Ten Things I’ve Learned Since My Third Decade

I don’t think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday. ~Abraham Lincoln, 16th U.S. President

By the time a person is thirty, he or she should have learned a few life lessons.

Some, we gain the hard way, by experiencing the consequences of not living as we should. Others, we glean from the folly of friends or family.

Here are ten lessons I wish my thirty-year-old self had embraced:

1) We’re more alike than we are different.

Why do we spend so much time with people who are just like us, when those who are different have so much to teach us? Since God could have made us all the same (robots, I guess), and didn’t, there must have been a good reason. Perhaps so we could develop tolerance, respect, and understanding?

2) It’s not all about you.

Some parents dote on their kids. Too much doting can turn a child into a spoiled, self-centered individual who’s convinced the sun revolves around him. And when he learns it doesn’t, it’s a rude awakening. Probably better to learn that lesson early, rather than later.

3) Nobody on his death bed ever said, “Gee, I wish I’d spent more time at work.”

Work is good. Admirable, even. And necessary, both for our livelihood and self-esteem. But knowing when to break off for the day and turn our attention to family and relaxation is crucial.

4) Life is too short for petty arguments.

Okay, tell me this. Was it worth all the hard feelings and angst for you to give somebody you love a piece of your mind? Sure, nobody wants to be a doormat, but sometimes, in the higher goal of peace, you need to let some things slide. As the nuns told us, “Offer it up.”

5) Travel light, preferably with a buddy (maybe one with fur).

We don’t really need all the things we claim we do. How many shoes can you wear in one season? Does the thought of having to pack up all your stuff for a move make you break out in hives? Then probably, you’ve got too much stuff. And since there are lots of folks who don’t have stuff, you could donate some of it to charity. Except the dog or cat, of course. They’re family!

6) Unless it’s your last meal, you really don’t have to gorge.

We’re all on diets. We eat way more than we should. And some of our food is loaded with hormones, making it easy for us to pack on the pounds. Doctors tell us obesity is one cause of many diseases. So try to back away from the table before you’re full.

7) Learn something new every day.

Our education doesn’t stop when we graduate. Read a book. Take a class. Watch an instructional video. Talk to somebody who knows something you don’t. Learn a hobby. Stay open to knowledge wherever you can find it.

8) Get up and get moving. Your body wasn’t designed to sit all day.

My dad used to say, “Use it, or lose it.” No, you don’t have to run a marathon (unless that’s your thing), but you should exert yourself physically for at least a half-hour every day. Walking, swimming, playing golf, gardening, yoga, whatever. Just start moving and see how much better you feel … and how much better you sleep at night.

9) Don’t invest everything in things. Acquire a system of beliefs.

Money and possessions don’t fulfill us. Jobs evaporate, houses and furniture go up in smoke, cars get totaled. Humans crave something more. A sense of awe, of the divine — whether that be religion or communing in nature — can satisfy our souls.

10) Give back when you can.

Teach a class. Donate to the needy. Volunteer to plant flowers or deliver meals to shut-ins. Sing in your community choir. Give blood. Read to little kids. You get the idea. And not just during the holidays either!

There, I’ll stop. I expect all of you could write a similar list, so why don’t you?? Let’s make today a day when we can all feel good by helping others.

17 thoughts on “Ten Things I’ve Learned Since My Third Decade

  1. What a great post! It’s one worth re-reading. A lot of us have learned these lessons over time, and agree whole-heartedly, but it’s always good to be reminded. Your list did bring to mind a sign I saw in front of a church last week. It said, “There are seven days in the week. ‘Someday’ is not one of them.'”

    • I’m glad you liked it, Linda. I hesitated about hitting that Publish button for fear I was being too preachy and out of consideration for my readers (many of whom are way smarter in the ways of the world than I am!). That’s a great church sign — hope they’re able to guilt a few into reconsidering attending!

  2. Debbie, I absolutely LOVED this post! And so many of the 10 lessons you listed are things I too would have said.

    5) Travel light – Yes, yes, yes! I started learning that when I was in my early 30’s and started streamlining the “things” in my life. Even to this day, I live a very minimal lifestyle. Simplicity!

    7) Learning something new every day – Yes! To me, that’s what keeps my mind sharp, and keeps me curious about life.

    8) Get up and get moving – Yes! Even if it’s just a 30 minute walk, I make sure to keep my body moving. That’s one of things I like about living in a city. You have to walk every day.

    10) Giving back – Yes! “You make a living by what you get. You make life by what you give.” I used to volunteer more. I need to get back to doing that again. Thanks so much for the reminder!

    Great post, my friend! Hope you had a terrific July 4th!

    • Ron, your kind words really warm my heart! As I told Linda (above), I was on the fence about this post. It’s far longer than the ones I usually write, and I certainly didn’t want to offend anybody; however, these were things I wanted to get out, so I decided to throw caution to the wind. We will see how it plays!

      It was a strange July 4th here. Dallas used to HATE Scary Boom-Boom Day, so I’d tuck him in his crate until the fireworks noises died down. Without him around, I just ignored them — except for a couple of peeks outside my window so I could enjoy the pretty colors and shapes! I hope your holiday was splendid and your week ahead will be productive! xx

      • Debbie, I don’t think it was long at all, nor preachy. In fact, you inspired me to do a post on my own blog. I will most likely publish it on my next post. So thanks, my friend!

  3. Great advice, Debbie! It’s a pity it takes us so much of our lives to become wise – wouldn’t it be great to be wise before we make all our mistakes? But probably not so much fun… 😉

  4. Debbie, my papa also said, “Use it or lose it.” Sage advice when we spend so much time in front of computer screens! Thanks for that reminder (to get moving) and your wisdom nuggets that are Very Appropriate for slightly older 30-year-olds! 🌟🤪🌟

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