This summer will mark my 50th birthday. And I’m pretty good with that. 30 was tough for me. 40 was…..okay. 50 is feeling good. Real good. Why? Because I think some important life lessons have finally kicked in and I’m learning what truly matters in life. I thought I’d share some of those thoughts with you today so you don’t have to wait as long as I did to get smart. 🙂
What I Used to Think Was Important No Longer Is
When I was in my twenties, thirties, and even in my early forties, I used to place a high emphasis on worldly success. I thought it was important that one had success that others looked up to, physically, financially, relationally, etc.
Then I learned that it really, truly isn’t important what others think about you and your life. What really matters is what YOU think about your life. What are YOUR goals? What will make you truly, truly happy?
In my case, I learned that I want quality family time over material success. I want good health over fine dining. I want financial security over the appearance of wealth. I want health over beauty.
Taking the time to figure out what was really, really important to me (and doing this same activity together with my family) has brought us all a peace that cannot be surpassed.
Health Matters: Take Care Of Yours
All of the things you do and achieve in life don’t matter if you’re not healthy enough to enjoy them. After our first daughter was born, I spent a good 15 months bedridden. The birth was a traumatic one in which my beautiful Madelyn and I both nearly lost our lives. As I laid on the couch or in the bed for nearly a year and a half, all I could think about was how much I wanted to play with Madelyn, or care for my house, or do laundry.
I recovered with no thanks to the docs and their drugs (not an anti-drug rant here), but after a 30-day detox cleanse in which I ate only raw or steamed veggies and the occasional fruit.
Since then I’ve been on quite the dance with food. You see, I LOVE food. We’re a foodie family and always have been. I remember fondly the many family gatherings with my dad’s side of the family and all of the glorious food we shared.
It’s taken me awhile to learn that pig-out sessions and chocolate chip cookies don’t equal love. It’s also taken me awhile to learn that it’s okay to indulge on occasion and that my life’s food doesn’t need to consist of carrot sticks and steamed broccoli.
I had to learn to get happy from the inside out so I could more consistently make food choices that promote health and not disease.
Health stuff has always scared me as I’ve watched both sides of my family struggle with many often-preventable diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes, Heart Disease and High Blood Pressure.
I began studying the diet/health connection after Madelyn was born and continue to study it to this day. And the research shows that what one eats makes an impactful difference.
Since I’ve learned to conquer emotional eating, my health has improved dramatically. In fact, at my physical two weeks ago I was relieved to hear that both my blood sugar level and my cholesterol are “better than good”. This is NOT normal for my family. In my case it’s a result of working hard to conquer emotional eating and understanding that eating healthy foods is the true “treat” for my body, along with regular exercise.
These days I eat for my health and not for my happiness. I still enjoy my Oreo cookies and my homemade cheesecake, but they’re the exception and not the rule.
Self-Improvement is Good – When it’s Done for the Right Reasons
This has been by far the most powerful thing I’ve learned in my nearly fifty years here on earth. And the most difficult to master. The change came when I started seriously studying the Bible and learned that the Creator of the Universe says I am perfect in His sight. And so are you.
This truth didn’t release me from the need to improve myself. It released me from the need to improve myself for the benefit or approval of others. What a powerful thing!! The improvements I make now aren’t because I want to be accepted by others or by myself; instead, I accept myself for where I’m at and work on making improvements because I know I deserve a better life.
You are AWESOME. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Now go and make your life the life YOU want it to be. If you can get free of needing approval from others or working to find happiness from outside sources, you’ll find that self-focus isn’t a dominating factor, and you’ll improve both your own happiness and your ability to share joy with those around you.