This month marks my 30th birthday! Being a milestone (decade) year, I thought I would take the chance to reflect a bit on what I’ve learned so far in my life. In many ways, I still feel like a baby when I compare my current wisdom and knowledge to the seemingly infinite amount that is possible to obtain. Nonetheless, here are some things I’ve picked up thus far through my own experience. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but is mainly centered around what’s going on in my life right now. (Note: I got the idea from a post on Man vs. Debt).
Experiences are more important than possessions
Possessions can still be fun, but usually, they are just a distraction from what’s really most important – they’re a big money pit as well. Yes, I still bought an iPad (and even paid extra to have it brought to Costa Rica), and although fun, I still find it to be time sapper and a money pit. It can easily take me away from doing other things I should be doing. I guess this is a lesson I’m still in the process of learning. :) On the other hand, I sold almost everything I own because I realize that most of it was unnecessary and not really contributing to my comfort or happiness. I don’t really need more than 7 shirts, for example, and I feel much more free and light with less “stuff” to worry about.
Money can buy freedom
No, I’m not talking about bailing someone out of jail, although it could do that, too. I used to think the main purpose of money was to buy “stuff”. But now I realize that money can buy assets that are much more valuable, such as time, security, and freedom. If you have enough money, you’re free from worrying about covering monthly bills or losing a job, free to do more of the things you enjoy, with more time to enjoy it. You also have more resources (including time) to give and help others. It’s very liberating and empowering. Money is not evil. Rather, it is a powerful tool for good or evil, depending on how you use it.
Stay close to God and you will be happy no matter what
There is something special in the power that comes through seeking God in prayer, meditation, and reading holy writ. It brings peace through adversity, hope through trials, and joy throughout life. I believe that without a relationship with God, a man is just half a man and will never achieve a fulness of life.
Most people hold themselves back by fear
As I’ve broken away from the mold of society in many ways the past few years, I’ve been shocked to learn how fearful many people are of the unknown, even if the unknown can lead to something much better. Fear causes anxiety, stress, health problems, and unhappiness. Fear also inhibits growth. It’s better to believe that anything’s possible, face challenges head-on, and work to make your dreams happen. It’s a lot more fun and exciting, too. Sure, problems will come up along the way, but few are uncorrectable. And the ones that are usually can’t be controlled anyway, so why worry about them? Fear just holds you back from growth and enjoyment of life.
Don’t listen to the masses
Most people don’t have a clue about why they do things the way they do. They just do them because it’s what everyone else does. Even if it doesn’t make sense or they hate it, they don’t usually stop to consider alternatives. Or if they do, they’re too held back by fear (see above) to make any changes. This leads to major problems. Three examples that are going to label me as an extremist, until you take time to think about them:
- School is not education. Education and learning are life-long processes. Sending kids to school, away from the family for 4-8 hours a day, to memorize information they don’t care about 90% of the time, and will most likely never use, is not the same as education, and is not necessary for a happy and productive life. Then there’s the busywork – I mean homework that’s assigned to eat up kids time outside of school. Why not just learn on your own about whatever you’re interested in (unschool / self-directed education)? Much more interesting. Much more direct. Much more useful. The Internet is a great teacher. Of course human teachers are still helpful in many fields, but you can find them outside of the school environment as tutors and specialists in your fields of interest. Our kids are leading their own education and doing great!
- Jobs suck life. Everyone seems to think that a great goal in life (and the purpose of school as well) is to get a job. But this job demands you to be gone (again, away from your family), for 8-10 hours a day, 5 days a week, with only 2 weeks of vacation per year, causing many people great anticipation for weekends and retirement. Why do people put up with that? What you’re actually doing is making some entrepreneur wealthy, putting your livelihood in someone else’s hands, and delaying your life until you’re 60 (unless you honestly enjoy your job, which few do). There is no such thing as job security – they could fire you whenever they want. Why not flip the equation and be the entrepreneur that creates jobs for other people? If you’re smart about it, you can even structure your business to run on its own, so you make money whether you work or not, giving you control of your time and your life, rather than an employer or your business. I love this part of owning a business. Being willing to live with less can make this a reality much more quickly as well.
- Good food is hard to find. Nothing is as healthy as wholesome, fresh food. Fruits, vegetables, and meats from grass-fed animals (eaten sparingly). Unfortunately, most of what we find in supermarkets and that is marketed to us in advertising is full of processed sugars and corn, injected with chemical vitamin supplements to replace a portion of the lost nutritional value, and is generally not all that good for you, causing a myriad of diseases. This rakes in money for both the food and medical industry, but is not good for our health. A better way? Shop at farmer’s markets, grow your own food, don’t snack on junk. Fruit tastes better anyway. I’ve been trying to do this lately and it feels great. I still eat junk on occasion, but usually don’t feel that great afterward.
Still think I’m crazy? Oh well. I’ve decided not to let what the masses are doing dictate how I live my life. It just holds me back, and sucks out a lot of potential, control, and joy.
Persistence, desire, and refusing to give up is what it takes to achieve a goal. Any goal. No dream is too big if your desire is strong enough and you’re willing to work at it. I’ve experienced this so many times in my life in so many areas that I no longer believe excuses to the contrary. You can do anything!
People are more important than things and experiences
As nice as it feels to have stuff and to do exciting things, nothing feels as good as a loving relationship with someone you care about. Serving and helping others, doing something for someone that they can’t do for themselves, giving of your time and means and being a friend all fill a great need in the human heart. And some relationships can last forever.
Achievement isn’t everything
I am naturally driven to achieve, to create, to perform. Sometimes too much. I have learned that sometimes it’s really okay just to “be” – to take time to do nothing “productive”, but just sit and listen and enjoy being alive. Life isn’t a race to see how quickly you can reach perfection. Life is a journey to be enjoyed along the way. Growth comes through experience.
Producing is more fun than consuming
Watching TV or movies, reading, listening to music, buying and using products and services, looking at art – all enjoyable. But what’s even more enjoyable is creating things yourself. Making music, writing your thoughts in a journal or a blog, building a business, creating art. What you create not only blesses you, but also those you share it with – double the fun. And it comes from deep inside you, giving you a greater sense of purpose and meaning by contributing in a way that only you can do.
Keep your wife happy
My wife is my best friend and companion and I love her more than I can say. She lifts me up and helps me see my potential and areas I can grow, as well as my strengths. I enjoy being with her and am glad we have so much time together. But I have also found the old saying to be true, “When mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” I’ve learned that if I do whatever it takes to keep her happy, things go much more smoothly. And she returns the favor, too. Everyone benefits. This is a relationship I want to last forever.
Kids need attention and play
Raising kids isn’t easy, and it’s not for the idle. They need lots of love and attention, and they need you to “play” with them. My 6 and 4-year-old ask me every day, multiple times a day if I will play “paper fairies” or “stuffed animals” or something else with them. I admit that sometimes I don’t really want to, and I often don’t really enjoy it when I do. It seems that I forgot how to truly lose myself in this type of play a long time ago, but I’m trying to learn from them how to do it again. I have, however, rekindled my love for hide-and-seek, exploring nature, and creating things. And I love reading to and with my kids. Most of all, though, I enjoy just talking with them, asking them questions and listening to their answers, or answering their questions. Parenting is hard work, but it also brings a lot of joy.
So, these are some of the things I’ve learned so far in my short lifetime. There is a ton more to learn, and I hope to never stop progressing. I’d love to hear what you’ve learned in your life, too, so share your comments below. Have you learned similar things to what I’ve learned, or is your experience completely different?
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02 Jun 2019
Hiking the Camino de Santiago With Kids
12 Jun 2018
I especially like the bit about keeping your wife happy. :) And, yes, you do a great job at that, just like everything else you put your mind to. In my opinion, as soon as we stop learning we stop living, so I’m glad we are both very committed to lifelong learning and that we can experience this amazing journey together. :) Happy 30th! Your life infinitely blesses my own. Thank you for just being you.
Wow, Brandon. This is such a great and inspirational list. I agree with pretty much everything on there. You are quite insightful. :) I have always thought that experiences are much more valuable than possessions. That’s why I love vacationing! I’m still trying to talk Justin into selling his bass equipment so we can go to Europe (or Costa Rica!) :)
I love you and your family SOOOOO much. You are such a great example to me. Happy birthday on Saturday. (Let me know when you get your card- I sent it last week, but I don’t know how long it takes to get there…)
I can really relate to a lot of these despite being 4 years younger. ;-) Keep up the learning (it inspires me)!
I think we share much of the same life philosophy. My wife and I don’t have kids, but the rest of your post resonates well.
Experiences trump possessions – Things do not make you happy. They just suck time and add stress.
Money is important – It is not everything, but being secure offers you more options in life. Struggle to survive is not fun.
We are all fearful – The unknown is scary, but that is the only way to grow.
Good food is hard to find – In Canada, this is a huge problem. Everything is processed, even in restaurants. Japan is the best country in the world for fresh, quality food by far.
Persistence Pays – It is all about effort.
People are everything – All the success in the world is nothing if you are alone.
Achievement isn’t Everything – It is the process not the outcome. We also need slack time for real creative break-throughs.
Producing IS more fun than consuming.
Definitely need to keep your wife happy! :-)
I was thinking it’s been far too long since you posted – but this was worth the wait. Not only have you gained a lot of wisdom in your 30 years, but you’ve also become a very good writer. I think there’s a book in you waiting to be born sometime.
As the big 3-0 approaches you, it is so interesting to reflect on the growth you’ve made in your life – and where it has taken you. It’s inspiring to so many, including me. I want to live a life without limits :)
I’m working on planning a trip to visit before the year is over.
You make your mom proud.
Thanks everyone, for your comments.
@the mom – How did you know? I wasn’t quite ready to announce it yet, but I actually have been working on an book about creating an on-line business. I’m not sure how long it will take to finish, but we’ll see where it goes. It will be great to see you this year!
Just like I knew you’d be headed to Japan when you were 19, before you opened the envelope and read the letter.
LOL… I know because I’m your mom. Or maybe I’m psychic :)
I vote psychic.
Ah, the big 3.0! Happy birthday! Make sure you celebrate all year, why not all decade? ;)
Love your values & I couldn’t agree more. We’re a family that has been on an open ended, non-stop world tour since 2006,I so walking our talk. ;)
Time is wealth & life is short. The days can be long with young kids, but the years go by so quickly, do not miss a moment…it’s one of life’s great treasures that so many dad’s miss.
What have I learned? Love is all that there is and I won’t live in a world without love, so we co-create heaven on earth where ever we are. ;)
Excellent post, I really enjoyed it! I’m particularly fond of “achievement isn’t everything”. This is something I struggle with.
My addition is that actions are stronger than words. You should do, not talk. This may be related to your fear comment.
[…] Turned 30 […]
Hi, what about kids social life ?
I don’t have kids, but can resonate that 90% of what taught in school is boring ass shit and can be learnt quickly and efficiently from home.
Our kids still play with friends regularly and do take some classes in the community. There’s plenty of chance to interact with both kids and adults. You don’t need to go to school for that either. :)
Hola Brandon, creo que has descubierto cosas muy valiosas, real sabiduría, comparto muchas de tus ideas, pero como bien dices, lo más difícil es vencer el miedo a hacer las cosas. En verdad te felicito.
Lo único que tengo duda es acerca de la escuela en los niños, por una parte estoy de acuerdo que un aprendizaje dirigido y personalizado los puede ayudar más, a no desperdiciar el tiempo;por otro, me temo que prescindir de la escuela pueda cortar habilidades sociales o que luego los niños no puedan adaptarse a otros ambientes (laborales, sociales, etcc…) no sé me gustaría saber cómo es esto, ya que tengo un hijo pequeño y me gustaría que tuviera una buena educación. Saludos.
I love your point on jobs…I wish I had that “idea” that would allow me to open my own busines – I know I will someday, just haven’t come up with it yet.