As we get older, we all learn valuable lessons. Looking back to your younger years, you may have thought, “I wish I knew then what I know now”.
We can’t go back and change the past, but we can always heed advice from people who are older, wiser, and more successful. Here are 30 valuable pieces of advice that most people learn far too late in life.
1. Everything Is Temporary
Everything in life is temporary. No matter how much we want something to last forever, it will eventually end. Even if a couple is married for a lifetime, one of the spouses will eventually pass away first. Same goes with pets, jobs, and anything else we care about. When we are young, it’s all too easy to take things for granted. Remember that you only have a limited amount of time to spend with your parents, friends, and family.
The advice “everything is temporary” can apply to negative things, too. Even if you are going through one of the worst moments of your life, it will eventually pass. By reminding ourselves that everything will eventually end, it becomes easier to let go of things that are bothering us.
2. Stop Complaining
So many people complain about small everyday things. They might complain about the weather, traffic, or the quality of the meal that they ate last night. If you’re reading this right now, it means that you were living in a first-world country. You have access to the internet and you are an educated person. This means that you have so much more than so many other people in the world, and you have things to be grateful for. By focusing on gratitude instead of complaining about your life, it will become significantly better.
Also, put yourself in another person’s shoes. Do you enjoy hearing other people complain? No one does. We just want to tell the other person that it’s not so bad, or to get over it. Try to take the perspective of someone else. If you truly cannot get over something, write it down on a piece of paper. This will help you vent, but it also gives you the ability to see your problem from an outside perspective.
3. Life Isn’t Fair
Unfortunately, life isn’t fair. Someone might cheat their way to success, cut in line, or get away with a crime. We can choose to either let this get us down or simply realize that it’s a fact of life. There is no use in getting upset over this. In fact, karma might eventually catch up with this person further down the line.
Bearing that in mind, you can avoid wasting energy pining over how things are unfair. Instead, accept the unfairness of life and choose to focus on the things that went right for you. Many elderly people would probably give you this kind of advice if you asked them to look back on unnecessary things they wasted energy on in life.
4. Live Without Fear
It’s useless to be afraid of things and to let them hold us back from doing what we want to do. Most of the time, fear is in our minds. And once we actually go to take action on these things, the fear only lasts a moment and we are fine. Think about every time you were afraid to get a shot at the doctor’s office. The fear of needles is often more painful than the needle itself.
During a speech, Will Smith said, “The problem with fear is that it lies. The daily confrontation with fear has become a real practice with me.” He goes on to tell a story of how he went skydiving with his friends. The night before, he could barely sleep because he was so terrified. He spent his entire day feeling scared, up until the moment he jumped. Then, he realized that he had nothing to be afraid of and that it was actually an amazing experience. It was a realization for him that fear is a waste of time. It doesn’t serve you.
5. Family Matters More Than Friends
When we are young, our friends mean the world to us. We would rather ditch family dinner in favor of spending a Friday night out. But at the end of the day, your family are the ones who love you unconditionally. Friends come and go when we graduate school, switch jobs, and break up with boyfriends and girlfriends. But your family is forever.
We are not suggesting that you give up your friendships. In fact, there always needs to be a balance between having friends and spending time with your family. But never take your family for granted or treat them like they are second-best.
6. Money Can’t Buy Happiness
“Money can’t buy happiness” is an old phrase that you have probably heard before. Money can help with a lot of things in life. There are plenty of problems that would be solved if you only had enough money to throw at the issue. However, money cannot buy love. It cannot buy true friendship, and it will not make you happy 24/7. Even the richest people in the world still have bad days and still feel disappointed and upset over things going on in their lives.
There was a study that found out that money makes you significantly happier; that is, until you earn $105,000 per year. Beyond that six-figure salary, the level of happiness pretty much stays the same. The excess material things truly doesn’t make a difference. In fact, if you are making more money, it probably means you have a ton of additional responsibilities that will add stress to your life. In the words of the Notorious B.I.G, “More money, more problems.”
7. Don’t Try to Change Other People
In the United States, 50% of marriages end in divorce. While there are many reasons people choose to split, one of the leading causes of divorce is that people no longer feel compatible with their partner. Some people are willing to admit that when they married their spouse, they had plenty of doubts about their personality. They hoped that someday they would grow out of bad or immature behavior. Others believed that with enough love, they can actually change or “fix” the issues that their partner has.
In reality, most people are not going to change who they are, even as the years go on. It takes a lot of therapy, or a near-death-experience for someone to be shaken enough to change. So if you are going to get married, you need to be prepared to spend the rest of your life with the person they are right now. No matter how much you love someone or want to fix them, change always has to come from within oneself. Instead of trying to change someone, try to find someone who is great just the way they are.
Always treat yourself like royalty.
8. Treat Yourself With Love and Respect
If you are being treated badly by the people around you, remind yourself that it is because they already have this preconceived notion in their mind of who you are. This does not define who you truly are, and it’s still possible to change your circumstances. Start by loving and respecting yourself. Forgive yourself for your past and begin to treat yourself like the person you want to be.
Imagine that you were moving to a new city where no one knew who you were. You could present yourself as the person that you truly feel you are inside. These new people will have absolutely no history of what you have done in the past or the mistakes that you have made before. They will judge you based on who you are in the moment. Remember that at the end of the day, you are the only person that will be there for the entirety of your life. You might as well love yourself.
9. Don’t Sleepwalk Through Life
There is a famous Warren Buffet quote; “Look for the job you would take if you didn’t need a job. Don’t sleepwalk through life. You really want to be doing what you love doing.” This is absolutely great advice. There are some people out there who wake up, go to work, and come home just to zone out in front of the TV. This is sleepwalking through life.
Instead of just continuing to go through the motions every day, start to do things that you feel passionate about. Remember that you only get one life to do things you want to do. We are not suggesting that you quit your job and completely abandon everything, but try to incorporate more of your “bucket list” items into each day.
10. People Aren’t Thinking About You As Much As You Think
Some people go through life feeling self-conscious about themselves. They may be afraid that people are staring at them, judging their clothing, or a number of other things. In reality, most people are just thinking about themselves. Ask yourself what is in your mind most of the time. Probably 80 to 90% of your thoughts are consumed about your own life. So what makes you think that other people are wasting their time worrying about you?
This is not to make you feel bad about yourself. But rather, this should alleviate some anxiety that you might feel on a day-to-day basis. If you are worried that people are thinking bad thoughts about you, chances are they’re not thinking about you at all. Once you realize this, it can be very helpful to get over anxiety.
11. Never Stop Learning
Some people go through life on the easy route. People who hate learning in school are eager to drop out or graduate. After school, they immediately want to start working and are not interested in learning anything new. These people are often very close-minded. Without a sense of curiosity in life, you really miss out on so many amazing and interesting things.
If you truly want to succeed in life and be as enriched as humanly possible, you should never stop learning. No matter how good you might get at something, this does not mean you know everything. In fact, the people who pretend to know everything often come off as being pompous and ignorant. Always stay curious, and try to learn something new every day.
12. Know Your Destination
There are certain paths in life that are very clear-cut. For example, if you want to be a doctor, you go to college, then medical school, then take on a residency at a hospital. You’re a doctor. But for some career paths that are non-traditional, like a YouTuber, there is no formula that every single person can successfully follow. A lot of people have big hopes and dreams, but they give up trying because they get caught up in the “how”. Without knowing every step of the process, it can be very scary, and many people give up before they even start.
Instead of worrying so much about how to get from point A to point B, at least gauge where your destination is. Focus on that intently, and try to manifest it into reality. Soon enough, you will begin to see opportunities all around you that will help you achieve your goal. And as time goes on, you will be able to achieve your dreams as long as you never give up trying.
13. The Sacrifices You Make Now Will Pay Off in the Future
Nowadays, millennials get a lot of flack for going out to eat too much or buying expensive coffee at Starbucks. It can be difficult to imagine how making small sacrifices today can pay off in the long run. But in reality, small changes truly can add up. This is why so many people are adopting the FI/RE movement, which means “Financial independence, retire early.” They live an extremely frugal lifestyle so that they can retire in their 40s.
On the flip side, if you choose to completely indulge in the present day, you might end up with nothing when it is time to retire. Try to take a step back and evaluate if you are truly spending your money wisely. Start by making a budget, and it will become clear to you how much you need to cut back if you want a comfortable future.
14. Happiness Is A Choice
No matter how tough things get, happiness is always a choice. Obviously, this is easier said than done. It’s not possible to turn off sadness or angry in a split second just because you choose to be happy. But you can choose how long you mope in your sadness. If you struggle with depression, try to “build a ladder.” Start at the smallest rung by thinking of something happy and positive. Keep going by adding more and more reasons to be happy. Eventually, you’ll find you are in a better mood.
Being happy cannot be given to us by a relationship or money. It comes from inside. Remember, there are plenty of rich and married people who feel miserable about their lives. Try to see the world with a “glass half full,” and things will begin to get better.
15. Take Care of Your Health
Most people in the United States coast through life eating and drinking whatever they want. Suddenly, they are diagnosed with cancer, diabetes, or heart disease. Finally, people begin to care about eating right, but by then it’s already too late.
If you need a reality check to help put you into perspective, you should watch the documentary Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. It is about an Australian investor named Joe Cross. He became a millionaire in his 20s as a stockbroker by working nonstop and ate and drank to excess. Eventually, he became obese and came down with a rare disease that made his life miserable. He decides to go on a journey to see if he can lose weight and change his perspective on food. If you haven’t seen it already, it’s a great movie.
16. Curb Your Expectations
A lot of arguments in relationships stem from one person’s expectations of the other. This can also happen in the workplace, friendships, and many other situations. As long as you put high expectations on another person, you are bound to be disappointed. Remember that the other person cannot read your mind. They do not know what you expect from them. Even if they did, they have no obligation to obey your commands. You only have control over yourself, not other people. So while it is okay to have high expectations of yourself, doing it for things out of your control is only going to lead to disappointment.
For example, there is something called “Paris Syndrome,” which mainly affects Japanese tourists. People in Japan have hyped up their idea of Paris so much, that they truly do believe it is the “city of love.” They expect to arrive in France and magically find their one true love. But as soon as they get there, they realize it’s just a city. So they become so incredibly disappointed, it makes them feel physically sick. Compare that to someone who visits Paris with zero expectations. They are far more likely to have a great time because they will enjoy whatever happens.
17. Don’t Let Fear of Embarrassment Stop You From Being Yourself
Whenever you try something new, there is always the chance that you might embarrass yourself. And some people are terrified to let their friends and co-workers know if they secretly have a guilty pleasure. At the end of the day, other people’s opinions of you don’t matter. You only have one life to live, so you should live it any way you want to.
In fact, if you begin to reveal more of your true self, you might find that there are more people who have the same interests as you. Live a genuine life and you are more likely to find others who are doing the same.
18. Material Things Don’t Matter
So many people are trying to become rich so that they can buy the things they want. But at the end of the day, these are just things. Remember back to the moments when you desperately wanted the things that you have right now. Maybe getting that thing was exciting, but did those material things really make you a happier person?
Instead of focusing on buying the things on your wish list, try to create a bucket list of accomplishments instead. You may need to spend money in order for those goals to come true. At the end of the day, you will feel far more accomplished by investing in fulfilling your dreams rather than buying new things.
19. Eventually, Things Get Better
No matter how terrible a situation may be, there will always be a light at the end of the tunnel. Something can feel so incredibly painful that we cannot even imagine being happy again. This can lead to depression, especially if we do not have a good way to cope with the bad times.
Humans can make it through anything, even if a significantly difficult life event like a breakup, divorce, or death in the family. People are incredibly strong and resilient. So the next time you feel awful about something, try to remind yourself that pain is usually temporary.
20. Everyone is Out For Themselves
When you go through life, sometimes it is all too easy to feel like someone is treating you unfairly. Or you might be tricked by someone who you assumed had good intentions. At the end of the day, everyone makes themselves their own top priority.
Everyone imagines themselves as the star of their own movie. All of their experiences are from their own perspective, not yours. So if you ever have trouble understanding someone else, try to put yourself in their shoes to understand the situation a bit better.
21. Age is Just a Number
When we are in our 20s, it feels kind of like a race to get things done before we turn 30. Many people feel pressured to get married, have kids, or buy a house before they become “too old” to do so. They might also feel that if they have not accomplished something by a certain age, it becomes “too late” to change their situation or try new things.
Age is just a number. So many people look and feel completely different at all ages. For example, there are people between 90 and 100 years old who are still running marathons. You’re only as old as you feel. Take good care of yourself, try to live a healthy lifestyle, and never give up on your dreams regardless of your age.
22. Forgive Others (Even if You Never Get an Apology)
We have all been hurt by someone in our lives. Holding grudges can be one of the most toxic things to deal with. Unfortunately, the people who hurt us the most you might never give you an apology. And if you wait around hoping for someone to say they are sorry, it is likely that moment will never come.
Remind yourself that forgiveness is about giving you peace of mind. By forgiving someone else for the things that they have done, it frees you from ever having to think about them again. Maybe someday that person actually will come back and try to talk to you again. You can decide that moment if you are willing to trust them again. More often than not, you may not be able to trust them, but at least you can talk to them from a cool and level-headed place.
23. Learn to Put Your Ego in Check
Sometimes, our pride can get in the way of a lot of things. If we worry too much about feeding our ego, we can become too self-centered. That can get in the way of our success and happiness.
Instead of waiting to speak, focus on what other people are saying and listen to their words. Respond to what they are talking about, instead of talking over them. Once you learn how to communicate in this way, people will like you more. You can have amazing conversations and truly connect with other people.
24. Everyone is Suffering
Every single day, we get an onslaught of messages from the media that we need to be happy every day. There is this subliminal message that if you have problems or moments of sadness, that means there is something “wrong” with you. In reality, everyone has problems. And if we were more sensitive to one another, we would get along better.
In Buddhism, they believe in the concept of “Dukkha,” which is the knowledge that everyone is suffering in some way. Whether it’s stress from work, relationships, paying the bills, or anything else, everyone has something going on behind the scenes. By realizing that everyone is suffering and going through something, it becomes easier to let things roll off your shoulders.
25. Be Present In The Moment
Far too many people forget to be present in the moment. They go through life so zoned out that they forget to “stop and smell the roses”. Have you ever driven somewhere in your car, and then thought, “How did I get here?” That means you need to be more present in the moment.
Some people swear by practicing “mindfulness.: You may need to start meditating or simply paying attention to things around you more often. In the book A New Earth, author Eckhart Tolle suggests looking at a tree, but try to pretend like you are a newborn baby. You have no words for “tree” or “flower,” and you simply have to observe and take in the sight of it. By observing the world around you with this youthful curiosity, you will find yourself becoming more present.
26. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help
A lot of people are afraid to ask for help because they don’t want to appear weak. Or maybe they want to have the pride of knowing that they accomplished something all on their own. Unfortunately, if you’re too stubborn to ask for help, this can sometimes hold you back from succeeding. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you really need it.
Instead of seeing you as weak, your friends and family will most likely be proud of you for showing vulnerability. And by opening yourself up to be more vulnerable, you might be surprised that other people are willing to share their struggles, too. This can bring people a lot closer.
27. It’s Always Worthwhile To See the World
Some people think that traveling the world is something you do when you are a young college student without a lot of responsibilities. No matter how much you have traveled, there is always a part of the world that you have never explored before.
Traveling will never be a waste of money because it is giving you a new perspective on life. If you are ever trying to decide between taking a trip or staying at home, you should always go for the trip. In fact, most Americans do not take enough time to go on vacation, in comparison to the rest of the world. You might find that when you come back, you will be refreshed and able to work twice as hard as you did before.
28. Say What You Mean to Say
A lot of people hold back from opening up about their true emotions because they are afraid of the negative repercussions. Sure, you might say something foolish and feel like an idiot. But at least you were honest with your feelings.
There is nothing more tragic than regretting things left unsaid. You might spend the rest of your life thinking, “I wish I told them that I loved them.” Holding back from saying what you really mean to say is often why people lose the ones they love. You never know if the other person feels the same way you do. And if they don’t, at least you know the truth, and you can move on knowing that you gave it your best shot.
29. Remember To Enjoy Life
This piece of advice sounds very simple, but most of us truly need to be reminded to enjoy our lives. As we get older, we are expected to be very serious and professional. Suddenly, we have tons of responsibility weighing down on us.
Even if you have a lot to worry about, it is still important to enjoy life to the fullest. If you have not taken a break in a long time, go on a vacation. Or at the very least, go somewhere fun in your local area. Life is meant to be so much more than work.
30. A Lifetime Is Not Really That Long
Last, and certainly not least, is that life is unfortunately not as long as we think it is. When you consider that we sleep at least eight hours per night, we are at work eight hours a day, and you may also be commuting, this leaves very little time to actually be our true selves. And as we get older, time seems to go by much faster.