The biggest curiosities are often about life itself.
How do we navigate life’s experiences? How do we know what to do? Where is the user manual?
Since I have been reflecting a lot lately, I thought it would make a good article topic. I love to read lessons from other people because I am a big proponent of gaining wisdom from others without having to endure any pain and suffering myself. Plus, it is super efficient and if I am anything, I am efficient.
I know I am not a wise sage, but I have learned a thing or 2 in my time here on Earth. Some lessons I have earned from making mistakes, some from observing, and some from seeing examples of what I don’t want to do.
Some lessons I have forgotten and re-learned, over and over again. What can I say? Sometimes being human can be rough. Whatever form they have arrived, I am grateful for them. We all need a little help now and then, right?
I recognize that we are all different. Some advice that I find helpful as an anxiety-prone introvert may not hold the same value for an adventurous outgoing type. However, I feel a lot of these are universal.
So, here it goes…
25 life lessons I have learned:
- Happiness is a choice. Cliché but true. Also, happiness is not that image of a smiling person we see dancing around on a soda commercial. It is a contentment and well-being of your soul. I wrote an article related to this if you want to read more about the topic. (See Related: How to be more happy with life using flow)
- Everyone is weird. Weird is normal -and great. I was fortunate enough to not belong to any one specific clique when I was young. I had friends in many groups. Surprising to me was that people in every group thought they were different because they considered themselves weird. That was a real aha! moment for me.
- Learn what you like. These are the things that will bring great joy to your life. If you don’t know what you like, try something new. Repeat.
- It isn’t about you. This humbling lesson is a blessing to those who are self-conscious. It is also important when working, playing, or interacting with others. If you take offense easily, remember that other people have bad days too.
- The teen and young-adult years are filled with heightened emotion. Be extra kind to those going through it. Looking back at those formative years, it is easy to see how exaggerated everything seemed. It is exhausting just thinking about the drama.
- Don’t worry so much about the future. I have always felt a lot of pressure to make the right decisions so I don’t miss any opportunities. Now I recognize there is almost always a chance to change your mind or correct mistakes that were made. What a relief!
- If your heart is in the right place, you won’t regret it. My only true regrets arise from when my intentions weren’t honorable. Yes, I have made mistakes. That is all a part of life and learning. I have been deceived at times, but I look back on those times as being glad my heart and mind were open. Shame on those who did me wrong. They have to live with that. I learned and my conscience is clear.
- Having fun is better than being cool. If someone judges you for that, it is their loss. When I think of what stereotypical “cool” is I visualize people leaning back looking bored and slightly irritated -think James Dean of the 1950s. What is good about that? Who wants to be bored and irritated? Not me.
- Listen to your gut. Just because you aren’t able to articulate something doesn’t mean you don’t know it. Some refer to it as a sixth sense or women’s intuition. There are definitely times that I regret not listening to my gut. I just know in my gut (wink wink) that scientists will eventually be able to establish more evidence supporting this sense.
- You define what life means and what is important. It is your life. This is a huge one. So much time could be saved if people realized this before searching for meaning. Perhaps you will align with an established belief system, perhaps you will create your own, or maybe a combination. You create who you are and what things mean to you.
- Sometimes a gentle approach is required and other times an aggressive approach. Know the difference. Whether dealing with a behemoth organization or a single individual, you will be much more effective in your approach if you know how the other party works.
- Everyone has challenges. Whether it is evident or not, no one is perfect. If you think the unflawed exterior is matched on the inside, you are wrong. We are all human; therefore, we are all imperfect. It should go without saying that the issues we all bring to the table don’t make us unlovable.
- Age has nothing to do with maturity or wisdom. Unfortunately, sometimes adults are the biggest children. People can be irrational, selfish, and stupid. Sometimes, that person is us. We all have to accept this frustrating truth whether we like it or not.
- The most interesting friends are the ones that are the most different from you. Friends help open your mind and heart. As I get older, I appreciate interesting people more and more. Interesting friends make it easier to venture outside your comfort zone. Note to self: Make more interesting friends even though it is hard as an introverted adult.
- The times that you can’t imagine ending, do. You may even have a hard time remembering them. This helps me understand that rough times will end and cherish more deeply the happy times. Time just slips through your fingers faster and faster.
- Accept who you are and how you look. You are an original. It is exhausting and a waste of time to fight a losing battle. On a superficial level, I fought my fair skin a long time, but not anymore. It is too bad if people think I look better with color. I won’t spray my whole body with artificial coloring to please them. Of course, self-acceptance is even more important on a deeper level. I still am trying to be okay with the fact that I am an introvert.
- Don’t be in a hurry to get to the next phase of life. Enjoy where you are so you are ready to move on when the time comes. I was always mature for my age and I definitely did benefit from it. However, each stage of life offers something special. Each stage has experiences and milestones that shouldn’t be missed.
- It’s okay to be alone. Alone doesn’t mean lonely. This applies to sitting at lunch by yourself all the way to being in a relationship. Sometimes it is a choice and sometimes not. Be okay either way.
- Parent is a verb. It is the most hands-on, hearts-on, and mind-on thing you will ever do. I was dumbfounded when a teacher literally thanked me for the way I supported my child’s needs. Apparently, some people aren’t so active in their child’s life. That makes me so sad.
- Live your life. Some people quit living long before they die. If you are not growing you’re dying. I want to use every last second.
- Go for it. It can be scary to start new things. I learned that the first step is the hardest. Just close your eyes and jump if that is what you need to do to get started. It gets easier once things are moving.
- Being happy with yourself makes you happier with other people and the world. If you are comfortable with yourself, you won’t be threatened by or angry at others for differing views. That opens you up to more relationships and experiences.
- You don’t have to be perfect. No one likes a know-it-all anyway. People who pretend they are perfect are annoying. People embrace and can relate to imperfections. All you can do is your best.
- Laugh. You need to have a sense of humor about life’s circumstances and yourself. Life can be absurd. You will have a healthier sense of well-being if you recognize this and roll with it. Be the willow in the wind.
- Be all right with yourself. At the end of the day, and at the end of your life for that matter, it is just you. You are accountable for your actions. Even if you fool everyone else, you can’t fool yourself. You have to live with yourself and be able to look in the mirror and be okay with it.
What do you think of the life lessons I have learned? Was anything helpful to you? Do you have others you would add to the list?
Please let me know in the comments.