Are you satisfied?

One of my friends from film school was recently telling me about having lunch with one of our esteemed professors from UCLA. This professor is an amazing, kind-hearted man who’s beloved by his community. He turned 80 years old last year and still teaches two classes in the Masters film program. I’d say his name here, but I feel weird about it, since I haven’t asked him if I can talk about him on this blog. (Though, I am sure he would be happy for me to share this.)

I took two classes with him while I was in school, and he talked a lot about what success and satisfaction look like for his students – aspiring directors, writers, and producers in the MFA program.

The other day, my friend reminded me of something this professor said about life satisfaction that I wanted to share here. Basically, the level of your satisfaction in life equals reality over expectations. So, essentially, you’ll be more satisfied with your life if you’re happy with your reality and don’t have expectations that you have no control over.

This equation reminds me of a fortune cookie quote I got in college –  “Expectations reduce joy.” It’s hard not to have expectations because as human beings, I think we’re hard-wired to go into most situations with a desired outcome. But if we can just focus on the actual process of doing things and being in the present with the people around us, maybe we won’t think about our expectations of outcomes so much.

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Advice for your 30s from Judi Dench

Who doesn’t love the powerhouse actress Dame Judi Dench? She’s talented, elegant, classy and makes getting older seem like a gift (Can you believe she’s nearly 80? She has such a youthful spirit!). The other day I saw this article, Judi Dench’s advice to her 30-year-old self on and as I suspected, her kick-ass insights into living your best life weren’t cliche or broad like “follow your bliss!”.

One of her best pieces of advice was “Use fear to your advantage.” I love this, because one of life’s greatest motivators is fear – fear of failing, fear of not finding stable job, fear of not finding love or connection, etc. While you can try to fight against that fear, why not embrace it? Use the fear to guide you. For me, fear tends to be one of my most energizing emotions (that and anger, of course). Fear pushes me to work harder and do everything I can to avoiding ‘losing’ things – friends, jobs, opportunities, etc.

Two others pieces of advice that I loved were “Never stop being surprised by things” and “Fill your house with pets.” After spending a week with our first foster dog Chase last week, I realized how much happier I felt on the whole. All the cliche things you hear about dogs ended up being true – I talked to our neighbors more and I felt more lighthearted and less anxious.

Judi Dench

Thanks, Dame Judi Dench! (Now if you could just let me know how your skin looks so awesome. Thanks.)

Oh, and P.S. – We’ll be making the “Advice for your 30s” a regular part of this blog going forward, so stay tuned!

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