Category: life advice

31 Things I’ve Learned in 31 Years

Life wisdom and life advice learned the hard way. Click through if you want to save money, have better relationships, or just make life easier!
Last month I turned 31. I’m officially in my early thirties! A million people say that your thirties are the best decade of your life, and I’m going to choose to believe them. After three decades of mistake-making, I’ve learned a few things. Wanna know what I know?

1. Trust your gut. Really.
If you think he likes you, you’re probably right. If you think he’s cheating, you’re probably right. If you think she’s going to be your new BFF, (this time with feeling!) you’re probably right.

2. Sunscreen. Always.
SPF 15 indoors, SPF 30 outdoors. I’ve been wearing sunscreen every day since I was 19 and I still get carded. I think this actually has more to do with the bouncers hitting on me, but I’d like to share the credit with my good friend Oil of Olay daily moisturizing lotion with SPF.

3. If you’re lying in bed worrying about it, get up and write it down.
If I don’t do this, my night will quickly devolve into cyclical thoughts of doom and anxiety. Just get out of bed, write down the thing that you’re worried about, write down a few ideas to deal with it and then go the eff back to sleep.

4. Processed carbohydrates and sugars are yucky.
It’s not hard to switch to whole wheat bread and noodles or substitute honey/maple syrup/raw sugar for the white stuff. It’s yummy and you’ll feel heaps better!

5. Maintaining friendships (and making new friends) is an active process.
Stop waiting for them to call you! Think of something fun to do, call your friends and go do it. Also, stop sitting in your apartment, devotedly wishing that you knew more cool people.

Surprisingly, this will not get you any closer to making new friends. Go places where like-minded people hang out, talk to new people at parties, initiate.

6. Uncomfortable underwear can ruin your day.
At least they can ruin mine. So don’t wear your sexy times underwear on the day you have to walk ten blocks to work.

7. It really doesn’t matter what you major in.
What does matter? The internships you get, your work ethic, your interpersonal skills, who you know. So go ahead and get a BA in Studio Art! As long as you compliment that with work experience at a graphic design studio, a museum, and an ad agency.

8. Create an active lifestyle.
I don’t go to the gym every day. Or, um, ever in the summer. But I walk to work and to the market and just about everywhere within a 3 mile radius. If you make daily activity a habit, you won’t have nearly as many moments of “how did I inadvertently gain 30 pounds?!” or “why can’t I walk up a flight of stairs?!”

9. Learn to enjoy your own company.
There will be times in your life when you really want to see that movie, check out that new boutique, go to Thailand and no one wants to go with you. Bummer! But that doesn’t mean that you can’t go by yourself and have a good time. Take baby steps and work up to doing the big stuff on your own.

10. Don't allow outside sources to determine your self-esteem. Click To Tweet
I’m still working on this one. But I think it’s important to realize that just about everything in life is relative – depending on your surroundings, you could be the hottest/smartest/highest paid girl in the room.

But if you walk next door? Maybe it’s a different story. It’s important to have faith in your abilities and strong suits – regardless of how they compare to others.

11. Find out what colors and styles work (and don’t work) on you. Style accordingly.
I look good in gold and browns and corals. I look good with long, wavy hair. I look good in boat neck, three-quarter length tops. It took many, many unflattering photos to figure this out.

12. When in doubt, make the effort.
You will never regret wearing that nice outfit, buying the thoughtful gift for the friend you haven’t heard from in a while, over-tipping. If it doesn’t work out, at least you’ll know you did your best.

13. Cook at home.
Seriously. You will save one million dollars. You will maintain a healthy weight. You will impress your friends.

14. There are 300 million people in America. And 6,000,000,000 in the world.
I promise you, you’ll love someone else. You’ll meet new friends. You’ll find co-workers and neighbors that are awesome. If it’s too hard (or if someone is making you feel bad) walk away. There are a million other people out there who won’t make you feel bad!

15. It's easier to make money than memories. Click To Tweet
Are you throwing up in your mouth right now? I am a little bit. But it’s true. Don’t take the extra shift at work and miss your friend’s awesome end-of-the-summer barbecue.

If all your friends are springing for a weekend at a cabin near the Canadian border, save up for a few weeks and make it happen. You won’t remember the two weeks of eating in and watching library DVDs, but you’ll remember 3 days of fun with your buddies.

16. You can find common ground with just about anyone, anywhere.
Regardless of a person’s gender, age, race or religion there are common denominators to the human experience – falling in love, being homesick, laughing at baby animals.

You don’t even need to speak the same language to share an appreciation for these things. You’d be amazed how far you can get with most people just by smiling and asking them questions.

17. Don’t buy the cheapest version. Buy the second cheapest.
This trick has saved me a lot of money. And many hangovers. Usually, the cheapest version of something (vodka, eye shadow, shoes) is noticeably dicey. But the second-cheapest? Not so bad!

18. Make an extra copy.
Of your keys, your lease, your birth certificate, your social security card. Then give said copy to someone trustworthy.

19. Floss.
Really. It’s pretty gratifying in a slightly disgusting way.

20. Consider secondhand, for just about everything.
98% of everything I own is second hand. My blow dryer, my picture frames, my sheets (not as gross as you’re imagining). They cost a fraction of what I’d pay for them new, and no one’s the wiser. At least until I tell the internet that I sleep on used sheets.

21. Excuses are embarrassing. Click To Tweet
With the exception of excuses like “my grandma died” most excuses are embarrassing for everyone involved – the person giving them and the person listening to them. ‘I just don’t know where to start,’ ‘I’m tired,’ ‘it’s too expensive’ really just translate to ‘I’m not making it a priority’. See? Embarrassing, right?

22. Don’t ask a question if you’re not prepared to hear the answer.
If you ask your friend “Do I look fat in this?” you best be prepared to hear that it’s not a super flattering look on you.

If you ask that guy you’ve been seeing for five months “Where do you see this going?” you need to know he might respond in stutters, back-pedaling and comments about “keeping it light.” Don’t ask if you don’t really, really want to know.

23. Engage in calculated risk taking.
Dancing on the table, taking a spontaneous road trip by yourself to a neighboring state, trying a new type of ethnic food – it is unlikely that any of these things will kill you. But they will probably make you more interesting.

24. Learn how to live well within your means.
Make a budget and stick to it. Pay off your credit cards every month. Learn to cook for yourself. Get a bike and use it (then you won’t need a gym membership or all that gas for you car!) Cancel the cable. Split internet with a neighbor. Consider second hand. You’d be amazed how painless saving money can be!

25. Learn some basic photo editing skills.
Because that photo from your vacation would make a great Facebook profile photo if you didn’t have that giant zit, right? Photoscape, Picnik and Gimp are all great options!

26. If you don’t know what you say, silence is always an option.
I learned this from my friend Ellie, who used this approach to deal with unruly patients during her years as a nurse in NYC. If someone says something you don’t like (and don’t know how to respond to) just stare at them and don’t say anything. Totally. terrifying. And totally effective!

27. If you don’t know, ask.
Because that thing that people say about assuming (it makes an ass out of you and me)? That’s true.

28. Do something different with your weekends.
After a week in the cubicle farm, I know it’s tempting to spend your weekend watching DVDs, running errands, going to house parties and nursing hangovers. But doing the same thing every weekend gets old. And you won’t return to work reinvigorated or inspired.You don’t have to do anything earth shattering – have a sleepover with old friends, go camping in a State Park, rent bikes and ride through your city, try a new ethnic restaurant, look up the top tourist sights in your city and check them out. Milk those two days off for all they’re worth!

29. Stay in touch.
In the age of skype/facebook/texting there’s absolutely no reason that you can’t maintain regular contact with your childhood bestie or that cool girl from your freshman comp class. Maintaining and fostering friendships is super important. Also, you’ll have more couches to crash on when you go traveling!

30. Find a creative outlet.
Most of us aren’t 100% creatively fulfilled by our day jobs. Even those of us who work in creative fields! Engaging different parts of your brain (and different parts of your personality) is hugely, hugely gratifying.Seriously, you cannot overestimate how having a good hobby can change your life. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that after I started blogging, I needed less sleep and was a much happier person. Truth.

31. Act like you know what you’re doing.

You can pretty much conquer the world with a confident walk, a well thought out outfit and confident demeanor. We teach people how to treat us and when you show people that you’re a force to be reckoned with, they’ll believe you.

But I want to know about you! What are your favorite, most-used pieces of wisdom?

A 5-Word Phrase That Will Help You Focus + Chill

This one mindfulness quote has helped me re-focus, re-center, and tune back into my life - and I'm not even particularly zen or new-age-y! It's a great mindfulness trick for all of us, no matter where you fall on the spirituality spectrum. Click through and try it for yourself >> yesandyes.orgThe term ‘mindfulness mantra’ gives me The Eye Rolls.

Why? I’m not a particularly zen person. I multi-task like a tornado. I talk really fast. I FREQUENTLY START PLANNING MY NEXT TRIP WHILE I’M ON VACATION.

Add to this my deeply pragmatic nature and you can imagine how proclamations about ‘Serenity Now!” sit with me. I get all embarrassed and blushy and all “Is this really working? Is there a hidden camera somewhere?”

But I don’t particularly enjoy being a whirlwind of multi-tasking.  I don’t enjoy working so hard I have to put myself to bed at 8 pm. I don’t enjoy my self-created never-ending to-do lists.

Last week, while I was simultaneously making toast, texting, and checking my email (and doing a poor job of all) the tiny voice inside my head said: “For the love of Pete, just do what you’re doing.”

A mantra for the distracted and un-zen among us: Just do what you're doing. Click To Tweet

Just make the toast

Stand next to the counter, put the bread in the toaster and wait. Look out the window while the bread is toasting and think about how you’re going to put tahini and honey on it. And then do that.

Just text your friend

Think about the message she sent you. Write her back using full words. Think about the awesome show you’re texting about.

Just watch the tv show

Appreciate that well turned phrase, the impeccable costuming, the complex characters. Sit on your couch. Snuggle into the pillows. Laugh.
Mindfulness is not a new or mind-blowing concept. Spiritual gurus and therapists have been telling us to notice and acknowledge our surroundings and experiences for, oh, ever. But most mantras give me The Eye Rolls and meditation puts me to sleep.
But for some reason “Just do what you’re doing” works for me. It’s a casual, real-world, judgement and lingo-free reminder to give each activity the attention it deserves. Even a pragmatist like me can handle that.
How do you handle multi-tasking and the pressures of day-to-day life? Do you have any sort of mantra or reminder to re-center yourself?

P.S. The one other phrase/mantra I use to help me appreciate the best moments in my life.

photo credits: jason briscoe // rosan harmens // cc

5 (Relatively) Easy Ways To Live Your Life On Purpose

Sick of wandering through your life in a haze? Want to live your life on purpose? DUDE, DON'T WE ALL. Click through for 5 tips that will help >> yesandyes.org

How do you live your life on purpose? How do you make sure that you reach the end of the weekend, week, or year and look back – proud of what you’ve done? Nailah has a few ideas for us.


Purpose. It’s one of those words that gets bandied about; everyone is so concerned with finding their life’s purpose or working a job with purpose or making sure that everything in their life is purposeful.

For a lot of us finding our purpose in life sounds like a big, scary, elusive thing, right? A thing we’d rather not think about given all of the other commitments and pressures in our lives. But purpose doesn’t have to be this boogey-man lurking in the darkness. We all can – and should – get super clear about what our true purpose is in life.

Here are 5 simple ways to live your life on purpose

Get in touch with your essence

Your essence is like your brand name. It’s what makes you uniquely you and it’s the absolute foundation of figuring out your true passion. Think about what people “get” about you when you walk into a room – without having to say or do anything.

What natural gifts and talents do you bring to the table? What are you amazing at? What are you insanely interested in? Complete the phrase ‘the unique essence that I bring to the world is…’

Identify your Core Values

We all have a set of core values that are unshakable. It’s important to be in touch with what yours are. What are your absolute deal breakers? What do you believe in most in this world? What is absolutely essential for you? Create a list of the values that are most important to you.

Pinpoint Your Shiny Moments

Finding your purpose really boils down to pinpointing the things that make you over the moon happy. Start thinking about the activities that really make you feel like a rock star.

Maybe it’s when you successfully explain a complex topic to a classroom of little kids. Or maybe it’s when you capture the perfect moment with your camera. Make a list of all of the situations that make you feel truly useful and purposeful and strong.

Do a Little Dreaming

Envision what a full day in your perfect life looks like. Don’t think about why it’s not possible or why your dream is silly. Just let go and think about what you would be doing in a perfect world.

Think about the things you would do if you knew you absolutely could not fail – money, time and energy are limitless. What are you doing in your ideal day?

Let Your Hidden Talents Shine

Now that you’ve gotten a glimpse into your ideal life, start thinking about the parts, aspects or qualities you would like to express more clearly. For example, are you neglecting your creative spirit? Or maybe the problem solver in you needs to be in control. Get clear on the aspects of yourself that you’d like to begin working on. Then devise a plan to bring those aspects to the forefront and – now this is the hard part – follow through on it.

Don’t get overwhelmed thinking you have to overhaul your entire life in one swoop. Start taking small steps to incorporating your purpose into your everyday life. Soon you’ll find that you’re living a more fulfilling, purposeful life. And isn’t that what life is really about?

Do you believe you have a purpose? If you’ve figured it out, share it in the comments!

P.S. Do you need 1-on-1 support and accountability to live your life on purpose? I do that!

photo credit: kristopher roller // cc

Happiness Killers

There are three happiness killers:
doing work you do not love and are not passionate about,
surrounding yourself with people who you do not really like
(someone who just fills time),
and living somewhere that does not let you be you.

Just stop it.
Life is far too short.

Richard Florida