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32 Things I’ve Learned in 32 Years On This Planet


If I liked cake, this would be my cake

I spent so much of my childhood wishing I was older, and now I’d be surprised if I can actually remember 90% of my childhood and teenage years.

But I’ve held onto enough memories to have learned a few things.  Some of these will be familiar to you if you are a regular reader.  Some will not be familiar to anyone.

The big 32

  1. Family is everything
  2. Friends are next
  3. Things are never so bad that they can’t improve
  4. Whatever it is, get over it sooner rather than later whenever possible
  5. When I’m bored with my physical training, I’m usually close to a breakthrough
  6. “A lack of personal excellence” is the greatest description of a bad haircut that I’ve ever heard
  7. I can’t be pessimistic when I’m sitting by a fire
  8. Everything passes
  9. Clam chowder is my equivalent of crack
  10. If someone is so close to me that I can see my reflection in their eyes, I rarely have to wonder how I look through their eyes
  11. Compassion always trumps intelligence
  12. There are worse things than being punched in the face
  13. Goals are great, but only if you make this one
  14. If I was on an island with only one exercise to do for the rest of my life, it would be the deadlift
  15. If you are in a situation you can’t control, introduce something into it that you can control
  16. There are only two things worth the effort of sweat. Lifting weights is one
  17. Writing is healthier for me than medicine
  18. Not speaking for three years is a great way to get to know people. It forced me to learn how to listen
  19. Learning that my parents were not perfect is what allowed them to become my friends
  20. The best part of my day is when my toddler Max gets out of the bath and runs in a tight circle on the bed for 30 minutes, laughing his head off
  21. I have learned to like many things about myself. My wife is the only thing I have learned to love about myself
  22. It is easier for me to forgive others than to forgive myself
  23. Habits start early, both good and bad
  24. Trying to defuse a bad situation with humor can be a catastrophe
  25. I am always astounded by how many tears the body can produce
  26. Someone else’s pain does not invalidate your own, even if it seems insignificant
  27. Chiropractors can be a big help
  28. I would give a great deal for one minute of perfect, beautiful, physical stillness while I’m awake—but I’m through begging for it
  29. Online friends can be real friends
  30. Nothing strengthened my marriage like bonding over failed pregnancies
  31. I want a kettlebell on my tombstone
  32. Never underestimate the effect of a kind word at the right time

Now–off to eat some pie.

Thanks for helping make this my best year yet


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  • Dean Dwyer December 1, 2009, 5:38 am

    Number 22 rings true for me as well. I used to wear that label as a badge of honour, but as I get a bit wiser I realize being hard on and being fair to are not the same. I need less of the former and more of the latter. And 32 years old eh! My friend you are just a baby. I think your wife should have made you wear a diaper for that lost bet. Now that would be humbling. 🙂

  • Laura Cococcia December 1, 2009, 6:08 am

    Happy birthday my friend. I think it’s safe to say that #29 is huge for me – it’s how I met you. You’re a great friend and teacher. I’m glad our paths have crossed. Hugs to you on this day from across the Internet.

  • Milo December 1, 2009, 7:30 am

    Happy birthday Josh! I also turned 32 this year but have very different circumstances to you and have learnt very different lessons. despite this a lot of what you say rings true and I admire the compassion and honesty of your list.

    • Josh Hanagarne December 1, 2009, 9:46 am

      Thanks Milo. I just started reading your blog, by the way. You have a great sense of music and the ability to break it down.

      • Milo December 1, 2009, 10:15 am

        I’m delighted to hear that Josh, thanks for the kind words 🙂

  • Janette H December 1, 2009, 7:51 am

    Happy Birthday to the best husband and father in the world. Here’s to celebrating the next 50 together. I love you more than these lame words can express. And I’ll keep the diaper idea in mind for our next bet…

  • Boris Bachmann December 1, 2009, 7:56 am

    Happy Birthday Josh!!

    • Josh Hanagarne December 1, 2009, 9:43 am

      Thanks Boris. I’m waiting for a picture of that $1 shirt.

      • Boris Bachmann December 1, 2009, 10:46 am

        i trained it in last night – video and everything. It wasn’t exactly magical, but I’ll try to post it late tonight.

  • Heather December 1, 2009, 8:09 am

    Happy Birthday Josh You Kid! I liked Numbers 6, 7 and 13 the best. Max runs for half an hour after a bath laughing his head off? THAT’S GREAT! My neice Linda splashed in the tub so much as a baby and a toddler that she got “swimmers’ ear” at the ripe old age of 6 months. Now—Janette—let’s hear more about this “diaper idea”. . . . . ::insert evil chortle::

    Happy Birthday, man! Deadlifts rock!

    • Josh Hanagarne December 1, 2009, 9:39 am

      The diaper is not going to happen.

      • Heather December 1, 2009, 1:37 pm

        Oh, darn! Would have been funnier if it did, but oh well. Deadlifts STILL rock! X-D

  • Srinivas Rao December 1, 2009, 8:16 am

    Hey Josh,

    Happy birthday. Definitely an interesting list of life lessons you’ve taken from 32 years on the planet. I wonder if you though you’d possibly be a potentially published author just 1 year ago. Glad we’ve become friends.

    • Josh Hanagarne December 1, 2009, 9:41 am

      A year ago, I wondered if I’d have anything to say that would take the blog past month one. And I’m glad we met.

  • Diar A. December 1, 2009, 8:28 am

    Have a world’s strongest birthday, Josh! Your wife is one lucky woman to have you 🙂

    • Josh Hanagarne December 1, 2009, 9:40 am

      Diar, I’m going to print that out and put it on Janette’s mirror so it will be burned into her brain forever!

  • Casey Brazeal (North and Clark) December 1, 2009, 9:15 am

    Happy Birthday Josh.

  • Joe DeGiorgio December 1, 2009, 10:07 am

    #9 is so true…very addicting!! One of the main reasons my family goes to Cape Cod on vacation every year. Over there, it’s the best!

    • Kevin December 1, 2009, 10:40 am

      Oh yeah I’m with you on this too.

  • Kevin December 1, 2009, 10:39 am


    I relate to so many of these but it was a blog I wrote about a lost pregancy Seven Years, that made my wonderful wife nominate me for the East Cobber 2009 Father of the Year that I then won. Lost pregancies are so hard but they do bring two people together.

    • Josh Hanagarne December 1, 2009, 12:31 pm

      It’s bad stuff, Kevin, but I’m glad you also got something good out of it.

  • Randy December 1, 2009, 12:51 pm

    Josh, Those are 32 very good things. I’m 52 and don’t have close to even 32 things (or at least not the patience or curiosity to see if I do)…although one I thing I’ve learned which covers a lot of general territory: Stop waiting for things to work out because they are not going to. Things are never going to work out because they already have worked out. This life you have right now? This is how things have worked out.

    • Josh Hanagarne December 1, 2009, 2:21 pm

      Amen to that. Are you all recovered? I did make it over to Boulder that day. Seems like an interesting place.

      • Randy December 1, 2009, 2:35 pm

        Yes, thank you…I was down until Sunday really…yesterday was the first day I felt back to 100%…Boulder is a fun town. I’m really disappointed we couldn’t hang.

  • Larissa December 1, 2009, 1:02 pm

    Happy Birthday, Josh! Thanks for sharing such a great list. 🙂 Oh, and in the next day or two, you should be receving something to help you learn more about sharks. . .

    • Josh Hanagarne December 1, 2009, 2:20 pm

      Hmm…it’s not a shark, is it?

      • Larissa December 1, 2009, 5:44 pm

        lol. Nope, if Ethan had a shark, he would never give it up! 🙂

  • Cathy N. December 1, 2009, 3:22 pm

    Josh, if I baked cakes, I would bake a skull cake and bring it to your home. Happy birthday.

  • Wendy December 1, 2009, 4:08 pm

    Happy Birthday! Are we allowed to make guesses about the one other thing worth sweating for?

    We had about 5 years that were defined by pregnancy loss and two stillborn babies – those were dark times and we were becoming tragic, but rising from it, growing from it, we were strengthened both as a couple and individually. I wouldn’t change a thing about those bad years. I hope that I’m a better person for it and I know that I’m a better parent because motherhood didn’t come easily for me. You’re right, family is everything.

    • Josh Hanagarne December 1, 2009, 4:42 pm

      What is there to guess about? I was clearly talking about the Navajo sweat lodge.

      • Wendy December 1, 2009, 4:53 pm

        Mmmhmm. Hope you have a sweaty birthday;)

  • Tim December 1, 2009, 4:09 pm

    Hi Josh:

    Happy birthday…I enjoyed your list. I like how writing is healthier than your medicine. On an unrelated point, my YMCA just got a few kettlebells. I immediately thought of you and David Cain. Now, I’ll have to go back and look for some exercises on your site. Have a great day!

  • We Fly Spitfires December 1, 2009, 4:12 pm

    Awesome points, as always 🙂 Completely agree with them, especially the first two about friends and family.

    It’s funny how I spent most of my childhood hanging around with my buddies and having fun and now I worry too much about work and don’t have time for my friends. My priorities are completely skewed!

  • Rosie December 1, 2009, 4:20 pm

    Happy Birthday, Josh. This is a great list, good for you for compiling and thanks for publishing. Have a great day!

  • Beth December 1, 2009, 6:30 pm

    Happy birthday Josh! Hope you have a grand day.

  • Walter December 1, 2009, 6:50 pm

    “If you are in a situation you can’t control, introduce something into it that you can control.” This struck me the most. I will always remember these words. Thanks for sharing what you have learned. 🙂

  • Niel December 1, 2009, 8:00 pm

    100% agree with #14.

    Happy birthday Josh.

  • Ethan December 1, 2009, 9:54 pm

    Happy 32nd, Josh! Hope everything went down well (whatever “everything” might have been, birthday-wise…)

  • Jared Yellin December 1, 2009, 10:53 pm

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOSH! I enjoyed reading this list because I know you own each of the lessons that you have learned over the course of your life. With that being said, I completely resonate with the FIRST and LAST!

    1. Family is EVERYTHING…

    -This is such a pivotal lesson for everyone to realize because far too may people take their family for granted because they believe that they will always “be there,” in their lives. Your family is your foundation and like a house, your relationship with these people will enable you to grow.

    32. Never underestimate the effect of a kind word at the right time…

    You never know how far a good deed will travel because kind words are VIRAL and once you share them with people who are in need, they will continue to spread this message to assist others who yearn for support. This is simple yet profound, and once we begin to adopt this lesson into our lives, we will begin to realize the power associated with the words we choose and our ability to communicate what is on our mind.

    Great post Josh and I hope your Birthday has provided you with everything you could have wanted and more!


  • TheWordWire December 1, 2009, 11:10 pm

    Well, happy Big 32! What a great list this is — you’re wise beyond your years. Thanks for all the insights. Cheers to a great year ahead.

  • Sreekala December 1, 2009, 11:20 pm

    Belated happy birthday wishes Josh! Your entry has inspired me to write down my 35 years’ worth – or may be I’ll wait till the first of Feb next year! Now, whenever I do and NLP-K process and say “Be Strong”. I think about you. BE STRONG!

  • Jonny | thelifething.com December 2, 2009, 3:55 am

    I am always interested in these types of blogs to learn from others life wisdom.

    Yours had the added advantage of having some deep ideas that struck deep for me as well.


  • Sheri Bell-Rehwoldt December 2, 2009, 5:14 am

    You just keep getting more and more interesting to me, Josh. 😉

  • Kami Lee December 2, 2009, 3:33 pm

    Happy Birthday, Josh!!!