I Turned 40 And Here Are 40 Things I Know To Be True.
By Anna Robb
I turned 40 years old on Christmas Day. As a Christmas baby, my birthdays have always been much of a non-event, overshadowed by everyone celebrating the Christmas season. I have never minded. I’m not for extravagant parties and attention directed at me anyway. This year, however, as I clicked into 40, it felt a little more significant.
I blitzed my way through my 20s and 30s. I lived in four continents, worked in the Americas, Europe, UK, South Africa, Asia Pacific and the Middle East. I participated in creating two of the biggest shows on earth and I bore two children. Although I have not slowed down, I’m living life now at a greater depth than I have experienced before. My children are growing, my parents are aging, I’m in the middle reaching up and down for the precious time I have with these people in my life.
People I know have died this year. Some have taken their life and others have lost theirs in tragic and unexpected circumstances. As I grow older, my life is getting deeper, richer, more joyful and more painful. Over the last month, I have been thinking, evaluating, doing a stock take on my life. A process I have felt I needed to go through as I hit this milestone. These 40 things are a reflection of me and for once, instead of staying in the shadows on my birthday, I wanted to give these things, these parts of me, light. Here they are:
Don’t let your fear stop you from doing anything ever. Fear of what people might say, fear of being wrong, fear of failure. Acknowledge your fear and do it anyway. Constantly breaking the fear barrier becomes easier over time.
There is no such thing as getting fit. Fitness is not a destination it’s a way of being. Be fit not get fit. Make exercise a habit.
Perseverance. Every win worth having is hard to get.
Eat the cake. If you practice number 2 well you can eat the cake.
Always look for the good in people. Even if it’s really hard to find. Always look for what connects you rather than what divides you. This creates a conduit for negotiation and discussion and great things can be accomplished this way.
To be a completely integrated human being, you must cultivate your mind, body and spirit in equal measure. The most fascinating and inspiring people you will meet are doing this.
The feeling of personal success does not beat the feeling of helping others succeed. Try it.
Buy good quality clothes and wear them till they wear out. F&$k the fashion industry. Save the planet.
Know the rules so when you break them, you break them properly.
You are only as good as the manner in which you show up and the work you put in today. Don’t expect people to respect you because of what it says on your resume and what you did 5 years ago.
Learn everything you can about anything you can. The older you get, the more you realise how everything is connected and nothing you have learned is irrelevant. (Except maybe that baby shark song).
If you are 20, you don’t know anything. Stop pretending you do. If you are 30, you don’t know anything. Stop pretending you do. If you are 40, you are sure you don’t know anything and have given up pretending that you do.
Parenting is about providing a safe space for your child to grow. Put up some bumper bars in the bowling lane (set some boundaries), teach them grit and then get the hell out of the way.
Gratitude is one of the best words on the planet. Practice it.
Study art. Get your child to study art. Art teaches you to question intention, understand composition, it teaches you to explore different ways of looking at the world, it teaches the fundamentals of creative thinking, it gets you to explore your own mind and the ways you can express yourself. As the future will be largely automated, creative thinking is going to be more valuable than you think.
The smartphone in your hand is a ticket to the world, to knowledge, to connecting with people, why the F&@k would you choose to play candy crush on it? Consume less, engage more. Spread happiness amongst the negative news feed. Be mindful of how you spend time on your device.
Optimism is choosing to believe the best outcome will happen. Dad taught me that.
When faced with the possibility of death, greet it with grace and gratitude. Mom taught me that.
If you are single and have no children, don’t ever tell a working mother you have no time to do something. She will smile and say ok, but secretly she really wants to smack you in the head because you have no concept of time.
Success is not about fame, money, reputation, or a super prestigious position in a company. Success is an individual’s identification of their own definition of a successful life and then that individual mapping their actions towards that definition.
Ideas are nothing without action. A lot of people in this world have ideas and opinions but little idea of how to execute on them. It is in the execution of an idea that you learn the most. It takes courage to execute an idea, resilience and problem solving and you are much wiser at the end of that process than at the origin of the idea.
Stay real. A good mentor said to me once, You want to be a stage manager? Well then, remember, no matter how high up you go or what position you hold, you must always be prepared to mop the floor before a show if the stage needs it. Be that person.
I’m a white girl born into a secure family in a free and wealthy country. I have spent years seeking to understand the lens in which I view this world, stripping myself of the biases I find within me. It is an ongoing evolution. It is only through a complete understanding of our own self that we can begin to see others in a clear light.
Sleep is not overrated. Sleep is wonderful.
Just because someone thinks differently than you doesn’t make them wrong and you right, or them right and you wrong. Right and wrong has many shades. Don’t judge others as to where they place themselves in the colour spectrum. Instead seek to understand why they are there.
Many people are in their minds thinking about the past or planning the future. As one of my yoga gurus used to say, you are either NOW HERE or NOWHERE. It’s up to you to put the space in that word.
Challenge everything. Especially your own beliefs.
When tasks or projects become overwhelming, remind yourself that you can only do so much in one day and focus solely in the very next step. The quality of the end product is dependent on the integrity of each step.
Mastery of anything takes time and a dedication to the practice.
The practice of exploring your spirituality is easy when you retreat, surround yourself with like-minded people and set a life in an obscure place, hiding from the world that is. It is a credible existence. It will not however, be a catalyst for the change this world so desperately needs. Strong spirits need to rise and stay in the game.
Allow people to be upset. Allow people to be sad. Allow them also to feel good when they have achieved something. Allow people to come as they are.
Conflict can be an emergence to a new state. Do not fear conflict. Learn to embrace it and not be personally affected by it.
Spend time with old people. It is in the presence of old people that you truly understand the preciousness of each moment.
How cool is earth? We are all hanging out on earth like it’s no big deal.
How to get something done. Segment. Schedule. Do. Achieve.
Discipline is applying yourself without expectation for immediate or tangible results.
Other people’s fight with you is ultimately their fight with themselves.
Human beings are arrogant, they want to define their impact on the world. Impact should not be measured. It should just be. Don’t go around seeking affirmation, acknowledgment or reward for your actions for then your intention is not pure. A tree doesn’t go around saying: “Look at me, I’m giving you oxygen”. Be less like a human and more like a tree. You get what I mean.
The only way to understand true joy is to know sadness.
Above all, find a place and a state for your spirit to be at peace and in equal parts live the shit out of life.
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