02 May 35 Helpful Lessons From 35 Years of Living, Learning and Leaning into Life No Matter What
Today is my 35th birthday. And, while I am officially in my mid 30’s, I truly just feel like a (somewhat) better dressed version of my 14 year old self.
In some ways and on some days, I feel like I have had deal with way too many ‘adult’ things in my 35 years, but the majority of the time I know that I have only just scratched the surface; which is scary, but also exciting and hopeful and at the same time.
And given I don’t like to just let life pass me by—but rather take a moment to pause, notice, and appreciate it—I find it useful (and fun!) to reflect upon this journey I feel very lucky to be a part of.
So here are some of the most helpful things I have constantly referred back to in my 35 years of living, learning and leaning into all that life has to offer.
These ideas are a collection of learnings, thoughts and realizations that, when lived, not just spoken, have altered my state of being, my trajectory of life, and how I show up in the world. I see each of these things as existing in my internal tool box to be leveraged if and when I need them, because when I do, I show up with more lightness, freedom, courage, love and appreciation for all that happens around me.
35 Lessons From 35 Years of Living, Learning and Leaning into Life—No Matter What
When I was living and working in Italy last summer, I would venture on my bicycle into the hills of a remote region of Puglia with no agenda other than to explore. There was nothing to distract me other than my thoughts and being in nature.
I recall laughing out loud at the simplicity of it all when I thought to myself… What if the purpose of life was nothing more than to simply have fun? We go on a roller coaster ride not for the outcome, but to enjoy the ride. What if this lifetime has no other meaning than to simply play like we did as children before things got so serious? That singular thought has allowed me to spend so much more time creating playfulness and letting go of the seriousness of it all.
Let go of The Need to Know
My mantra after Scott passed away was “I don’t know what I don’t know, but I don’t need to know.” And those last 5 words have literally changed my life. The not needing to know has saved me worry and angst in banging my head against the wall in trying to explain the things that cannot be explained. In letting go of the desire or need to explain things, it allows me to accept (and appreciate) things just as they are; as I would on that roller coaster ride. I don’t need to explain the dips or the peaks, I just have to be present to them to enjoy them.
Appreciate it All
When we learn to let go of what we define as right and wrong, could and should, or good and bad, it leaves space for a state of wonder, awe and appreciation for the beautiful complexities of this life. Without attaching a ‘positive’ or a ‘negative’ to things, I have found so much beauty for the fact that I am able to feel at the depth I can. We tend to appreciate the feeling that we are going to burst from love, but isn’t it equally amazing the depth of pain we can feel? I think is truly remarkable what we are capable of experiencing in these physical bodies.
Question Your Definitions
Most people define wrong as that which is different from them. Or we create rules around how things must look (e.g. I can only give and receive love when it looks like X). But when we do this, we limit the expansive possibilities to feel and experience so many things. I have found that the fewer (or broader) rules I have, the more freedom I experience.
Your Beliefs are not Facts, They are the Things you Tell Yourself to be True
This is why beliefs change as life changes. Why one person on a certain side of the world, with their whole heart, believes one thing yet another person can believe the complete opposite. And your beliefs often don’t come as a result of your conscious decision making but rather as a result of your geographic and cultural conditioning. The more you can question and expand your own beliefs, the less of a prisoner you are to them.
Curiosity is a Very Loyal Friend
Remaining curious about why I do what I do, or why others do what they do has served me greater than anything else during the times that have challenged me. Curiosity has allowed me to navigate emotions, rather than stay stuck in them. It has given me the courage to do things I never could have imagined doing. It has taught me compassion for myself and others, and it will continue to be a very loyal friend to me as I move forward through this interesting journey called life.
“Comparison is the Thief of Joy” – Theodore Roosevelt
I live a very different life today than I thought I would be living. I loved that version of my life, but I also truly love this one. But not because it has been all roses… rather because when we let go of comparisons, we see that the beauty actually lies in the difference. I would never be where I am without every single thing that brought me here and if I tried to compare one versus the other, I’d be taking away from the chance to appreciate it.
Your Life is a Reflection of the Choices you Make
Things happen that are out of our control—the majority of things, in fact. But one of the only things that can never be taken away from you is how you choose to respond to what happens to you. The moment you believe you don’t have the power to choose you give up that power (see point 5).
Live it Before it’s Real
Before I ever began the process of trying to get a book published (but knew I wanted to give it a shot), I talked about writing a book. I am currently in the very beginning stages of a new course (see below) and I already talk about it by saying “I am creating this course…” because I believe that saying your dreams out loud is a powerful way to live something before it is actually real. It creates accountability and allows you to experience the feeling, rather just the thought, of having something before you ever do… I won’t dive too deep into the stuff I geek out on regarding this, but I believe this is an insanely important practice in doing things I never could have imagined doing!
Fear is Your Friend
Treat it like so! We don’t run, hide and shut down from our friends. But, just like our friends, our fears are there to serve a purpose. I believe fear is the mind saying no, but the soul screaming GO!!! Spend time with your fears, get to know them, question them and understand them—for when you do, they become a lot less scary.
Confusion the Result of Fighting Against Your Reality
I once heard the wise words: The only times we are confused are the times that we are resisting what we already know. In other words, when we are in a fight between what we know we really want or need and what we think we should do. I love to reflect upon this every time I find myself confused. It’s a great practice in listening to your inner voice, rather than just the voice in your head.
The Footprints you Leave Remain, Show Up Accordingly
It is easy to think that certain things don’t matter, but witnessing Scott’s death has shown me that all the little things do. The way you show up in the world (while it may never be recognized in your lifetime) matters, even with the small things. I also got a window into this after leaving SF for almost 3 years and returning back there. The seeds I sowed remained and I was so grateful for all the communities that welcomed me warmly back. Which is why I believe….
There are no Ordinary Moments
When you start to live like every moment actually matters, you show up in the world very differently. This belief has allowed me to consistently return back to the here and now, rather than live in a future (that really is an imagined one…). It makes me appreciate the simple things. I notice more, therefore I appreciate more and it reminds me not to take any of these moments for granted, as I know all too well that you never know which moment will be your last.
Detach from Outcome
This is one of the most empowering things I have learned how to do. It is a practice, trust me, but letting go of needing to know the the how and when has allowed me to show up to the things I do and the relationships I am in from an inspired place. Letting go of expectations, outcomes or needing things to unfold a certain way has given me more freedom than almost anything else I have done.
Take the Time to Know and Honor Your Truth
One of the most difficult, yet freeing things, I have done is to get to know and honor my truth. We get told we are good at certain things, so we pursue them. But just because you are good at something, doesn’t mean you have to, want to, or should do something. Additionally, after Scott’s passing and taking over this business I spent a lot of time unraveling what was Chelsea, what was Scott and what was Chelsea and Scott. It was difficult to admit that not all of that would fit in this new version of my life, and forced me to really own up to the things that made me, me… but my life feels so much more in alignment by leveraging my nature, my strengths and my talents rather than trying to improve the things or fit into a box that is not me. It took life from feeling like a lot of effort, and turned it into something that I feel I can now navigate with much greater ease.
There are Many Ways to Exist in This World
Travel is far and away my greatest teacher. Seeing the world and the many ways that human beings exist in it (under all conditions) has broken down the beliefs that limit me from what is possible and broadened my perspective of what I am capable of. It has shown me that the only normal that exists is what we perceive to be normal because, we as a collective group of human beings exist quite happily in a myriad of external environments. Some cannot travel across the world but you also don’t need to. You just need to seek to experiences that are different than what you believe to be normal. Also, you don’t need to spend a lot of money to create these experiences, which is why I am holding a webinar later this month all about that, so stay tuned!
Ask Better Questions
Some of my favorites are: What else could this mean? What is the simplest next step I know I can take? And when I say or feel I don’t know, I counter that with… well if I did know, what might I do?
Frequent and Often add ‘Right Now’ to the end of Your Statements
These two words have made things that feel large much more digestible. Working on X right now, feels great, but when I think about doing X forever, it feels overwhelming. It’s not all too different than several other points here but adding those two words (or ‘yet’!) to the end of statements has been a freeing process for me.
Replace “I Have to” with “I Get to”
One of the simplest ways I know to appreciate the things we are so very fortunate to get to do.
Listen to the Pull versus the Push
The things that we push ourselves to do (aka the shoulds) take a tremendous amount of effort, the things we are pulled to do, come with ease…. Listen to the pull, lead with that.
Be Careful of Society’s Labels and Expectations of You
For years, the world around me has told me that my clock is ticking and today, I officially enter the age that would make me ‘geriatric’ if I were to get pregnant. I have no idea if I can have or will want children, but I do know that it is not something I am not pulled to do… right now. I’ve battled off the inner demons of wondering if something is wrong with me and the fear of regret. But I don’t think you can ever regret making the best decision for your life at the time you are making that decision. Maybe I will feel differently one day, I don’t know. But I do know that the voice of society around me and the voice within me have said two different things so far.
Practice is the Path to Progress
I gave a keynote earlier this year and it was tough for me to prepare for. I found myself frustrated when I went from the difficulty and procrastination of practicing my speech to the simplicity and ease I felt of teaching a class that same day at The Dailey Method. But then I reminded myself that I have probably taught upwards of 3,000 Dailey Method classes, and I have only given a handful of speeches. My third class wasn’t easy, nor was my 10th or even my 100th, because practice is the path to making progress, there are no shortcuts.
Don’t Go At It Alone
Seek help. Ask Questions. Don’t go at it alone. It facilitates a smoother path. If you don’t know, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Be Best Friends With You
I always say, if you don’t enjoy hanging out with you, why would anyone else enjoy hanging out with you? Know yourself. Love yourself. Accept yourself. Make yourself laugh. For when you do, you need a lot less validation from others which makes happiness much simpler. Additionally, one of the best pieces of advice I have been given is to speak to yourself the way you would speak to your best friend. We are often our own harshest critics and say pretty horrible things to ourselves, so listen to how you talk to you… and then treat you how you would treat your best friend instead.
Be Rich in Experiences
Spend your free time doing things you love, with the people who make you laugh. Seek the things that cause you to grow, give, laugh, play, etc. Because when you spend your time in a way that matters to you, you become rich with the wealth that’s actually important.
You Have the Choice to Focus on What you Do Have or What You Don’t
No matter what. Even when things are terribly hard, you always have that choice. There are times you need to feel and process what you don’t have, but there are also the times to recognize all you do even in the midst of what you don’t.
There’s a Fine Balance Between Your Potential and Your Insignificance
And I find it helpful not to get too serious about either. When I feel like things are too big to handle, I go out into nature to remind myself that I am one small person on this tiny spinning ball that exists somewhere in a vast universe. But I also try to remember that every life a person touches has the potential to touch a million others.
Design Your Life by The Things you Want to Feel
I love to seek feelings, rather than actions because it keeps my values and priorities top of mind, and leaves room for serendipity to happen. I know I want to feel healthy, vibrant and energetic. I know I want to feel playful, light and connected to the people I love. When I remind myself of this, I find it much easier to choose the healthy meal or the exercise class. I find it easier to decide if I should work an extra hour or meet a friend for lunch. It brings my priorities top of mind, but allows me to be spontaneous as well.
Fill Up Your Own Cup
When you feel full, it feels effortless to give to others but when you are depleted and defeated, even the simplest things feel like work. If you need to be a little selfish to be in a place where you can give to the people around you, know that everyone will be better because if it.
Smile at Strangers
Because it makes them smile too. And a genuine smile is one of the simplest ways to add positivity to any situation.
The Decisions That Scare me are Usually my Best Ones
When I look back at the life changing or life shaping decisions I have made, they are usually the ones that scared me at the time. Comfort is comfortable for a reason, because things are known, but growth and expansion comes when we start to discover the unknown.
Nothing is Forever
The past few years have taught me how often we let the idea of ‘forever’ stop us. If I would have had the option to think ahead about living out of a backpack for nearly 3 years, I wouldn’t have done it. I just moved to London and if I thought I was moving here forever, it would have been a way scarier decision. We don’t know the road ahead (and we adapt to things way easier then we could ever imagine!) so often times, our worries are way worse than any reality.
Reduce Rigid Rules
I used to have a lot more rules about what I thought it meant to be healthy or fit or successful. But the more my mind and experiences have forced me to expand, the fewer rules I follow and in the end, the more stress-free my life becomes—which is actually a healthier existence. I am no longer fixated on certain things, which allows flexibility and freedom. Not to mention, I think I am a much more enjoyable person to be around!
Challenge the Things That Challenge You
Otherwise, I might find myself 30 years down the road talking about the same problems I had when I was 35. And I don’t have that much time, so I don’t want to have 30 year problems. I find it helpful to remind myself that anything I repeatedly do, I am gaining something from it. I may not understand it, I don’t need to. However, if I keep doing it over and over (even if it is not serving me), there’s a reason for it and there also must be a better way. So, I prefer to challenge the things that challenge me instead of just letting them remain challenges.
When You Align Who You Are With What You Do, Life Begins to Feel Effortless
Alignment comes with a deep sense of peace. A knowing (that doesn’t need explanation) that you are where you are meant to be. An aligned life feels free; it’s inspired, grateful, generous, fun, and calm. It’s what I imagine life outside this body to feel like… and I personally think it is available everyone of us.
Which is why I am working on a project called The Aligned Life School. It’s in the very early stages but I will share all the things I’ve gained from hundreds of hours of learning about humans, psychology, behavior, emotions, science, and spirituality that have taught me to embrace life, and align who I am with what I do… no matter what life brings. If you want to be one of the first to hear about The Aligned Life School when it is ready to fly, sign up here.
Otherwise, let me know in the comments below if there was one particular reminder that resonated with you today. My top pick for the day is number 1, so off to play I go. 🙂
Here’s the to road ahead,
– Chelsea Dinsmore