I turned 50 for the first and last time a few weeks ago and celebrated that once in a lifetime event with wonderful friends and family recently. At my 50th birthday party, it was time to blow out the candles (there were actually 50 of them on the cake!) and as I did so, I wished for 'Laughing and Smiling more' for the next 50 years.
When you have a milestone birthday, it's a great time to look back and look forward at the same time. It's a perfect time to ask yourself, 'What has life been like so far and what would I like to be different about my life going forward?' I asked myself these questions this month and some powerful realizations arose that I hadn't thought about previously.
During the first 50, every aspect of my life has changed and improved dramatically. More specifically, the last 15 years have been hours, days, weeks, months and years of focused and dramatic personal growth. I am so grateful for all of the mentors, partners, friends and family who have shared so much support, guidance, wisdom and love over the years. I am also grateful for all of the challenges and growth experiences that have created the opportunity for every ounce of my mind, body and soul to evolve in significant ways. Most significantly, I am grateful for life itself in being my biggest teacher on this wonderful journey.
As I look back and reflect on just how much this journey has evolved and grown, there's one thing I have noticed that I would still like to improve. Laughing and Smiling more. It turns out that when you focus most of your time and energy on growing yourself and helping others do the same, sometimes you can get pretty serious. Life is full of challenges and opportunities to grow and hour after hour, day after day there are chances to keep your eyes open, learn and change. And as we have all experienced, significant growth comes from being significantly uncomfortable, so all of these growth opportunities have had no shortage of physical and emotional pain associated with them. It's hard stuff. Working on yourself is difficult and occasionally it simply doesn't feel so good. In fact, it starts and ends with the self-realization of 'Who I am being right now isn't who I want to be' - and that's a healthy dose of humble pie.
At the same time, when we continue to grow ourselves, we feel lighter inside and out and what used to weigh us down no longer does. We become free-er and our energy becomes brighter for ourselves and those around us. It feels amazing when we accomplish what we set out to do and it feels indescribable when we selflessly help someone and ask for nothing in return. The process of growing and evolving ourselves covers all the feelings on the emotional spectrum. Luckily, as you keep going, they tend to smooth out more and more, but they are still there until we someday, we reach a point of complete peace.
So as I continue to smooth out over the next 50 years, I am choosing to smooth out with more laughter and a bigger smile. I'm choosing to remember that even though growth can be painful, it's rewards for myself and others far outweigh the hard work it takes to keep going. I'm choosing to remember that while I am growing, when I laugh and smile more, the painful experiences become less painful and I'm choosing to remember that laughing and smiling is contagious and when we do so, those around us tend to laugh and smile as well. And I'm choosing to remember that laughing and smiling just plain feels good.
So, as I am grateful for the last 50 years and look forward to the next 50 and all of the rich experiences it will bring, I will be doing so with more laughs and smiles along the way for myself and others. Life is what we make it. It can be serious or it can be full of light and laughter. I now choose to make it the latter and look forward to posting on this blog with a smile when I am 100!
Keep Goin! And keep smiling! :-)