post written by: Marc Chernoff

26 Life Lessons Learned by Age 26

Life lessons a step at a timeHere is a list of 26 life lessons I have learned thus far at the age of 26.  I pass this list on to you with the simple hope that it makes you think.  Sometimes thinking about your life and sorting out what you have learned is just as important as tackling a new venture.

  1. Being an adult can be fun when you are acting like a child.
  2. Love has nothing to do with looks, but everything to do with time, trust, and interest.
  3. Laughing, crying, joy and anger… All are a vital.  All make us human.
  4. The greatest truths in life are uncovered with simple, steady awareness.
  5. Greed will bury even the lucky eventually.
  6. Bad things do happen to good people.
  7. Paving your own road is intelligent only if nobody has gone exactly where you are going.
  8. Uncertainty is caused by a lack of knowledge.  Hesitation is the product of fear.
  9. Time heals all wounds… regardless of how you feel right now.
  10. Most of the time what you are looking for is right in front of you.
  11. Your health is your life.
  12. Chance is a gift, so act on chance when given the opportunity.
  13. Kindness and hard work will take you further than intelligence.
  14. People deserve a second chance, but not a third.
  15. Marry your best friend.
  16. Take lots of pictures.  Someday you’ll be really glad you did.
  17. Money makes life easier only when the money is yours free and clear.
  18. Carelessness is the root of failure
  19. Your actions now create memories you will reminisce and talk about in your elder years.
  20. Stepping outside of your comfort zone will put things into perspective from an angle you can’t grasp now.
  21. Motivation comes in short bursts.  Act while it’s hot.
  22. Purposely ignoring the obvious is like walking backwards toward the enemy.
  23. Taking ownership of failure builds the foundation for success.
  24. First impressions are completely worthless 50% of the time.
  25. Personal glory lasts forever.
  26. If you never act, you will never know for sure.

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  • I am 27, but that list is really!!!!!! true and inspiring. Thanks for sharing!

  • I agree with all of those life lessons and I am only 21. So listen up young ones and old, pay attention to what this article has to say. read it every morning for a month… then you will see

  • I agree with all of these, and I knew them without thinking about it. I would love to marry my best friend, but she says we’re too much alike to even date…

  • @Aggie, BigDaddy:
    Thanks for the kind words.

    Opposites attract in the short term, but like minds will usually mesh better in the long run. I hope she figures it out sooner or later…

  • i’m 24 and this helps!

    my best friend is a male. =(

  • Really inspiring list! I’m 18 and really hope to live like this…

    As for the marrying your best friend thing, as far as I can see it doesn’t mean marry your current best friend, but be best friends with the person you marry. Having things in common and being free and easy with a person make a relationship work in the end. As well as a lot of other things, obviously!

  • can’t agree with #15

    good list!

  • Marc,
    Interesting list.
    #11 is one of those that kinda creeps up on ya as 20s morph into 40s.

    I could party all night at 24 and still run a Personal best the next evening in a competitive race.

    Now I get a couple of great fun runs in every few days or so - and that’s fine, for both body and soul.

    I would also add that a healthy mind (probably how well you relate to #1 on your list is an accurate barometer of that!) is a trusty ally, as “life change” puts in a special guest appearance (usually uninvited) around midlife…

    Personal peace of mind can carry a person thru a lot of the rougher waters.

    mark mcclure

  • @Shoebe:
    That is exactly the point I was trying to make. Your significant other should be one of your best friends. Thanks for clarifying it. ;-)

    Thanks for the added insight. I could not agree more. I would venture to say that peace of mind is priceless at all junctures of life.

  • @ Aron

    You need the help and advice from David Deangelo. Check some from youtube.

    But for the list… I really relate to #21. Because I’m sort of an artist and motivation is the key in my work. It really comes and goes and we need to act before it goes.

  • Are you sure you are only 26?
    What to you do to be so serene and inspired? Honestly I wan to know!! In need of clarity and serenity right now.

  • @Soubt:
    I am most certainly 26 until September. ;-) Really, I just try to keep an open mind of awareness as I march through life, looking at the good and bad from as many possible angles as possible.

    You have to realize that much of your happiness and sadness is based entirely on what you make of any given situation. Changing your mindset is usually the most efficient way to change your real world circumstances.

  • Awesome post!Loved it!
    I loved the points #3,#4,#9,#11,#14,#24 and #25 a lot!How true your words are!

  • @rampantheart:
    Thanks for the kind words.

  • I’m 17 and for some reason those things scare me a lil. lol. number 8 i do understand… marry ur best friend… once u go from friends to deing together that can change a person…can’t it???

  • This is so true most of the time. Another thing is:
    We stare at a long that has been closed for so long that we don’t notice other doors that have been opened for us.


  • Hello Mr. Marc,
    I’m only 15, but I did use a variation of #20 for an essay I’m writing for my English class. You give good advice, Mr. Marc.(:
    Keep it up.
    With thanks,
    Amber B.

  • I will be 41 years old in 15 days and I’ve never been married. I’ve been in my current relationship for 1 year and realize that he is my best friend and I can’t imagine life without him. Patience will pay off in the end. I often thought I’d “found the one” before, but I was so wrong. When you find it you will know in every cell of your body that it’s right. I only wish I could have met him 20 years ago.

  • This is a great set of life lessons. For someone at age 25, the timing is especially timely for me. I particularly like 21 and 23. Thanks for the great post.

  • very true im 14 and i have done a lot of thinking the past few months and i have figured some of these out by myself. one day i wish to be as wise as you. thank you for your share of knowledge.

  • i’m 21
    i agree with you

  • I agree with you a 100%, from #’s 1-26.
    Seriously. And these are life lessons learned.

  • Thank you Marc for your lessons, I am only 17 but I soon will be leaving high school and moving on with my life, and I will be meeting new people and I appreciate number 13 and 15. I’m a hard worker but not always a great decision maker. So I plan to make sure I marry the one girl who I feel complete and comfortable with.
    Thank You again Marc

  • This is truely an inspiring quote. Thank you very much Marc.. Hope to learn more from you. Im only 18 in university and I wanna know how to find real love

  • Did you marry your best friend? :)

  • Hi Marc! I stumbled upon this post through google! Thank you because I was able to find a relevant information that I could tackle on my blog. I copied the list of 26 Life Lessons Learned to my blog. I hope you don’t mind. I was hoping I could help spread these realizations not only to those 26-year-olds but also to people of all ages…

    Take care!

  • by the way, i linked your blog in that post. I hope it’s really okay!

    God bless!

  • thank you, I’m using the “Time Heals all Wounds” as the topic of my Life Theme paper culminating my whole high school experience. thanks!

  • this is a nice list Marc.

    I’m 22 now and I agree with the things you listed.

    The most notable being
    “Stepping outside of your comfort zone will put things into perspective from an angle you can’t grasp now.”

    This is so important and I learned it the hard(est) way. Sticking to your comfort zone will only get you so far.

  • Wonderful list… so much to think about! Thank you for posting this.

  • Sounds like you’ve had a great experience. I am experiencing much of this now.

  • excellent post. very wise for your age ;)

  • It’s all good, but I disagree with no. 8.

    “Uncertainty is caused by a lack of knowledge. Hesitation is the product of fear.”

    If someone was making a decision and they were undecisive, and they remembered hesitating results in the production of fear, then they would rush into something that originally they were uncertain about.

  • Amazing list. Really. I am in the process of “discovering myself”, and this is just what I need. Thank you a bunch.


  • Lessons learnt:
    1. If you’re on a good thing enjoy it, don’t second guess it or yourself. 
    2. Remember that shit can go pearshaped real fast, and without warning.
    3. When shit goes pearshaped it’s all too easy to let it all bring you down and derail you, but if you can stare it down and get through it, you’ll build character and confidence.
    4. Everyone will eventually be confronted by something, but not everyone can back themselves and deal with it, which distinguishes you from the other 95%.
    5. Take the less dramatic option.
    6. Nearly everything else in life is useless if you don’t have a good girl to share it with. Lonliness would have to be the lowest existence.
    7. Stay fit, jog everyday. Good abs are 95% cardio.
    8. Don’t ask a question if you don’t want to know the answer. Ignorance may be the better option. Spare yourself the pain. Focus only on what you can do to be happy as it’s the only thing you can know about and control.
    9. Peace of mind is key. 
    10. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice from different types of people, but always walk your own path and do it your way.   
    11. You are the sum of your experience, learn a lesson from a fucked situation, and put it down to character building. You’ll be better for it.  

  • While I’m only 16, I feel this list has helped me a lot. I’m currently searching for a life’s purpose, as I’m being pressured to let the world know what I want to be. I’m always asked “What do you want to do with your life?” To be honest, I have no clue. I just want to be happy. I want to go away to college far, far away from everyone and everything I know (I’d say 2,000 miles would suffice) so I can just live. While there, I’m sure that I will learn at least a few of these lessons on my own, but I thank you for helping me out a bit.

  • I couldn’t agree with this list more. Although I’m only 16, I believe so much of what you write to be true. With regards to #11, health most ceto rtaintly is your life. I know what it’s like not to be healthy, and it challenges you every day.

    Your blog keeps me up at night. How do you get inspired?

  • Good evening, I’d like to put your lessons in my book. Please write to my personal email address and tell me your thoughts on this.

  • I was inspired by your young age and your sharing of some of the most fruitful knowledge we strive to teach our children today . I have quoted your list on my blog as well thank you for sharing . I have encouraged my readers fans and followers to direct their attention to your site ! Truly a masterpiece

  • i am an aspiring musican. i write rock type songs for a band called “against goliath” and a lot of this article hits home with me hard. i even wrote a song on 2 of these. very inspirational and true.

  • thanks for the post! i had to write an application form essay for a high school on life lessons and your list provided a usefull inspiration for my own life lessons

  • […] there is a lesson to take in all that we do in […]

  • Great list. Im 26 so this helps…Wish #15 did happen for me…:)

  • Inhabitant of the Interwebs
    January 24th, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    Great list - especially for a 26 year-old!! hee hee! Well done.

  • I am a teenager and this is helpful!

  • Number 3 I would have to agree
    Number 9 is very true although in the moment you find it hard to believe
    Number 11 we can all relate
    I would like to believe in number 13, but I have experienced otherwise so far
    Number 16, pictures are always great to reflect upon no matter what emotion they bring back
    Number 26, I need to take advantage of more often

  • like your posts.. thanks.

  • I myself just turned 26 last Dec and man this list really is true. Keep up the good work

  • Hey man, I’m only 16 and I this is exactly what I needed to see. Being 16 I don’t know much, but I know many important things about life such as being close to your family and being kind to those around you. If you introduce people to kindness, no matter how stubborn that person is, they will recognize it and pass it on in their own way. Love makes the world go round only when it’s recognized, money is the distraction.

  • You really inspire me. Thank you for your words of wisdom :)

  • A very inspiring post. Keep on moving forward.

  • thanks for this. I’m approaching the age of twenty in a couple of months and I will keep these things in mind. if I do forget– which is usually the case during hard times… I’ve bookmarked this page :)

  • harshvardhan rane
    August 21st, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    this site makes the internet worthy, god bless u marc.
    love the post by anon learner.

  • I love reading your article but was confused by #15 “Marry your best friend”

    If this is the best circumstances, all the dating sites are pretty much doomed because those who joined the site (I quited a while ago) have the wrong intention from the very beginning. (They are seeking a romantic relationship, not a friendship)

    What’s your opinion on this?

  • Im 17 and i have readed this and im glad :)

  • I am 22, and I found this post very inspiring. Especially the “motivation comes in short bursts” part because I totally go through that.

  • I am 37 and only just getting to grips with the important things in life. Bill Gates: “Success is a terrible teacher: it teaches that you deserve; failure is the real teacher: it teaches you everything important”. If I got to go back in time and meet myself, I would tell myself “screw it all up earlier”.

  • Excellent and very useful.

  • i absolutely love this site.
    personally, this is one of my favorites posts - inspirational and motivating! (being that i am a college student)

    - thank you :)

  • I’m only ten but these are great lesseons here’s #27 Look at things from a new perspective.

  • Wow! Your 26life lessons are evidently true and fundamental. We should also learn that advancement in each aspect of life leads to indepth hapiness. Life is not all about what we get out of it but what we leave or give.we also need to learn that whatever we want to attract towards us we must give out, you cant receive love in fullness without loving in the first place, if you want money u must part with that little u have. It applies to other aspects of life. Always yearn to learn, knowledge is food to mind. Thanx 4 the lessons.

  • Number 27 - Always make the best of a bad situation.

  • I agree that carelessness is the root of failure.

  • Marc, great insight for someone so young,

    There are a few others to add….

    Treat everyone as you’d like to treated

    Live to Love, love to live.

    Never try to push you point you truths today are based on your knowledge to that day, and may change tomorrow based on you wisdom tomorrow.

    when we all realise that what we percieve is what we get, and we are creators of our circumstances, the world will be a better place. and we are getting there.

  • Man, i must have been about 30 before I had half as much sense as you at 26,lol. Now i try to inspire and motivate also just as you have accomplished with ease.(Seemingly)

    Great job Marc! Much success to you and others who have taken time to indulge.

  • A wonderful post. I can really relate to:
    - Love has nothing to do with looks, but everything to do with time, trust, and interest;
    - Marry your best friend; and
    - Your health is your life.
    Thank you for opening up and sharing with us.

  • This site is wonderful.

    I stumbled on it when I was really feeling low and out of focus. It gave me the inspiration and hope I needed to get back and keep going!


  • A great list. Another few I’d add:

    1. Your deepest desire is to be listened to
    2. Have some dreams but choose them wisely
    3. At the heart of your life lies the questions of faith

    I got these from interview a stack of well-known and less-well-know folks.

    Thanks for the growing collection of wisdom.

  • This is really deep to me. And I’m 15. Respect to the author of this blog.

  • Agreed with everything for the most part.

  • I am 26 years old and I really connect with most of these life lessons.

    I couldn’t agree more with points:

    #1, #2, #3, #4, #6, #8, #9, #11, #12, #13, #14, #18, #19, #20, #24, #25, and #26.

  • I love these life lessons - I was going to put some in a song if that’s alright. It’s about learning life’s greatest lessons. I will give you credit if its fine if i use them - thank you!

  • thanks for sharing. I am 26 too and find a lot of the life lessons listed resonate greatly with mine.

    Follow your heart. There will always be naysayers.

    I agree with 15, but haven’t quite found that ‘best’ girl friend yet.

    Number 8 is another one I feel strongly about too.

    Any great nonfiction books that influence your life?

  • These life lessons are fantastic. Couldn’t agree more.

  • You say that bad things happen to good people, and thats true, but theres a reason for it. Good people have to go through a lot of pain and suffering in life to make us truly appreciate the things that most jerks wouldn’t appreciate. We all have to go through suffering, and we hate it while we go through it, but we always come out of it a stronger person. And I think thats the true life lesson.

  • Great lessons! All are awesome!

  • Thanks for the great advice. These lessons are simple, yet sit well with me.

  • All are wonderful! I am 23 and I need to think about a few of them.

  • Your realizations will touch everyone at some point. Great job putting it all down. I just recently understood what it means for #15 and I’m 33. I’ve experienced all that you’ve put down so far and it’s better to learn more at an even younger age.

  • Good read. I’d also add: The older you get the more you realize how very little you actually know.

  • Thanks for these simple tips :) They resonate with me.

  • Love this list, especially #15. Thanks for a great post!

  • Such wise words!!! Your an inspiration! Thanks, this just made my day!

  • Simple and profound.

  • Deep and witty. Thanks a lot!

  • These are great. I teach life skills through the Scouts to inner city children, from K-12. I am always looking for good lessons and fun things to keep them engaged. This is my next lesson plan. Thanks so much for sharing. And by the way, I have been married for almost 23 years to my best friend. He was not my best friend when we met, but he has been ever since. I have no bigger fan and we have 4 great children of our own. For anyone reading who thinks that I was just one of those lucky people who have it all, let me share. I grew up poor, moving every time my dad got a new job. My parents divorced when I was 9, and things got a lot worse financially. I raised my baby brother from the time I was 9 while my mother sold real estate ( a feast or famine job). She remarried, and that man turned out to be a violent alcoholic. She divorced him years later, and I got anther step dad, who just didn’t care about anyone but himself and my mother. In total, I went to 8 grade schools and 3 high schools. I graduated valedictorian and went on to college. I didn’t finish, due to family issues, but met my husband while I was taking classes and working 3 jobs. He had just graduated with an engineering degree. We married 6 months later, when he was leaving for Naval Officer Candidate School. He graduated as an officer. Since then, we have lived in DC where he worked for the Presidential Helicoper Division and Navair. We moved to France when he went to a civilian job. My last child was born there. We have seen more of the world than most people, have done more than many, and have wonderful times to remember with our kids I still would rather hang out with him than anyone else. We love to go out and dance together. I have worked many jobs in my life, and can do anything I put my mind to. My life has not always been easy, but it didn’t kill me and it made me stronger. I love who I am and I love my family. Those lessons didn’t come easily, but they did finally sink in. Thanks so much for writing it all down. It made me think back to what got me where I am today.

  • Thanks for the tips. I honestly love the simplicity of these life lessons.

  • Excellent!

  • Inspiring. Very inspiring.

  • Thank you for these great life lessons. They are all very relevant and very meaningful for me.

    I would add one more that I read here: Fall in love when you’re ready, not when you’re lonely.

  • Inspiring and motivational! Best I’ve seen in a while, and I’m only 15. Even when I’m always hearing coaches yelling and teachers or parents talking about life and motivation, I will definitely keep these in mind. Most of these are true, and I’ve experienced many of them. Thank you!

  • Loved this. Simple truths.

  • Great life lessons! I really their simplicity. Reminds me that we should be happy no matter what life tosses our way.

  • Two years older than me. I’m 28 and I dated a Marc LOL!

  • Also 21 years old and am very glad to read this page. Very encouraging, inspiring and true words. Going to make it a point to read this before starting each day….

  • Great list of lessons for life. I appreciate each of them.

  • Great points Marc. I think that number 21 is especially true. Motivation certainly does not last forever. We have to act fast when we have it and accomplish many things. When we don’t have it, then it is hard to work.

  • A very good list. One thought struck me when reading #7 (”Paving your own road is intelligent only if nobody has gone exactly where you are going.”), and I would like to suggest it as #7A:
    Who says your road has to be paved, anyway?

  • Hi Marc!

    This is a wonderful list. I’m only 17, and I actually found this page a year ago and bookmarked it; I’ll be sure to refer to this as I grow older and live life. :)

  • I could relate to the list with my experiences in life. I’m 26 and have been through strange situations. My first ex-spouse became my best friend. I wish I had a best friend I could get married to. Anyways, good list.

  • Well done.

  • I encountered this list shortly after it first came out, when I was in my early 20s. It struck me as very honest and I remember reading it tons of times. I saved it on my computer and recently rediscovered it. I am only now turning 26. However, I must have read it more than a ton of times, as it turns out that every single life lesson / piece of advice in this article has become a part of who I am; they have become slogans for centering in my life. I just wanted to thank you for writing this article; more than anything else on the internet, it has changed my life in a deeply positive way. Thank you.

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