Life tidbits from finances and career to travel and relationships

As I get deeper into my early 30s I have learned to take notice of what is most important in life. We constantly give advice to our peers, judge our neighbors, and think we have it all figured out, when in reality most of us are running laps in our hamster balls, not saying “goodnight” to our significant others, are upside down on our mortgages, and are simply just going through the motions of everyday life while putting on a façade. As a millennial, I am given advice (when I don’t ask for it) on a daily basis, I am judged and oftentimes I am ridiculed, but the one thing that I do hold close to my heart that many people do not have is happiness. I have also learned the importance of wearing comfortable shoes and always carrying an extra hair tie, but more importantly, I know what makes ME happy; a trait that many individuals search for their entire lives. 

Traveling is the best form of education. After years of post-graduate education and traveling to dozens of countries, I have learned more about the world, about people, about poverty, and about culture than I ever could from sitting in an anatomy class, closing a wound in an operating room or studying for yet, another board examination. I have sacrificed a goat with Maasai members in Africa, squatted in a “toilet” onto the train tracks while in a fast moving train in India, walked through the S-21 prison in Cambodia with a friend who saw his father slaughtered in front of him during the Khmer Rouge, kissed an alpaca on top of Rainbow Mountain in Peru, spent the night in an African hospital because I was sick from malaria, delivered babies in India without electricity, and have listened to stories, laughed and cried with so many people from all social classes and walks of life around the world. Reading a psychology book, sitting in a lecture hall or gaining another diploma could never replace these conversations, lessons, and memories.

Forgiveness has nothing to do with reconciliation. Forgiveness is not about the other person, but it is about allowing yourself to eliminate any toxic anger, resentful or negative feelings that you have towards yourself or towards others. If someone harmed you, you have the choice to forgive him or her, even if they do not grant you an apology. It is not about them or the relationship, but it is about you and allowing yourself to have space for other positive people and healthy feelings in your life.

Seek advice from people you admire. If you are like me, you probably are constantly being told “words of wisdom” from everyone you know. From relationship advice, real estate advice, financial advice… you name it; people like to feel important so they are going to give you their two cents, whether you ask for it or not. Listen, smile and nod then throw that advice over your shoulder and move on, unless you truly admire that person. Take advice from people you respect and those you admire.

In pain, there is learning, and in learning, there really is growth.

Save. Always dump at least 10% of your gross salary into a savings account/investment account for a rainy day because there will ALWAYS be a rainy day.

It is totally okay to pivot your career path.

Take time for yourself. If you are a mom, an 80-hour-a-week career person, a CEO, a widow, or a bachelor, you must always take time to be alone, to recharge, to laugh and to relax. Go on a trip, go for a run, call in sick, and just do YOU for one whole day, at least. Your coworkers, spouses, family members, employees, and friends will like you better if you are refreshed, relaxed and happy. #grumpypeoplesuck

If you are not comfortable with being alone, you are not ready for a romantic relationship. Seriously, this is the 101 of relationship therapy.

Travel. See #1

Your birthday is the only day that is ALL ABOUT YOU. Celebrate, do whatever makes you happy because it is one day a year where you can call the shots. I never work on my birthday.  I either go on a trip or spend the whole day doing all of my favorite things with people I cherish. 

Read. “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies . . . The man who never reads lives only one.” – George R.R. Martin. The library is one of the greatest resources for your mind. Goodreads is also an awesome resource.

Wisdom does not necessarily come with age. Wisdom also comes with experience, just because someone is older than you, does not mean they know more.

Invest in your skin. Your hands are the first signs of aging. Daily SPF, facial masks, scrubs, and retinol cream can only help you (tip your esthetician). 

Spend time outdoors. Studies have shown that nature can help with depression and anxiety. Whether its hiking, camping, surfing, paddle boarding, jogging or strolling on the beach; Mother Nature is truly healing.

Drink at least 3 liters of water a day.

Floss. Dental work is expensive and is rarely ever covered by insurance.

Open a retirement plan. Whether it’s a 401K through your company, a Traditional IRA or a Roth IRA, it is never too early to open a retirement plan (check with your tax guy to see which one is best suited for you).

You do not need to own a home with a white picket fence. So many people strive to get married, buy a house and have kids because that is the American Dream; however, they never achieve true happiness. For many, happiness is living out of a decked out van, renting a beach apartment or leasing a modest home. Do what makes you happy, not what society is telling you to do.

Cars and boats are not investments. A Mercedes may only make you happy for 10 days…until you have to take it into the mechanic.

Forget Keeping up with the Joneses. Nobody will remember your job title, your bank account or what you had in life, but they will remember your character and how you made them feel.

Eat all the carbs. Seriously, I eat burritos like five days a week…okay maybe practice moderation but please don’t go on that fad “no carb” diet.

Exercise. It is not just good for the mind but it is also good for your health.

Take care of your health when you are young because it will become harder to control unhealthy lifestyles the older you become.

Pick your battles. I will never understand why people fight over politics or leave nasty comments on social media. Pick what is worth fighting for. My friends and family are worth fighting for but I will not fight with them over petty nonsense.

You can never take words back. We have all flown off the handle one time or another and have said things that we regret. Words will break someone’s heart, be careful what you say.

Friends will become strangers and strangers will become friends. You will most likely grow apart from some friends and that is okay. Friendships are a lot of work and if two people are not willing to work on the friendship then it may not be worth it in the end. On the flip side, you are never too old or too cool to meet new friends.

Work to live. Do not live to work. If your life revolves around your job, you probably either need a new job or need a new perspective on your life.

Always put a full tank of gas in your car. If you only fill a quarter tank, you will regret it the next day.

Learn a new hobby. After years of wanting a nice camera and after years of being intimated by all the technology and learning that a camera brings, this year, I finally took the leap into photography. I never heard of the word “aperture” in my entire life and now I am always asking, “what F-value are you shooting on?”

Ask questions, it can be humbling. The amount of knowledge I have learned from asking my mechanic a surplus of questions is astounding.

Allow yourself to have bad days but know when to seek help. There will be days when you do not want to get out of bed, where everything seems to be falling apart, and where you may even feel that your life is ending. Those moments and days shall pass and if they do not, seek help, share your feelings but never ever hide behind your mask because it will only make these feelings and days worse. 

Always remember where you parked your car. I actually always drop a pin because I always seem to lose my car. True story: the only time I have been in the back of a cop car is when I lost my car at LAX. 

Always wear comfortable shoes. Women who kill themselves in heels are only making their future orthopedist or neurosurgeon happy (and rich). Seriously, if your shoes hurt your back or give you blisters, ditch them.

Reduce your carbon footprint. You do not need to drive an electric car or compost your own trash but at least try to save the planet by being aware of how much trash you produce on a weekly basis and learn ways to cut back. Recycle, do not buy disposable plates/utensils, mind the Amazon packaging, carpool, drink tap or filtered water from your faucet, you do not need a 30-minute shower and pick up trash if you see it. 

Get rid of your clutter. We collect too much stuff that we do not need. Go through your house, your closet and/or your garage once a year and if you have not used it or worn it in the past year then donate it; you clearly do not need it. A rule I have set for myself: for every new outfit or a new pair of shoes I buy, I must donate an outfit or a pair of shoes in my closet. I also try to mostly shop at second-hand stores (the fashion industry is corrupt). 

Everyone is fighting their own battle. You never truly know what people are going through. They may appear happy on the outside, they may appear successful and they may appear healthy but they could be battling some of the darkest days of their life. Embrace them, forgive them, listen to them and be kind to them; or at least try to do all of these things.


  • Dr. Kristen Fuller

    Mental Health Professional M.D.

    Kristen Fuller, M.D., is a mental health content writer for a number of treatment centers and enjoys writing about evidence-based topics in the cutting-edge world of mental health and addiction medicine. She is a physician and an author, who also teaches and contributes to medicine board education. Her passion lies in educating the public on preventable diseases including mental health disorders and the stigma associated with them. She is a regular contributor for Psychology Today and is also an outdoor activist and dog enthusiast and is the founder of an outdoor women's blog titled, GoldenStateofMinds.