It’s my Birthday! 39 Things I’ve Learned in This Life

Today is my 39th birthday. No sense in letting it go to waste!

People gather where there is food. "Cake!" by Kate Russel, Flickr, CC-By-2.0
“Cake!” by Kate Russel, Flickr, CC-By-2.0

I’ve enjoyed getting older. Experiences have accumulated, giving me perspective.

I’ve learned a few things over my years, but maybe more so in the last 5 years since I became a father. Lots of things change when that happens. The world shines in a different light. Priorities shift. My wife and family are amazing and I wouldn’t be here without them.

I’ve grown a lot with this blog. I’ve learned more, I’ve become stronger, and I’ve let go of things that may have held me back in the past.

I also recognize that I know nothing. The universe is vast and random. I have so much more to learn — and unlearn.

Thank you all for reading and being a part of my experiment here on

This is the advice I give to myself. I do not perfectly embody any of these lessons. I’m not even sure I can get to 39 — here goes, in no particular order:

  1. Not everyone wants to hear my thoughts or advice, sometimes they just want to talk about their life.
  2. Unsolicited advice is rarely good advice. That’s probably why #1 exists. Trust myself and weigh the advice that I seek out.
  3. Friends and family are more important than politics.
  4. Be like water. Be strong and be soft. Conform to the situation. Keep flowing.
  5. Society doesn’t push for my best interest. Doctors don’t even push for my best interest. This is up to me.
  6. No one will remember me in 100 years. Today, you do you. Ignore the wolves that want to keep you in-line and average. Rise above the crowd.
  7. Festina Lente. Life works so much better when I move slowly.
  8. I don’t have to do anything. I get to do it. Embrace my role and accept responsibility as a privilege.
  9. Everyone plays an important role in my life, and in their own. Treat everyone with respect. Use their name, look them in the eye, shake their hand. Show appreciation for their efforts.
  10. Maintain my focus. This is an ongoing struggle. I know I am easily distracted. I would bet you are too. Multitasking rarely works out for the better. It takes effort to focus on one task and do it well.
  11. Travel more. There aren’t many adventures at home.
  12. Never stop learning. Cogito, ergo sum.
  13. Do the hard things in life. Make the hard choices. Strive to be a leader. Lead by example. Be decisive (this is hard). Hard choices make everything else easier.
  14. Nature is amazing. Connect with nature whenever I can. I’ve tried to stop wearing rubber-soled shoes, which insulates me from the earth’s energy. Whenever possible, I now wear leather- or fiber-soled shoes.
  15. If good happens, good. If bad happens, good. We don’t really know the results of any stone thrown into the pond. The ripples exist either way. My happiness comes from my framing of a situation.
  16. Keep my head high. Life is easier when I’m confident, and when others perceive me as confident. Positive self-talk is powerful. My body language influences my thoughts and behaviors. Besides, why not be confident? Everything can be figured out — or dropped.
  17. People view the world through their own lens, just as I do.
  18. We are a product of our experiences and our understanding of those experiences. Inside, we’re only chemical reactions and complicated algorithms trying to make impossible sense of our random world. I try to embrace it and find the beauty.
  19. Success tomorrow is a matter of setting up my dominoes for success today. There is deep work required before the superficial success is visible to others.
  20. My history does not define my future. Think beyond my history. Dream big — bigger still! The past and the future are not real anyways. They will be what I make of them.
  21. Analog is much more satisfying than digital, in so many realms. Analog work forces me to slow down and experience the moment, engaging my senses, reducing my distractions. (Digital photography is great though).
  22. Art can be life changing. Seek out new music, new visual arts, new beauty in the world. Produce art as well.
  23. Persuasion gets a bad rap. People will associate it with manipulation and try to convince me, using persuasion, that my growing understanding of the human brain is somehow a bad path towards evil. Meh.
  24. Consider ancient wisdom and traditional ideas. Those ideas moved humanity to our current point, arguably the best in history.
  25. The things I learned as a child, and have since forgotten, are worth my time. Unlearn the layers that are hiding that information. Pay attention to children and learn from them.
  26. Keep my messages simple. Complicated messages get lost in abstract asides.
  27. I improve myself when I work with my hands.
  28. Demonstrate patience and love with those around me. Especially children, who are watching my every move.
  29. Don’t let my emotions decide my behavior. Don’t get emotional about the things I cannot change.
  30. There is never enough time for all the things. I try to do what’s important and what makes me feel good about my life.
  31. Not everyone is going to agree with my choices. Keep moving.
  32. Dress well. It makes me feel better and it shows respect for the people around me.
  33. Our microbiomes, the critters that live inside of our stomachs, control our moods, our energy levels, our cravings, our anxiety. I try to treat myself and my microbiome well. Our family eats real foods and we cook our own meals. I encourage you to do the same. (I do love cookies though!)
  34. My physical strength has become more important as I get older. I should have started years ago. The next best thing is to start when I did, a year ago. Or, start now.
  35. Invest. Invest my time in myself, invest my money in my future, invest in quality over quantity. Small changes add up.
  36. Produce! Everyone can consume, and there is plenty of engaging content out there to fill my time: television, news, podcasts, sports, video games. These things rarely increase my self-worth. Production and self-improvement moves me forward, teaches me new skills, and creates value for those around me.
  37. Confrontation and criticism rarely work in my favor.
  38. Happiness is a choice and a habit. Patience is a choice and a habit.
  39. We’re all living on borrowed time. Any one of us may not be here tomorrow. Celebrate today! (Especially today, since it’s my birthday.)

Thanks again everyone. It’s been an incredible year. It’s only getting better.

—Jeffrey with

P.S. If you find value in this post or in I encourage you to support me on Patreon. Supporters like you keep me motivated because I know you value the material I produce. Thank you!





2 thoughts on “It’s my Birthday! 39 Things I’ve Learned in This Life”

Comments are closed.