*iStock photo
*iStock photo

In the first part of my article, I discussed how we never stop learning and shared three life lessons I have learned so far: grab your own oxygen mask first, live mindfully and disconnect each day. Here are four more lessons I have picked up along the way.

Identify and combat stress

Stress can be a topic that is swept under the rug. People are quick to say, “Stress? Everyone has stress” and dismiss it as if it does not matter. The fact is, stress really does matter. There is real science behind stress - the biological processes that stress triggers in the body and why stress manifests itself with physical symptoms. The real concern is that we are putting ourselves under constant stress. Roberta Lee, MD at Beth Israel Medical Center (New York) refers to this as ‘superstress’. She draws an analogy with revving a car engine, referring to it as having your foot constantly on the accelerator, even when you are resting, overusing your body like you overuse oil in a car, causing it to overheat. The fact is that stress is real and it must be met head on. First, you have to know what your triggers are, listen to your body and notice when stress is building up. Second, take action and combat that stress. Run, cook, play music or take up kick boxing. Whatever activity brings you release, relaxation and/or joy - turn to it when you feel stress building in your life.

Nurture your relationships

I am so fortunate to have a true partner in my husband. He is a wonderful father and incredibly supportive husband. He is also very thoughtful. Just this past weekend, he surprised me with a trip to New York for my birthday. He had organized everything to ensure that our daughter was completely taken care of so that we could have time away together. I am very lucky to have his support not just with my career as a busy litigation attorney, but with raising our daughter, and in having individual time for me. One of our marriage philosophies is that we both be given time for individual things that are important to us, but that we also make time to be together to nurture our relationship. I go to a yoga class, take piano lessons and am involved with a charity. My husband plays tennis and golf and is involved with the Reserve Police. We try to have at least one date night a week to ensure we stay connected. Our lives are busy and nurturing our relationship can be hard work, but we are happy and that is what matters.

Use your support network

A support network is comprised of those around you who care for and respect you. If you are fortunate enough to have such a support network, utilize it! 

Life can be very tough and it can seem that we are the only ones dealing with whatever our particular challenge is. Chances are though, someone in our lives has dealt with something similar. For instance, sharing stories with others when my daughter was born helped me to feel less alone as a new parent. 

Also, there are busy times in our lives when we just need a helping hand. For example, we have a major project at work and can’t imagine how we are possibly going to pick up our child, get her home and fed and what time that will mean we will finish our work. 

That’s when I call either my husband or one of the grandparents to ask if they can pick her up from nursery school. Of course, I would prefer to pick her up myself, but rather than try to do everything, I rely on my support network and ask for help when I need it.

Give back

This life lesson is as obvious as the title suggests: give back to your community, your support network and those in need. First, it is important to give back because others sacrificed so that you could achieve your goals. 

Also, there are those who do not have the support network you have. 

Help can come in many forms, including donating time, goods, clothing or money. 

It could be that you want to assist a local charity that you know is struggling or you could surprise someone in your life with an unexpected kindness to let them know you appreciate them. Giving back doesn’t just benefit the recipient. 

Perhaps unexpectedly, the giver receives a real boost in their own happiness from the act of giving. It’s win-win!

Some of the seven life lessons presented in this two part piece may resonate with you and some may not, but hopefully they have given you pause for thought about what lessons you have learned along the way and how you want to live. 

I think Gretchen Rubin said it best when she wrote in The Happiness Project, “What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while”. 

Jennifer Haworth is an associate in MJM Limited’s Litigation & Dispute Resolution team. She has a wide practice in all aspects of civil and commercial litigation both in Bermuda’s courts as well as in mediation and arbitration. Jennifer has considerable experience in advising individuals as well as local and exempted companies and on the full range of contentious and non-contentious employment law issues. www.mjm.bm