28 Lessons on the Way to 28 Years Old

28 Lessons on the Way to 28 Years Old

I recently read Ryan Holiday’s article where he shares 36 things he’s learnt as a 36-year-old. He’s turned this into a tradition of his for over a decade now and each year, I enjoy seeing the growth and insights of a fellow human. I’m not a big believer in celebrating and reflecting only when we have hit certain milestones (think, New Year resolutions). I think we can do these at any moment in life, whether momentous or mundane. So as a I move towards my 28th trip around the sun and an imminent move across to globe, here are some recent contemplations of mine that have been instrumental to my growth, transformation, and journey of returning to the self.

1.     Focus on wisdom, rather than knowledge. As someone who has spent the 22 out of 28 years in formal educational institutions, there has been an immense amount of information that has been afforded to me. Have I been able to use all of this in real life? Not so much. However, I have come to realize that whilst knowledge is significant in becoming competent, it is not enough. I have more recently focused my energy on becoming a wiser person.

2.     Keep an open mind, all perspectives and opinions are deserving of a space to be heard.

3.     Ask yourself, does this label serve you in this moment or situation? Often, we cling to socially constructed labels to create our identity and over time, come to think they are true. I am an entrepreneur; I am a Forbes 30 under 30…I am X or I am Y. Sometimes, these labels may be useful for orientating ourselves in a space, but often, these can hinder us from organically transforming who we are through exploration and experimentation with different pursuits. In a world, where we can be anything, why limit yourself in these boxes? Let of the labels by seeing them as a bunch of symbols and move beyond them to discover more of yourself.

4.     Be kind in all situations. You never know what other people might be going through so kindness and compassion can make a difference.

5.     The reaction of others reflects their own perspective and worldview. Don’t let that affect you and dictate your decisions.

6.     We are all interconnected. Through relationships and community, as well as to nature and to the universe. This means that we all have a responsibility to work on our inner selves so that we can collectively transform our Earth into a place of benevolence and peace.

8.     Returning to our authentic selves requires letting go of the ego.

9.     Presence is powerful. The unspoken energy and spirit one brings into a space can move and influence others. Therefore, we must be conscious of this.

10.  Focus on being present by keeping the inner self tranquil.

11.  Align what you say, do and believe. This requires aligning heart, mind, body, and spirit.

12.  We are all learners and teachers.

13.  Don’t fill your cup until it’s full. Drinking from a full or overflowing cup is a messy experience. So, why do this with life? Often, we pack our schedules so that there is no room to breathe, to create, to be bored. Leave space in life for these things so that you can sustain yourself better.

14.  Rest looks different to everyone. For some, it can be spending time with loved ones. For others, it is being in solitude. I understand rest as replenishing our energy, a balancing of yin and yang. How we do this is up to us to figure out what works best for us in each moment.

16.  Reading books is a way to access wisdom from any period in history. One of the best inventions to date.

17.  Be child-like, rather than childish. Tap into your younger self where you were full of imagination, curiosity and purity. Channel that into your everyday life to feel light and at ease with how you move around in the world.

18.  Spend ample time in nature. When we experience nature, nature is also experiencing us.

19.  You are dying from the moment you are born. Any day could be our last day, so live with gratitude and humility as we only have the present.

20.  When we plan too far ahead, we run the risk of pigeonholing ourselves, our capabilities and potential. So many opportunities have yet to be manifested in this world and our human foresight is incredibly limited compared to what the universe may have instore for us. Instead, align your plans and activities with your values and virtues.

21.  When you say yes to something, you are essentially saying no to everything else. So, be mindful of what you say yes to.

22.  There are moments in life where you would have been dying to be in the position that you currently in. Be grateful for where you are now instead of constantly ruminating on where you are going next.

24.  Work towards gaining freedom. Freedom from the expectations of others. From material attachments. From limiting worldviews. From self-deprecating thoughts. From the ego.

25.  Childhood trauma can manifest in our habits, viewpoints and relationships. We must take the time to undo the knots of our subconscious in order to create healthy and mindful ways of interacting with ourselves, others and the world.

26.  Humans that lived thousands of years ago dealt with issues such as how to live a meaningful life, understanding what happiness is and the best ways to create virtuous societies. It’s pretty cool to read about this in ancient historical and philosophical texts. Knowing that we have been wrestling with these concepts for millennia provides me with perspective, knowing that I can be kind to myself if I don’t have it all figured out or can’t change the world in a monumental way. Us as a global civilization are working through the times to chip away at these and my contribution is still important to the bigger picture.

27.  Everything is constantly changing. Trying to grasp onto ideas, people, objects and relationships and expecting them to stay the same can cause much suffering. Meditating on the idea of impermanence can be grounding and bring us back to being grateful for what nature has given us in the present moment. Vietnamese Buddhist Monk, Thích Nhất Hạnh once said that ‘when conditions are sufficient, a cloud transforms into rain, snow, or hail…help[ing] us recognize that all lives continue in different forms. Nothing is created, nothing is destroyed, everything is in transformation.’

28.  I may be wrong about any number of these things that I have just reflected on. I am learning and transforming every day by emptying myself so that I can receive the fullness of the universe’s energy and what it needs to reveal to me in the present moment.

Creating an intentional space to distill and collate these reflections have served as one form of contemplative practice which draws on being intimate, respectful and vulnerable with my inner self whilst maintaining a gentleness which continues to foster self-love. Perhaps you may take a thread from these thoughts and care for your soul in the same way. It is my wish as we continue nourishing and healing that we can all work towards a world that resonates with compassion and is restored with virtue.