Philosophies for Leading a Fulfilling Life

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Today, I begin a new year of my life.

Each year I reflect upon key philosophies that I’ve learned and choose to bring forward in life. I offer them here, in the hopes that they may be of value to you (such as last year’s philosophies of attaining happiness and feeling youthful).

What do you consider your birthday to be? I previously enjoyed my birthdays as an opportunity for self-celebration. It’s an obvious opportunity to feel special, to be pampered and indulged in, to be recognized and be paid attention to. :)

This year was different. I had an epiphany.

This past Saturday, I spent the day at my grandmother’s house with my parents, grandmother, and husband. At one point, my grandmother pulled out my late grandfather’s best shirts, and urged my husband to try them on. In her bedroom, I watched with moistening eyes as memories from the past were brought into the present and offered with love. Moving around the room, I ran my eyes and hands over familiar, faded and worn objects from my very early childhood, from when my grandparents used to take care of me.

It was emotionally moving – wondrous in a perplexing, curious way – to experience my past juxtaposed onto the present.

We laughed and joked as my husband tried on pieces of my grandfather’s life. I got some shots of him and my grandmother together, as well as photos of some of my grandmother’s everyday objects. Internally, I choked up a bit in sadness, recognizing my picture-taking as an effort to capture still-living, ephemeral moments, and to record loved memories of my past.

Later that night, I called my mom. A ‘quick call’ turned into a two-hour heart-to-heart talk in which she shared her frustrations and fears of the inevitable changes that come with age. I listened, and responded with my heart.

Age is inevitable. Losing parts of our life that we are unwilling to part with, whether it be the presence of a loved soul, or losing bits and parts of how we define ourselves (e.g. memory capabilities), is painful.

Here are some of the thoughts that I shared with my mom. They represent some of my main life philosophies, and are universal of age.

 

1. Find ways to hold precious memories close to you. Immortalize the beautiful, emotional moments when they happen, so that they do not fade into distant memory, or away completely.

It is impossible to hold onto the full, original essence of an experience. But you can take elements of such, and craft them into mementos that carry a fair significance of the original.

It could be via photography, writing, a recorded audio or video interview, or a combination of multiple mediums. Whatever the form, the act of thoughtfully expressing your impression and sentiment will give you the opportunity to highlight the most meaningful elements. The result will be something that vividly represents a memory that will not be diluted or lost over time.

2. Acknowledge that things beyond your control will change, and that you will have to find ways to adapt.

There are some amazing life events that you won’t be able to anticipate; that is the magic and joy of life. On the other hand, there are also less-desirable circumstances that have a high or absolute certainty of coming-to-be.

You can anticipate some of yours by learning from those who have already taken paths that you will likely take.

Knowing the changes that may lie in front of you, you may choose to put off addressing it until it comes up. Or, having identified them, you could actively start considering and strategizing options. By doing so, you will be better-prepared to accept the inevitable, having positioning yourself for a smoother emotional transition.

As example, my mother warned me of the high likelihood of greying in my mid-30s, as did she. Given that, I considered my desire to color my hair, and timing of such. I decided to hold off on hair coloring in my 20s to enjoy my natural highlights, and gave myself permission to more drastically change my hair color once I started going grey. I’m now in that transition phase, and instead of being resigned or upset, I plan to have fun with it!

3. Don’t be overly judgmental on yourself. Keep a positive and self-accepting mindset, and instead look for new self-development opportunities.

It’s healthy to be critical of oneself. On the positive side, it encourages self-growth and improvement.

However, with age, you also gradually lose capabilities or characteristics that you may have previously taken for granted (e.g. your hearing peaks in your early 20s and then starts going down).

Obviously, it can be a frustrating and upsetting process. But if you focus and fixate on what you’ve lost and can’t change, you could stagnate in self-pity. I would choose to utilize that energy to look for new, creative opportunities to express or develop yourself.

4. Do things that make you feel fulfilled.

I say ‘fulfilled‘, not ‘happy‘, which is a much more commonly-expressed sentiment. I believe that acting upon the larger sense of self-purpose is a key element of living a great life.

You could choose to measure life in small, easily-achievable segments of short-term happiness. But instead, consider framing and taking action on your longer-term goals. By investing in and accomplishing your passions, the self-validation you gain is significantly more valuable than individual, ephemeral joys.

When all is said and done, I believe we aspire to have led a meaningful life. Fill the pages of your life story with experiences that enable self-exploration, introspection, and growth to build a rich narrative that you’re proud of.

 

This year, my epiphany was that a birthday should not be so narrowly-defined as a celebration of oneself, and that life changes faster than we would want it to. A birthday is a fantastic occasion to recognize and appreciate those who make one’s existence possible.

To my family, thank you for forming and guiding who I am, and for your love, which will live with me through all of my life.

GrandmaAndMe-2

Also, a very special thank you to my husband, who understands and supports me so deeply and intuitively, that I’m continuously amazed that such a beautiful, complementary soul exists to be my lifelong dance partner.

I thank you today, and every single day of my life. I love you.

Simply,
lauriel

 
P.S. If this post was inspirational/helpful for you, I think you would enjoy reading this post about philosophies of youth and happiness) from last year. :)

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  • Alina Isaev

    Beautiful photos and a heart-warming post. Thanks for the tips :)

    The
    Fairytale Pretty Picture

  • http://chicvic.com Victoria Lau

    Aw, reading about your moistening eyes made my eyes misty a bit too! Grandmas are so special, and I agree that is a wonderful way to spend your birthday.

  • Alice

    Really beautifully written. Age is something that we can either choose to let plague us or we can learn to celebrate and grow with the curve of the changes that are inevitable. Very inspiring post and good tips as well :)

  • http://Highheelsandtutus.com Highheels & Tutus

    Great post and so inspiring. Happy birthday

    http://www.highheelsandtutus.com

  • Ayana Pitterson

    BEAUTIFUL post! Truly inspiring. Happy belated birthday and hope it was FAB. Thank you so very much for sharing.

    Thrifting Diva
    http://www.thriftingdiva.com

  • http://losangelesfashionblog.com/ Los Angeles Fashion Blog

    Awesome! Very inspiring.
    http://losangelesfashionblog.com/

  • http://www.thenewlywedpilgrimage.com/ Jennifer Pilgrim

    What a beautiful post Laurie! It made my day. Just beautiful.

  • http://www.pinkonthecheek.com/ Lauren

    I hope you had a wonderful birthday. There are so many things that I found that are out of my control. When my dad died, life just got…different. It really made me grow up and see that really is out of control and to not dwell on the little things.

  • Katie Limberg

    Wow. That was really inspiring :) I love how you say fulfilled rather than happy. It makes perfect sense to me and that’s what I’m really working on in my life right now. Just trying to be fulfilled and find the good in my life. Absolutely, love this post <3

  • http://www.alyssadawsonblog.com Lyssadawson

    I love this!! My grandpa passed away 13 years ago and to this day my nana still has his jackets hanging up in his work space, along with his work bench and tools. (:

  • Camesha

    I love everything about this post. I agree with your philosophies. Life is so fleeting, it’s best to enjoy the moments as they come.

    I love the description of your husband as your life long dance partner.

  • songbirdsandbuttons

    #3 is so important – and I am so judgmental of myself. Love this post!

  • http://teamwiking.com/ Jessica at Team Wiking

    This is a great post, and a great outlook on birthdays and life. I usually use the new year as a time to reassess my priorities and such, but lately I find I’ve been more proactive with it, constantly choosing to live intentionally.

  • http://www.lipstickandlullabies.ca/ Rebekah

    Beautiful!! My birthday is this weekend, so this was a perfect reflection piece for me. Thank you for sharing :)

  • http://www.celeryandcupcakes.com/ Jemma Andrew

    Your grandma is beautiful as are you! Great post. :-)

  • http://www.kalanchoe.co.uk/ Katie

    This is a beautiful post and I adore the photo of you and your Grandmother. I too, had the same conclusion a while ago, but that scares me more. The inevitability of life is something we will all experience, but we should celebrate the beauty of each moment. This is basically why I started my blog in the first place – so that, should anything happen, my legacy is my memories and everything I’ve experienced.

    Katie <3

  • http://www.brendybeauty.com Brenda Lawrence

    These are great! Thanks for sharing the advice!

  • Weekends With Winter

    This was absolutely beautiful! Growing older is a fact that we all must face and instead fo fearing it, you’re totally right, we should prepare and be ready for it. I’ve celebrated my birthdays in a big way since I was a little girl so I understand the need to find meaning as each year rolls by. You have certainly brought a lot of clarity and have articulated the thoughts that I’ve felt each year. Thank you for sharing. xoxo

  • Laura Milroy

    Beautiful!

    xoxo
    The Accidental Mama
    http://theaccidentalmama.com

  • http://tanejasbride.com Shipra Taneja

    Aw, such a beautiful post – my birthday is Thursday and I’m hoping to stay with fitness and be positive for this “new” year. :)

  • http://www.kayliwanders.com Kayli Schattner

    I love that you mentioned to do the things that make you feel fulfilled! So, so important.

  • Erica

    Your philosophies are absolutely beautiful, and I’ll definitely be making sure to incorporate some into my daily life as well. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • http://www.tobethode.com/ Stefany @ ToBeThode

    These are great things to work on. I think being overly judgmental is the one I need to work on the most!

  • http://www.foreverashley.com Ashley LaMar

    Aww thanks for the advice!

  • http://lindsaylivingvegan.com/ Lindsay

    This is beautiful!! Thanks for sharing, I agree with all of the above :)

  • Laurel Wads

    How sweet of a moment that must of been with your husband trying on your grandfathers close. We must adapt to change. It is hard and takes time and effort.

  • Fiona Naughton

    This was such a lovely post and the picture at the end was beautiful! Happy Birthday to you!

  • http://www.asavoryfeast.com/ Jenna Brussee

    This is great! I agree with all of these things. They are lessons I’ve been learning lately, too.

  • http://www.misadventureswithandi.com Andi Fisher

    I love the tenets that you shared! I have a life-changing day on my life, one where I decided to be happy, cherish life and not worry about what I can’t control – and I have never, ever thought about celebrating it – what a fantastically wonderful idea!

  • Melissa Haag

    Happy birthday!

  • http://www.awhimsiclelife.com JoAnn Madden Crohn

    Such an inspiring article! I can identify with number 4 about doing things that make you feel fulfilled, not necessarily happy. Many long term goals do not make you happy in the the short-term. In fact, they may make you grumpy and miserable at times. But there is nothing like accomplishing something that you have worked and sacrificed for. Cheers to a wonderful day!

  • Leslyn

    I absolutely needed to read this today. There are days where I don’t feel like I’m doing all that I need to be doing, but I need to give myself a little bit of grace and get over the fact that I can’t do everything all the time. :)

  • Kristen Forgione

    Beautifully said… beautiful! These are all so important in living an authentic life and feeling fulfilled when looking back on that life. Congrats to you for realizing it much sooner than many others! Gorgeous photo!

  • http://www.AmbyFelix.com Amby Felix

    Happy Birthday! I consider it to be kind of like a New Year’s Day in a way. I think for me things changed this year since I turned 30. I feel like I have many more desires for fulfillment. I do have much more energy than I did in my early 20′s and feel much more confident. I’m very determined to keep up with my skincare routine though but I enjoy it a lot. Anyway, I hope you have a wonderful day. Your family sounds amazing and what a beautiful photo!!! xoxo ^_^