Today is my birthday…so Happy Birthday to me! I can’t help but feeling so grateful for what life has brought me – what I know, who I am, what matters to me, the small things that make me smile all the time, and the huge things that are impossible to ignore. Feeling older and slightly more mature, I wanted to record a list of 27 things I’ve learned that have made all the difference in becoming the 27 year old Lizzy Davis that I am right now.
1. Hindsight Is 20/20.
I came across a fantastic quote by Soren Kierkegaard: “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards”. Each time I can’t see the future, and feel frustrated by that fact, I remember than in just a few short years I’ll look back and see an entirely different picture.
I am grateful for what I see when I look back over my life. I’ve always felt that way, and I’ve always been grateful for each experience. I think I learned this best from my mom. She hardly ever seems caught up in anything that happens. If something turns out different than she hoped, she instantly puts on a smile and shares what she learned from the experience. This attitude has been a game changer for me during the hardest times of my life. I learned at a young age that life isn’t perfect, easy, simple, or fair. But being where I am, looking at life backwards, I see that each moment, each heartache, each frustration, or difficulty, is exactly what made me into who I am. And so far, I wouldn’t change a thing.
2. Life Isn’t Fair. And That’s Okay.
The phrase “that’s not fair” comes up quite a bit in our world. I’ve thought it and said it many times. But the bottom line is – of course it’s not.
I’m currently reading “To Kill A Mockingbird” and loved this quote from Atticus Finch as he tries to explain the meaning of the constitutional right that “all men are created equal.” He says: “We know all men are not created equal in the sense some people would have us believe- some people are smarter than others, some people have more opportunity because they’re born with it, some men make more money than others, some ladies make better cakes than others- some people are born gifted beyond the normal scope of men.”
This serves as a great reminder that there are individual differences to all of life – looks, money, wisdom, talent, abilities, and so much more. But that’s okay. Because we have each been given so much. When we start to focus on that – on our own individual talents, abilities, and gifts we won’t be so caught up on what we don’t have. The first step is gratitude.
3. Read Fiction.
Some of the best qualities can be developeed and cultivated by modeling your life after characters who never lived anywhere but on a page and in your mind. This is a powerful tool if we choose our fiction wisely. Learn from incredible characters who inspire you to greater heights than you ever would have imagined.
4. Traveling and Eating Out are Not a Waste of Money.
This one took me a minute after getting married to get on board with. And I know not everyone would agree. But I cannot say I have a single regret of experiencing new things and places and foods with Ryan and my family. Each memory is a blessing and a significant part of my life. Saving money is important, wise, and certainly necessary. But life is also for living. Finding that balance can increase your joy beyond your imagination.
5. Everyone Is Trying Their Best.
It is so easy to look at others and judge or wish they’d act differently. But the truth is, and something I learn over and over again, that in general people are pretty much doing the best they can. Judging others based on our own personal experience is a waste of time and utterly unfair to them. How could they act as we would act, when their life, experiences, understanding, opinions, and trials are so entirely different. Whenever we walk a minute in someone else’s shoes our eyes will be open to the reality that by and large, they are doing pretty darn well.
6. It’s Not Hard To Give a Compliment.
I’m amazed in our world how often people tell others about things they are impressed with – about me, my husband, or other people I know. I hear compliments being shared every day. Just often it’s not to the person who deserved the compliment. I think it’s most likely because it is awkward to just walk up to someone and tell them you are impressed. But the bottom line is, it’s just not that hard, and it can make someone’s day. Try to give more compliments to those you appreciate in your life. Brighten their day and give them confidence to keep being awesome. It’s easier than you think. This video will no doubt make you smile and inspire you to share with others what they are doing to make the world a better place.
7. Family Is Everything.
I love my family, and I find more and more with each passing year that almost everything about me is tied up into this small, seemingly insignificant unit. My goals, passions, happiness, development, and successes are all due to my role as a wife and a mother. While the world rarely celebrates successes in the home as compared to in the workplace, I am grateful I have a place in my home. There is no where I’d rather be, and nothing I could do that would make me happier. I am confident in my ability to strengthen the world by strengthening these people directly around me. Family really is everything.
8. Being Confident in Ourselves Empowers Us To Help Others.
It’s all too easy to be insecure about ourselves – when not one of us it perfect, especially in comparison to those around us. However, focusing on our faults and inabilities and insecurities only holds us back. When I feel confident and good about myself, I focus less on myself and look around to help others in meaningful ways. It’s not always easy or natural, but honestly everyone deserves to feel good about themselves. Each person has so much to contribute, and how we or our house or our life looks has little to do with it. Learn to love who you are, and trust that you have a significant place in helping and lifting others.
9. Always Consider Outcomes In Decision Making and Politics.
Whether it’s using a new strategy to parent our child, voting for a new law, or making a financially significant decision we can’t allow only our head or only our heart to do the decision making. I have found that when we consider only immediate results, we miss the larger picture. We need to consider and understand the outcome of the decision. For example – if your child is screaming in the grocery store for a candy bar, the immediate result of just giving it to her would be that she stops screaming and is momentarily happy. You might feel like a kind mom for the time being. But over time, she learns that screaming and demanding equals the getting the results she wants. Allowing her to ride out her tantrum – embarrassing as it can be – will offer a better outcome and allow you to teach your child a significant life lesson.
10. Try New Things!
I learned this best from my husband Ryan, and it has opened up the horizons of my life so much! Get out, do something different, change it up, be willing to skip something you’ve done before (even if you love it). Doing the same thing over and over is not only boring, but wasting one of life’s greatest gifts – experiencing something new. Whether it’s a new food, a new culture, or a new mode of transportation, we learn by doing new things. It’s always hard and uncomfortable at first. But I promise, the more you step out of your comfort zone, the more you discover moments and memories you never would have had otherwise.
11. Books Are One Of Life’s Biggest Blessings.
I talked of this when I wrote about reading fiction. But fiction, nonfiction, or otherwise, books make the world a better place. Books can take us to places we could never afford and never imagine. Books teach us how the world used to be, and helps us to learn life lessons for the future. They inspire, unite, and shape the world as a whole. Always be reading a book. Even if it’s just a couple pages a day. As we take time to learn about something else, we will progress and find ourselves changing and growing.
12. Snuggling is Scientifically Significant.
I’m a snuggle-bug. There’s not much else to say. But I’m happy to find that science is all with me. Humans need physical touch, and thrive off of it – no matter the stage. As I became a first-time mother one of the best things I learned about it how much babies need that touch and affection. Filling that need is one of my greatest joys. I could hold and snuggle a newborn all day. But even adults are little different. Humans simply need attention, affection, and physical touch to feel valued and loved. Give more hugs, accept more hugs, scratch your husband’s back, and kiss your children. A woman with an issue of blood was healed simply by reaching out to touch Jesus. I believe the act of touch is more powerful than we realize.
13. It’s Okay to Disagree With People We Love.
It’s hard to disagree with others because of the vitriolic political environment that our country and world find themselves in. I’ve been astounded, though, to see how many people disagree with their loved ones. In fact, everyone I know has very close friends and family with whom they disagree. I’ve seen some major issues over this, and I’ve seen people work to find common ground and work to understand.
Everyone has an opinion. And everyone is entitled to an opinion. And sometimes we will 100% disagree. But this is okay and has to be okay. Respect, love, and a striving to understand are so vital, and the only way to move forward. Fight for what you believe in, but try to be kind when someone is fighting for something else.
14. Buy Quality Things to Save Money In The Long Run.
I cannot tell you how many cheap, off-brand things I have spent money on since being married – only to return to the store a few weeks later to buy the better brand. Not only did I have to pay more for the on-brand eventually anyways, but I wasted money on the cheap item as well. Bottom line is that it pays to pay. It’s important to find the areas we can save on. We don’t always need the newest iPhone if ours is working fine, and I’m not suggesting paying for brand-name for the sake of being cool. But when you can afford to spend more on certain household items, you will spend less in the long run.
15. I Feel Better When I Do Hard Things.
I hate doing hard things. Often I just sit and pause before I start just because I’m not sure how it will ever get done (picture a pile of nasty dishes, 4 loads of laundry, running 5 miles, bringing a newborn home from the hospital, going on a long vacation with 2 children, etc.). Life is filled with hard things, and staring at them rarely helps. But the moment I start, through to the moment I finish I always feel better, more capable, and end by feeling far more confident. Life is about doing those hard things that we don’t want to do. I’d always rather sit on the couch eating ice cream and watching a favorite movie than clean the house. But the feeling of a clean house brings a better feeling every single time. Do hard things.
16. Simplicity Is A Virtue.
Keep things simple – whether it’s the way you choose to make decisions or how you keep your house organized. More isn’t always better. Sometimes we just need to decide what really matters most, and be willing to do away with the rest. Learning to value the simple things will bring greater joy into every area of our lives.
17. It’s Not Bad To Say No, But It’s Not Bad to Say Yes, Either.
I often joke that I’m the girl from “Oklahoma” who “caint say no”. I want to please people and generally make others happy. But sometimes I say yes at the expense of other things that I value – such as my family. I’ve had to learn that saying no isn’t always bad, because no one can do anything.
On the other hand, I sometimes feel guilty for saying yes too much. Striking the right balance is SO hard. But, sometimes saying yes and sacrificing something else can make all the difference in someone else’s day. I’m grateful for the times that saying yes has helped me to lift another person, and for my family for helping me to do that.
18. God Doesn’t Expect Us To Stay As We Are.
A popular notion in our world today is the “I was born this way” attitude. One thing I know for certain is that God loves us as we are – He can’t help it because He is our Heavenly Father. But He wants so much more for us than to simply stay as we are. He knows that change, growth, and getting rid of the not-so-great parts of our lives and our personalities will only bring greater joy to us and our families.
19. The Things That Make Us Smile the Most Are Often Overlooked.
I have 4 rose bushes in my backyard. Half the year they are ugly, thorny, with no beautiful flowers blossoming. But this past week each bush went into full bloom – just in time for my birthday. They are absolutely gorgeous, and I can’t think of them without smiling. Especially because a cup full ended up on my breakfast-in-bed tray this morning.
Some of the most wonderful things and people in life aren’t always in full bloom or fantastically beautiful and flawless. Just like my rose bushes they have thorns and off days/seasons. But the good and the potential is always there. For everyone and everything. We will do better and smile more when we look and wait, rather than judge based on one moment. We would never get rid of rose bushes without waiting for the bloom.
20. Comparing is Never Worth It.
I’m way anti-comparison. If I hear you do it, I’ll call you out on it. If I do it (which I will) please do the same. It’s never fair – to you or the person you are comparing to. It never makes sense, and the balance is never weighed out.
Until you can live the exact same life, with the same exact opportunities, hardships, and personality traits, I don’t want to hear about it. You are worth more than that, and so are they. Never compare to someone you consider to be “better” and never compare or someone you consider to be “worse”. Life is too short. People are people.
All I want for life is to love exactly who I am considering what I’ve been giving, and feel the same way about those around me. If I could teach my kids to do the same, I’d die a happy old woman.
21. My Life Is Happier Because I Love and Trust God and Jesus Christ.
My relationship with my Father in Heaven and Savior Jesus Christ mean so much to me, and are the foundation for every single choice I make as well as the overall direction of my life. At the core of this foundation is my love and trust for each of them. I have no doubt in my mind that God wants what is best for me and for all of His children. That trust allows me to do things I could never do otherwise, and to live a lifestyle very different from most of the world. I want to be like Him, and will live my life trying, knowing I will only succeed with the help of His Son, Jesus Christ. This is the source of every happiness that I have in my life.
22. Authoritative Parenting Helps Children Reach Their Potential.
I will talk about this so much as I continue blogging, but I’m obsessed with the idea of authoritative parenting. The idea is that it finds the balance between high expectations and love. Too much love and you spoil your children without teaching them. Too much expectation without love and your children will not trust you or value your relationship. This balance of high expectation and high love is where children thrive and work towards their potential. As parents we can offer our children the world with this mindset. Love your children, and believe that they can do anything!
23. Expect Way More Out of Yourself Than You Believe to be Possible.
It’s important to always assume others are trying their best, as we don’t know their stories and experiences. However, we do know ours. We should allow others to be who they are, while expecting the world of ourselves. Set high expectations, make ridiculous and unattainable goals. This will lead to more happiness, joy, and success than anything else in your life. Keep your standards high, and don’t ever live a certain way simply because it’s what “everyone else is doing.” You know better, and will find greater joy when you are willing to stand out and live up to who you know you can be.
24. Make Sure Your Children Know You Love Them.
Research shows that “one characteristic of resilient children – those who flourish in spite of challenges – is that they have someone in their lives who is crazy about them.”
I don’t know how to be a perfect mom all the time. I don’t believe I’ll ever be 100% patient. But, I know that I can be obsessed with my kids and show it.
I can hug them a million times a day, hold them a little longer, and look in their eyes and tell them things that make them shine. It doesn’t have to be complicated, and it can make all the difference.
25. Husbands Want Their Wives to Be Confident.
I’ve learned this consistently over seven years of marriage, and it is the simple answer to every ounce of our marital bliss. Be confident! Believe in yourself and remember what makes you unique and awesome. We live in a world of degrading ourselves, sometimes simply at the sake of appearing humble. But you will start to believe your words, so never beat up on yourself. Believe you are amazing, and believe that your husband believes it. Communication will go so much better when you assume the best about yourself. Own your strengths and love who you are. Your husband will find nothing more attractive.
26. Having Extraordinary and Unreachable Goals Is One of the Best Parts of Life.
I am happiest when I am working tirelessly at a difficult goal. I know it’s the right kind of goal, because I wish every moment of it that I could quit and that I’d never set it for myself. But the self-fulfillment that comes from working towards becoming a better person in any single area will increase your confidence and drive you to greater heights. You don’t have to be praised and adored in the workplace. Simply strive to become better in any random area, and wait to see the benefits that come from it. It’s what life is all about.
27. You’ll Never Meet Everyone’s Expectations – So Stop Trying.
Work to please the people in your life who really matter. I know that sounds rude, and I know that everyone does matter to a degree. But we will never make everyone happy. We will only make ourselves and our loved ones unhappy when we try to please everyone. Don’t try to meet anyone’s expectations, never state an opinion you don’t believe just to please the crowd. Be willing to stand up for what you believe. You will be proud of being yourself, and others will respect you more.
Life Is Made Up Of Moments.
Life is such a gift, and an exciting journey. All of these moments of life are there to teach us new things, to give us chances to laugh out loud, to inspire memories, to create the future, and to offer time with those we love more than anything. Taking advantage of it all with appreciation and gratitude is rarely easy, and almost always missed. But when we take a second to look back – at what we are learning and who we are becoming – taking that next step into the future becomes exciting. The future is simply filled with more moments in our wonderful life. Here is to an eternity of progressing, learning, and becoming more than I could ever hope for.
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