36 Things I Learned by the Time I Turned 36 – Part 4

I still feel like it’s my birthday because I am continuing with this list, although my birthday was more than a week ago. That’s OK, though. These lessons are coming out at just the right time. Here are the next six things I learned by the time I turned 36 years old…

Urgent and important don’t mean the same thing.

I used to think that every urgent matter (as in, the thing needs to be done NOW or SOON) was important and I needed to work on the matter right away. But working on urgent matters does not necessarily move the needle forward. Sure, some urgent matters are important, but they don’t mean the same thing.

An example of something that is important but not urgent is working on changing your thoughts. Sure, it doesn’t need to be done right away, but it is important to change thoughts that don’t ultimately serve you.

An example of something that is urgent but not important is answering all of those emails that pile up in your inbox. While reaching “inbox zero” may feel good, you’re most likely not making any real progress on anything important. 

It’s crucial to determine what’s urgent and what’s important in order to make any meaningful progress on pursuing your passions.

Forgiveness is for you, not the other person.

Until quite recently, I thought a person who wronged me had to be deserving of my forgiveness — as if I am absolving them of wrongdoing. So it was hard for me to forgive anyone, really.

All of a sudden, a shift occurred for me — I chose to forgive people who recently treated me poorly just because I have bipolar disorder. I still don’t think what they did was right, and I still think they are horrible people. And I will probably never speak to them again. I just chose to release the negative experience from my struggles.

I will use this same reasoning to work on forgiving others who have wronged me. Life is too short to keep holding onto the same old hurts.

It’s OK to feel angry.

Anger, too, is a necessary emotion. Anger can fuel us to take positive action in our lives and make meaningful change. For example, the protesters of police brutality are rightfully angry and their actions have effected change in several cities’ police departments. 

If you’re feeling angry at something or somebody, examine that anger. It’s OK to choose to release it, but it’s also fine and sometimes necessary to take action.

It’s OK to feel depressed.

Many people will do anything they can to avoid depression because the mood is demonized by the society in which we live. The problem with trying to avoid it is that it comes anyway, and you may feel guilty about its presence. 

It’s very appropriate to feel depressed sometimes, especially after a negative event triggered it. As you would with anger, examine why you are feeling depressed. You can even sit with the feeling for a while. But when you are ready, try to learn from the experience and move on.

Failures are lessons that propel you forward.

Failing at an endeavor does not mean you should quit. If you are trying to do something you have never done before, failure is inevitable. Use failure to figure out what you did wrong that led to it. Take those lessons and apply them the next time you make an attempt at success. 

You learn lessons from each failure if you are honest with yourself. Those lessons allow for more forward motion than if you quit.

Modesty is overrated.

When someone gives you a genuine compliment, accept it. Don’t try to downplay it, such as saying “Oh, I’m not so great.” You do yourself and the person who paid you the compliment a disservice. 

Playing small does not help you. Admit your greatness to yourself, and use it to change the world. 

Stay tuned for Part 5 soon!

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