{ask gem} on living a fulfilling life

I was recently asked to write a piece for this book.  While I was writing this with teens in mind, I’ve learned that many of us {myself included} have an inner teen that could use some lovin’. I’m publishing this piece for anyone with an inner-teen who needs some guidance.

Life isn’t meant to be perfect, and neither are you. There will always be moments of pain, sadness, disappointment, hurt, and struggle. It’s part of the gig. If you tell yourself you’ll be happy when…you lose the weight, you get the job, your parents are cooler, or you friends stop being cruel—you will continue to suffer. All that is real is this moment. Live in it and you’ll suffer less and experience more joy.

And, while we’re on the topic of perfection, there’s nothing wrong with you or your body.

Really.

Please believe me.

That voice in your head that tells you nasty things is lying, and you don’t have to believe it.

We all have issues. The sooner you start dealing with them, the sooner you’ll get to know your true self, figure out what’s right for you, and start living a life you love.

Learn how to heal the past, love the present, and light up the future.

And, be honest with yourself about self-improvement.

Growing into your true self is a beautiful thing, and it feels light and expansive.

Shedding crap that’s weighing you down feels good (though it’s not always comfortable). This is the kinda self-improvement that is good for your soul. Watch out for the trap of self-improvement that is all about changing yourself in order to be “good enough.” It originates from feeling unworthy, unacceptable, and inadequate. It’s an un-fill-able hole, and you can waste your life trying to fill it. It feels desperate & draining, heavy & empty. It’s easy to slip into this pit and hard to scramble out of it. Really, it’s best just to avoid it all together.

Discover what you love and do more of it.

If you think you love drugs, or shopping, or sugar, consider the possibility that you might actually be loving the feeling of soothing pain or numbing heartache. Let yourself feel what you feel, and get some support if you need it.

If you really love sleeping until 2:00 pm, or watching 12 hours of TV, or completing three-day marathons of Halo, consider the possibility that you’re resisting that struggle that can accompany life. What you resist persists. Get out there. Do something that your heart and soul genuinely love.

If you mess up, think of it as an opportunity to make something beautiful.

The worst mistakes I’ve ever made turned out to be the greatest lessons I needed to learn.

Don’t try to always make the “right” choice.

Take action in spite of uncertainty.

Screw up and then open yourself up to the lesson. It’s always there; if you look for it, you will find it. Major mistakes and subsequent self-reflection will teach you who you are, who you’re not, and who you want to be.

Life is not a competition. We’re all in this together. Enough said.

It’s worth the time and effort to take a look inside your heart and know what deeply matters to you. Knowing this will allow you to make decisions that fill you up instead of suck you dry.

The little things end up being the big things. Don’t tell little white lies. Share your smile. Get in a little exercise every day. Don’t sugar-coat your truth. And, while we’re on the topic of sugar, if you cut it out of your life now, you’ll be better off. Really. It’s nasty stuff that messes up your mind and body.

Log off. Of Twitter, of Facebook, of your phone. Get comfy being with yourself. Connect with the healing vibes of nature; bury your hands in the grass and your feet in the sand. You have a limited capacity for connection. If you’re plugged into technology, you’re unplugged from yourself and nature.

Tap into and hold onto your true self. It’s who the world most needs you to be. This ride can be a rough one. Don’t let the darkness extinguish your light.

xo + ox,