Every year, we celebrate our own birthdays – and what a good opportunity this is to look back and see what has been experienced, discovered and learnt about ourselves in the last year.

A birthday is a milestone… an anniversary date with yourself! So, today, I look back on the year and share ten things I’ve learned about myself – about taking things one day at a time, about celebrating even the smallest moments of joy. As you read,

I’ve learned…

  • A good day is not something to be taken for granted. This may sound clichéd, but I certainly have experienced the truth of it. I’ve learned when I have a good day to celebrate by hosting my own ‘party’ (i.e. by going to my favourite restaurant or having a luxurious bath with salts) and to simply relax and enjoy the moment without feeling guilty for taking time off.
  • Self-compassion – there is only love, even if something unpleasant happens that changes your life. If you’re going through a time of pain (physical or emotional), treat yourself gently. At the end of the day, what’s important is you and your needs.
  • Self-healing is the way to go – and it’s also the biggest challenge. It’s been a year of becoming aware of when and where I feel healthy and happy and how I define these. (What works for you?) No matter how many specialists you visit, the belief that you can heal your pain is key to the healing process. (I’m still working on this!)
  • Not to doubt myself! Doubting yourself is one of the worst things you can do to yourself. I’m talking specifically about doubting what your inner voice is telling you. It’s when we don’t cut though the noise to feel what we want and need that we begin to feel confused; then we begin to ask questions that, deep down, we already know the answers to.
  • The importance of friends. Let’s not underestimate the value of having people who love you and sharing your life with friends! This is fuel for all the joy you want to bring into your life and, I believe, one of the greatest weapons against loneliness and depression.
  • To wake up gradually. In the morning, try and start your day without rushing. I used to wake up and immediately check emails, wolf down my breakfast and fixate on my appointments for the day. Recently, I’ve chosen to give myself enough time in the mornings to feel calm, focused and inspired.
  • Eating five meals a day is a must for me. Eating what your body needs is crucial to your health and to being present in the day. I’ve added almonds, fruits and vegetables to my diet as in-between meals and, wow, I feel the difference! I’m more in control and feel more confident now that I’m following the right, balanced eating plan for me. Find what works for you – it can help to consult a specialist if you’re not sure.
  • Focus, no matter what is happening around you! This can be challenging if you’re surrounded by noise or mental ‘sirens’. Focusing on the big picture helps me to be calmer and more in control of a situation.
  • Be grateful for what I have (and not moaning for what I don’t have). Yes, it is so simple and yet so deep!
  • To respect my heart’s desires – an idea that’s beautifully summed up in these words by Iain Thomas (quoted in the book/online course Thrive by Arianna Huffington):

“And every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, ‘This is important! And this is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this!’ And each day, it’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, ‘No. This is what’s important.’”

I wish you great joy and beauty in the year to follow!

Take things one day at a time, celebrating even the smallest moments of joy

What is the one thing you’ve learnt since your last birthday? I’d love to hear from you, simply add in the comments!

First published on Expat Nest.

Latest posts by Vivian Chiona (see all)