate, maybe you hope 2017 has something similar in store for you, or perhaps you can learn what to avoid.

  1. Don’t just go through the motions – Live fully and with purpose. The day to day tasks may seem mundane and ritual, often times we take the smallest things for granted. Absorb what the universe has to offer. Make real connections with real people. Make it your duty to live with an open mind and open heart, being humble and eager to learn as much as you can, and sharing the knowledge you have learned with others. Be present.
  2. Love hard – You can never have too much love to give. Allow yourself to be vulnerable, to love, and to love hard. Have love for your friends, family, significant other, yourself, the earth we live on, the solar system we are a part of and ultimately the entire universe in which we are interconnected. Love with no limits but without blindness.
  3. Serve and give to others – If there’s anything I’ve learned this year, it’s that serving and giving to others is medicine. But do so without personal gain in mind. For example, do not serve and give to others if the expected outcome is to feel satisfaction for yourself. That is simply your Ego starving. Do so with the intent to genuinely help others and to share love and kindness.
  4. Read more books – Read all kinds of books. Read ones that interest you. Give ones that don’t interest you a chance. Make a realistic book list for yourself and start checking them off. More important than reading books, soak up and absorb the information. Read to understand and expand your knowledge.
  5. Take care of your mind and body – Most years I’ve done quite well with taking care of my body, but neglecting the care of my mind. I began 2016 obsessed with my body and outwardly appearance, counting macros and working out 5-6 times a week with little regard to my mental health. I ended the year fat and happy with a winter roll named Murphy, stopped counting macros, and working out 3-4 times a week, but in the best state of mind possible. This following year I hope to achieve and maintain a healthy balance of care for both my mind and body.
  6. Apologize less and say thank you more – I saw this one on Reddit or Tumblr, but it rings true. Instead of apologizing for being late, say, “Thank you for waiting for me.” Instead of saying, “Sorry I’m such a train wreck” say, “Thank you for loving me unconditionally.” This will create a positive relationship with others by expressing your gratitude instead of negativity.
  7. Forgive – Dwelling on negativity and hate is poison for only yourself. Everyone is human and will make mistakes, you will hurt, you will be let down, you will be disappointed over and over again, but as long as you can forgive, you are free and can move forward.
  8. Step outside your comfort zone – Do something new, something you usually wouldn’t do or puts you outside your comfort zone. In 2016 I spent the year single, learning to be comfortable and secure on my own, making new friends, treating myself well, pursuing new hobbies, spending time alone exploring the city, being vulnerable, and learning to trust.
  9. Create – Whether you are an artist who creates beautiful paintings, a photographer who creates amazing photographs, a writer who creates literature, an athlete who creates their own body through training and practice, or a man and woman creating a child to love and cherish …. create something. Start small. It may only begin with a line on a canvas or a word on a page, but it will become more and it will be a piece of you.
  10. Travel – You can fly across the world and backpack third world countries, immersing yourself in the culture and experiencing another life. Or fly to a place you have never been, just close your eyes and place your finger on the map. If you don’t have the means to up and leave, whenever you feel that “itch” where you need to move and just go…. hop on a buss or a train and just GO. You can come back in a few hours, but go.
  11. Learn from your mistakes and find the positive outcome – 2016 had it’s fair share of mistakes, heartache, and headache, but I’ve learned to dwell on the positive outcome of each challenge placed in front of me. I have many people to thank for helping build the resilience I have for life. For being there at the darkest moments, for encouraging me when I wanted quit, and for providing support, love, and wisdom. I am forever grateful for the lessons I’ve learned.

I look forward do the new year after a humbling 2016! Time for application ….

~Jess

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