3 Lessons You’re Better Off Learning Sooner than Later (365 Days of Spirited Living — DAY 306)
“The trouble is if you don’t spend your life yourself, other people spend it for you.”
— Peter Shaffer
Too many people live out their lives far into old age regretting that they didn’t do better simply because they failed to realize how important and beautiful life really was. “If only” are the saddest words one can ever utter. While we can’t change the past, there are some things we do wish someone had told us when we were younger that would have helped us become a better version of who we are now sooner rather than later. Whether you’re old or young, here are three of those lessons:
1. Learn to be concerned about issues bigger than yourself.
Selfishness forms the foundation for a pathetic life. The motto of the world is, ‘Do what makes you happy. Find someone who makes you happy. Discover your bliss’ and so on and so forth. There is some personal validation and affirmation to these statements, but by and large, these are words that make us feel comfortable about ourselves in the moment, with no regard for the big picture of life. The big picture includes other people and when we focus on others, we find meaning and significance.
You see, life for only ourselves becomes pretty boring. Sometimes, we get tired of ourselves, our problems, and our imperfections. There are moments when we want to get rid of ourselves because we’re our own worst enemy, we become a pain in our own neck to the point where we feel small. A good antidote for the anxiety and eventual depression that comes from that is to turn our attention to serving others. Get concerned about the issues in this world that impact many other people and focus your attention on doing something to help alleviate the pains and solve the problems. You’ll learn that you live a much better life this way.
2. Learn to appreciate all parts of life.
We all are privileged and blessed in so many ways but we don’t often take the time to realize it. One of the most important lessons you can learn in life is how to show appreciation. While we’re young, we tend to take things for granted, but as we get older, we begin to realize how fragile life is and start to show gratitude and appreciation for the people, possessions, and experiences. If you start doing this earlier in life, you will be amazed at how much you do it as you progress. Being appreciative for all of life helps you to live in the present moment and to be open to the things that come your way.
It doesn’t matter how small and seemingly mundane the thing is — show your appreciation each day. Instead of going through life grumbling, travel through life gratefully. The food in your refrigerator, the clothes in your closet, the warm shower, the career, the people, the experiences, the sunshine, the smell of coffee, the traffic jams, the long lines, the unkind cashier, the difficult neighbor — whatever it is, learn to appreciate it all and realize the abundance that is always present in your life. Showing appreciation is a form of transcendence from a mediocre, harried existence to a positive mind and healthy life.
3. Learn to drop your ego and get along with people who are better than you.
This is a hard one for most people, we don’t like to be told or feel that someone else is better than we are. Yet we are plagued with the nagging thought that we’re not good enough or that we don’t have enough or that we don’t measure up in some way or another. There is some level of self-esteem and self-worth that we need to cultivate which is the reason for these thoughts, but the truth is, some of us just really need to drop our ego and learn to get along with those who can do it better than us because they are better than us.
You can whine and complain all you want about how life is so unfair and keep asking yourself why you’re not like so-and-so or why you’re not rich, smart, influential, better looking, and so on and so forth. But when it comes down to just you looking in the mirror at yourself and your life, you will realize that you are not growing or improving. Ego will stunt growth every chance it gets. You’ll never grow or get better while comparing yourself to someone else. Be willing to ask for help if you need, study what helped someone else get to where they are, and determine to be the very best you can be.
“If there’s a single lesson that life teaches us, it’s that wishing doesn’t make it so.”
— Lev Grossman