5 Things YOU Should Be an Expert At

5 Things YOU Should Be an Expert At

“Everything has been figured out, except how to live.”
―Jean-Paul Sartre

“Promise me that you will live and love to the point of tears.  That you will do something every day that moves you.  That you will become an expert at what truly matters,” my grandmother said to me just a few days before she passed.

Although she never clarified, specifically, what she wanted me to be an expert at, this advice has always stuck with me.   And over the years I’ve learned that, at the very least, it includes the following:

1.  Being unapologetically YOU.

To imitate others is to never truly live.  It’s like YOU never existed.

From now on, forget about what everyone else is doing.  Forget about what kind of person you think they want you to be and just be the most authentic version of the person you are.  Let who you are and what you believe shine through in every word you speak and every move you make.

Figure out which people you genuinely like, instead of which ones you want to like you.  Hang out with people you think are cool, instead of those you’d like to be considered cool by.  Get to know people by telling your own true stories and listening to theirs.  Do things because they interest you, not because you think they make you look interesting to someone else.  (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the Self-Love chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)

2.  Living through love.

Every human thought, word and deed is based on fear or love.  Fear is an inner energy that contracts, closes down, draws in, hides, hoards and harms.  When you live through fear, you pull back from life.

Love is an inner energy that expands, opens up, sends out, reveals, shares and heals.  When you live through love, you open to all that life has to offer with passion and acceptance.

Love is risky.  Love is unsafe.  Love isn’t for the faint of heart.  Love takes courage.  And most importantly, love and fear can’t coexist.  Love means giving life the opportunity to break your heart, but knowing that there are far better things ahead than anything you’ve left behind.  (Read Daring Greatly.)

3.  Learning from mistakes.

Mistakes are part of life’s natural course.  Everyone makes mistakes; you are not immune.  The only question is:  Do you want them to help you or hurt you?  This decision is one of primary factors that defines your character.

If you lie about having made a mistake, then it can’t be corrected and it festers.  On the other hand, if you give up just because you made a mistake, even a big one, you will never get anywhere worth going in life.

Successful people learn from their mistakes.  By doing so, an error becomes the raw material out of which all future successes are invented.  Failure is not a crime.  The failure to learn from failure is.  Ultimately, mistakes are the price you pay for a full, rewarding life.

4.  Forgiving your past.

The practice of forgiveness is your most important contribution to the healing of YOUR world.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean you’re erasing the past, or forgetting what happened.  It means you’re letting go of the resentment and pain, and instead choosing to learn from the incident and move on with your life.

You have to forgive.  You don’t have to like what happened, you don’t have to cherish the memories, you don’t have to hold on to the people and circumstances involved, but you do have to forgive them, let go, make peace with your past and move on with your present.  Because if you don’t, you are strapping all the weight from your past to your back, which is far too heavy to comfortably carry.  (Read The How of Happiness.)

5.  Creating your own happiness.

As Abraham Lincoln so profoundly said, “We are just about as happy as we make up our minds to be.”

Happiness is the result of personal choice and effort.  You fight for happiness, strive for it, switch careers, build relationships, and sometimes even reinvent your lifestyle entirely as you uncover it.  Why?  Because you have to actively participate in the manifestations of your own joys and good fortunes – they are not ready-made for the taking; they are available for the making.

Ironically, a big part of this is simply doing your very best and then letting go and trusting that things will work out the way they’re supposed to, without trying to control every little detail of the outcome.  Instead of expecting to always get what you want, you appreciate the journey enough to want what you get.  The joy of the freedom this brings gradually becomes more pleasurable than the outcome itself.

The floor is yours…

What would you add to the list?  What truly matters in life?  What should we all be proficient at?  Please leave a comment below and let us know.

Photo by: Cornelia Kopp


  1. Dev says

    I like how your ideas of being an expert pertain to ongoing processes of personal growth.

    I would add ‘being present.’ Everyone should be able to enjoy their life in the moment as they’re living it.

  2. Eva says

    “Love means giving life the opportunity to break your heart … “, this sentence is like a slap in the face but in the good way. I know I never gave Life the opportunity, only demands and more demands.

    Thanks, Marc.

  3. says

    I’d say practice gratitude every day. I always make sure to spend a couple of minutes being thankful for my relationships, my health, my passions and the opportunity of experiencing a new day before getting out of bed. This little exercise is a great way to start the day by putting everything in perspective.
    Thanks for sharing, Marc :)

  4. says

    I agree with Dev about “Being Present”.

    even if that means when you are with someone (or a group of people), be with them, not on your phone / facebook / twitter.

    “Love means giving life the opportunity to break your heart”
    is great, I used a similar thing in one of my lyrics.
    “I gave you the chance to try and hurt me, but trusted you to not”.

  5. says

    So many people live there entire life in the future or the past not realizing that life is in this moment. Forgiving your past is something that everyone should try to be a expert at.

  6. Mary Honas says

    “Every human thought, word and deed is based on fear or love. Fear is an inner energy that contracts, closes down, draws in, hides, hoards and harms. When you live through fear, you pull back from life.”

    Recognizing fear and dealing with it is essential, especially in relationships that are difficult. There is a difference between living through fear and dealing with the cause of the fear. Becoming self aware enough to recognize it and deal with it is maturity.

    Some people are important enough to deal with and respond to fear rather than just avoid them or cut them out of your life. Overcoming the fear and building your own self-esteem to respond instead of react can be a source of joy.

  7. Emily Jewell says

    Dear Marc and Angel,

    I want to Thank You so much for your articles and suggested books to read! There have been many occasions in which I was having a conversation with someone else about what’s going on in their life, or it may be something in my own life, and then I open your email the next day to find even more support, insight, guidance, direction, regarding that same topic. Thank you for being the vessel to convey the messages!!

  8. Irani says

    Lovely and worthwhile post Marc..

    To me the 4th Point of Forgiving your past is the most relevant. I think the trick is in truly letting go …

  9. says

    I would add acceptance. We need to be truly accepting of other people. Our culture is fixated on judging. We judge what people wear, where they live, the work they do, the choices they make. Judging has become an American past time.

    Acceptance is a true act of humanity. It breaks down walls between people. Think of the kind of world we would live in if people were accepting of one another. I believe all the competitiveness, anger, violence and negativity would disappear. I’m making a start and letting it go from my life.

  10. Michelle says

    Thank you for always inspiring me! I am grateful to you for making me see life from a different perspective.

  11. says

    I would add be an expert at being independent. Co-dependency is a life sucker. Being dependent on another for money is a life sucker too.

    I’m not saying that you shouldn’t ask for help, or seek counsel from wise people.

    What I am saying is to develop and gain your independence from the energy vampires in your life.

    For example, if have to always compliment your friend in order to keep him/her happy, this is a codependent friendship. Your friendship is built on control and manipulation.

    Life’s too short to be hanging around people who control and manipulate you. Gain your independence by taking off the shackles and freeing yourself from the ties that bind. You’ll feel lighter. You’ll be happier.

    Gain your independence (financial and relationship) TODAY!

  12. says

    Hey, Marc! Very inspiring, as always!

    I would add having FUN :) It’s less challenging than building your happiness, so we’re in for quick results. We all love doing something. Let’s put a smile on our faces as often as possible… :)

  13. katherine says

    The gift of time…the gift of time should be given to people who truly appreciate it! Our time is precious, we need to spend it wisely.

    Over the past few months I have planned my time with the people I know appreciate it…I also appreciate them and their time for me. I use to spread myself thin and would end up giving my time to people who didn’t appreciate it, then I got ill and this really showed me the pivital people in my life.

    Again, time is super precious, spend it wisely!

  14. Bennie says

    I have a very difficult time with the forgiveness part. It just seems like I’m giving those people a ‘pass’. I’ll work on it but the resentment and anger will still be with me.

    I also have a difficult time with happiness some days. I think I’m just wired a certain way and it’s not easy to re-wire my years of thinking negative.

  15. adriana says

    I absolutely love your posts! They always seem to give me a sense of calm and liberation from the everyday chaos. I am so thankful for your post they are my go to guide in times of stress! Keep up the amazing work marc and angel you two do us a LOT OF GOOD!! :)

  16. Debbie says

    Lol , Bernie I agree with what you say 100% but will keep trying to forgive albeit with a snarl at times 😉 I sometimes find it difficult to keep on forgiving the same people & don’t understand how others can be so negative . It hurts.

  17. says

    Loved this post a lot. Short list of simple truths that provided a really nice little pick-me-up and reminder to live in the now. It’s a good day to have a good day. Happy Weekend Everybody.
    “Happiness is the result of personal choice and effort. You fight for happiness, strive for it, switch careers, build relationships, and sometimes even reinvent your lifestyle entirely as you uncover it. Why? Because you have to actively participate in the manifestations of your own joys and good fortunes – they are not ready-made for the taking; they are available for the making.”

  18. says

    Thanks for this article.

    I’m with Patrik – being grateful is something we need to be experts at.
    Taking 5 minutes out of your day to think about what others have done to enrich your life helps to put things into perspective.

  19. says

    I love this list. I think the most important things are finding fulfilling relationships and working on those because that is what brings happiness. I also think that being authentic is extremely important because if you don’t know yourself then how will you ever be able to share with others who you are.

    Be an expert active listener. Listen more than you speak. Learn to engage others.

  20. says

    It is the 1st time for me on this blog.

    I really like the idea of being ‘An Expert’ in these areas of life. What I truly believe in is that we have to master how to live, as you say it has never be figured out or taught to us in schools.

    The “Learning from Mistakes and Forgiving our past” are my favorites. I always tell my friends and readers to forgive what they did in the past, stop focusing on the past and start focusing on the future.

    Thanks again for this post,
    Eslam Talaat

  21. Inspired Reader says

    Wow, what an absolutely amazing article; definitely one of the best I have read on this website. The points you made were just so beautiful and inspiring, particularly #1 and #2. Thanks for taking the time to post these articles, I love reading them so much. :)

  22. marlene alves says

    It’s simply amazing the inspiring wisdom you share so succinctly… thank you, thank you!

  23. says

    Everything that I thought of has been taken, but I will say them again. What I would add is gratitude. Being thankful for who you are and what is around you is very powerful to me.
    Also I would add being present or being aware. It is so easy for you mind to wander off, I have let a big portion of my life slip by up to this point. I now always ask my self, are you aware, what are you doing now, and this brings my mind back to the present.

    This was an excellent post, all five points are very important.

  24. David Rapp says

    Great Post. Explore and discover. There is way more outside and inside of ourselves than we understand. Do not fear it, explore it. Go some place you always wanted to go. Read books that challenge you. Take a class. Empty your bedroom and remake it, see what you discover that has been 4 feet away that you forgot. Road trip. Visit your cousins. And here is the ultimate key to handle the naysayers, the disapprovers, the judges, and the critics: Look them straight in the ye and with your best grin say “For the fun and joy of it.”

  25. DT says

    …All good good stuff. I would add my two cents by saying, “Adapt to, instead of reisting, Change”, life is full of it .

  26. Paula says

    Such beautiful wisdom, thank you! I will add that when we “react” to the negative behaviors of others, when we agonize over how we’ve been treated by someone, when we are angry at anyone, we in essence, are abandoning ourselves in those moments. We are taking our life’s energy away from ourselves and directing it, in full force, towards the other(s). Alternatively, we can reign it in and focus on our own healing and well-being and devote this energy to ourselves. We will never change anyone else but only have the power to change ourselves.

  27. Caren Tan says

    Good take on how we all can benefit each other by being our best selves. Also, let’s make it a point to practice compassion together no matter how hard it seems. It starts with ‘you’ when it comes to making the world a better place. Enjoy.

  28. DaveS says

    5 Things YOU Should Be an Expert At

    Wonderful post! Thanks very much!!

    Here’s mine …

    1 Thing YOU Should NEVER Say …

    >>> “Should” <<<

    Should (must, shall, etc.) implies assertion, or “this is what I think that is best for you.” Perhaps more accurately, “this” is what will make me feel better if you do it.

    But from all of your posts about individual responsibility, you obviously recognize this.

    So how about eliminating “should” from your vocabulary?

    I have, and life gets better without having to tell everyone what will make you feel better. 😉

  29. ACS says

    I think we should all try to be experts on… people. Listen to them, learn from them, try and understand what excites them and how they see the world. Every person you meet can teach you something whether that’s directly or unknowingly. All you have to do is be open to it. The more people I’ve grown to know the more connected I feel to this world and the more I realise we are all connected.

  30. This heart... says

    Thank you so much Marc & Angel for all of your beautiful and inspiring words!

    The importance of choosing love over fear is something that I remind myself of everyday. I find that the choice is easy when I also remember that “This heart…is LOVE.” So goes it for every human being. We mustn’t forget that.

  31. Lisa says

    Great post… Love the added idea of being present.

    Paula, well said! I will hold onto your description also. Someone I know, whose modus operandi for everything is anger toward others, would be surprised to learn that he is ‘abandoning himself’!

    Forgive, because it does not let the other person off the hook. The offense has still happened. Forgive, because you choose to ‘let go’, and not make it the focus of your life to stay stuck in anger. As Mike stated above, ‘Holding onto anger, is like drinking poison and expecting another person to die.”

  32. says

    This is an awesome post. Inspiring on all levels. Everytime i click on your website (which is everyday) I learn something new. Thank you for adding so much to my day.

  33. Allen says

    I don’t have the right words to express my feelings about your blog!! I really really love to read you posts – they motivate me every time.

  34. DW says

    Create a sanctuary.

    I need a sacred space, whether that is in my head or in an actual location, to have the peace of mind so that I can develop the thinking that will get me to all 5 goals that Marc has listed.

  35. says

    @Bernie: Forgiveness takes time. It’s something all of us struggle with. Commit to it for your own peace of mind. Free yourself from the pain of holding on to negative energy. This forgiveness is for you.

    @DaveS: Ha! I supposed you could replace “should” with “can,” but then the statement loses a bit of its kick. Interesting perspective though.

    @All: Thank you as always. Angel and I just finished reading all your comments out loud together. Your suggestions in this particular post are so positive and insightful. I particularly connect with the ideas of listening to others, being present, and having fun. Cheers!

  36. says

    I love reading the article and as much, reading the replies! My past was full of isolation and fear of being hurt. The key, for me, was to allow my adult self to meditate enough to become aware of my abandoned child and give my child total attention, unconditional love and being present for my child “from this moment on.” I have rescued myself and validated and forgiven my past mistakes and “false belief systems of the heart.” It is all about love and compassion. There are no limits to growth, love or living once we allow our hearts to become open and play with our whole being! What we are is what we have to give.

  37. Melanie says

    Forgiveness of others and yourself. Staying mired in wrongs given or unbidden leaves you strangled in a negative and unproductive mindset. If you have harmed or hurt someone, say you are sorry. If someone has harmed or hurt you, forgive and move on.

  38. says

    Excellent!! I would add spend more time developing relationships, especially with those who live in the house with you, than you do completing tasks.

  39. Melissa says

    Thanks for sharing. I believe that by focusing on the positives in your life, letting go of what no longer serves you, gives you the freedom to change in every way.

    I love your thoughts. The grasp you have on life’s emotions and events really hits the spot. I am definitely going to share your blog!

  40. Olumuyiwa J. says

    Until we recognize that unforgiveness is a seed of bitterness until, we let it go before the joy our heart could reflect.

  41. KP says

    A great article … The following statement, ‘Instead of expecting to always get what you want, you appreciate the journey enough to want what you get.’ which is part of #5 took me a few re-reads to understand. I believe that I understand the difference between the two ideas.

    Thanks …

  42. sonia says

    I find it hard to get joy from life since my son passed away 4 years ago. I have tried to be positive but cant get there. I feel guilty to be here while hes gone.

  43. says

    I loved the line “Promise me that you will live and love to the point of tears”. Most people go through life very superficially and have a feeling that it is slipping by. By practising the 5 things you have mentioned, we can definitely live our life to the fullest. Thanks for sharing this.

  44. K Saunders says

    Thank you soooo much for all of your inspiring words and wisdom! You’ll never know how instrumental this is in helping me to be me!


  1. Lovely post.

    What really matters to me is genuine kindness. Being kind to yourself and others is a life skill worth mastering.

  2. Simple and on point. I’d say ‘being positive’ is something we all need to be proficient at in order to make something of ourselves in life.

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