The journey is the reward.
For the past twelve years, since I entered college, I’ve been on the road – traveling (business and pleasure), studying, living in different cities, working for different companies (and myself), and meeting remarkable and unusual people everywhere in between.
Today I want to share twelve life lessons I’ve learned along the way.
- Everyone has the same basic wants and needs. – 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.
- What you do every day is what’s most important. – The difference between who you are and who you want to be, is what you do. You don’t have to be great to get started, but you do have to get started to be great. Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try. Remember, people seldom do things to the best of their ability; they do things to the best of their willingness. Follow your heart, and do something every day that your future self will thank you for.
- You can’t always be agreeable. – That’s how people take advantage of you. You have to set boundaries. Don’t ever change just to impress someone. Change because it makes you a better person and leads you to a better future. Being your true self is the most effective formula for happiness and success there is. Sometimes you need to step outside, get some air, and remind yourself of who you are and what you want to be. And sometimes you just have to do your own thing your own way, no matter what anyone else thinks or says about you. Read The Magic of Thinking Big.
- You’re not perfect, but you’re great at being you. – You might not be the most beautiful, the strongest, or the most talented person in the world, but that’s okay. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. You’re great at being you. You might not be proud of all the things you’ve done in the past, but that’s okay too. The past is not today. Be proud of who you are, how you’ve grown, and what you’ve learned along the way.
- You DON’T want perfect people in your life. – Even though you probably sometimes get confused, you don’t really want your friends and lovers to be perfect. What you do want is people you can trust, who treat you right – people you can act silly with, who love being around you as much as you love being around them. It’s about finding people who know about your mistakes and weaknesses and stand by your side when others walk away.
- Life is change. You must embrace it. – Everything in life is temporary. So if things are good, enjoy it. It won’t last forever. If things are bad, don’t worry because it won’t last forever either. Just because life isn’t easy right now, doesn’t mean you can’t laugh. Just because something is bothering you, doesn’t mean you can’t smile. Always focus on the positives in your life. You have a lot to look forward to. Every moment gives you a new beginning and a new ending. You get a second chance, every second. And don’t forget, just because something doesn’t last forever, doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth your while. Read The Power of Now.
- Your scars are symbols of your growth. – Don’t ever be ashamed of the scars life has left you with. A scar means the hurt is over and the wound is closed. It means you conquered the pain, learned a lesson, grew stronger, and moved on. A scar is the tattoo of a triumph to be proud of.
- The truth is always the best choice. – Respect and trust are two of the easiest things in life to lose and the hardest to get back. Never make a big decision when you’re angry, and never make a big promise when you’re overjoyed. Never mess with someone’s feelings just because you’re unsure of yours. Always be open and honest.
- It’s the small, free things that matter most in life. – It’s nice to have money and the things that money can buy, but it’s also important to make sure you haven’t lost track of the things that money can’t buy. Maturity is not when you start speaking and thinking about the big things, it’s when you start understanding and appreciating the small things. Read The Happiness Project.
- Everyone’s story is more complicated than it seems. – Every passing face on the street represents a story every bit as compelling and complicated as yours. It’s not always the tears that measure a person’s pain, sometimes it’s the smile they fake. Not all scars show. Not all wounds heal by themselves. You usually can’t see the pain that someone feels. Don’t judge a person negatively for their past or feelings without a full understanding of their situation. Just because you don’t agree based on what you see, doesn’t mean you’re right. And don’t be so quick to point out the flaws in other people’s lives when you are not willing to look at the flaws in your own life.
- Giving up and moving on are two different things. – There is a difference between giving up and knowing when you have had enough. It doesn’t make sense to hold onto something that’s no longer there. Accepting what is, letting go, and moving on are skills that you must learn when facing the realities of life. Some relationships and situations just can’t be fixed. If you try to force them back together, things will only get worse. Holding on is being brave, but letting go and moving on is often what makes us stronger.
- You are not alone in being alone. – To lose sleep worrying about a friend. To have trouble picking yourself up after someone lets you down. To feel like less because someone didn’t love you enough to stay. To be afraid to try something new for fear you’ll fail. None of this means you’re dysfunctional or crazy. It just means you’re human, and that you need a little time to right yourself. You are not alone. No matter how embarrassed or pathetic you feel about your own situation, there are others out there experiencing the same emotions. When you hear yourself say, “I am all alone,” it is your mind trying to sell you a lie. There’s always someone who can relate to you. Perhaps you can’t talk to them right now, but they’re out there.
And remember, sometimes a break from your routine is the very thing you need. Sometimes you need to take a step back to see things clearly. Traveling is one of the best ways I know to remain psychologically grounded. If you’ve been stuck in an emotional rut for awhile, without any positive change, perhaps it’s time to take a short hiatus – get out of town for a few days, experience something new, and stimulate your mind.
Photo by: Matthew