4 Things Most People Take a Lifetime to Learn
“How to know your life purpose in 5 minutes.”
“How (and Why) to Find Your Life’s Purpose.”
“Your life has a purpose…”
These titles incidentally landed on my YouTube’s recommended page. Was it a sign that I should stop wasting my time on the Internet and do something meaningful — like most 20-something entrepreneurs who’ve made millions — or was it a calling for me to take a one-way ticket to Great Canyon and figure out my life’s purpose in solitude?
Regardless, I found the video titles to be cliche because they’re arbitrary.
If life “manuals” were readily available — one that details the do’s and don’ts, the people you should keep or drop, the age you’re about to die, and if everything you’re doing now is going to pay off — we will live life not having a single worry. In reality, though, we don’t.
Instead, regrets are a disguise for people to better navigate in and grow through life. These are regrets from people who wished they knew at a young age (but it’s too late to change anything now).
Growing up, I had my fair share of conversing with people of wisdom — mostly my grandparents and adults who had experienced turbulence in life.
Here’s my list of lessons that most people take a lifetime to learn.
1. It’s Okay To Feel Sad After Making A Decision
Just because you feel sad after making a decision, doesn’t mean it was the wrong decision. This could be something you didn’t want to decide but know it in your heart that you had to do it.
It could be things like cutting off someone in your life whom you knew wasn’t right for you but still really like them or a conventional job that pays well, but doesn’t make you happy.
For me, it was staying in a friendship that severely undermined my self-worth at the expanse of their gains. It was fun being around the cool kid on the block. Yet, I tried so hard to match up to her level of social status in fear of being outcasted that I gave most of what truly defined me, away.
Looking back, I should have circled myself with friends who’re more accepting of who I was than lying to myself and be someone I’m not — it’s my life to live, anyway.
2. That Lesson Will Repeat Itself Until You Learn It
The easiest thing to do whenever we face adversities or trying to confront our insecurities is to put it away. Hide them in the closet and hope that we wouldn’t have to think about it ever again.
The truth is the problem never truly disappears from our life; it’s sitting somewhere waiting to be addressed. Until you do, you’ll wind up experiencing the same negative feelings when confronted with similar situations.
As a child, I was greatly loved and cared for by my family. I grew up with everything I’ve wanted and was under the spotlight even at school, receiving praises for my goodness. That gave me self-confidence, and I fell in love with recognition.
Over time, I started losing some of my closest companions like dominoes, not knowing why, as I attributed the fate of our friendship to them. Reflecting upon that incident; it was not a circumstance but my pursuit of self-interest that pushed people away. I became self-absorbed that I didn’t care to think about how people felt because of my conduct.
After confronting this insecurity of mine, I made a point to be more self-aware about my actions, striving to be selfless, and more people-oriented. Looking back, I’m much more compassionate than I was during my teens, and I keep a closely knitted circle of friends who have been with me since 2016.
3. Live in the Present
Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. And today? Today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present.
— Eleanor Roosevelt
A lot of us carry emotional baggage from the past. Being humans as we are, we like to be sentimental, but that actively holds us back from living in the present. The past is written history, and nothing you do would change anything about it.
On the flip side, worrying about the future — which we have no control over — creates unnecessary anxiety. We let our minds be caught up on an unknown future, sometimes thinking about the worst-case scenario that could happen. The thing we must realise is that the future may take us by surprise, so nothing is guaranteed to be set in stone.
If you have a crazy business idea, execute it. The worst that could come out of a failed startup is experience, but you’ll never regret pursuing a passion when you had a chance. If you have a desire to travel, do it because you’ll never get the same bouts of energy when you’re older. If you live miles away from your parents, call them and check in on how they’re coping because people don’t live forever.
4. Believe People When They Show You Who They Are, Not What They Say
Words can be comforting, but they don’t carry any substance if they aren’t accompanied by action. It’s the equivalent of saying you’re dieting while heaps of potato chips surround you.
We tell ourselves lies too. Sometimes, even lying to people so we could project a false sense of identity that we think they’d like. So, who do we trust? Actions.
I once had a friend who dated a guy who frequently gave praises about her beauty, intellect, and quirks. It was this constant dosage of “feel-good drugs” that my friend took him at his words, making her fall for him even more.
What she didn’t flag to herself as signs of warning was the fact that he’d bail out on their meetups at the last minute and at times, he was rude to her. My friend later told me he was a Casanova when she found out he was seeing another lady. There was a clear mismatch between what he had promised and what he actually delivered.
Start focussing on what others do instead of their words — apply this to yourself as well. After all, nobody likes a liar.
There are other profound and life-changing regrets as advice out there. Maybe you can relate to those life lessons above. The key point here is to reflect upon lessons you’ve experienced in life and transform your regrets into practical actions to improve your life.
Thank you for reading!