Last year I posted 25 things I had learned over the course of my 25 years.
Today you're getting 26 more life lessons I've gathered over the years.
1. Take Risks - What's the point of living your life constantly surrounded by a safety net? You get one chance at this life. One chance to see all that you can see, do all that you can do. Can you do that without a risk or two?
2. Keep a Journal - Looking back over all the good (and not-so-good) times reminds you where you've come from. It shows you how you got to today. And knowing your past - appreciating it for all it's worth - is the key to growing and moving forwards.
3. Own a Pet - There is just something about the love of an animal that changes you. Everyone should experience that unconditional love, and try to emulate it.
4. Always Kiss/Hug Goodbye - You never know if it's the last time you'll see someone, make sure they know how important to you they are. (note: this isn't necessarily only considered on a morbid note. Rather, it comes from my leaving Budapest for the 'last' time. I left plenty of friends behind who I don't know if/when I will ever see again. But it's also about the morbid side of things too. I'm SO thankful that I got to kiss my great aunt goodbye a final time. That's something that she and I will have forever.)
5. Build Snowforts & Snowmen - Enjoy every moment of childishness you can. It keeps you young. Playing in the snow is FUN. Yeah, it's a pain and makes driving a pain, but it's fun and beautiful and should be enjoyed.
6. Unplug - We spend so much time plugged into something (computer, phone, television, etc). The world really does exist outside of the electric. Which is funny, writing on a blog on the internet about how much better the real world is ;) But really, life took over this summer - I got off the internet and ENJOYED it. Turn it off, see people, see the world.
7. Don't Text At The Table - This is directly tied to the previous one, but I think it merits being highlighted on it's own. If you're out to dinner or eating in, you're at that table to be with the people that you're with. Actually engage in that moment - listen, talk, laugh, whatever. But be there, in that moment, and enjoy life.
8. Cook - Sure, going out to dinner is fun. But what's more fun for you (and your wallet) is having people over for a meal. Flex your culinary prowess and show off what you can do in the kitchen. Nothing brings people together like a meal in your home.
9. Smile Even When You Don't Have a Reason - You DO have a reason. You're alive. If you're in a bad mood, a blah mood, or no mood - a simple smile can change everything around.
10. Don't Be Friends With People On Facebook You Aren't Friends With In Real Life - Do you really want them knowing everything that you post there? Staying 'friends' with people to stalk their ups and downs isn't that great - 'cause they get to do the same with you.
11. Send Your Kids To Summer Camp - Though I don't have kids, working as a counselor has taught me just how important those experiences are to kids. Send them somewhere that they have to unplug and live outside for a week. It will change them in ways you will never understand (and they will change their counselor's lives in ways they/you/the counselors will never understand).
12. Go Outside - Camp. Hike. Swim in the Ocean. Swim in a lake. Stargaze. Whatever. Enjoy the nature that surrounds you for all that it's worth. This planet? This Earth? It's quite the amazing place when you take a few minutes or days to just soak it all in.
13. Do Something Every Once & A While Just For You - Pedicures. A movie by yourself. Reading a book in a cafe. Anything. Treat yourself to some 'me time' and enjoy your own company.
14. Call Mom & Dad Daily (If Possible) - They're the most important people in your life. The ones that will love you NO MATTER WHAT. So many kids these days think they're too cool for their parents, or too busy. You're not. You are who you are and where you are because of them. You love them, they love you.
15. Read (& Find A Book That Changes Your Life) - There are so many worlds out there (fiction & non; fantasy & non; etc) that can change your perception of the world you live in. So many books have moved me, shaped me, changed me. Some have (literally) saved my friends lives. And some stay with you forever (The Phantom Tollbooth). But you have to open a book to find them.
16. Don't Text & Drive - It's stupid and pointless and dangerous. Both to you and anyone else on the road that you're driving on. Whatever it is you want to say CANNOT be more important than your life, or any other life that's within your proximity.
17. Don't Buy 'Stuff' - If you're on vacation, a photograph is the best memory you can have. There are certain things that you want/should buy when traveling (Sweater in Ireland, Glass in Venice, etc), but if you think it will end up in a drawer or closet, don't waste your money. The same philosophy can be used when contemplating almost ANY purchase.
18. Don't Keep Stuff - If it's important, keep it. If it's not, toss it/sell it/donate it/etc it. Clutter is clutter. You don't need it.
19. Have Hobbies - Otherwise you sit around bored. We were made to DO things. So find the ones that you enjoy, and do them.
20. Stick Up For What You Believe In (But Listen, Too) - You have your own beliefs and dreams and opinions and ideas. Share them. Debate them. It's only when we compare and discuss ours with others that the world can grow; that we can grow. Our evolution as humans depends on this.
21. Follow Your Dreams - Don't give up on things because you think you can't do them. You only can't do them if you let yourself stop trying or give them up. We are capable of so much, if we only try.
22. Pay The Toll For The Car Behind You - Or, try to do a good deed every once and a while, just because. Doing something nice and unexpected for a complete stranger may just be the thing that changes their (or your) life.
23. Take Your Vitamins - Seriously. It's good for you. Just do it :)
24. Support Your Troops - You don't have to support the war if you don't want to. But support the people who are already over there, risking their lives and happiness and futures, so that you can have yours. Take a second every now and then and just think about what that means.
25. Love Your Friends - They're the family you get to chose. Appreciate them, never take them for granted.
26. Be YOU - Dr. Seuss had it completely right: "Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You." Embrace it, enjoy it. Don't try to change it or adapt it for anyone other than You.