Lessons My Aunt Taught About Living a Happy Life

Lessons to Learn

In December 2023, my 95-year-old aunt passed away. This came as a shock because she appeared healthy. Her positive outlook on life was well known to those closest to her. Her secret? She kept a piece of paper on her nightstand with her five most important things for living a happy life. Upon awakening, she would read through her handwritten list. Those words were:






Morning Ritual

After that morning ritual, she said, “I am fine.” I had a bracelet made with that saying. I never take it off.  For many of us dealing with anxiety and stress, it is easy to overthink and get stuck in negative thoughts. My aunt taught me that to achieve and maintain balance, emphatically tell yourself, “I am fine.” This is crucial to one’s health.


This was a subject we talked about frequently. If we were talking about someone who hurt or betrayed us, she would tell us the best thing to do is send them love. I’d often remember her belief that love costs nothing and takes little time. Mentally or aloud, say I love you three times, followed by thank you three times. She believed that they needed love. By sending them love, you release the hurt or anger, which is healthier for one’s immune system.


No morning goes by where I do not express gratitude. Even on my most difficult days, I always find something to have an appreciation for. It isn’t always something big, but it changes your entire outlook. Even though she did not get out often, she appreciated being able to do the things she loved. That was reading, studying, laughing, and talking to family and friends.


Another belief she followed was to treat everyone with kindness. It did not matter to her your religion, political beliefs, economic status, race, gender, or identity. She treated everyone with respect and dignity. Even if her beliefs about religion or politics did not align with those of someone else, she used it as an opportunity for open dialogue.


Maintaining balance between mind, body, and soul is crucial to mental and physical well-being. My aunt talked about this all the time. For most of my life, I was in full balance. There have only been a few times that I’ve lost that spiritual balance, and it took a toll on my mental and physical health.

My aunt would say you must also be flexible to maintain balance. Creating balance is a choice; it takes work for many of us. It means that no matter what life throws at you or what you do or don’t get done, you maintain an inner sense of peace – a calm amid chaos.

My aunt was not referring to work-life balance, something this generation often discusses. She was referring to creating balance in her life, where flexibility plays a role. She told me you have to figure out what keeps you in balance. It’s not worrying about doing everything but focusing on caring for your physical and mental health.

I understood this was a complex approach. It took me a long time to learn to prioritize my mind, body, and soul and not worry about the things I did not finish. I’m still a work in progress. I try to remember her words whenever I feel myself moving away from the center.


Although this was the fifth most important thing, we often discussed forgiveness. I have collected a ton of affirmations about forgiveness, and I share them with friends and family. Many do not understand that forgiveness is not forgetting what someone did to you. It’s not letting them off the hook, per se. It is not about accepting bad behavior. Nor is it about allowing someone to occupy that much power over your thoughts. It is not allowing yourself to live a life filled with anger. Forgiveness lets you come to peace with the hurt and let it go. It is brave, an act of courage that takes enormous strength.

“Forgiveness is not about letting someone off the hook for their actions but freeing ourselves of negative energies that bind us to them.”—Satsuki Shibuya, artist and poet.

Tying Things Together

In an entire life spent with my remarkable, spiritual, wise aunt, I have learned that, through her studies, she understood that one must embrace the five things wholly to live a healthy life. She understood that things happen when it is time. I’d often hear her say that we learn things when ready. Having had so many conversations, mainly with me listening to her life’s beliefs, I am grateful for her wisdom and for sharing so much of her beliefs.

My Second Mom

This loss hurts—a lot. My aunt and I shared a spiritual connection. We both felt that connection and discussed how blessed we were to have that relationship. She had many gifts—she was a metaphysics, eastern medicine, and healing student. I witnessed her abilities firsthand. We lived around the corner from each other. Even after moving to another city, I visited my aunt whenever I visited my mom.

We were with her the day she fell ill. It was unfathomable that this healthy woman was not going to make it. Four months later, I am still struggling with her not being here on earth. She had a calming effect on me. Whenever I felt the slightest amount of stress, something that was happening more frequently, caring for my elderly mom, she was able to redirect that stress. I always left her house feeling balanced.

We talked about her being ready to leave Earth. She was excited to start her next life but insisted that she had to wait for my mom to pass first. That statement was repeated often to all of us. So, when it did not happen that way, it threw me off. But I know how blessed I am to have had such a special aunt. For that, I will be forever grateful.

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2024-05-29T14:40:17-04:000 Comments

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