9 Life Lessons Most People Don’t Learn Until It’s Too Late
Most people don’t spend a lot of time thinking about how they’ll view their life when they’re old. However, if you never stop to consider how you’ll appraise your life story, you may miss key facts about happiness and personal fulfilment for a long time and only stumble upon them when it’s almost too late to act.
Here are nine significant life lessons to incorporate into your thinking today, along with reasons why they’re so important.
1. You Can’t Please Everyone
Don’t drain your resources trying to ensure that everyone in the world likes you. There’s no way to make everyone happy—the things that attract you to one person will likely be the very things that preclude a friendship with some other person!
Everyone you encounter brings their own baggage, insecurities and assumptions to their interactions with you, so you’re not reasonable for all their reactions to you. Focus your attention on the core group of people who know and love you, instead of trying to please everyone.
2. Mistakes Are Inevitable… And Useful
Accept that you’ll make mistakes sometimes, and that doing so doesn’t undermine your value. Instead, every mistake is an opportunity to learn something useful.
Whenever you think you’ve made an error of judgement, think about what it can teach you about being happy in the future, then forgive yourself and try to let go of regret.
3. Love Requires Work
Many of us are raised to believe that “real love” will be like a grand fairytale, and that finding a soulmate means that everything naturally falls into place. However, the truth is that even the best relationships require consistent attention and effort if they’re to remain happy.
Open communication is most important of all—try to avoid taking your partner for granted, and make a habit of being honest about any struggles you’re experiencing.
4. You Must Be Proactive About Health
When you’re young and generally feel good, you might not give a second thought to your physical health—but if you take the time to keep your body in good shape, your older self will be extremely grateful!
Do your best to eat a healthy, balanced diet, do cardiovascular exercise at least three times a week, and always see your doctor if you have a niggling concern about a physical change.
5. Self-Acceptance Is Necessary For Happiness
It’s easy to compare yourself to others and worry that you fall short, but it’s hard to be happy if your mind is always focused on these comparisons.
Of course, it’s wonderful to devote time and attention to consistent personal development and self-improvement, but you’ll have a more enjoyable and satisfying life if you can pursue these goals without dipping into self-loathing.
Think about how you’re able to love your friends and family in spite of the flaws they struggle with, and make a sincere effort to extend this same sort of compassion to yourself.
6. Enjoy Life’s Journey
You’ll no doubt have heard the clichéd phrase that life is all about the journey and not the ultimate destination, but have you spent time really thinking about what this means?
If you’re always looking forward to what you’ll have or where you’ll be in two years, you’ll miss the opportunities to enjoy the pure joy the present moment can offer (and we’re only ever guaranteed the present moment, anyway).
You can cultivate a habit of being grateful for every day by keeping a journal where you write down a few things that make you feel happy or appreciative every day.
7. Don’t Work Yourself Into The Ground
While it’s good to have ambitions and be willing to work to fulfill your dreams, it’s important to remember that elderly people often report that working too hard is their biggest regret.
It’s rare for someone to say near the end of their life that they wish they had spent more time working. Regularly assess your work-life balance, and adjust as necessary.
8. Money Won’t Solve All Your Problems
In Western society, there’s a common message that obtaining more material possessions and larger piles of money will make you happier. However, if you don’t have the rest of your life in order, there’s no amount of cash that will buy peace and satisfaction.
By all means strive for financial abundance, but be sure you know your motivations for doing so (and be clear about what this abundance will and won’t bring you).
9. There’s No Shame In Not Knowing
Finally, don’t be ashamed or scared when you realize you don’t have all the answers. No one does, and everyone is learning as they go.
Ask open, curious questions, take an active role in your cognitive and emotional development, and remember that vulnerability is a huge part of what it means to be human.