post written by: Marc Chernoff

30 Truths I’ve Learned In 30 Years

30 Things I Can Say With Certainty At 30

Since today is my 30th birthday I thought it fitting to share 30 things I understand now that were complete mysteries to me just a few short years ago.  These are simple lessons about life in general that I picked up while traveling, living in different cities, working for different companies (and myself), and meeting remarkable and unusual people everywhere in between.

  1. There comes a point in life when you get tired of chasing everyone and trying to fix everything, but it’s not giving up.  It’s realizing you don’t need certain people and things and the drama they bring.
  2. If a person wants to be a part of your life they will make an obvious effort to do so.  Don’t bother reserving a space in your heart for people who do not make an effort to stay.
  3. If you want to fly, you have to give up the things that weigh you down – which is not always as obvious and easy as it sounds.
  4. Doing something and getting it wrong is at least ten times more productive than doing nothing.
  5. Every success has a trail of failures behind it, and every failure is leading towards success.  You don’t fail by falling down.  You fail by never getting back up.  Sometimes you just have to forget how you feel, remember what you deserve, and keep pushing forward.
  6. When you get to know people with different ethnic backgrounds, from different cities and countries, who live at various socioeconomic levels, you begin to realize that everyone basically wants the same things.  They want validation, love, happiness, fulfillment and hopes for a better future.  The way they pursue these desires is where things branch off, but the fundamentals are the same.  You can relate to almost everyone everywhere if you look past the superficial facades that divide us.
  7. The more things you own, the more your things own you.  Less truly gives you more freedom.  Read The Joy of Less.
  8. While you’re busy looking for the perfect person, you’ll probably miss the imperfect person who could make you perfectly happy.  This is as true for friendships as it is for intimate relationships.  Finding a companion or a friend isn’t about trying to transform yourself into the perfect image of what you think they want.  It’s about being exactly who you are and then finding someone who appreciates that.
  9. Relationships must be chosen wisely.  It’s better to be alone than to be in bad company.  There’s no need to rush.  If something is meant to be, it will happen – in the right time, with the right person, and for the best reason.
  10. Making a thousand friends is not a miracle.  A miracle is making one friend who will stand by your side when thousands are against you.
  11. Someone will always be better looking.  Someone will always be smarter.  Someone will always be more charismatic.  But they will never be you – with your exact ideas, knowledge and skills.
  12. Making progress involves risk.  Period.  You can’t make it to second base with your foot on first.
  13. Every morning you are faced with two choices:  You can aimlessly stumble through the day not knowing what’s going to happen and simply react to events at a moment’s notice, or you can go through the day directing your own life and making your own decisions and destiny.  Read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
  14. Everyone makes mistakes.  If you can’t forgive others, don’t expect others to forgive you.  To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you.
  15. It’s okay to fall apart for a little while.  You don’t always have to pretend to be strong, and there is no need to constantly prove that everything is going well.  You shouldn’t be concerned with what other people are thinking either – cry if you need to – it’s healthy to shed your tears.  The sooner you do, the sooner you will be able to smile again.
  16. We sometimes do things that are permanently foolish just because we are temporarily upset.  A lot of heartache can be avoided if you learn to control your emotions.
  17. Someone else doesn’t have to be wrong for you to be right.  There are many roads to what’s right.  You cannot judge others by your own past.  They are living a different life than you.  What might be good for one person may not be good for another.  What might be bad for one person might change another person’s life for the better.  You have to allow people to make their own mistakes and their own decisions.
  18. Nobody is perfect, and nobody deserves to be perfect.  Nobody has it easy.  You never know what people are going through.  Every one of us has issues.  So don’t belittle yourself or anyone else.  Everybody is fighting their own unique war.
  19. A smile doesn’t always mean a person is happy.  Sometimes it simply means they are strong enough to face their problems.
  20. The happiest people I know keep an open mind to new ideas and ventures, use their leisure time as a means of mental development, and love good music, good books, good pictures, good company and good conversation.  And oftentimes they are also the cause of happiness in others – me in particular.
  21. You can’t take things too personally.  Rarely do people do things because of you.  They do things because of them.
  22. Feelings change, people change, and time keeps rolling.  You can hold on to past mistakes or you can create your own happiness.  A smile is a choice, not a miracle.  True happiness comes from within.  Don’t make the mistake of waiting on someone or something to come along and make you happy.
  23. It’s much harder to change the length of your life than it is to change the depth of it.
  24. You end up regretting the things you did NOT do far more than the things you did.
  25. When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.
  26. One of the greatest challenges in life is being yourself in a world that’s trying to make you like everyone else.
  27. Enjoy the little things, because one day you may look back and discover they were the big things.  Read The Book of Awesome.
  28. Anyone can make a difference.  Making one person smile can change the world.  Maybe not the whole world, but their world.
  29. Everything is a life lesson.  Everyone you meet, everything you encounter, etc.  They’re all part of the learning experience we call ‘life.’  Never forget to acknowledge the lesson, especially when things don’t go your way.  If you don’t get a job that you wanted or a relationship doesn’t work, it only means something better is out there waiting.  And the lesson you just learned is the first step towards it.
  30. Regardless of how filthy your past has been, your future is still spotless.  Don’t start your day with the broken pieces of yesterday.  Every day is a fresh start.  Each day is a new beginning.  Every morning we wake up is the first day of the rest of our life.

Photo by: Hamish Irvine

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  • Wow, that’s an incredible post, just like most of your other posts. Very Inspiring, informative & educational. True gems of wisdom.

    Thank you.

  • This is the best thing I’ve read in a LONG time and I found it at the exact right time in my life. You’ve learned a LOT in 30 years. :-)


  • This is beautiful, I’m looking forward to what I will learn over the next 7 years.

  • Thank you for this. This made me smile. I think I will print a copy to put on the fridge.

  • Happy Birthday, Marc :)

  • I’ve subscribed to your site for about 8 months and enjoy all your posts, but this is a true classic. It speaks to quality of life in so many different ways. Thank you!

  • Happy Birthday, Marc!

    Great points! One of them resonates with me, more than all others:

    “You can’t take things too personally. Rarely do people do things because of you. They do things because of them.”

    It is so true. People do things because their own values. The only thing you if they do something because of you, they find it themselves also valuable.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Happy birthday and congratulation with this valuable post! I learn a lot from you.
    Wish you all the best.
    Your work means a lot to us readers.

  • Marc, first of all; Happy Birthday to you, genuinely - you have this value-giving site that is full of beautiful advice.

    Second of all, I am so glad that I bumped into this article and read the first point. It is SO incredibly timely, that it completely fits the old saying “right place, right time” for me at the moment. Just moments ago, I accepted, and gave up on ‘chasing’ a person who primordially started drama out of thin air. For the past two and a half weeks I have been “chasing” and trying to make right this relationship or friendship that I have had with this person; which initially was so beautiful it felt like it was a page out of a Hollywood film. But as we all know, life happens. All this time I was apologizing for something I should not have been apologizing, because it wasn’t even my fault. It was through this other person’s idiosyncrasy that a pointless argument arose which I tried to fix in a diplomatic matter. But to which that person did not respond to, because it was obvious an ‘ego’ and a ‘made up mind’ was at play here.

    Just moments ago, I’ve truly accepted the fact that it’s just NOT worth it, and that I am NOT willing to take anymore blame for something I should not be blamed for. So I let this person go out of my life and even though I felt horrible for the past two weeks, I truly feel free now.

    Thank you.

  • Happy Birthday…
    I always like reading your posts, but this is one among the best.

  • Great words to live by. I need to read this often.

  • Thumbs up for “You can’t take things too personally. Rarely do people do things because of you. They do things because of them.” so true!!
    Btw, wish u a happy B’day marc!!

  • Just such clear and insightful observations about life. I’ll share them around. Thank you for such truths. Isn’t the web a wonderful medium for education?

  • Happy, happy birthday!! THANK YOU for the gift!!

  • Happy Birthday, Marc, and thanks for the great articles over the years!

  • Happy birthday, Marc. This is an incredible, amazing post. You are wise beyond your years. I always look forward to reading your blog. Thanks!!!

  • If you want to fly, you have to give up the things that weigh you down – which is not always as obvious and easy as it sounds.

    This one is so, so true! I don’t want to be too profound but I think this is the goal of LIFE!

    Thanks for those truths and happy birthday!

  • Philips Kokoh Prasetyo
    September 26th, 2011 at 10:18 am

    Wow, you inspire many people on your birthday (including me).
    Happy birthday, Marc. Have a great and wonderful one.

  • Happy Birthday Marc, thanks for all your work.

    I loved #9 because finding the right mate isn’t something that you need to be out searching for filled with anxiety and stress. That only leads to a relationship destined for failure.

    It’s only when you allow life to just do what it does, that one person will just happen to show up exactly when they’re supposed too.

  • Happy Birthday! Very inspiring……I’m impressed that you are only 30. Love - “Don’t start your day with broken pieces of yesterday”

  • Marc,
    What a great start to my day, my week, and the rest of my life! You may be 30 in this lifetime, but I suspect this isn’t your first go around. Thank you, thank you. Happy Birthday to you.

  • love it. every. single. word. you are very wise for 30 years. i’ve got two years on you and a bit less wisdom! thank you for sharing.

  • So much wisdom for a 30 year old. Thank you for sharing this list.

  • Great list.

    #13 is especially important to me. I really love The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The stuff about productivity is a real life changer.

  • Thank you for sharing, today was a bad day which is a rare condition but after reading this post and thinking about it, things changed.
    It’s your birthday post, but looks like you’re the one giving a gift, Happy “birthweek” :)

  • One of the greatest challenges in life is being yourself in a world that’s trying to make you like everyone else.” am trying to do this now…perfect words and happy b-day : )

  • HAPPY BIRTHDAY to you..

    I have been reading your posts religiously for days now, and from the depth of your insights, never could I imagine it was just a young 30 year old on the other side.

    Keep the good work going!

  • Well, I hope you had a nice b-day :)

    Great truths - you’ve experienced a lot. With this list you are making most heads nod in agreement :)

    I connect with N0. 17 the most.

  • Have a wonderful Birthday-I love passing on your words to my friends and reading them in the early morning hours to set the tone for the day. Wonderful words…

  • Happy 30th Birthday Marc!!! I enjoyed your list. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a great book. I’ve been re-looking at it myself. I am wishing you a joyful and fun Birthday. :)


  • Thank you so much for this.. this is something I really really needed at this difficult point of my life right now and I appreciate that you’re sharing this publically. Thank you.

  • Totally awesome post!!!

  • Happy Birthday Marc!

    Thank you very much for your blog. I always love reading your blog. Very, very inspiring. Keep up the good work.

  • I just wanted to say thank you for continuing to provide food for my soul. I’m going through a difficult time in my life, trying to figure out where (if) I belong, and this post came at just the right time. As many others have said, I’ve printed this one to keep reading and reminding myself….

  • Marc many happy returns, you’ve packed some true awareness into 30 years. It’s a subtle challenge and truth for all of us to record what WE have learnt in our time on physical Earth. Why? Because each life is individual and the lessons tailor made so best to bring to light all we’ve seen and gone through in our life to this point. Perhaps some real patterns and deeper messages may be revealed by looking back wisely as we move forwards wonderfully. See you in 30 more full and fun years!!

  • I really enjoyed reading this, what a great list!!

    Shared it on Facebook for my pals :)

  • Happy Birthday!

  • Thank you so much for posting this. i really needed it today because i am feeling very down.lately, i can’t concentrate on my studies cause i have been thinking about this guy who said he loves me and then he disappear.You really made my day..thank you once again..

  • Marc,

    Point 13 is a great point..Often times people get reactive because of external forces controlling them. This happens in the work environment a lot when people have to deal with a lot of external noise…The most important thing to realize is that when you are aligned with your values, then you can be in total control of your life..

    Thanks for sharing..


  • Great as always!
    You’re a big inspiration in my life and for that I thank you. Happy 30th and keep it up :)

  • This was an amazing list! I’m 31, and I can resonate with most of these lessons and the ones that I didn’t, I just learned something right now while reading it!

    This post was so well-thought out and written; thanks for sharing it :)

  • Thanks for sharing. These values are universal.

  • happy birthday and God speed! always thanks!

  • One thing I learned in my sixty years is that in the next thirty years you will not be the same person you are today, tomorrow or the next day. Take time to smile at the person you are today!

  • The best article from you Marc…. I am going to keep this with me in my wallet for life.

  • This is SUCH an inspirational list, and it came at the right time! I am SO HAPPY I stumbled across it! I printed it so I can revisit it as much as possible! Self~awareness is a BEAUTIFUL thing, and in your 30 years on the planet, you GOT IT (and got it RIGHT)!!

  • Inspiring! More power and continue to inspire people…

  • Just beautiful. Thank you for sharing your wonderful wisdom on your birthday. Have the most beautiful day today and always.


  • Actually if there’s one thing that I wish I could go back in the past and tell the dorky 15 year old teenager that was me, it would be this -

    “You end up regretting the things you did NOT do far more than the things you did.”

    I don’t know how I landed up on this website - but I’m glad I did- every statement there has the potential to change a person’s life. Thank you so much !

  • I stumbled upon this while searching for something totally unrelated. I wanted to tell you that I have read countless books on the topic of success and happiness and this is some of the most profound stuff I have read. I almost stopped reading after number 1 with the fairly pedestrian mention of “drama” and the cliche it invokes, but I am glad I kept going. A few grammatical corrections and this would rank among the best works on the subject. Some of those lines are so personally touching I can feel the emotion well up inside of me. Very impressive. I will certainly be sharing it with others.

  • Your blog always inspires me with its sanity and maturity! Thank you!

  • As inspiring as always.

    Keep it up Marc :)

  • I was enjoying reading. So much, that I liked your fan site on fb :)

  • Thanks for all the birthday wishes, everyone. I had a great one!

  • This is indeed a very refreshing and inspiring article! Articles like this should be posted on a wall near our bed as a constant reminder about what life is really all about!
    Thanks for posting this.

  • Have never read anything so true and so good lately! Thanks for putting this up!

  • I found myself saying “amen” over and over again. I am printing this out so that I can read it over and over again. And let my teenage daughter read as well.

  • thank u Marc for this great true words…it’s really inspired me ..:)

  • Wow that was truly inspirational thank you so much!

  • Yes! Thank you. I really needed that today.

  • Marc ~ first post of yours I’ve read as it was just forwarded by a friend. You have amazing ability - writing, sharing knowledge/lessons learned, giving of yourself. So many do not learn to be happy and comfortable with who they are until so much later in life. Happy Birthday and here’s to the next 30 - you will touch so many lives in your lifetime by your words. Thanks and God bless!

  • Wow, awesome post. I loved to read it. It’s great. This is a great summary of life messages. Thx a lot.

  • Exactly! Perfectly stated.

  • I will be 31 in December and it also took me 30 years to learn and understand most of the things you have written. Some others points I have just learned from you! Thank you for this great post

  • a mouthfull of truths. Like one of the other readers, my fridge will also get a copy. The best about this, its free. Now I can direct my friends in truely poor countries to a free site with a wealth of information which can help them living happy lives. Thank you!

  • Thanks for sharing such inspiring words! I’m 22 and I could relate to most of the things you mention, some of them because I’ve also learned them and others because I’m aware of the fact that I should learn them soon!! Unfortunately, we learn the hard way most of the time! So perhaps it’ll take me some more time…anyway, it’s good to know where I’m trying to head to!

  • Really enjoyed this blog, so many truths and great insights - shared on my facebook page.


  • Wow this was quite brilliant. Opened my eyes to what it means to live your own fulfilling life.

  • “Someone will always be better looking. Someone will always be smarter. Someone will always be more charismatic. But they will never be you.”


  • That is a very amazing post! Thanks for sharing your 30 truths that you have learned for the past 3- years of your life! My favorites would be numbers 11 and 19.

    11. Someone will always be better looking. Someone will always be smarter. Someone will always be more charismatic. But they will never be you – with your exact ideas, knowledge and skills.

    19. A smile doesn’t always mean a person is happy. Sometimes it simply means they are strong enough to face their problems.

    Keep on inspiring others! :)

  • I’m impressed by what you have shared here with us. I’m a bit older than you and not sure I would have been able to put all these thoughts together as you did, thanks.

  • The best post ever!!! I’m going to link to it on Monday As part of my readers’ assignment for LushLunes!

    Thanks for this!


  • This post just makes me smile from ear to ear after reading it. Gave me a better understanding of why people treat people the way they do, for me to not waste my life on waiting for someone to make me happy and not to take every thing to heart. Have a great day Marc!!

  • Love it! Thanks for the inspiration. :-)

  • Hey there,
    Wow, great post! Love it. This is such a great blog.
    Thanks so much for pumping up The Book of Awesome. Totally appreciate it and have an awesome weekend,

  • The first one was exactly what I have been doing for the last 2 years… OMG, so when i finally stopped and realized that i don’t want love that doesn’t want me, it was like a moment in paradise and the very next day i seemed to stumble across your list. Needless to say, you know it’s strange, but somehow it was right on time! Awesome post! Ever since I have found it, I have read it every other day.

  • I’m turning 30 this month :) thank you for sharing these words with me. Whatever with the past has brought, the best is always yet to come.

  • Awesome post and website in general, am glad I stumbled upon this today!
    Thanks and keep up the great posts! x

  • Beautiful post, thanks for sharing all of this with us. I am going to print it and put it in my wallet because all of these things are things that I need to remember and take into consideration on the daily.

  • Some jewels to look forward to as my flirty 30 is a few days away :) Thanks for the advice.

  • In different parts of the world,
    Accompanied by different people,
    Going through different events,
    We have learned the same things!

    Great read! :)

    Definitely printing this out now!

  • Amazing, I certainly hit the right website today. And yes, I live in love and pass it around like it’s going to run out. It never has. But today I certainly needed a reality check, a boost and a hug from. And look where I got it… online from a total stranger. Life gets better everyday, every moment, under every rock.

    Thank you for sharing these beautiful lessons.

  • Your posts are awesome and they really help. Thank you so much!!

  • Beautiful!

    I am sharing this with a friend who just suffered the loss of a parent, immediately followed by the end of an intimate relationship.

  • Thank you :) Wishing you a very happy birthday!!!

  • What a wonderful read! Thank you!

  • Great read! Very timely for my 30th too.

  • Wow! and Wow! This is just what I needed!
    All day I’ve had questions on what to do but no one to trust with my convictions to…Then came you…You are Simply The Best! Wisdom beyond years is what you are Blessed With! Looking forward to your emails…

  • Thank you for posting one of the most…inspiring things I’ve ever read.

  • This post is very inspirational. Thank you for posting this one because it has helped me look at my life differently. I am only 19 and life is just starting and I shouldn’t let love destroy my life no matter how hurtful it is!

  • Great wishing you a very happy (belated) B-DaY.

  • Thank you Marc for posting 30 truths… Really they are very inspirational…. I feel good after reading these inspiring truths.

  • Superb post!! Marc, Belated Happy Birthday!! :) Just came across when was browsing around your website. Kudos!

  • Every word speaks to me as if its alive. It hits towards my direction on a bulls-eye. Amazing. Thanks a lot for the post. Sometimes life’s realities are best shared. Looking forward to more.

    Your fan,

  • Amazing post! Thank you so much for sharing to us what you learned from your 30-year journey.

    I’m turning 30 this May and I agree with every single word you said. :D

    Life is really the best teacher. :)

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