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8 Lessons I Learned This Birthday

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LIFE LESSONS
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Recently, I celebrated another birthday. As I look back at how quickly time passes, I am amazed at how much can change in a matter of a year. I think we go through cycles of change -- when the complete unexpected throws you off your equilibrium --giving you the opportunity to reassess and recalibrate. This past year was one of those cycles for me -- and slowly but surely the pieces that were thrown up in the air are falling into place.

At a time of reflection, I'd like to share with you some of the things I have learned.

1. The difference between happy people and unhappy people is their level of gratitude.

If you observe anyone who is miserable, you will notice they are never satisfied and constantly blaming their history, luck or other people for their struggles. If you observe happy people, they are full of gratitude. Instead of focusing on what they don't have to achieve/attract love/move forward -- they choose to focus on solutions to create the life they want. Even when these people are triggered by a bad turn of events, after reacting with sadness/frustration/stress/anger -- they get back to their baseline of happiness in due time.

Studies show that you can actually rewire your brain for happiness by practicing gratitude on a daily basis. Gratitude is a choice. Happiness is an attitude. How you will live your days is a choice that is completely within your control.

2. You will have your heart broken, and you will survive.

You'd think that one would get better at handling heartaches with age. But they don't get any easier or less painful, do they? While the intensity of hurt can be just as potent, if not more, with each relationship that comes and goes, I have learned that we have an unbreakable spirit that enables us to get back up even after the most crushing of heart experiences.

When you're going through the pain of separation it can be difficult to imagine being happy again. But nobody can take away your baseline of joy and happiness. Even if you are knocked off your feet for a period of time, you do eventually get back to your equilibrium. If you're going through that dark stage where you feel stuck in suffering, try and remember this:

You will love again. You will be loved again.

3. You will lose your job, and eventually find a better fit.

Endings are just new beginnings in disguise. You may be uncomfortable with the uncertainty, but some of the best things in life are born from those times of being open to new opportunities.

4. People you love will hurt you and disappoint you. Try to look beyond their mistakes and understand their intentions.

I used to be black and white with friendships. A friend was either a BFF or a mere acquaintance; there wasn't much gray area in between. And if a friend hurt me or didn't encompass the values I did, I'd cut that friendship off. But I've learned that we all can act a little selfish, forget to consider the people we love, or take others for granted. And that's okay. People go through phases, people make mistakes -- that shouldn't discount a history of times your friend was there for you.

Sometimes a friendship just needs time to breathe before it can flow again. And that's okay, too.

5. One's nature does not change.

Our perspectives, our appearances, our disposition can constantly change. But our core nature generally does not. People learn survival mechanisms at a fairly young age -- and that way of being becomes reinforced and ingrained. When I asked a dear friend of mine why he chose to be in my life during my early twenties when I was so insecure and unstable, he responded, "I saw you for your essence. And that has always been a constant."

If you want to truly see someone, look past their words, their charm and their charisma. Look past their disposition and even their mistakes. Look past the presentation and you'll find their essence. Because while everything superficial can change, one's nature does not.

6. Be selective of who you share your heart and body with.

"We accept the love we think we deserve." -- The Perks of Being a Wallflower

We harm our spirit when we go against the integrity of our own values. Know your boundaries and what you are willing and not willing to negotiate. And remember, just because something feels good in the present moment doesn't mean it's a healthy decision for your future. Ask the right questions so you don't keep making the same mistakes. What sort of relationship do you want to attract in your life? Is the decision you are making bringing you closer to that or steering you off that path?

7. Your body is not invincible.

Unfortunately many of us wait until there is a health scare, and then react to fix it, instead of being proactive to avoid it. Your immune system is critical to identifying and destroying foreign and potentially cancerous cells. Stress, not eating, eating unhealthy food -- these can all be factors that contribute to weakening your immune system. And when it's weakened, those mutated cells are not recognized by your immune system. The bad cells are then nourished just like healthy cells, causing the cells to duplicate and potentially become cancerous cells.

Take care of your body. Even if you think you're invincible, consider that it is the people who love you that will suffer if something were to happen to your health. If you won't do it for yourself, do it for the people who care about you.

8. When it doesn't work out with someone in the present, it's because it's meant to work out with someone else in the future.

This applies to relationships and opportunities as well. We can get so caught up expecting a particular outcome, only to get overwhelmed by disappointment when things don't pan out the way we planned. During the moment, it may feel that life is out of sorts, but have faith that there is a bigger, better plan for you, and each person that touches your life is just preparing you for the person you're meant to be with.

To those who read my articles -- from strangers to old friends -- thank you for being a part of my journey. I hope the lessons I've learned help you in your journey too. I'm excited for this next chapter in my life and look forward to sharing my experiences with you.

Amy Chan is a relationship columnist. To read more of her blogs, visit www.amyfabulous.com.

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