post written by: Marc Chernoff

111 Lessons Life Taught Us


Everyday Life Lessons

Sometimes thinking about your life and sorting out what you have learned is just as important as tackling a new venture.  That’s what our new sister site, Everyday Life Lessons, is all about.  It’s an online community where people share, rank and discuss life’s greatest lessons.

The site challenges you to reflect on your past, dig deep within yourself and answer one simple question:

What has life taught you?

Think about all the things you would love to tell yourself if you could travel back in time to give your younger self some advice about life.

Here’s a sample of 111 life lessons that were recently submitted to the site:

  1. Spend more time with those who make you smile and less time with those who you feel pressured to impress.
  2. Never tell someone their dreams are impossible. You’ll feel like a fool when they prove you wrong.
  3. No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.
  4. Pursuing happiness by acquiring material things (fancy cars, expensive jewelry, designer clothing) is like jogging to the grocery store on your treadmill: it won’t get you anywhere.
  5. Laugh at stupid jokes. Apologize. Tell someone how much they mean to you. It’s the small moments that make life grand.
  6. At 79, I regret the things I didn’t do far more than the things I did.
  7. Life is way more enjoyable when you stop trying to be cool and simply focus on being yourself.
  8. Start by asking yourself whether each of your relationships drags you down or lifts you up. Surrounding yourself with positive, loving people is half the battle of living a happy, successful life.
  9. When the ‘want’ gets stronger, the ‘how’ gets easier.
  10. Too often we judge people on too little information. Instead of judging someone for what they do or where they are in their life, figure out why they do what they do and how they got to where they are.
  11. If you want to feel rich, just count all the great things you have that money can’t buy.
  12. I have taken noticed that the deeper I know about myself, the clearer I understand others.
  13. You can’t change who you are. You can only change what you know and how you apply this knowledge.
  14. I don’t need a certain number of friends, just a number of friends I can be certain of.
  15. People who are meant to be together will find their way back to each other. They may take detours, but they’re never lost.
  16. The older I get, and the more I learn, the more I realize I know so little. At 72, life still teaches me new lessons every day.
  17. You can press forward long after you can’t. It’s just a matter of wanting it bad enough.
  18. Complaining is like slapping yourself for slapping yourself. It doesn’t solve the problem, it just hurts you more.
  19. Embrace change. As uncomfortable as it is sometimes, change allows us to stretch and grow. New things feel awkward and scary at first, but those feelings go away, and you are left with something bigger and bolder in your life.
  20. Nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises. Because most great opportunities in life force us to grow emotionally and intellectually. They force us to stretch ourselves and our comfort zones, which means we won’t feel totally comfortable at first. And when we don’t feel comfortable, we don’t feel ready.  (Read The Road Less Traveled.)
  21. No matter how bad your heart has been broken the world doesn’t stop for your grief. The sun comes right back up the next day.
  22. Supporting, guiding, and making contributions to other people is one of life’s greatest rewards. In order to get, you have to give.
  23. Learn to adjust the sails of your life to unpredictable winds, while keeping your focus clear on your destination. And keep sailing until you get there.
  24. As you strive to achieve your goals and dreams you can count on there being some fairly substantial disappointments along the way. Don’t get discouraged, the road to your dreams may not be an easy one. Think of these disappointments as challenges - tests of persistence and courage - that life throws at you during your journey. They are necessary and are meant to help you grow as a person.
  25. Spend less than you earn, go without until you have the money in hand.
  26. Freedom is the greatest gift. Self-sufficiency is the greatest freedom.
  27. Even when you feel like you have nothing, someone else likely has far less. Find them and help them. You’ll see why.
  28. Marriages evolve and change. The feelings you had for the man or woman you married will mutate and evolve several times over the life of a marriage. Hopefully you will evolve in the same direction or at least embrace and accept the changes in the other person. It takes work, and sometimes it takes counseling. Don’t gloss over those changes or you may wake up next to a stranger one day.
  29. Negativity breeds more negativity. When you focus only on the negative, obviously that’s all you will see. You will not seek out positivity, and even when positivity comes into your life, you’ll look for the negative side of things.
  30. If you want something in your life you’ve never had, you’ll have to do something you’ve never done.
  31. As a child, I always thought the expression “it’s better to give than to receive” was trite and silly. As an adult, I recognize the expression’s value. Having the capacity to give means you possess a mindset of abundance. Having the will to give means you want to make a difference in the world. Having the desire to give means you care.
  32. It’s not so much what you say that counts, it’ how you make people feel.
  33. Figure out what you want. Set real goals and make a logical plan to achieve them. It’s like the old saying, “A goal that is never written down is nothing more than a New Year’s resolution.” And we all know what happens to New Year’s resolutions.
  34. Being open-minded is the key to more knowledge. If you want to know more about the world you have to keep an open mind. You have to give people and things a chance.
  35. If you want love, give love. If you want friends, be friendly. If you want money, provide value. It really is this simple.
  36. If something won’t be significant to you 3 days/3 months/3 years from now, don’t waste all your time worrying about it now.
  37. Manage aging, but why fight it? You can spend a fortune on face creams, plastic surgery, hair growth formulas, and Botox, but eventually you realize you are fighting an uphill battle. Groom yourself nicely. Stay fit. Have unsightly things removed. But accept the beauty of aging. A striking mature man or woman is much more attractive than someone who looks overly taunt, tanned or top-heavy.
  38. Never regret. If it’s good, it’s wonderful. If it’s bad, it’s experience.
  39. Being busy and being productive are two different things.
  40. Life is unbelievably brief. When you’re young, you might feel like there’s a huge mass of time ahead of you. But trust me, it passes much faster than you think. You get gray hairs before you feel like a real adult. And then you have kids, and suddenly they’re leaving for college. Stop long enough to appreciate it all.
  41. Mistakes teach you important lessons. Every time you make one, you’re one step closer to your goal. The only mistake that can truly hurt you is choosing to do nothing simply because you’re too scared to make a mistake.
  42. Your health is your life, keep up with it. Get an annual physical check-up.
  43. Change is the only permanent thing in life.
  44. Having a thousand credentials on the wall will not make you a decent human being. But genuinely helping one person everyday will.
  45. You must create and look for opportunities. Opportunities rarely ever come knocking on the door of someone who’s not seeking them. You have to create and seek opportunities for yourself. You have to take the initiative to get the ball rolling and the doors opening.
  46. Keep your brain active. Don’t get into a mental rut. Do new things, learn new things, explore new ideas in all areas of your life. Keep challenging yourself and your mind. Be curious and interested in the world around you.
  47. Someone always has it worse. At times you may be having a bad day, but stop yourself and think about it; there are plenty of other people who have it worse off than you do.
  48. In work and business, when they need you more than you need them, you have succeeded.
  49. Trying to be somebody you’re not is not sexy. Be you. That’s when you’re beautiful.
  50. Truly ‘rich’ people need ‘less’ to be happy.
  51. Your ability to select a suitable spouse will greatly influence your financial and emotional well-being. Three common sense guidelines: 1. Pick someone who’s a joy to be around and who makes you happy. 2. Know the person well. 3. Ensure compatibility beyond physical attraction because beauty and youth are fleeting, while the mind and heart endure.
  52. No matter how much progress you make there will always be the people who insist that whatever you’re trying to do is impossible. Or they may incessantly suggest that the idea or dream as a whole is utterly ridiculous because nobody really cares. When you come across these people, don’t try to reason with them. Instead, forget that they exist. They will only waste your time and energy.
  53. We are all weird. And life is weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we call it love.
  54. Saying “no” to right people gives you the time and resources required to say “yes” to right opportunities.
  55. Living a life of honesty creates peace of mind, and peace of mind is priceless. Period. Don’t be dishonest and don’t put up with people who are.
  56. If you catch yourself working hard and loving every minute of it, don’t stop. You’re on to something big. Because hard work ain’t hard when you concentrate on your passions.
  57. Bulls**t might help you get you to the top, but it won’t keep you there. The truth always rises to the top and buries the bulls**t eventually.
  58. After 40 years of teaching at a local college I’ve come to realize that a teacher is nothing but a clever student.
  59. Sooner or later, you just want to be around the people who make you smile.
  60. Forgiving yourself is far more important (and difficult) than getting others to forgive you.
  61. Simplicity is often a major factor of success. But the process of simplifying things is rarely easy.
  62. There are few joys in life that equal a good conversation, a good read, a good walk, a good hug, a good smile, or a good friend.
  63. Laughter is the best medicine for stress. Laugh at yourself often. Find the humor in whatever situation you’re in.
  64. Everything that happens in life is neither good nor bad. It just depends on your perspective.
  65. When you spend time worrying, you’re simply using your imagination to create things you don’t want.
  66. Maturity is more about education and life experience than it is about age. I know plenty of mature 30-somethings and immature 50-somethings.
  67. When passion and skill work together, we’re often left with a masterpiece.
  68. You’re not alone. Everyone has problems. Some people are just better at hiding them than others.
  69. True friendship and true love do sustain the tests of distance and time.
  70. It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary. I believe this to be true and have experienced this with my own family. When I think of the times where we laughed the most or had the most fun – it was when we were doing simple, everyday things like swimming in a pool, combing a beach for shells, playing a board game or sharing a delicious meal.
  71. Get up 30 minutes earlier so you don’t have to rush around like a mad man. That 30 minutes will help you avoid speeding tickets, tardiness, and other unnecessary headaches.  (Read Getting Things Done.)
  72. It is okay to be angry. It is never okay to be cruel.
  73. Arguments are natural. An argument between two close friends doesn’t show a lack of love or respect, it’s simply a disagreement. In fact, quite often, the only reason we get frustrated with people and argue with them is because we care about them. Which is why we need to remember not to get too carried away.
  74. Money and stuff are not all that important. Yes, you want enough to be comfortable and do the things you want to do. But accumulating for the sake of accumulating is boring and empty. Trust me, it gets old fast. So feed your soul, not your ego.
  75. Hang out with younger people. Stay connected with what the generation behind you is doing and thinking. Establish friendships with them. You will benefit and learn from each other. Don’t act superior, because younger people may know a whole lot more than you do.
  76. There is nothing to hold you back except yourself. There is only one question to ask yourself here: “What would you do if you were not afraid?” Think about it.
  77. No matter how it turns out, it always ends up just the way it should be. Either you succeed or you learn something. Win-Win.
  78. Either you’re going to take action and seize new opportunities or someone else will. You can’t change anything or make any sort of progress by sitting back and thinking about it.
  79. Your years spent at school, reading and learning will seem short compared to a lifetime of minimum wage jobs. Get a good education, concentrate on areas that interest you and pursue your dreams.
  80. Keep six months of your salary in an emergency savings account just in case you lose your job or have an emergency that prevents you from working for a prolonged period of time. And keep a few extra hundred dollars on hand for unexpected expenses, such as car and home repair.
  81. A hero is someone who makes a positive difference in someone else’s life – even if it’s only one other person’s life.
  82. You’re never too old to follow your dreams, whatever they may be. I didn’t start my first business until I was 46 (something I always wanted to do). Now at 53, my business is more successful than I ever could have dreamed.
  83. Let your kids fail. Your kids will be okay, even if you think they are headed for the juvenile hall right now. Don’t come to their rescue all the time. Don’t manage every detail of their lives or over-schedule them with karate or viola lessons. Give them some boundaries, and then relax.
  84. Be vulnerable. Allow yourself to feel, to be open and authentic. Tear down any emotional brick walls you have built around yourself and feel every exquisite emotion, both good and bad. This is real life. This is how you welcome new opportunities.
  85. There’s no such thing as ‘risk free.’ Everything you do or don’t do in life has an inherent risk.
  86. Take a step back to gain some perspective. Usually when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. In the grand scheme of things, this one problem means almost nothing.
  87. Every mistake you make is progress. Mistakes teach you important lessons. Every time you make one, you’re one step closer to your goal. The only mistake that can truly hurt you is choosing to do nothing simply because you’re too scared to make a mistake.
  88. The greatest “adventure” is the ability to INQUIRE, TO ASK QUESTIONS. Sometimes in the process of inquiry, the search is more significant than the answers. Answers come from other people, from the universe of knowledge and history, and from the intuition and deep wisdom inside yourself.
  89. If it were easy everyone would do it. This is why get rich quick schemes will never be true. If it was so quick and easy then everyone would be millionaires. Making money and accomplishing tasks is hard work, but well worth it.
  90. If you awake every morning with the thought that something wonderful will happen in your life today, and you pay close attention, you’ll often find that you’re right.
  91. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.
  92. Count your blessings every day. I know, this is a refrigerator magnet line, but practice it daily anyway. There is so much good, so much beauty, so much love in your life. What more do you really need? You have so much right now, you just need to pause long enough to appreciate it.
  93. It’s not about getting a chance, it’s about taking a chance. You’ll rarely be 100% sure it will work. But you can always be 100% sure doing nothing won’t work. Sometimes you just have to go for it!
  94. The one with nothing to hide is always the one left standing tall.
  95. There is only one way to learn, and that is through action. Trying to learn without doing is like trying to lose weight by watching someone else exercise. It’s just not going to work.
  96. Change happens for a reason. Roll with it. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.
  97. Experience life before you settle down. Whatever it is you want to do or experience, do as much of it as you can before you have children. Especially travel. Live in a hostel in Costa Rica for a month or drive across the country from coast to coast if you have to. But go have some really great, amazing, mind-blowing experiences.
  98. Life gives and takes away. During difficult times, be committed to resolving problems, but also lighten up and ride the waves of impermanence. What is a monster problem today will be a forgotten thought in the future.
  99. When two people cooperate instead of competing against each other their teamwork accomplishes far more than either of them could have achieved on their own.
  100. Between what happened and what will happen is your choice. So choose to be positive in everyday tasks.
  101. The best feeling in the world is getting paid to do what you love to do.
  102. Good looks attracts the eyes. Personality attracts the heart.
  103. If you’re smiling right now, you’re doing something right.
  104. If you live your life consumed by the past, you waste the great moments you still have left to live.
  105. Treat every small interaction with another person as an opportunity to make a positive impact in both your lives.
  106. There’s a big difference between knowing and doing. Knowledge is useless without action.
  107. Time is of the essence. You are born and you will die. Don’t waste the time in between. Use a time management system to control events, rather than have events controlling you.
  108. The French have an aphorism that you don’t appreciate something until you don’t have it anymore. In 40 years from now what is it that you will regret not having accomplished, appreciated or attempted? Do it, appreciate it, attempt it NOW!
  109. If it’s out of your control, why fret about it? Concentrating on things you can control is how you make good things happen.
  110. Never send a text message, email or photo to someone that’s unfit for the eyes of the entire world. In this digital age you never know what might slip into the public eye.
  111. The acquisition of knowledge doesn’t mean you’re growing. Growing happens when what you know changes how you live.

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Photo by: Lauren Macdonald

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