Game-changing life advice that I learnt from my mum

Mother’s day is approaching for some faster than others (Mother’s day is the 1st Sunday of the month in Spain, while I believe it’s not until the second Sunday in other countries like the UK or Germany), so I have been reflecting on what a great mother I have, how much she has given me and taught me over the years.

I don’t want to get too mooshy because as you may know I am currently living abroad, far from my family, and I don’t think I can handle too emotional of a post… nor do I think my mother will appreciate reading it. So without further a due I am going to share with you some of the game-changing life advice I have learnt from my mum, in the hope that you can learn from it too.

1. When your happiness is on the line do not settle

Of course we all have to know how to pick our battles, but there are some things in life that are just too important to compromise on. For my mother these are her art and her happiness. She has always taught me that life is too short to stay at a job you don’t like or in a relationship you are unhappy in. We are often too afraid of the short-term consequences (what will people say? does this make me a failure?) and forget about the long-term consequences: lying on your deathbed wishing you had led a life that meant something to you.

2. Creativity and how to unlock it

As you can probably tell by the pictures, my mother is an artist, and as such, she always came up with creative things for me to do as a kid. If I ever said “Mummy I am bored” I would immediately be presented with a paper and some color pencils and the sentence “Draw something”. I am not going to lie, sometimes that sentence drove me absolutely insane “But draw whaaaat??” I was a 5 year old with a creative block. Not much has changed.

But what she was doing was giving me the tools to tap into that creativity whenever I needed to. If you are going to work in a creative field you need to sit there with the discomfort of the white paper, and get used to that feeling of not knowing what to do, until you get the inspiration.

3. Stressing only means you suffer twice

Also a memorable quote from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them my mum always tried to get this message through to me. In the nights where I was lying awake and anxiously thinking “I will NEVER sleep AGAIN”, she tried to calm me down with the following logic:

Can you do something about it?

  • If so, we will do it first thing tomorrow morning
  • If not, you need to come to terms with it and stop stressing yourself out

Truth is, 9/10 times there was something I could do about it, since I would usually stress about practical things, like failing an exam, having lost a book from the library, or not knowing who to invite to my birthday party.

The rest of the times, where the source of my stress were things bigger than me (death, sickness), were the hardest. I still struggle with them on a daily basis, but I always try to remember the words of my mum: If you can’t fix it, stop thinking about it, don’t torture yourself, accept it.

4. More isn’t always more

Last piece of advice from my mum is about balance. We live in a society where more seems to equal better. More money, more clothes, bigger house, more expensive car, more hours at the office… more more more. It’s hard to take a step back and analyze if you truly want those things for you, or if the culture around you is making you believe you want them. And although we have all heard the Buddhist approach of “happiness means needing less things”, there is no better way to understand what that really means that to grow up next to someone that, in her own way, follows that principle.

The trick is identifying what makes you truly happy. Is it having time with your kids? Or creating your art? Or traveling around the world? If getting a new handbag every month is not what makes your soul sing, why are you taking those resources away from the things that do? Maybe it is ok to need less, buy less, work less (this one is particularly scary, because God forbid someone thinks we are lazy!), if that leaves room for the important things.

And as always some honorable mentions:

  • It’s always chillier than you think it is. Bring a jacket.
  • If you are not feeling it, it’s ok to go to bed without dinner.
  • Sleep is important. Get your 8 hours.
  • Make a list of your favorite 10 things you can cook, for when inspiration is running low before dinner.
  • Tuck away your clothes seasonally for more space in your closet and the excitement of new-ish clothes at the beginning of the season.
  • Do. Not. Waste. Food.
  • You should have to wear a sweater at home during winter. Otherwise your heating is too high. You are hurting your wallet and the environment.

I hope this post didn’t come across as me telling you how to lead your life, but as an appreciation for my amazing mother, and the things I have learnt from her. What are the things you have learnt from your mother?