31 Insights (from 31 Years) to Live Happier & More Fulfilled

Today is my 31st birthday! Because of that and also because 31 is my favorite number, I’ve condensed what I know to be true into 31 insights that will help you live a happier, more fulfilled life.

In no particular order of impact, here they are.

  1. Personal responsibility is a gift, not a burden.

    When we accept that we’re the only ones responsible for our happiness and well-being, we can see it for the gift that it is. We can literally create the world we want. How cool! This also means that other people’s responsibility is their gift. Let them have it without trying to take it on. That doesn’t benefit anyone. 

  2. Experiences build an interesting and dynamic life.

    Research shows that fulfillment created from an experience grows as time passes, while fulfillment from a material possession actually decreases over time. Joy from experiences literally compound year after year. Not only that, but experiences widen your perspective, make you more interesting and allow you to connect with a broader range of people. Experience wins over stuff every time!

  3. Personal relationships are everything.

    What would life be without the fulfillment and challenges of our relationships? Success in any other area is nothing without the support, encouragement, and celebration of the friends and family who helped us get there. Like stated in Into the Wild, “happiness is only real when shared.”

  4. For lack of a better word, make the effort to find your “tribe”.

    Jim Rohn says you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Seek out the people who “get” you and understand your goals and aspirations. Surround yourself with people who are doing what you want to do, who can inspire you and lift you up. Create tribes everywhere, at every point in life. Build your support system. See above.

  5. The strain of courage outweighs the pain of regret.

    Doing the “work” to live a courageous, honest life that feels so true to who you are results in fulfillment and joy that dreams are made of. Choosing the comfortable, conventional, tried and truth path that everyone else is on feels easy in the moment. What’s hard is waking up one day and realizing you lived your life for everyone else. Courage > regret.

  6. Vulnerability is a good thing.

    Not a weakness. Like Brene Brown said, “vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage.” Speaking the truth, acting courageously, being honest about what you really feel and who you really are, taking leaps of faith. This is what vulnerability looks like. Every courageous act, every challenge, every honest conversation, albeit hard, are the types of hard that create a bad-ass, awesome, magical life. See above.

  7. When you shift your internal, the external shifts like magic.

    When you positively change your internal thoughts and feelings, the world around you changes as well. Things happen like magic. Scientifically, when we experience positive emotions, our peripheral vision expands. We quite literally see more possibilities.

  8. Allowing time for spaciousness creates more time.

    Being busy all the time makes you feel… busy. It never stops. When you take the time to stop, breath, and enjoy the moment more often, you get more done. Counterintuitive, but it works.

  9. The world is here to explore!

    We live in a day and age where you can see the entire world. Why wouldn’t you try to make a dent? Of course, safety first, but turn off the news and do your own research. Traveling off the beaten path is usually much safer than we perceive and so very fulfilling and worth it. (Ahem, experiences…)

  10. If you want to change your actions, take a look at what you believe to be true about yourself and the world.

    If you often wonder why you’re doing something that you swore you wouldn’t do anymore, it’s usually because somewhere in your subconscious you believe you’re unworthy, undeserving, or not capable of having what you really want. We all have these limiting beliefs floating around. Fortunately, we can always change them and watch our actions follow.

  11. Anger/annoyance often has a lot more to do with me and the stories I’m making up than the person I’m annoyed at.

    Here’s the situation – you feel the frustration and emotion rising. You’re pissed, upset, hurt, disappointed and want to go up to the person and say, “dude, wtf!” When you’re in the midst of a frustrating situation, what’s the story you’re making? The story I’m making is, the other person doesn’t care about me. I’m not smart enough. I can’t trust myself. They don’t love me. I don’t belong here. Get clear on this first and then assess what needs to be communicated to the other person. 

  12. Joy is always possible.

    Yet, anyone who’s seen Inside Out knows, you can’t have joy without sadness. When you numb the negative emotions, you numb the positive ones. You can always experience joy, even in and after what feels like the worst pain. In fact, when you expand your capacity for pain, you expand your capacity for joy. The absolute values of feelings are all essentially the same. Feel your range of emotions and remember that you can always feel joy. No matter what.

  13. Happiness is now, NOT in the future.

    We place so much stake on the future. When I have a new job, relationship, financial situation, body, etc., etc. THEN I’ll be happy. But happiness doesn’t come. When you practice waiting for happiness, you’ll get really good and waiting.

  14. Further, if you want something, find a way to experience it now.

    If you want something, first figure out why. What do you think that will bring you in the future? Freedom? Contentment? Meaning? How can you experience freedom, contentment, or meaning now? You can always experience the feeling you’re seeking now. Once you do, you might find you get what you want much quicker.

  15. There is always time to be there for a loved one.

    We’re busy little creatures, aren’t we? Always doing something just vitally important. Some things are worth stopping for. It’s never a waste of time to support and be there for someone you love.

  16. BUT boundaries are so important.

    Keep your cup full first and foremost. Giving more than you have leaves you depleted, tired, and bitter. Give what you can to others, while always giving to yourself. Respect your boundaries.

  17. Know thyself.

    Self awareness is everything. Understand who you are and what you need. There’s no greater joy than becoming more of who you truly are, and to do that you have to know who that is. Also, knowing what you need and don’t need and what doesn’t and does work for you is the starting point of self-love and self-care. This is how you keep your cup full.

  18. Who says you “should” do anything?

    When saying “should” ask yourself, “according to whom?” Your clothes, career track, and every day choices could be dictated by you, or everyone around you. Life is too short to listen to anything other than your own internal knowing and voice.

  19. You get what you look for.

    Looking for the good in people or the worst? Expecting traffic or smooth sailing? You always get what you look for. Look for awesome things, and you will see awesome things.

  20. Your word becomes your reality.

    Remove absolutes and declaratives from your vocabulary. How often do you say “never” or “impossible”? How often do you call yourself “old” or “stupid”? Don Miguel Ruiz says, “be impeccable with your word.” You are what you say. Your world is what you say. Use your words wisely.

  21. Further, how you talk to yourself is the basis of your life.

    Think of your most impactful teacher or guardian. Why do/did you love them? Were they encouraging or critical and demanding? We often take the critical and demanding route in our own heads. How do we expect to live an empowered life from that place?

  22. Financial responsibility is a worthy subject to learn.

    This feels like common sense, but unless our parents/caregivers are proficient we’re not always taught anything about money. You know, the thing we use every day. In college, I learned how to manually price derivatives (a contract between two or more parties whose value is based on an agreed-upon underlying financial asset, index or security – like, what?), but never how to actually invest. While we’re at it, learning any life skill that falls under “taking care of yourself” is a worthy endeavor.

  23. Time spent “enjoying” can benefit your whole life.

    Pleasure cultivates health, calms the nervous system, increases the effectiveness of your digestive system, and can minimize the risk of depression and anxiety. For further info check out the book: Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul

  24. Emotions are meant to be felt and dealt (with).

    Trying to avoid them is a futile effort. We can pretend we’re being “strong” all we want, but emotions do in fact exist in adults (some more than others). If you feel like you’ve avoided them, you’ve only suppressed them. And suppressed emotions need to be continually suppressed which leads to excessive eating, drinking, recreational drugs, amongst other things. When you truly allow yourself to feel them, you release them…and life becomes much easier and lighter.

  25. Shame can only live in the dark. Share your struggles.

    We all feel shame and we all feel like no one could possibly understand. When you share your struggles, shame cannot exist and you will surprisingly feel much less alone.

  26. You can want something one day then want something totally different the next. That’s okay.

    Even if you’ve dedicated years of your life to something, who says you can’t change your mind? Life is too short to stay in something we don’t love.

  27. There is no such thing as failure.

    Why is this so hard to learn? The only failure is quitting. Something didn’t work out the way you planned? Why? Get some feedback and try again. It’s kind of ridiculous to think that the first (or second or third) time we try something we’re going to get it exactly right. No failure, only feedback.

  28. We’ve all been dealt a hand of cards, work with them.

    Sometimes we luck out, sometimes we don’t. Some people fold before they even play the game. Your cards are your story, what makes you unique. You can’t change them. Acceptance is the fastest path to moving forward. Wishing that things out of your control would be different, or feeling sorry for yourself, is a waste of your precious energy. Use that energy to create your own happiness.

  29. No one can make you feel *anything* that you don’t believe to be true.

    Eleanor Roosevelt said, “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent,” but I would argue that no one can make you feel loved, enough, or worthy without your consent. If you don’t feel it or believe it, no one’s opinion of you can change that, negative or positive.

  30. Your relationship to yourself is the most important relationship you have.

    Who else are you with 24/7? Who else talks to you pretty much non-stop? Who else is responsible for you? See #1. Treat yourself with all the loving kindness, respect, and understanding you would your best friend. Wouldn’t that be way better?


    Imagine if every moment of your day was actually enjoyed. Or, every act was tied to something that had meaning for you. This all boils down to a question, who are you living life for? Like Mary Oliver said, you only have one wild and precious life. Live for yourself. The whole world will benefit.

And with that I’m taking the day off. 🙂

I so appreciate you reading and being part of the Create Happy community. You motivate and inspire me every day to be a better version of myself.

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  • melinda

    Reply Reply January 15, 2016

    dear jackie,
    thankyou for your words of wisdom, I ‘ve recently rediscovered buddhism and your philosophies are so similar, full of love and beauty, thankyou again, I hope you had a wonderful birthday,
    love melinda

    • Jackie

      Reply Reply January 16, 2016

      Thank you, Melinda! I’m so glad it resonated with you.

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