In honor of my 32nd birthday, I spent some time compiling a list of 32 lessons I have learned since I graced this world with my presence—apparently being humble isn’t one of them—or maybe, using humor is.

Here we go:

1. It’s never too late to find and pursue a passion. 

2. Persistence and determination will take you farther than you will think. 

3. Self-discovery is an ongoing process—turning 18, 21, 30 and so on doesn’t mean you will find yourself. You will be finding yourself your whole life and that is really fun. 

4. Being healthy doesn’t mean you have an enviable number on the scale; nourishing your heart and head appropriately is just as important as caring for your body. 

5. Speaking of your body, nobody gives a hoot about it—except you—and no one should. Beauty isn’t found in your breasts or your thigh gap or perfectly straight white teeth and rock-hard abs. True beauty is a person who is confident in the contributions they are making to this world and the people in it. 

6. Life is better when you take what needs to be taken seriously, seriously and when you laugh at every single other thing that doesn’t need to be. 

7. Complaining is a gross habit, especially when a quick glance at your life shows you at least one—if not more—things to be grateful for. 

8. We must be the people we want our children to be and then encourage them to be even better than that. 

9. Always use manners. It feels good—for both you and the person the receiving end of your pleasantries. 

10.Seek work-life balance and do your best to ensure that if there is going to be an imbalance, such is always in favor of your family.

11. Love hard—to the point of being overwhelming. Those who love you hard, too, won’t be overwhelmed by it. You never know when someone you love will be taken from you so give them all you’ve got while you’ve got them. 

12. Be kind, especially in those moments when you don’t want to be. 

13. It’s OK to eat peanut butter straight out of the jar with a spoon. It’s also OK to lick chocolate off your fingers and slurp your soup. Food is such a great life pleasure, so enjoy the heck out of it. 

14. Take chances. Apply to the job you don’t think you will get. Write the essay you’re not sure if you should write, climb that rock wall that seems daunting and swim with the dolphins even if they make you nervous. 

15. Overuse “I love you.”

16. Make time for those you love. 

17. Never stop being curious, asking questions and learning. 

18. A nighttime dip in the pool or some quiet time outside by a fire does wonders for the soul. 

19. Drive slow. Life is not a race and the cargo you are transporting—be it yourself, your spouse or your children—is precious.

20. Listen to music often—it can be such a mood-changer. 

21. Kiss your children numerous times a day. 

22. Aim to err on the side of quirky. You may think people don’t appreciate your uniqueness, but they do and it’s what you will be remembered for. 

23. Hold the door for people whenever you can. 

24. Have faith—in God, in yourself, in your children, in your marriage, and in strangers. 

25. Lead with optimism and fight pessimism 

26. Say sorry when you make a mistake, then let the mistake go. 

27. Remind yourself and those you love that they are important. 

28. Stop feeling guilty for yesterday’s blunders as they are helping you not make the same ones today. 

29. Accept people for who and all that they are. 

30. Never stop dreaming and never stop working toward your dreams 

31. Give more of yourself to others than you think you are capable of. 

32. Give more self-care to yourself than you think you require.

Originally published on the author’s page

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Nicole Merritt

Nicole Merritt is a mother of three and the Owner and Founder of jthreeNMe, an imperfectly authentic peek at real-life marriage, parenting, and self-improvement. jthreeNMe is raw, honest, empowering, inspiring, and entertaining; it’s like chicken soup for those that are exhausted, over-stressed and under-inebriated, yet still utterly happy. Nicole's work has been featured by Scary Mommy, The Good Men Project, BLUNTmoms, Thought Catalog, Everyday Family, Motherly & many others. You can follow Nicole at jthreeNMe and on FacebookPinterestInstagram & Twitter!

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