5 Toxic Notions To Abandon In Your Thirties To Be Happy
Are you really happy in life?
It’s a question so many of would like to answer with a resounding “yes,’ yet so many of us are constantly struggling internally with this question. It’s also a question that will haunt many of us for decades. Some of us will find ourselves in our late twenties, thirties, forties, and beyond still seeking the answer to this question. Self-fulfillment and true joy in life are not easy ideals to master, especially in modern society. The media and social standards try to feed us the answers to these lifelong pursuits of happiness, usually in the form of consumerism and versions of perfectionism.
I don’t think there is an easy, one-size-fits-all answer to the pursuit of self-fulfillment and happiness. We each are on our own journey and must find the path that is right for us. However, in my thirties, I can finally say with some degree of certainty that I am getting closer to attaining true happiness in life. And, surprisingly, I’ve found that contrary to what society would have you believe, the answer really isn’t about attaining more things to find happiness—it’s about letting go. Here are the five things to let go of in your thirties in order to find a truer sense of happiness, fulfillment, and yourself.
1. The need for validation from social media
We live in a world where our self-worth is often tied to our social media accounts. We hunger for likes, comments, shares, and validation in an on-line format. I cannot say I’ve completely broken this bond. As a writer and an author, I’m constantly looking at rankings and numbers online, trying to see if my words are spreading. However, I’ve come to realize in the past few years that true validation from social media will never come.
There will always be something missing online—connection. True connection. No matter how many likes or follows or friends you have on the internet, there can still be loneliness in the real world. My husband has been instrumental in helping me overcome the falsehood that our culture tries to sell us—he often reminds me to put the phone down, to connect in real-time, and to appreciate what’s happening right around me.
Not every moment has to be captured on social media to be real. In fact, some of the most precious moments in my life don’t have a digital footprint. Letting go of the need for online approval helps create a truer, more genuine sense of self, connection, and appreciation of your life, not some brand you build online.
2. The idea that my body needs to be perfected
Many of us, especially women, spend our twenties trying to live up to media’s mainstream view of beauty. We spend hundreds on potions, lotions, creams, and cover-ups. We constantly seek to fix our bodies, to make them look like the models in ads. We strive to be thinner, less chunky, less marked, less imperfect.
I still fight the self-love battle when I look in the mirror-like so many of us do. There is still a tendency to find every bump, every cellulite chunk, every extra ounce of fat. There is still a habitual need to lessen my body’s worth based on a false notion of beauty. However, in my thirties, I’m learning to let go of the need to have a magazine cover-worthy body—because as we all know, those aren’t always real anyway.
Learn that your body is your body—and no one else’s, which makes it special.
Learn to appreciate it for what it does for you, for all of the life it allows you to experience.
In short, realize that beauty is about an inner feeling, not about an outward comparison.
3. The boxes and labels you put around yourself
In our twenties, we often work on building our image and our self-identity, which can be a good thing. However, sometimes this involves creating a steadfast box for ourselves, which limits our growth and can limit our journey to happiness. Sometimes, in order to find our truest self, we must be willing to venture out of the picture we painted of ourselves and our life. Sometimes we have to find the courage to go beyond the label we built around ourselves in order to chase a new dream, a new version of what we want.
Give yourself permission to change your mind, to change your direction, and to change your goals.
4. Society’s timelines for life
Our journey to self-fulfillment and happiness is our own. Period. We cannot let social standards for our lives and the order in which we pursue our choices dictate what we do. We must be tenacious enough to chase our own version of happiness, even if it looks different than what society thinks it should look like. We must be willing to find what fulfills us and go after it, no matter what the timeline looks like for it. It’s never too late to chase happiness or to change the version you are going after.
5. The belief that consumerism and material goods lead to happiness.
In my thirties, I’ve come to learn that the lie society sometimes feeds us—that things equal happiness—is draining. It distracts us from what really matters. So many of us spend our twenties trying to accumulate success and wealth so we can fill our lives with things we think will make everything easier and better.
In truth, though, the more products we consume, the more we insatiably hunger for them. True satisfaction comes from gratitude for what you have and from an appreciation that the best things in life can’t be bought.
Learn to cherish experiences—moments with loved ones, simple times of peace, nature, and emotions stemming from a sense of self-worth.
Learn that happiness is built on experiences and moments, not on a collection of things.
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