The Trouble With Thankfulness In Your Thirties

So Thanksgiving has come and gone, and we’re still here, facing the possible Black Friday carnage, and the insane cyber Monday heading directly our way.

We may have felt sincerely grateful on Thanksgiving for our situations and our families and our friends, but now holiday shopping is upon us, and work is crazier than ever, and it’s hard to remember the peace we may have felt for a second or two last Thursday.

I was talking to a friend about this the other day- how gratefulness slips through our fingers so easily, especially with years of built up stress and to-do-list habits. I can be grateful for a moment for one second, and then suddenly my mind will be racing with worry about something I don’t have or what I have yet to get done.

It’s extremely difficult to let go of the sometimes very painful old-feeling moments in life- those moments where we’re hit with a sad situation, or when we screw something up or feel guilty about something, or someone hurts us, and those same-old-feelings come up once again. It’s very hard to be thankful for all we have, when seemingly large problems are hitting us with 30-plus years of habitual worry once again.

However, I feel like it’s possible and actually quite necessary to feel thankful in my thirties way more than I have before. Every day I try to start again. It’s like brushing your teeth- you have to keep doing it- it doesn’t just last.

There have been some stressful work situations going on in my life lately where I’ve been angry and feeling wronged and hurt. Sometimes I’ve stewed in those emotions and sometimes I’ve expressed them and tried to be clear about what was wrong. All of that action had its place, and I think that it was good to express the problems and my feelings about them. However, after awhile, it became impossible to stew in the negative feelings anymore. I was causing myself unhappiness and grief. There was nothing to do but to concentrate on things that were still good- and there were many things to be thankful for.

I started feeling thankful for people who smiled at me when they walked by. For children who were adorable and quiet and sweet. For the cool breeze I felt as I walked to work. For the beautiful park I was able to run around in the morning. For coworkers who made funny jokes. For hot showers. For beautiful texts from my family and friends. For delicious hummus. For my Spotify playlist.

And I started to feel better.

We have so much and we forget. I think that forgetting is normal and natural. The habit of not thinking about the small stuff has been a survival tool that’s gotten us through more than thirty years of life. We want more and more- which can be great. We’re in our thirties- we have big dreams. We want an amazing career and an amazing marriage and maybe a family and a creative empire and a wonderful home and creative control and financial freedom.

And those big dreams are extremely important. Huge, in fact.

But we’ll never appreciate them if we can’t be thankful for what we have today.

Each moment is a win. Each day is jam packed with small and beautiful things. Don’t be afraid to appreciate them again and again and again- Thanksgiving is every day.

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Beautiful terrace view on Thanksgiving in Los Angeles 

Did You Reach Your Career Goals By 27?

Did you fulfill your career goals or make significant progress in your career by 27? Well, if you did, congrats for you! According to a new study done at the University of Edinburgh, people who accomplished their career goals by 27 (men, in particular) were happier later in their life.

I read about this study in an email newsletter that Laura forwarded to me. The title of the newsletter, written by a prominent career blogger, was: “Travel is terrible for your career.” Laura passed it along to me because she does travel often for her career and she was questioning her choice.

One of the points in the newsletter about why travel is bad for your career was the aforementioned study. When I read this study, linked below, I felt a little frightened and sad inside. I didn’t accomplish my career goals or make significant progress by the time I was 27. I’m a turtle, a late bloomer. Did this mean I was doomed to less happiness than my peers who had accomplished their goals by 27?

Well, I took a deeper dive into this study, and read the linked article (which was quite low on facts and information about the study) and…

This study was born on people born in 1936! OF COURSE people accomplished their career goals earlier – the average life span for both sexes in 1935 was 61.7 years. So yes, your career will start and end earlier.

I felt like the inclusion of the study in this newsletter was alarmist and unfair information meant to scare people. And I realized, there’s a lot of that information aimed at us 30-somethings, especially at women. Whether it’s about fertility, career, health or money, there’s so much pressure to do things fast and by a certain time.

Well, I call bullshit. So don’t get scared when faced with time pressures. For the most part, they’re societally imposed. And definitely don’t take everything you read at face value.

How to See A City In Your Thirties

How to See A City In Your Thirties

One of my favorite ways to see a city on foot is to take what I’ve lovingly coined a “run-walk.”

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I’m a fan of running, and it’s nice to see new places and things in a city while also getting exercise. However, a lot of times when I’m just running, I don’t stop and really appreciate the scenery, nor do I take my touristy photos on the way. But when I’m solely walking, I don’t usually get as far, nor do I get the extra exercise I can get while on a run.

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I used to have a travel blog called You Somewhere Else where I wrote about travel tips as well as run walks and other fun and possibly useful travel habits. I’d photo blogged about my Seattle run walk before, and now I’ll share my Downtown LA one.

What’s great about a run walk is when something interesting comes up, you can stop running, and simply walk and take photos.

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Run-walks are usually longer than your run, but way shorter than a walk, because you can cover more ground faster. You can also run right past the boring spots.  You’re allowed to stop whenever you want and take as much time as you like.

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You can take pictures of bizarre things that strike you.

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Or scary things that make you want to go the other way.

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Or funny things.

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Things that kind of remind you of home.image.jpeg

Things that seem to come out of nowhere.

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Touristy things that are still cool to you.

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Things that are happy but sad at the same time.

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And beautiful things you may never have noticed.

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No matter what you choose to photograph and explore, I highly suggest run-walks in new cities, at least one time. They’re a laid back yet energized way to open your eyes to new sites. Enjoy the journey!

 

What Do You Value Most In A Friendship?

Is is loyalty? Acceptance? Similar interests? Kindness? Ability to make you laugh?

Has what you valued in your friendships changed as you’ve gotten older?

Loyalty is pretty high up there for me, but I would say I’m most drawn to open minded people who are free-spirited. Also, the word wild keeps coming up for me when I think of characteristics I value in a friend. I don’t mean “wild” in a  party-all-the-time type of way (though I do love a good drinking buddy), but rather, up for adventures, new projects, and a general open-mindedness to how we, as human beings, can exist in the world. I’m often attracted to people who march (happily) to the beat of their own drummer. Friends like that encourage me to do the same.

As I’ve moved into my 30s, I’ve found it more difficult to make friends, so one quality that I now always look for is someone who prioritizes friendships. People who don’t call me to hang out only when their boyfriend is out of town, or when they want some specific information from me. I want friends who value friendship – and see that it has an equally important place in one’s life as romantic partners and even family.

“One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.”
– Lucius Annaeus Seneca

“I define friendship as a bond that transcends all barriers. When you are ready to expect anything and everything from friends, good, bad or ugly… that’s what I call true friendship.”
– Harbhajan Singh

“What do you most value in your friends?
Their continued existence.”
― Christopher Hitchens, Hitch-22: A Memoir

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The Beauty of Following in Your Thirties

I’m concluding my last night in Miami and it’s been a great trip. Tomorrow’s gonna hurt because I have an 8am flight to my next job in LA, so I’ll try to keep this short.

I’ve been to Miami before, and I’ve had both good times and bad here. The bad times consisted of blurry clubbing alcoholic nights that I felt forced to partake in. I had one trip here where I was dragged out to a club practically every night, and I had to buy a whole new clubbing wardrobe at the Miami H&M. If you know me, you’ll know I’m not a clubber- so I was following the crowd because I wanted to make friends and not function in complete isolation.

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This is the first time the city was really amazing for me, and it’s because I followed through with what I really wanted to do. The show that I worked was late-shifted, so there were days I started work at 4pm and got out at 11pm. This allowed me to go to sleep at 2 am and wake up at 10am, still getting 8 hours sleep while remaining a night owl. I was able to enjoy my free hotel breakfast outside in the heat of a sunny outdoor patio, and then meditate and then go running on the beach afterwards. I was able to rent bikes and swim and see the city and walk for hours by myself. I was also able to go out to nice dinners with close friends, and see some family I have nearby. I also didn’t end up drinking a drop of alcohol during this particular trip in Miami, for no other reason than I wasn’t around other drinkers. Instead, I had one of the best slices of carrot cake I’ve ever had in my life. In short, this trip was the anti-party. My visit had quite the goody two shoes, squeaky clean feel for a Miami trip…but it was exactly what I needed right now.

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And I loved this Miami. I loved it because it’s here that I really feel like I’ve gotten a small percentage of the feel of giving zero fucks about what people think (something to strive for always, but especially in your thirties). I hung out with the people I loved and enjoyed and was nice to the acquaintances, but didn’t go out of my way to follow what they were doing. Instead I followed my yearning for being with myself and the beach and talking to my closest friends. I fell into a nice healthy rhythm and felt amazingly self-sufficient, yet socially happy for a long stretch of time. It was an amazing balance.

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It gives me hope that you can follow what you really want to do and not have to be swept along by others….and even by the scary, uncertain parts of yourself. Sometimes my own feelings get in my way and I feel like I can’t trust myself or find balance. But here I just followed what I really wanted to do, while staying in touch with the people I cared about, and things fell into place. Maybe it’s the warm weather or the beach or the movement. Or maybe it’s something else.

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A Crazy Relationship Study

Do you know that old Woody Allen quote, “I’d never join a club that would allow a person like me to become a member”? I love the quote because it so perfectly describes something so many of us experience, this somewhat deep rooted feeling of not being good enough, especially when it comes to dating. Do you ever find yourself attracted to people who aren’t interested in you? Or perhaps you’re simply not attracted to people who come on too strong and tell you how great you are?

Well, I read a fascinating relationship study the other day that reminded me of this quote. The study was done at the University of Virginia with female undergraduates. The subjects were shown Facebook profiles of attractive, ”likeable” men and then, the researchers told the women how the men felt about them.

One group of women were told that four men liked them the most, a second group were told that these men rated them as average, and a third group heard that the men might like them.

And guess what happened? Well, as you might think, women were more attracted to men who found them attractive than men who rated them average. That makes sense. But here’s what was crazy.  The women who found the men most attractive were in the third group – where they were told the men might like them.

I thought that was interesting. Is it because women also like the chase? Do we want a chance to “win someone over”? Is it because we’re ambivalent about ourselves and therefore are attracted to people who feel similarly? Unknown

Are You Using Only 10 Percent of Your Power in Your Thirties?

We all know that the widely believed scientific fact about us using only 10 percent of our brain has been proven to be a myth. Hopefully you know that we use 100 percent of our brains (well, most people anyway). If you don’t know that we use more than 10 percent of our brainpower, now you do. Here’s even more info proving the old myth wrong.

However, even though we’re using our brain’s full capabilities, sometimes I feel like we’re only using 10 percent of our full power in general. We have at least thirty years of habitual behavior behind us, and it’s very easy to fall into the same patterns.

One of my newest consistent habits has been practicing meditation. It’s an interesting new habit, because I’ve been pretty consistent about it, but it’s still very new as far as consistent habits go. I’ve been meditating for a little over a year now, whereas I’ve been brushing my teeth for over 31 years, traveling consistently for 8 years, making vegetable juices and smoothies for 6 years..you get the point.

What I’m saying is that new habits are hard to create, but when you create them and stick to them they start getting easier and will become a consistent part of your life. The issue with this is that bad habits also become easier and more consistent parts of your life the more you practice them.

I’ve had some really big bad habits forever. These include habits like:

-Procrastination on big, important things

-Relying on what other people think to determine my happiness

-Fear of confrontation

-Time management issues

When it comes to big, bad habits, change can seem frightening. But we have to remember that changing bad habits only takes many small steps.. and a lot of courage. It’s not easy to change bad habits, the same way it isn’t easy to create good habits. As I said before, the old habits we have have been going strong for over 30 years. But as I wrote about in the post “It Hurts. So What?”, sometimes you have to be courageous and get through the painful things in life day by day and bit by bit.

Deepak Chopra said during one of my guided meditations, that sometimes we’re standing in a river but we’re trying to drink from a thimble; It was an eye opening metaphor. When I feel like “I’m never going to manage my time better..I’ll never do what I really need to do!” or “I don’t know how I’ll ever do bigger and better things! Life will always be the same!” I think that I’m drinking from a thimble while standing in a river- I’m trying so hard to gulp every last drop of water from the tiniest cup but I’m too habituated in fear and desperation patterns to see that I’m standing in a river flowing with water. Wouldn’t it be funny if my fear and desperation while looking into the tiniest thimble blinded me to the river of possibilities that I was standing right in?

This can be seen even in the smallest cases- for example, yesterday I was logging in to the WIFI at the Marriott where I’m staying for work. Every day my computer logged me off the WIFI and I had to log back in again. It was really frustrating until I realized that I was selecting a button that said ‘Log in for ONE day.’ There was a drop down menu where I could’ve selected “log in for TWO days.” Or even “log in for TEN days.” I just habitually kept clicking ONE over and over and over.

Seize your power on both large scales and small…it’s all about creating new habits and breaking old ones. Don’t settle for the old habits that probably make up about 10 percent of what you can do. Stop looking into the thimble and see the damn river all around you. I swear it’s there! Don’t keep doing ONE mildly okay thing when you can have TEN great things!

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