I haven’t been alive for long, I have a lot of growing left, and many more life lessons to learn. That being said, reflecting on the past 33 years, I have learned a thing our two. I thought I would share a few of them with you.

Being a parent is hard, but it’s the best
Being woken up in the middle of the night. Not being about to really go out to eat and enjoy it for several years. Sacrificing your own time so you can take your kids to baseball practice, to the park, or on a bike ride. It’s hard. But there is nothing like having your kids throw their arms around your neck when you get home. Being a parent is tough, but it’s worth it!

Happiness is a state of mind, not a destination
Stop pursuing happiness. Happiness isn’t somewhere you will eventually get once you… (fill in the blank). It’s a state of mind. Choose to be happy now, no matter where you are in life.

Reading can change your life
I have spent thousands and thousands of dollars on education. I went to a combined 19 years of school. I have learned more by reading as many books as I could in the past few years than I did in all those years of “education.”

Malcolm X said, “People don’t realize how a man’s whole life can be changed by one book.” Go find that one book. You might just find a few more that change your life too.

Interstitial time is so valuable
We tend to think it’s the big moments that make the biggest impact on our lives, but we forget about all the little moments in between. I am talking about the smallest of moments. The time that doesn’t even count as moments, it just connects one moment to the next. What are you doing when you are waiting in line at Starbucks? How much mindless time are you spending on social media? Those minutes add up! Use them wisely.

The best advice for productivity it, “Go to sleep!” Prioritize it.

You won’t do anything until you prioritize like you do eating
Our lives are full of “I wish,” or “If I only had the time.” I wish I had more time to read. I wish I could play the guitar. I wish I was a better writer. If I only had the time…

You know what is one thing we always make time for? Eating! I have never heard someone say, “If I only had the time to eat…” And you know what, I always have time for food (I know there are many people who struggle with poverty and lack of access to food. This is unacceptable and is a problem that needs to be addressed).

If you really want to do something, prioritize it like you do eating.

Always make time for Netflix
We live in a world that is pushing for more and more productivity. I am sure you can find a thousand articles and how you can be more productive. Productivity is great, but don’t forget to slow down. It’s ok to take a break. Watch some Netflix! The latest season of “Dear White People” was dope.

Take time to identify your core values
What motivates you? Why do you do what you do? You need to know what values you need to be addressing on a regular basis. For me, unhappiness can generally be traced back to the fact that I am neglecting one or more of my core values. Figure out what they are and take time to reflect on whether your daily actions align with them.

Mine are relationships, growth, creativity, health, contribution, faith, and authenticity.

When you’re feeling mad or down, do a happy dance
It’s hard to be mad when you are dancing like a fool!

You find yourself when you lose yourself in the service of others
I have spent countless hours thinking about and searching for meaning and for myself. I have learned infinitely more about myself when I am serving and helping others.

Dieting doesn’t work, only long-term sustainable changes do
Make changes that you can stick with. Diets may help you reach some short-term goal, but it’s sustainable changes that will help you live a healthy life.

Worthwhile things take patience
There is no such thing as an overnight success. Things that matter take time, energy, and consistent practice. Earn the right to call yourself skilled at something.

You regret more of what you don’t do than what to do do
Failing sucks. Being made fun of might be even worse. But the worst thing of all is looking back and think, “I wish I would have done…”

Stop taking life so seriously
Take time to smile. Have fun. Don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself. We are all in this together and we are all making fools of ourselves!

Take life seriously
Life is short. Your life matters. You can have a huge impact on the people around you. Don’t take that responsibility lightly.

Eat sushi as much as possible
I have never thought, “Man, I had too much sushi.”

Don’t forget to play
Don’t feel guilty for doing something that you enjoy. Play and productivity aren’t mutually exclusive. Play and creativity overlap more than we realize.

Doubling your income won’t make you happier (for the most part)
When I was making $15,000 a year, I thought, “If I could only make $30,000 a year, then I would be happy.” Then I started making more and more money… but I wasn’t happier. If you were to double your income right now, would you be happier? Probably not. Figure out how to be happy now, money has very little to do with it.

Say “yes,” unless you have a good reason to say “no”
It’s easy to say “no” or “not right now” to your kids or to the ones you love when they are asking you for simple things. “Can you read me a book dad?” “Can you play baseball with me?” Unless you have a good reason to say “no,” say “yes.” It has strengthened my relationships with the people that matter most to me and has made me a whole lot happier too.

Say “no,” unless you have a good reason to say “yes”
There are a countless number of people, requests, or other things that fight for your attention. If you are not careful, you won’t have enough time and attention left for the things that do matter. Don’t be afraid to say “no.” Take the time to evaluate what is being asked of you and if it aligns with your core values. If it doesn’t, don’t do it.

Invest in relationships
All good things take time and attention. People are no different. Invest in relationships, because at the end of the day, that is one of the few things that will matter when we are gone.

Be present
Learning from the past and preparing for the future is important. But be careful. Don’t let those things crowd out the “right now.” The present moment is all we really have. Don’t waste it.

Make room for the unexpected
Having plans is great, but most the majority of the best things in my life were not planned for. Stay flexible.

Don’t follow your passion, cultivate one
“Follow your passion,” is the worst advice I have ever received. It makes the assumption that I have some predisposed passion that I just need to discover. I wasn’t born with a passion, and I wasted several years and thousands of dollars trying to find it. Passion isn’t found, passion is cultivated.

Take the time to identify your personal philosophy
How do you want to live your life? What is the filter you can run all your life’s decisions through to make sure what you do is in line with who you want to be? Take time to think about that and try and come up with a short, memorable phrase that embodies it. Mine is, “Always be kinder than necessary.”

Always be kinder than necessary
Life is tough. The world can be cruel. Don’t add to it. Be kind. In fact be kinder than you think is necessary. Kindness is the best investment because it always pays off.

American Apparel tri-blend t-shirts are the best
They are just comfortable. I don’t mess around with no “100% cotton” non-sense.

Let the thought of your own mortality drive you
Death is inevitable for all of us. We are terminally ill in a way. But don’t let that thought scare you. Let it motivate you. Do things that matter. Be happy. Love harder. Feel more. Be present.

Spend time on the things that matter and cut out as much of the other stuff as possible
Stop being “busy.” Don’t be fooled by what seems urgent. Urgent does not always (actually in most cases doesn’t) mean important. Do what you can to make room for the things that are important and matter. You need to actively do it, because the truly important things rarely shout for your attention. They usually sit on the sideline waiting for you and when you have time. If you’re not careful, they might not be there when you are finally ready to give it the time.

Debt sucks
I am a firm believer that there is no such thing as smart debt. There is debt that is less dumb and doesn’t suck as much, but in the end, it’s still debt and it sucks. Do whatever you can to stay out of debt. If you are buying something big, either wait till you can pay cash, or in the case of something like a house, put down as much as you can. Debt sucks!

It’s ok to fail
Perfectionism is the enemy of creativity and learning. It’s ok if something isn’t perfect. In fact, nothing ever will be. Execute, learn, and then grow. Life is about growing, not being perfect.

I am not perfect, and that’s ok
I am not perfect and I will never be perfect. But I am trying my best and I am growing, and that is enough.

Be grateful
Gratitude is the secret weapon for a happy and successful life. Live with gratitude.

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Originally published at medium.com