A few years back, I started reading books. I keep a log of anecdotes that I find useful. I keep going back and re-reading them whenever I find myself in an uncomfortable situation. So far it was a private collection. But now, I have decided to make it public. Today is my 30th birthday and here are 30 life lessons that I have learned so far.
- Everyone’s life is a reflection of the experiences they’ve had and the people they’ve met, a lot of which are out of your control and driven by chance. Being born to different families, with different values, in different countries, in different generations, and the luck of who you happen to meet along the way plays a bigger role in outcomes than most people want to admit. Believe in the values and rewards of hard work. But realize that not all success is due to hard work, and not all poverty is due to laziness. Keep this in mind when judging people, including yourself.
- Happiness is having the ability to control your time. Being able to do what you want, when you want, where you want, with who you want, for as long as you want, provides a lasting level of happiness greater than any amount of fancy stuff can ever offer.
- Napoleon’s definition of a military genius is the person “who can do the average thing when everyone else around him is losing his mind.” And that is applicable to real-life too. You don’t need to do amazing things to end up OK over time. 99% of success is just showing up consistently.
- It’s OK to change your mind. Almost no one has their life figured out by age 18, so it’s fine if you pick a major you end up not enjoying, or even get a degree in a field that isn’t your passion. It’s fine if you work in a career and then decide you want to do something else, and it’s fine to admit that your values and goals have evolved. Forgiving yourself for changing your mind is a superpower, especially when you’re young.
- Everything has a price, and I’m not just talking about price tags. The price of a busy career is time away from friends and family. The price of spoiling kids is their sheltered life. Everything worthwhile has a price, and most of those prices are hidden. They’re often worth paying, but never ignore that they are true costs. When you accept this you’ll view things like time, relationships, autonomy, and creativity as currencies that are as valuable as cash.
- True success is when the people who you want to love you do love you genuinely. And that love comes overwhelmingly from how you treat people. No amount of money can compensate for a lack of character, honesty, and genuine empathy towards others.
- Your personal experiences makeup maybe 0.00000001% of what’s happened in the world but maybe 80% of how you think the world works. Self-interest can lead people to believe and justify nearly anything.
- Honor your past. Learn from the mistakes and move on. If you never heal from what hurt you, you’ll bleed on people who didn’t cut you.
- There are two types of pain – one that hurts you and the other that alters you. See your troubles as blessings – our character is shaped, not through life’s easiest experiences, but during life’s toughest ones.
- Choosing a partner is choosing a set of problems. That’s not cynical; it’s just realistic. Everyone routinely does something that is going to get on your nerves. You want to be with someone whose flaws you can tolerate — because nobody is flawless. Including you.
- There’s this a great African proverb, it’s a definition of win-win – ‘If you want to go quickly, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.’ What really matters is to have people pay attention to you, listen to you, and respect you, show you that you matter, and to love you. And to have it be genuine, not bought.
- You know yourself mostly by your thoughts. Everyone else in the world knows you only by your actions. Remember this when you feel misunderstood. You have to do or say something for others to know how you feel.
- There are three things you cannot buy with money.
Fitness: You have to keep fit, whether you’re rich or not.
Diet: You cannot pay someone to be on a diet for you.
Then, looking after your soul. No one can possibly treat your soul but you yourself.
- Having good health isn’t everything, but not having it is. Having money isn’t everything, but not having it is. You don’t need six-pack abs or ten million dollars to be happy, but it is worth learning the fundamentals of fitness and finance. They bring a margin of safety.
- Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. And just because it’s comfortable doesn’t mean it’s good.
- Life is a little easier if you expect a certain percentage of it to go wrong no matter how hard you try. Smart people screw up. Good people have bad days. Nice people lose their temper. Pablo Escobar expected 10% of the cash he stored in warehouses to be eaten by rats or spoiled by mold. That was if everything went well. Some downsides are unavoidable. You can push back, but they’ll never die. They’re part of life, and you might as well learn to accept them than pretend perfection exists.
- Take more risks – in the worst-case scenario, you will fail, but your place will never be with those cold souls who know neither victory nor defeat. And make time for planning. Wars are won in the general’s tent.
- When asked what surprised him the most about humanity, the Dalai Lama said, “Man. Because he sacrifices in health in order to make money. Then, he sacrifices money to recuperate his health, and then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present. The result being that he does not live in the present or the future. He lives as if he is never going to die, and then he dies having never really lived.”
- When you grow up, you tend to get told the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact. And that is: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again. – Steve Jobs
- Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
- Intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in your head at the same time and still retain the ability to function.
- Most people die at the age of 25 and aren’t buried until they’re 75 – Benjamin Franklin.
- If you view “do what you love” as a guide to a happier life, it sounds like empty fortune cookie advice. Getting anything to work requires giving it an appropriate amount of time. Giving it time requires not getting bored or burning out. Not getting bored or burning out requires that you actually love what you’re doing, because that’s when the hard parts become manageable.
- Never play chess with a pigeon. It knocks all the pieces over, shits all over the board, then walks around like it’s won. This is a good thing to remember before you start an argument with someone. If someone says something that you don’t agree with. Smile, nod, and move on to more important things. Life is short. Learning to not care about having the last word will save you so much time.
- It’s possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That’s not weakness, that’s life. If it is peace you want, seek to change yourself, not other people. It is easier to protect your feet with slippers than to carpet the whole of the earth.
- What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain. – Maya Angelou
- There are only two periods in a man’s life when he acts without any ulterior motive: when he is a child and when he is in love. A child playing with his toys have no agenda behind it; he is simply playing. He builds castles, his castles collapse, then he builds another — and he goes on, he keeps playing until intruded by hunger or sleep. Similarly, when a man is in love, he acts towards his loved one without any hidden motive. His acts sprout spontaneously. When he purchases flowers for his love, he doesn’t expect anything in return from that person. Imagine how beautiful the world would be if we could make all our acts like that, whether for our relationships or goals.
- Get inspired, but don’t try and imitate. No two people get to the same place, go through the same way, carry the same baggage, or live the same life. Your life, your goal, your journey, your experiences.
- The world is so damn simple. Newton’s Third Law of Motion – “For every action there will always be an equal and opposite reaction.” If you want everything in life from everybody else, is first pay attention, listen to them, show them respect, give them meaning, satisfaction, and fulfillment. Convey to them that they matter to you. And show you love them. But you have to go first. And what are you going to get back? Mirrored reciprocation. It’s not complicated at all! Every single person on this planet is looking for the same thing. Now, why is it that we don’t act on these very simple things?
- Your world will be different than mine, just as mine is different from my parents. So it’s OK to reject any of this advice. Everyone’s different, and no one has all the right answers. Never take anyone’s advice without contextualizing it with your own values, goals, and circumstances.
What’s your favorite quote or anecdote? Feel free to share in the comments.