33 Things to Accept and Embrace

“Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Today is my 33rd birthday, and at this very moment I am likely sipping a fruity drink by a pool in Las Vegas.

My boyfriend and I go there often on his Monday and Tuesday off days because it’s not too far from LA; the weekday hotel rates are great; and we’re both huge fans of buffets, shows, and (occasional) poolside day drinking.

Since I’m writing this in advance, I can’t speak to how I actually feel right in this very moment, but I imagine (and hope) it will be a little something like this:

I’m wearing a bikini, not a one-piece, like I did for years when I was younger—and I’m rocking it with confidence because I’ve finally decided my imperfect 5’1″ figure is flawsome.

I’m fully lathered in sunscreen, despite my pasty, almost transparent complexion, because I’ve realized I need to take care of my body if I want it to be healthy.

I’m mesmerized by the sun and the water, and easing into the moment, despite having a ton of work to do and even more professional uncertainty.

And I’m grateful for a million and one things worth loving—smiling strangers, free WiFi, enjoyable work I do through it, and time to disconnect from it.

Looking back over the years, I realize my biggest challenge has always been learning to let go. I put so much energy into trying to control my body, my relationships, and my future that I wasn’t able to relax and enjoy the moment.

This is something I still work at, but I’ve made a lot of progress.

So in honor of this day, I decided to share with you 33 things I’ve learned to accept and embrace:

1. Beauty cannot be defined. Beauty is a reflection of what we deem valuable. For me, it’s an inner radiance and bliss that transcends judgment and fear, or at least makes an effort to.

2. Perfection cannot be obtained (and it’s boring anyways). Trying to be perfect makes us feel inferior and desperate to change; owning our uniqueness makes us feel worthy and excited to evolve.

3. Love will be messy at times. Sometimes love looks nothing like the ideal. Unless you’re in an unhealthy relationship, lean into the messiness. That’s where the intimacy is.

4. Other people will judge. Doing our best and accepting that people will form opinions is far more empowering than stressing about what everyone else thinks.

5. Sometimes there is no right or wrong.  There isn’t always a right decision or answer. It’s just about what feels right to us right now, and whether we have the courage to honor it.

6. No one else knows what’s right for us. Someone else may seem certain they know what we should do. Should can be deceiving; it seduces us with the promise of an ideal destination when what we really need is to choose for ourselves and then pave our path as we go.

7. Tomorrow is uncertain. Despite all our planning, plotting, worrying, or dreading, what will be will be—and no matter how scared we feel right now, we can and will make the most of it.

8. There are things we don’t know. And there are things we don’t know that we don’t know. It might be humbling to revise our understandings of things, but this is how we grow.

9. No other person can make us feel whole. Sometimes we’ll feel a void and turn to other people to fill it. Mutually fulfilling relationships involve two whole people who complement, not complete each other.

10. We can’t change other people. We have to want to change in order to do it. No matter how much we wish someone would act differently, it has to be his or her choice.

11. There are some things we can’t change about ourselves. Change sells, and it’s seductive, but certain things cannot be changed—like parts of our body or nature.

12. Sometimes there are gifts in the things we want to change. For years I cursed my heightened emotions; now I channel them into something positive. Don’t run from yourself; grow into yourself.

13. We are worthy, just as we are. Growth is a lifelong proposition, with no static endpoint. We do it not because we lack value, just as we are, but because we value ourselves.

14. We are going to age. With every year that passes, we have 365 days to enjoy that age—and no one age is better than another. Each is different, with its own challenges and gifts.

15. We are more than any one role. We aren’t one-dimensional, and we don’t have to be. Recognizing this has been huge for me. I am a self-help writer who also likes Judd Apatow movies, karaoke bars, and eBay. I’m multifaceted and owning it!

16. We are going to redefine ourselves. It’s tempting to cling to roles and ideas of who we are, but who we are is always evolving. Life’s far more fulfilling if we see changes as adventures.

17. We will occasionally have to do things we don’t want to do. We won’t always love the things we need to do, for work or the people we care about, but we can find something enjoyable in it, if that’s our intention.

18. We will hurt at times. Pain is inevitable. It’s not a sign that something’s wrong with us or our lives; it’s a sign that we’re human, and we have the courage to care and live fully.

19. We will mess up at times. We will make mistakes—and sometimes the same ones over and over again. This is a big part of how we learn. The important thing is that we do.

20. People won’t always forgive us. We can’t make someone stay in our lives; we can only make amends and then be strong enough to accept the consequences of our actions.

21. Peace is forgiving ourselves. We don’t deserve to cower in shame—and it won’t do us any good. If we want to be happy, we need to cut ourselves some slack and believe we’re doing the best we can.

22. We won’t always like the consequences of our actions. Sometimes we’ll feel regret, wishing we could go back and do things differently. We can’t—but we can make different choices going forward.

23. We always have a choice in how we respond to what happens. No matter what our circumstances, we can choose what we do with them. We can decide it’s the end of the world, or start fresh from right where we stand.

24. We are never alone. It might feel like it, but there is always someone to offer love, kindness, and support. We just need to be willing to reach out and ask for what we need.

25. We will lose things and people we love—but we can gain something from every loss. Everything in life is impermanent—and no amount of time will feel like enough with the people we love. Loss hurts, but we can heal if we believe it’s possible.

26. Everything is cyclical. For every pain, there will be pleasure. Nothing stays the same, so relax through the tough times and fully enjoy the fun times. Everything transforms eventually.

27. There are some things we may never understand. Much of life is a mystery, and it’s human nature to try to solve it. Peace is learning to embrace the open-ended questions.

28. The worst that could possibly happen may happen. Sometimes the thing we fear the most may happen, making us wish we didn’t make a change, or an effort, or a fuss.

29. The worst that could possibly happen might not be that bad. If we’re willing to consider the possibility, we may find opportunity in that “horrible” thing. At the very least, we may recognize we’re okay—still here, still strong, still breathing.

30. We may not get everything we think we want. Despite all our best-laid plans, things won’t always turn out as we hoped they would.

31. As the Rolling Stones sang, we can still get what we need. We may not get the job, the house, the call, or whatever we wanted so badly, and yet find we have everything that matters. Hopefully we can see and celebrate it.

32. We might always want more. It’s human nature to wonder what else there is, at least at times. We can use this to fuel progress instead of cursing our nature and ourselves for not being perfectly spiritual.

33. What we do matters. It might not seem like it when our efforts and outcomes seem small, but we create tiny miracles everyday, both by doing what we do and being who we are. We all make a difference.

Wishing you a beautifully imperfect, blissfully empowered day, filled with peace and wonder. 🙂

Photo from Be Happy Now

*I’m running a buy-one-give-one sale for my Tiny Wisdom eBook series today, as a fun way to celebrate my birthday. Check it out here!

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha and Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. Her latest bookTiny Buddha’s Gratitude Journal, which includes 15 coloring pages, is now available for purchase. For daily wisdom, follow Tiny Buddha on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram..

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  • HaleyMia

    Happy bDay, Lori! I wish I could get you as something as amazing as the present (& presence) of this website in all of our lives. Have a great day : )

  • Priya

    Happy birthday Lori!!

  • FumingSalmon

    Happy b’day !!!

  • sashabla

    Happy Birthday Lori and thank you for this great piece and all the pearls of wisdom you share with us regularly. You are amazing in every way!

  • pam

    Hi Lori and happy birthday! I loved this article. About eight months ago I was ill and hospitalized for six weeks. While I was hospitalized, I lost everything. At least I lost all of my material posessions (except my 22 year old car!). I have been soooo depressed since this happened and I am just starting to get myself back and accept what happened. I love this article and #33 really hit me. I think my biggest problem since my illness is that I feel so alone. I feel like no one would notice if I just disappeared and ceased to exist. #33 made me realize that I need to start a graditude journal listing all of the ways I do make a difference everyday. Thank you and I hope your birthday is wonderful.

  • Happy birthday Lori and thanks for the simple yet profound reminders.

  • Jeff R

    Wow! I am picking myself up from a pretty bad day yesterday. This is just the medicine I needed. Thanks for the god shot!

  • Happy Birthday Lori! Have a beauty filled day. Thanks for your gift of 33 things. How did you get so wise in only 33 years?

  • Danielle

    So many great quotes here that I have written down for a day when I really need to hear the those words. Happy Birthday and thank you for sharing such great words!

  • Vivian

    Happy birthday! Enjoy!

  • Kheisty

    Happy Birthday and thank you for sharing the gift.
    These articles are always so timely for me and I love your honest approach to everything.

    ‘Flawsome’ what a perfect word!

  • Christina

    I might turn these into a little deck of reminders. On bad days, pick a card and meditate on it. 🙂

    Happy birthday!

  • AV

    Happy Birthday Lori!!

  • Helena Kobayashi

    ♫ Dear Lori Happy Birthday! I hope that we can go on reading that 33-list of yours growing more and more, year by year. There is always a new discovery in the lines you and your friends write, and I am grateful for that. (^^)Y

  • Ellie

    Bless you for this perfect article, and this wonderful site!

  • Thank you Lori for this beautiful post. I won’t be exaggerating to say that this is life changing, thank you!

  • Esdea

    Happy Birthday Lori! ヾ(@⌒ー⌒@)ノ
    It’s your day to receive gifts yet you still give us those gifts of wisdom! Every quote is very meaningful.
    Have a nice day! 🙂

  • Lori Happy birthday!!!!!
    I wish you a beautiful year, I try to read tiny buddha every day I didn’t know it but I’m 10 years younger than you. My birthday was 3 days ago maybe that’sone of the reasonswhy I feel so identified with you 🙂
    Celebrate and have a great year full of the best!!

  • theoretically speaking

    Love it! Thank you for this and Happy Birthday!

  • Littlebig

    Happy birthday and thank you. Enjoy life!

  • Diana

    Great article! Exactly what I needed today.

  • Connie

    Happy Birthday Lori, I hope you have an amazing birthday. Thanks for being such a blessing!

  • Bobby G

    I Reshared on G+ …very inspiring

    And a very happy birthday to you.

  • Brian

    Happy birthday Lori! thanks for the much needed wisdom! namaste

  • Happy birthday Lori. And thanks for the gift of the 33 points.
    Best regards,

  • David_L_Q

    Happy Birthday Lori! I hope you made it to Vegas and had a lovely, peaceful, yet fun birthday! P.S. Thank you for everything.

  • Thanks so much Kheisty! I just found that word the other day actually, and I loved it. =)

  • Thank you so much HaleyMia! I appreciate the thoughtful note. =)

  • Thank you David! I had an amazing birthday–very fun and relaxing. =)

  • Thanks David!

  • Thanks Brian, and you’re most welcome!

  • I’m glad you enjoyed it Bobby–and thanks so much!

  • Thank you Connie! I had an awesome day!

  • Thanks Diana. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  • Thanks so much, and you’re most welcome!

  • Thanks so much!

  • Thank you Tatiana. And happy belated birthday, from on Virgo to another =)

  • Thanks so much Esdea. I had an amazing day!

  • You’re most welcome Dureen!

  • Thank you so much Ellie!

  • Thanks Helena! I hope I have another list double the size at 66–how wonderful that would be!

  • Thanks so much =)

  • What an awesome idea Christina. Thank you for the birthday wishes!

  • Thank you Vivian!

  • Thanks Danielle, and you’re most welcome. I’m glad you enjoyed this post!

  • Thanks so much Hannah. It was a wonderful day with great food and lots of relaxation.

  • I’m glad it helped Jeff. I hope today has been better!

  • Thanks so much Jonathan!

  • Thank you Priya!

  • Thanks so much!

  • Wow thank you so much =)

  • Thanks so much Pam. I can only imagine what that must have been like, both being sick and hospitalized for so long, and losing so much all at once. I’m really inspired by your realization! I know what it’s like to feel alone, and I hope you don’t have to feel that way for much longer.

    I’m sending good thoughts your way!

  • Hey, my birthday is/was the 28th too, cool! Happy belated birthday – I think you’re awesome! Thanks for all you share with the world!

  • Thanks so much, and happy belated birthday to you as well! =)

  • hotrockinmama

    Happy Birthday, Lori. I am a huge fan of your writings. WHat a huge blessing you are to me and others. Thank you for inspiring me everyday to love myself and others and to embrace all the ups and downs of life . Have a wonderful day. Linette @rockpicschick

  • Thanks so much! I had a fantastic day. And you’re most welcome. =)

  • Deborah Vomero

    Happy Birthday, Lori!!! You are so wise to be only 33 years old!!! Like one other responder, I feel like the advise in your blogs is always so timely for me!

  • Zety

    You are a Diva! You never fail to inspire us.

  • Thanks so much =)

  • Thanks Deborah! I’m so glad the posts are helpful to you =)

  • Marcus

    Beautiful post to read on a sunny start to a weekend. Thoroughly enjoyed reading that. Thank you 🙂

  • Happy belated birthday! Hope you enjoyed the cocktail by the pool as much as I enjoyed your list of I just need to come up with 11 more things to go with my extra years and the lessons I hope that I’ve learned.

  • Thanks Marcus, and you’re most welcome. =)

  • Thanks Kathy! I had a wonderful birthday trip. I’d love to read your 11 things. =)

  • charla

    This is wonderful and so so true!

  • tammy

    Happy Birthday and Thankyou! All morning i have been searching for inspiration, and a direction in which to follow. I feel like i have found “home”

  • Hope your birthday was flawsome, Lori, and that you rocked that bikini!

  • Flowers

    Happy Birthday Lori!! Thank you for sharing your birthday thoughts ~ you are very wise for your years, hope the poolside drinks were good 😉

  • Tina

    It always amazes me how well your writings resonate within me. It’s almost as if you reached into my very being and transformed my thoughts into your words. Thank you for your continued insight and for sharing with others. You create a forum where I am reminded of my connection with others and that I am wonderful and amazing in my own way. Hugs. – Tina

  • Christina

    Happy late birthday! I was just in Vegas myself and absolutely loved it! Thank you for all of your inspirational messages and the tiny Buddha blog. It makes me a better person.

  • Liz Roberts

    Happy belated Birthday Lori! Another great article 🙂 Sending you light and love!

  • Thanks so much Liz!

  • Thanks so much Christina, and you’re most welcome. Vegas is such a fun place!

  • Thanks Charla!

  • Thank you–and welcome to Tiny Buddha! =)

  • Thanks Suzanna! It was amazing, and I did. It was green tie-dye, and I enjoyed every minute of lounging in it. =)

  • Thanks so much! They were fantastic. =)

  • Thanks Tina. It means the world to me to see people connecting through Tiny Buddha, and I’m grateful I get to be part of that!

  • Mimi

    Thank you. I am turning 33 tomorrow and your writing will help me get through.

  • You’re most welcome, and happy early birthday! =)

  • Joice

    Hadn’t read this before, so happy belated birthday and thanks once more for presenting us with the gift which is your beautiful writing. May you live long and happy years.

  • Thanks so much Joice! And you’re most welcome. =)

  • Thanks for another thoughtful post Lori!

    The quest for perfection,purity and control of life tends to lead to frustration
    when these ideals can not be quickly realised. These tend to be Virgo and Scorpio traits and aspirations. We can aim to do our best, be healthy and more mindfully self controlled in acting and responding to life and it’s demands. We are here to learn to create a deeper and more meaningful connection with life, self and others, and in the process, life test us, and hones our ability to focus, give and receive, feel and intuitively understand what living involves and evolves through us and others.
    Learning to go with the flow of life, change and transformation, and be able to let go of self limiting beliefs is an essential lesson of living in the now moment of being and doing. Thoughts and feelings can change like the weather and tides of life. We are more than these transient creations of life expression, and habits of being.
    A change in activity, attitude and response, by reaching out to meet the needs of others, as well as realising our own needs for self nurture, help to create a more therapeutic approach to living more fully without hindrance and resistance created by fixated and self limiting beliefs. There is always more to discover about life, self and others that is a revelation of life’s true intent, purpose and way of being united as one within and and through the diversity of expression.

  • I’m a Virgo Paul, so the quest for perfection and control are pretty familiar to me! What a thoughtful, insightful comment. I love what you wrote about creating a deeper, more meaningful connection with life, self, and others. That sounds like a beautiful purpose to me. =)

  • jdegski

    Happy Birthday. What a gift for all of us! I can’t wait to see what you write when you’re my age add 20.. You are wise beyond your years, thank you for sharing your 33 things.

  • Thanks so much! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. =)

  • Geoff

    Love the site!

    I have compiled a list of happy sites –


  • Angelus

    A beautiful article from a beautiful person , thank you so much lori !

  • You’re most welcome, and thank *you*! =)