Happiness

3 Things I Know Now, But Didn’t Then

March 1, 2016
Things I know now

What’s great about being in your 30s is that you know so much more about life than you did in your 20s – and part of that knowledge is knowing that when you reach your 40s and beyond you’ll know even more than you do now.

One of the biggest things I’ve learned in life is that moving forward is, and always will be, the key to pretty much everything. It’s always great to achieve something, to arrive somewhere, but staying too long in one place means that life can become stagnant.

There’s always something new to reach for.

Part of reaching for something new sometimes means leaving other things behind, even if those things were part of your foundation at one point. But moving past a belief that doesn’t fit anymore won’t happen over night – hell, it can and probably will take years.

Yet, there’s something really fascinating about the human experience: when you make the choice to move forward past something, things start to fall into place – and it rarely happens in a single a-ha moment, but instead you wake up one morning and realize that the thing you used to believe 1, 5 or 10 years ago no longer matters to you.

Here are 3 things I’ve moved past – things I know now, but didn’t then.

Romantic love doesn’t fill the void.

What I’m not saying is that romantic relationships should be avoided. On the contrary, they can be a healthy part of a complete life-breakfast. What I am saying is that a romantic relationship is just one part of a full life – sure it can be a big part, but if life is a pie, then the relationship is just one slice out of that pie.

What’s more, having a full life outside of your relationship is an integral element to the relationship’s success. When you place all of your eggs into one relationship basket, you’re placing too much pressure on it to be The Everything in your life. And that’s the surest way to cause any relationship to flop.

Shit takes time.

My perspective on time has shifted dramatically since the here-and-now-ness of my 20s. I have developed a much greater appreciation for the time it takes to build something solid, like a career, a relationship, a lifestyle change. What this perspective has given me is the ability to see things through – yes I can have a shitty workout one day, or a tough week at work, or a month here and there where I’m having second thoughts about something I’ve committed to.

And because I know that shit takes time, I’m able to suspend judgment during those times and wait until I come out on the other end of the dark tunnel.

Drawing boundaries can strengthen a relationship.

I am an extremely conflict-averse person, but I’ve come to appreciate the importance of drawing boundaries in all areas of my life – even if drawing that boundary might be difficult for me or the other person. Conflict-averse people have the mistaken belief that conflict is inherently divisive, and that by avoiding conflict they are preserving the relationship.

But in fact the opposite is true: By not drawing a boundary and continuing to allow someone – a partner, a family member, a boss, etc. – to push your limits, you are in actuality damaging the relationship because there will come a point when you just can’t handle it anymore, and by then it might be too late to salvage.

This doesn’t mean you need to fight or argue with people. When drawing a boundary, I take time in advance to think about what I want to say and why I want to say it, and I consult with others to get an alternate point-of-view.

One element that binds each of these realizations together is the knowledge that epiphanies don’t really happen. I wish they did; I wish that I could wake up one morning and have something life-changing dawn on me, and from that day forward things would be different. And while you can have those moments of realization from time-to-time, they are never in isolation – there was always a build-up to it that required time and a conscious desire on your part to make a change.

Keep reaching for the next thing and you’ll open yourself up to the changes that come your way!

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