20 Life Lessons from 34 Years Around the Sun

20 Life Lessons from 34 Years Around the Sun

Embracing Growth, Unlearning, and the Art of Living - By Nimita Herron

Reading time: 3 minutes

As I enter my 34th year (seriously, how did we get here so quickly?), I’ve been taking a moment to look back on the past decade or so. It’s been a time of both accomplishments and mistakes, all of which have shaped the person I am today.

While I’ve gained valuable insights about myself, I’ve also been on a journey of unlearning. I’ve made an effort to simplify my life rather than complicate it, and I’ve sought to redefine the concept of success. It’s no longer just about climbing the corporate ladder or reaching certain milestones; true success lies in the kind of person you’re becoming.

Here are a few lessons, insights, and recommendations I’ve acquired and want to share.

1) You are the leading lady (or man) of your life — Take charge of your life and embrace your role as the main character.

2) Forgive — Forgive yourself for your mistakes and forgive others, even if it doesn’t mean continuing a relationship — you can forgive and forget. Buddhist philosophy teaches us that forgiveness is fundamental for our own happiness, and letting go of the pain that we’re carrying can release us from anger and hurt inside ourselves.

3) Failure is important — Embrace failure as a stepping stone to success and learn from it.

4) A lot of life is about unlearning — Challenge societal norms and let go of beliefs that no longer serve you.

5) Too much of anything isn’t always good — Practice balance in all aspects of life, from wellness to indulgence. Meditate, but laugh out loud with friends over a bottle of wine, have a night in, but also stay out until 2am. Drink water, but also drink cocktails. Eat healthy but have that piece of cake on special occasions — balance is key in everything you do.

6) Be kind to yourself — Show yourself compassion and prioritise self-care, you can’t pour from an empty cup.

7) Build pockets of stillness into your life —Find moments of calm. I’ve been pretty good at this over the years but it’s still on my list of intentions to keep going because when we’re stressed it’s easy to let our wellbeing — mental and physical — slip by the wayside. Meditate, drink water, go for a walk, be out in nature, do yoga — do the things that bring stillness into your life.

8) Prioritise sleep — Make it a non-negotiable part of your routine.

9) Connect with others —Cultivate meaningful relationships and appreciate the support of those around you. Connection and community can really boost our longevity.

10) Care less about what people think of you — Focus on your own happiness and follow your own path. We all care about what others think to some extent, but we don’t need the approval of others to be happy.

11) Find your purpose — Discover what truly drives you and use it to guide your life choices. Earlier this year I did a course delving into the world of spirituality and I learned a lot about success and redefining it. Everybody wants to be successful, it’s our nature as humans to want to strive for success and if we don’t get it, we’re dissatisfied. But we ultimately need to ask ourselves what is our dharma — our purpose, our calling. Once we’re clear about this, this guides all our movements in life — it allows us to be mindful and helps us stay focused on real success.

“When we get too caught up in the busyness of the world, we lose connection with one another — and ourselves. “Jack Kornfield

12) Be present — Value presence over productivity and savor the joy and wonder in everyday life. I subscribe to the Marginalian newsletter, which is incredibly insightful, I end up saving more discussions than not and recently I read something about presence that truly resonated with me.

“Presence is far more intricate and rewarding an art than productivity. Ours is a culture that measures our worth as human beings by our efficiency, our earnings, and our ability to perform this or that. The cult of productivity has its place, but worshipping at its altar daily robs us of the very capacity for joy and wonder that makes life worth living — for, as Annie Dillard memorably put it, “how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

13) Be yourself — Don’t let the opinions of others define you. Stay true to yourself and your intentions.

14) Don’t forget about your inner child — Nurture your sense of playfulness and engage in activities that bring you joy.

15) Celebrate your small wins — Acknowledge and appreciate your accomplishments, no matter how small.

16) Find space and choose how to react — “Freedom lies in the capacity between stimulus and reaction to actually choose how to respond” (Rollo May, American Psychologist). Respond consciously to stressors and exercise freedom in your reactions.

17) Be uncomfortable — Push yourself outside of your comfort zone to foster self-growth and self-belief. Self-care is about comfort, self-love, and self-confidence, and self-belief is about discomfort. You learn to respect yourself and learn to love yourself and you gain self-belief by doing hard things, by being uncomfortable. Give yourself credit for all the hard things you’ve done.

18) Be grateful — Acknowledge the good that you already have in your life, this is the foundation for all abundance.

19) Enjoy life — Life can often be challenging, so it’s important to find joy and happiness in the moments we have. Celebrate the good times, find beauty in every day, and make the most of every experience. Life is a precious gift, and by savoring every second, we can create a more joyful and fulfilling existence.

20) Feel the fear and do it anyway — a powerful mantra I heard from Susan Jeffers 20 years ago and never forgot. Fear is a natural human emotion that often holds us back from taking risks or stepping out of our comfort zones. However, by acknowledging our fears and choosing to move forward despite them, we can unlock incredible opportunities for self-discovery and transformation.

These are just some of the lessons that serve as reminders to live a fulfilling and meaningful life. May they inspire you on your own journey of growth and self-discovery.


Nimita Herron

Nimita is a writer, producer, and yoga teacher based in Edinburgh.