Welcome to my final post of 2021; this year’s “Things I Learned” post. I was rather surprised to find that this year’s post marks ten years of capping off the Humblebee & Me year with a list of learnings and reflections! I love the introspection and reflection that this post inspires in myself and in the comments. Here’s what I learned in 2021; what did you learn?
This year there’s a partner video, too ❤️
Practice peace. You never know when you will need it.
Optimism requires energy you will not always have.
If you’re starting something new, it’s important that you put in enough effort to notice gains/improvements quickly enough to keep you motivated. I find this is especially true for me with fitness things. While it’s true that something is better than nothing, if that something is incredibly low-effort, I won’t notice any results and I’ll just get bored with it and stop. I’ve found it’s really important that I put in enough effort to reap the benefits of exercise and notice improvements.
If you don’t occasionally look back at decisions you made in years gone by and think “wow, past me was an idiot” (or some variation on that sentiment), then you probably aren’t growing as a person.
Physical pain is often caused by muscle tightness and/or muscle weakness. And sometimes working to strengthen weak muscles to relieve pain will trigger muscle tightness that will cause new pain. Bodies are fun.
Perseverance is a massive part of success. I don’t think I’m necessarily the best at anything I do… I’m just stubborn and keep at it.
Not needing to move frequently is a very under-rated type of privilege. Moving, regardless of why, is massively disruptive to one’s life. And it’s expensive! Every time I move I feel like my productivity takes a hit for a solid month due to the time required to actually DO the move + the associated stress, and I’m in a very fortunate position in regards to flexible work hours and the ability to work ahead and pre-schedule releases. In addition to the productivity hit, there are lots of costs associated with moving—everything from gas/petrol to cleaning products to paying to change addresses at the registry to hunting for/purchasing furniture/accessories you need at the new place that you didn’t need at your old place (+ the inevitable damage to at least some of your possessions)… it’s a massive, expensive, time-consuming undertaking. Ugh. The ability to stay put unless you want to move is very under-rated.
Moving is exhausting and draining and I never want to do it again.
I still cannot be trusted with a Costco-sized box of Biscoff biscuits. Or a Costco-sized bag of gummy candies (yum yum yum).
Wet/dry (shop) vacuums are downright amazing and far more fun than they should be. You can vacuum your yard!
If you don’t take the time to really bask in moments of joy—to truly let them sink in and internalize them—they will flit away into the ether, pushed out by a never-ending stream of stresses and worries. I’m working my way through Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson, Ph.D., and he describes the human brain as having “a negativity bias that makes it like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive ones”. I’ve been practicing taking the time to really soak in truly happy moments—like a luxurious hot bath—and I’m delighted to find that taking a few dedicated seconds to deeply internalize those wonderful moments really solidifies them in my memory as little joy nuggets I can revisit.
Looking for answers that make sense to you can lead you astray, especially if you are using their “make sense”-ness as a way to gauge if an answer/piece of information is true or not. I don’t understand plenty of complex things, but it doesn’t mean a book on the inner workings of nuclear fusion is wrong simply because it doesn’t make sense to me. On this same topic—beware of sources who try to convince you of something by pointing out how it “just makes sense”, especially if they don’t have any reliable sources!
Listen to your body and your mind, especially if it’s screaming “I’m exhausted!!!’
If you stop listening to your body it will eventually stop trying to be heard.
Don’t ghost your friends. It’s heartbreaking. Even if you don’t want to be friends anymore, your friend (or former friend) deserves at least a proper goodbye.
The fancier, more complex version of a thing is not always the version of the thing that is more useful.
I am now at an age where I should really wait until I can get help from a second person to move heavy things rather than stubbornly bash on at doing it alone and then injuring myself because that injury lingers for months now… if I’m lucky.
This year there’s a partner video, too ❤️
If it seems like you are doing something the hard way—as if there is no possible way that everyone who does this thing does it in this way and gets these results—there is a very good chance you are correct. This applies to all kinds of things—software, baking, formulating, etc. The inverse of this is also often true; if a task takes you a fraction of the time it takes the experts, you’re probably not doing that task very well.
It is really hard to get your daily recommended intake of magnesium through diet alone.
There are people out there who make a lot of money by marketing themselves as an expert in a field, selling what is considered to be common knowledge in that field as an exclusive secret to people who are new to the field. Be wary of someone who seems to be trying too hard to convince you that they are the only ones with a certain piece of knowledge (but it can be yours for three low payments of $99.99! etc.).
Chew your food for so long that it gets boring.
The old adage “misery loves company” is also true in my body. If I’m feeling really down, my brain will chirp up with some super helpful advice like “why don’t you eat a ton of junk food?”, “how about you just.. never exercise?”, and “don’t leave the house or see your friends, it’s too much effort”—suggestions that will almost certainly make me feel even worse, especially if followed for extended periods of time. I’ve started to re-frame my idea of “self-care” from straight indulgence to more of a “doing stuff that’s good for me even if I don’t want to” sort of thing, and that can mean strong-arming myself into eating vegetables and going for a walk if I’m feeling like hot garbage, even if I want to eat a pint of ice cream in my favourite chair and wallow endlessly.
Dogs can pull muscles, too.
I got an “old fashioned” watch this year and I love it. I’ve had watches before, but when the battery on my last one died I never got around to replacing it because I always had my phone on me. I eventually donated that watch, but came to regret it as I noticed that checking the time on my phone often dragged me into a world of notifications and app-checking and suddenly checking the time had taken 40 minutes and I still wasn’t sure what time it was (d’oh). I’ve been looking for a suitably small, comfortable watch for almost two years now and I finally found one at a tiny flea market stand. It’s tiny and delicate and I love watching it tick away on my wrist. It also never buzzes or beeps, doesn’t know what day it is or how many steps I’ve taken, and I can’t use it to pay for things. I love it.
Digestive issues frikkin’ suck.
Creating boundaries in your relationships can be hard, especially if the relationship previously had no boundaries. Even the nicest people can react very negatively to being told some sort of previously-tolerated behaviour now crosses a newly drawn line.
Lots of stress (time and/or intensity) really can cause all those issues I’ve read that it can cause…
This year there’s a partner video, too ❤️
Enjoyable reads from 2021
- Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
- This Time Next Year We’ll Be Laughing by Jacqueline Winspear
- The Bomber Mafia: A Dream, a Temptation, and the Longest Night of the Second World War by Malcolm Gladwell
- Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life by Nir Eyal
- Effortless: Make It Easier to Do What Matters Most by Greg Mckeown
- Things I Learned in 2020
- Things I Learned in 2019
- Things I Learned in 2018
- Things I Learned in 2017
- Things I Learned in 2016
- Things I Learned in 2015
- Things I Learned in 2014
- Things I Learned in 2013
- Things I Learned in 2012
What did you learn this year? ❤️