I’ve learned many powerful life lessons in my 31 years from what I’ve seen, read, been told, and experienced first-hand. I wanted to share 31 of them with you — many of which struck a chord when I turned 30 — and hopefully you can benefit from them, too.

  1. A 90’s Nike Women advertisement said it best: Time spent thinking about why you should be running is time spent not running.
  2. Read The Power of Now. The past and future don’t exist; only the Now. This changed everything for me.
  3. Jealousy reads like bags under one’s eyes. Sleep, a good eye cream, and some self-love will help. If you’re the one who’s jealous, apply accordingly. You may see results after just a few weeks. If they’re the jealous ones, be kind and offer them these tips. Bonus points for helping them unpack their bags.
  4. If you have FOMO for a particular group of “friends,” they’re probably not your real friends. True friends won’t ever make you feel like you’re missing out, even if you’re not physically there.
  5. In order to take down any wall you’ve unwillingly built around yourself, you have to learn how it was built and why it was decorated the way it is.
  6. Be kind to one another. Always offer to help someone with heavy luggage up the subway staircase. Do help that old lady crossing the street (a time will come to do so) and yell back at the impatient truck driver who honks because it’s a green light and you’re still in the middle of the road helping her cross. Chivalry is only dead if we keep saying it’s dead. Reinstate it and keep it alive.
  7. Don’t ever think you don’t deserve something. Ever. No matter how great or small. But remember that at the same time, there’s no such thing as something for nothing.
  8. Your gut instinct is your greatest secret power. It can be as light as figuring out if you should buy that jacket, or as grave as sensing danger. Study it. Harness it. Wholeheartedly trust it.
  9. Your body is never as confused as your mind may be. It’s completely reactionary. If it loves something, it’ll accept it. If it hates something, it’ll reject it. As much as you write out the pros and cons and “sleep on it,” you also have to listen to your body to make decisions. The majority of what’s in your body is closer to your heart than your brain is, which is oftentimes in the clouds. Consider in moments of confusion a reliance on your body for the present and your mind as a strategic tool for planning.
  10. You can have a B product and an A team, but you can’t have an A product and a B team.

Talun Zeitoun

  1. Read Think and Grow Rich. This is another book that changed my life. The mind is one powerful tool. Read it even if you have zero desire to actually become rich.
  2. Stop giving excuses for yourself as to why you’re a certain way. Take action and understand where those excuses are coming from. Doing so will help you remove them. Besides, nobody will ever truly give a shit about your excuses as much as you do.
  3. Working is one of the worst ways to make money. (I know. I was confused — and slightly angry — at first, too.)
  4. Understand this simple equation: talk minus action equals shit. I’ve always had a thing for math.
  5. If you hate your job, leave. Don’t waste a single moment in unhappiness. They (whomever “they” is) say that it’s always easiest to find a job when you have a job, but finding a job that you love when you’re in a perpetual state of unhappiness will be difficult to come by with such a mental state. I was terribly unhappy in my first job. Crying in the stairwell and calling my mom balling was my typical lunchtime routine (it was an abusive work environment; I actually enjoyed what I did). I spent an hour every morning at Starbucks before work looking for a new job. Nothing. One day my employer’s payroll account went negative eighty-grand and they asked us to continue working under the promise that we’d get paid soon. Several stayed, several left, and several stopped by the office once or twice a week (including me) to check in on things. The owner of the company got fed up with my inability to commit and be a “team player” under the circumstances; so, she fired me. Despite being stressed about no money coming through (and to this day — eight years later — that company still owes me a paycheck), I was out of that hostile working environment and my mood naturally shifted positive. Within a week, a new company reached out to me on LinkedIn and soon after hired me into a position that would completely change my career for the better. My time out of work was so short that I couldn’t even collect unemployment. Good things happen when you’re in a positive state. Make it your life’s mission to stay there and the universe with respond accordingly.
  6. Be nice. No one got anywhere being an asshole (yes, even in New York City). And if that person did, look who our 45th President is.
  7. If you hold your money with a tight fist, no new money will be able to get in. If you hold your money in an open palm, money will easily fall out. With a caged hold, money can be filtered going out, while also being filtered coming in.
  8. Know your worth. Double that number. Add tax. Consider something pro bono before ever, ever discounting.
  9. The only regrets you should be thinking about are the ones you might have when you’re older. Wishing you wore more sunscreen is a typical one. Wear more sunscreen. Just do it.
  10. Our brains are hardwired to win — they don’t even know what failure is. Be careful when you constantly say to yourself I’m not worthy… or I’m not happy… or I don’t deserve… or I never have enough money… Your brain will succeed and win at just that: not being worthy, not being happy, not being deserving, and never having enough money. This is a justifiable answer to #7. (I can’t take full credit for this one; I thank Gary John Bishop in this book for the valuable insight.)

Talun Zeitoun

  1. “… know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum.” — Mary Schmidt
  2. Vulnerability just might save humanity. Practice it accordingly. I have some major work to do. I’m sure we all do.
  3. Learn to meditate. I practice transcendental meditation, but many forms work just fine (consider the Headspace app). We make it a habit to take care of our bodies, but seldom make a habit of taking care of our minds. One can’t exist or function properly without the health of the other. As much as you make it a point to go to the gym for your body, make it a point to meditate daily for your mind. The mind is way too powerful not to: it can usurp us with a blink of an eye. If you meditate correctly — and it doesn’t take much at all, everyone can easily do it — the benefits can be felt almost instantaneously. And if you fall of track for several days or months, just get right back on. That feeling of inner peace, stillness and true clarity is there for each and every one of us regardless of how many things are on our minds, most of which is complete nonsense anyway.
  4. Perhaps your “divine purpose” in life has to do something with the very thing you’ve been secretly avoiding. Perhaps.
  5. Our only limitation is the shell we were born in: human. Invest in it. Take care of it and nourish it. It’s potential is just shy of immortality.
  6. Surround yourself with people who challenge you, are happy for you, and are completely honest with you. There’s really no room for anyone else. Learn to accept their constructive criticism and feedback with an open mind. Smile and say thank you when received. Offer the same to them when asked. Always commend them and be proud of them; they’ll do the same for you. Support each other, even when the other’s success is conventionally measured higher than yours. Reread #4. You are what you eat, breathe, and who you hang out with. Audit accordingly and routinely, and learn to make friends with your shadow, for it will never forsake you.

Talun Zeitoun

  1. Not thinking and overthinking are basically the same thing: simultaneous highways to inaction and failure. Find middle ground and either begin immediately, or let go and move on.
  2. Don’t ever feel guilty about taking a personal day. You thought about it because you needed it. Plus, when you look back on the time you contemplated taking one at that job years ago, you’ll realize how ridiculous you were for even spending so much time worrying about whether you should take one or not. Reread #20.
  3. Always have something to look forward to. We oftentimes only look at what we have yet to achieve without celebrating what we’ve achieved thus far and where we are right now. Do this routinely for every single step. This is also what you should be investing some that money you’ve been saving. After all, money is there to be spent… wisely. This is a wise and worthwhile spend.
  4. You have 3, and only 3, options to take when faced with a situation. You can either (A) accept it, (B) change it, or (C) remove it. If you can’t accept it or change it, remove it. If you can’t accept it or remove it, change it. If you can’t change it or remove it, accept it. Don’t just move it aside and deal with it later. If you do, it’ll come back from your peripheral vision and — as all things do with time — will have grown.
  5. “To sit on a chair for a single moment is to risk one’s life.” – Richard Huelsenbeck in Collective Dada Manifesto.

Let me know which one is your favorite in the comments below. Or, if you have something to add, I’d love to read your some of life lessons.

Photography by Carly Tumen