Recently I celebrated my 27th birthday and was inspired to reflect on all the things in life I am passionate about and place great importance on. Here you will read about 27 things that I strongly value and hold close to my heart. I even recommend that you be open to try incorporating some of these into your own life because I truly believe in them and feel they are so important. Here’s why:
1. Travel solo
When I was young, my mom taught my sister and I to spend our 20’s “having fun and being independent.” She always emphasized the importance of doing things on your own and being comfortable and happy to do it. I would recite this back to her and after all these years, I can honestly say I have never lost sight of that. I hate being told what to do and if someone tells me not to do something I will most likely do it in spite of them because a) I am too stubborn and b) you can’t tell me what to do.
The experience of traveling solo are the best moments of my life. I learned more about myself than I thought I ever could and also made several mistakes. But more importantly I really did learn from those mistakes and they helped me become a more confident, assertive, and self-assured person.
2. Exercise regularly enough in order to “feel the need”
If you’re passionate about life, you want to keep the vehicle through which you experience life (your body) tuned up in good working condition. I want to have the best, most amazing experiences possible on this Earth, and regular exercise helps me realize that goal by minimizing the risk of disease, extending longevity, and giving me the strength and energy to do everything it is that I want to do.
If I’m sick and need to take the week off from exercise, I feel a little stir-crazy on the inside even though I know I need to be resting. Find whatever it is that you love doing most, whether that’s swimming, yoga, hiking, running, biking, etc. When you’re in that great groove of regular and persistent exercise, something feels wrong when you have to take an abrupt halt, for whatever reason. It’s a great groove to be in because it will always be motivating and encouraging you to keep it up!
3. Learn how to cook healthy and delicious meals
I feel the same way about food as I do exercise; nutrition is really the other side of the equation. And truly, nutrition is just as important as exercise. Some might argue it’s even more important. A quote that sums this up perfectly is: You are what you eat. So don’t be fast, cheap, easy or fake. When I am actively spending time cooking, it never feels like a chore. In a lot of ways it feels like an expression of gratitude, a way to thank and reward my body for all that it does.
I was lucky enough to grow up in a household where my mom would cook delicious and very nutritious meals for me. Today I am always asking her cooking questions and sending her photos of my finished meals, (someone has to appreciate my efforts). I love creating meals that are both super nutritious while at the same time being extremely delicious! (Please note I am not condoning indulging in sweets, or the batch of cookies I made for myself last night, or the four bricks of fudge I bought for myself in Niagara. Life is too short not to enjoy some treats every now and again.) So get out there and find some cookbooks that inspire you!
4. Learn to enjoy being alone
I work from home and as a result, find myself alone quite frequently. It’s a hard thing to become accustomed to after a while, but learning to be okay with solitude is pretty challenging yet rewarding. Even when traveling solo, you have to constantly seek out different places and eat alone. I made friends with the owners of some restaurants and they would make my meals especially elaborate and even add on some goodies free of charge! So yes, being alone can be, well, lonely and vulnerable, but there are still a lot of positives to discover and take away from it.
5. Camp under the stars
For me, fewer things feel as magical and peaceful than feeling a part of nature while camping in the outdoors. Not at a basic campsite at a campground that’s equipped with many utilities and other comforts, but a carry-everything-on-your-back-and-hike-to-your-campsite-in-the-wild kind of campsite. With zero amenities. I love that technology can’t reach you there, and you are really on your own in the most natural way. I love being in the wilderness and witnessing all sorts of wildlife and sounds of nature.
6. Accept your body shape
If you have some curves, or lack thereof, at this point in time you must accept what your mom gave you and simply embrace your body! Learn to love your body and take care of it the best you can, which will help you love it even more!
7. Look after your skin
There are so many little things you can do daily to help you have the most flawless, healthy, and glowing skin. The biggest thing is to choose a moisturizer that contains some sunscreen and apply it daily, even in the winter! (Sometimes I will get a sunburn in the winter on sunny days if I don’t wear sunscreen). I guess it’s easy for me to say since I don’t have the ability to really get a tan, but it really is so great for your skin if you care to protect it from the sun’s harmful and damaging UV rays.
Always be sure to wash your face in the evening before bed to rid it of any makeup or toxins from the day, moisturize in the evening, and avoid from washing or exfoliating too often which irritates the skin. I also am a firm believer in very minimal makeup. I work from home, and go to the gym daily, so I am very rarely wearing any makeup. My skin is able to breathe and sweating from the gym is another great way to eliminate toxins from the body!
8. Live on your own
Living on your own at least once is great for becoming more independent and self-aware. A sense of freedom comes with it that can’t really be found in anything else.
9. Travel to another continent
To me nothing gets any more exciting then not only being in a new country, but in a brand new continent. Traveling overseas will bring me all those stomach-flipping, butterfly feelings I love: endless opportunities to discover new things and adjusting to new languages, cultures, customs, and foods.
10. Buy local produce
Buying local fruits and vegetables is so important! Unfortunately, depending on where you live, certain fruits and vegetables are not always in season, and it makes me very sad. During these times, instead of buying overpriced and imported fresh produce, head to the frozen food aisle and stock up there. Frozen produce is frozen at peak maturity so the nutrient value is at a high and it is much more cost-friendly.
Luckily, when the winter is over, that is when you will start to see local and fresh produce popping up in your grocery store, and eventually the local markets will open up with an abundance of local goods! Anything and everything from local honey, maple syrup, wine, in addition to produce will become available depending on the season. Be sure to keep an eye out in order to ensure you’re always getting the healthiest, most budget-friendly and nutrient-rich foods while supporting your local farmers!
11. Learn to like black coffee
Not only is the smell of coffee amazing, but also is the taste itself! Some people might not yet know what coffee really tastes like without the sugar and cream. I say it’s time to drink your coffee black and reap the antioxidant benefits in coffee’s truest form. Save the sugar for when you need to rip into a delicious block of fudge.
12. Drink responsibly
Time to get over the binge drinking. Well, way over time to outgrow the binge drinking. In my opinion, the time has long expired to drink your body weight and act obnoxiously. Nothing shows a lack of class more than someone who still can’t drink responsibly and sensibly.
13. Cut the fake & fads
Cleanses, detoxes, fasts, and other “cool trend” diets are just absolute nonsense to me! No matter what the spin on it, depriving your body of nutrients while fasting on lemon water for a week straight is doing absolutely nothing to “cleanse” your liver and is absolute bullshit. And it definitely won’t “rid your body of toxins,” that really is what your liver (and your kidneys and intestines) is for.
There are things in fitness and health that are somewhat arguable, but detox and cleansing diets are NOT one of them. There is literally not a single piece of scientific research that shows that these diets are effective. Everything you read about detox diets is just a combination of theory and really good marketing. It’s a big fat lie. They work for weight loss, sure, but that’s only because it forces you to consume an extremely low amount of calories, (also not healthy). So don’t be a damn fool. Go work out, eat replenishing and well-balanced meals, and be healthy and strong.
14. Be on time
Being late on a regular basis is simply rude and gives off the impression that you do not value nor care about other people’s time. I grew up with my dad being the most punctual person on the planet. If I had an appointment or birthday party to attend, I would not only be dropped of on time, but a little bit early. His punctuality has definitely rubbed its way onto me.
15. Floss regularly
They say that flossing adds 6 years onto your life. I don’t know how much of that is actually true, however, as a dedicated flosser, I can honestly say that the habit of flossing is easy to get into if you keep it up. You will eventually feel that need. Flossing is great for simply having cleaner-feeling teeth, preventing cavities, and removing between your teeth the food particles and bacteria that get trapped. If I do not floss, I think about everything that could be trapped between my teeth and cringe. I have to floss. If you are a dedicated flosser as well, you will know what I mean.
16. Appreciate your family
Whether we like it or not, our families are there through it all, for the good, the bad, the awkward, the pubescent, and everything in between. When you’re a blissful little kid or a sullen teenager, you never quite appreciate the things your family does for you until you’re older and on your own. The truth is, most of us are lucky, in one way or another, when we really think about it. The people, possessions, and places in our lives that make it pleasant (or at least tolerable) are gifts that we should cherish. We should always be thankful for them.
17. Learn how to say No
Learning how to be assertive can be pretty challenging at first, especially if you are the kind of person who gets a satisfaction out of pleasing people or prefers to avoid confrontation. Often though, certain people will try and take advantage of your kindness and/or meek ways. Do not let them. Stand up for yourself. Make them feel like a fool for trying to take advantage of you.
18. Learn how to forgive yourself and leave the resentment behind
Forgiving yourself is essential in order to move on and continue growing into a better version of you. I am someone who used to beat myself up often and let regrets haunt me. I honestly think that by taking responsibility for your own actions is one of the most important things you can do in order to really forgive yourself and move on.
19. Care for a pet
I am a huge advocate for pet adoption, mainly because it’s the only thing my family and I have ever done, and also because these animals truly deserve a second chance (or third, or fourth) at a happy forever home. I used to volunteer at an animal shelter and walk the dogs waiting for a home. I couldn’t take a dog for a walk, put it back in its crate, and go home without bawling my eyes out to whomever it was that came to pick me up. Dogs from the kennel are usually a mixed breed, and they are not rabid, ugly, or undeserving of a home like they sadly have a reputation of being to blindly ignorant people. Mixed breeds are proven to be healthier and also live longer. Sure, some may have their issues, but every dog does!
20. Be more patient
I tend to lose my patience the most at other people’s rude and obnoxious ways. Sometimes I just can’t take how ignorant others are, like if I overhear someone say they have no respect for police officers (don’t get me started). Taking a breath and remembering that some people just don’t know what they’re talking about, and will never know what they are talking about because they are just too ignorant to learn, helps me put myself at ease and let it slide. For now. Until the next person hovers too close to me at the grocery store and bumps me with their grocery cart while I’m waiting in line. Back the $#^% off!
21. Learn how to properly read nutrition labels
I think this is crucial for healthy living these days, especially when marketing has the tendency to feed you with a whole lot of BS, (like cleanse diets being good, for example). In addition to what it says on the label, like “Non-Fat, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free,” read both the nutrition label and the list of ingredients to see what really is in this product. The more “free” something is when it shouldn’t really be “free” of something, like fat-free and sugar-free ice cream, the thing in its place is likely nothing but harmful chemicals. 100% worse for you. So be careful, and be smarter then the label.
22. Obtain enough sleep on a regular basis
This is hard when you’re a student or when you’re a shift worker. On your days off when you’ve been utterly run down, remember to rest and maybe even hit the sack extra early. Sleep keeps you healthy and keeps your immune system in fighting action.
23. Do an adrenaline sport/activity
You do not need to jump out of a plane to experience sheer adrenaline. Anything from white water rafting, mountain biking, going for a jog, swimming in the ocean, scuba diving, and snorkeling can pump your body up with happy endorphins and adrenaline. Adrenaline has the ability to make you feel damn good about yourself, so find something you like and keep at it!
24. Watch every episode of Friends and Seinfeld
I think watching every episode of Friends and Seinfeld is quite essential. They are collectively the longest running sitcoms in history. I’ve seen every episode of Friends dozens (maybe hundreds?!) of times. I’ve seen every episode of Seinfeld also, though not as repetitively. I love them both but Friends is by far my favourite. What’s yours?
25. Do not settle for less than you deserve
People settle for mediocrity in many aspects of their lives on a daily basis. We accept jobs we hate, we deal with friends who let us down and we let our significant others get away with crap. People are terrified of change, failure and taking risks. This is one of the main reasons people settle in life. It’s not about unrealistic goals or perfection. It is about changing the things you can to be happy, not simply drifting along in life and complaining. Life is way too short to settle for anything less than what we truly want. The only way to embrace your potential is to stop settling. We are only limiting ourselves and wasting our precious time.
26. Travel, travel, travel
Where do I really start with travel? It’s the thing I love doing most and the thing that has taught me so much about myself and the world around me. If anything, it has taught me to do or to be many of the things I’ve mentioned already on this list. It teaches you so much and fuels a passion and relationship with life more than anything else I know.
27. Realize that you have enough, you do enough, and that you are enough
It’s easy to feel like you don’t have enough money, like you don’t have enough friends, like you aren’t doing enough cool things. Social standards are placed on us very early on, and the concept of comparing ourselves to others is almost innate. Believe it or not, all that we want and all that we need is already within us. Everything else is complimentary. We don’t need other people to make us feel loved, we don’t need other people to make us feel good, we can do that on our own. Stop looking for that which is already within you and allow yourself to remember who you really are.