The truth does not disappear when it is ignored.
You know how you can hear something a hundred times in a hundred different ways before it finally gets through to you? The ten truths about life discussed here fall firmly into that category – timeless lessons that many of us likely learned years ago, and have been reminded of since, but for whatever reason we haven’t fully grasped them yet.
This, my friends, is my attempt at helping all of us, myself included, “get it” and “remember it” once and for all…
1. The average human life is relatively short.
We know deep down that life is short, and that death will happen to all of us eventually, and yet we are infinitely surprised when it happens to someone we know. It’s like walking up a flight of stairs with a distracted mind, and misjudging the final step. You expected there to be one more stair than there is, and so you find yourself off balance for a moment, before your mind shifts back to the present moment and how the world really is.
LIVE your life TODAY! Don’t ignore death, but don’t be afraid of it either. Be afraid of a life you never lived because you were too afraid to take action. Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside you while you’re still alive. So be bold, be courageous… be scared to death, and then take the next step anyway!
2. You will only ever live the life you create for yourself.
Your life is yours alone. Others can try to persuade you, but they can’t decide for you. They can walk with you, but not in your shoes. So make sure the path you decide to walk aligns with your own intuition and desires, and don’t be scared to switch paths or pave a new one when it makes sense.
Remember, it’s always better to be at the bottom of the ladder you want to climb than the top of the one you don’t. Be productive and patient. And realize that patience is not about waiting; it’s the ability to keep a good attitude while working hard for what you believe in.
Yes, at the end of the day this is your life, and to a great extent it’s made up of your little recurring habits and choices. May your daily actions speak louder than your words. May your life preach louder than your lips. May your success be your noise in the end. (Marc and I discuss this in more detail in the “Passion and Growth” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
3. Being busy does NOT mean being productive.
Busyness isn’t a virtue, nor is it something to respect. Though we all have seasons of crazy schedules, very few of us have a legitimate need to be busy ALL the time. We simply don’t know how to set boundaries, prioritize properly, and say no when we should.
Being busy rarely equates to productivity these days. Just take a quick look around. Busy people outnumber productive people by a wide margin. Busy people are rushing all over the place, and running late half of the time. They’re heading to work, conferences, meetings, social engagements, looking at their phones, creating TikToks, etc. They barely have enough free time for exercise and they rarely get enough sleep. Yet, text messages, emails, and social media updates are blasting out of their smart phones like rockets, and their day planners are jammed to the brim with obligations. Their busy schedule gives them an elevated sense of importance. But it’s all an illusion. They’re like hamsters running on a wheel.
Though being busy can make us feel more alive than anything else for a moment, the sensation is not sustainable long term. We will inevitably, whether tomorrow or on our deathbed, come to wish that we spent less time in the buzz of busyness and more time actually living a purposeful life.
4. Some kind of failure always occurs before success.
Most mistakes are unavoidable. Learn to forgive yourself. It’s not a problem to make them; it’s only a problem if you never learn from them.
If you’re too afraid of failure, you can’t possibly do what needs to be done to be successful. The solution to this problem is making friends with failure. You want to know the difference between a master and a beginner? The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried. Behind every great piece of art is a thousand failed attempts to make it, but these attempts are simply never shown to us.
Bottom line: Just because it’s not happening now, doesn’t mean it never will. Learning the way on the way is key. Sometimes things have to go very wrong before they can be right. (Read The Success Principles.)
5. Thinking and doing are two very different things.
Success never comes to look for you while you wait around thinking about it.
You are what you do, not what you say you will do. Knowledge is basically useless without action. Good things don’t come to those who wait; they come to those who work on meaningful goals. Ask yourself what’s really important and then have the courage and determination to build your daily life around your answer.
And remember, if you wait until you feel 100% ready to begin, you will likely be waiting the rest of your life.
6. You don’t have to wait for an apology to forgive.
Life gets much easier when you learn to accept the apologies you never received. The key is find some level of peace with every experience – positive or negative. In a way, it’s like taking a step back, letting go a little, and saying, “Thank you for the lesson.” It’s realizing that grudges from the past are a perfect waste of today’s growth and potential, and that holding one is like letting unwanted company live rent-free in your head.
Forgiveness is a promise – one you want to keep. When you forgive you are making a promise not to hold the unchangeable past against your present self. It has nothing to do with freeing a past criminal of his or her crime, and everything to do with freeing yourself of the burden of being an eternal victim.
7. Some people are simply the wrong match for you.
You will only ever be as great as the people you surround yourself with, so be brave enough to let go of those who keep bringing you down. You shouldn’t force connections with people who constantly make you feel less than worthy.
If someone makes you feel uncomfortable and insecure every time you’re with them, for whatever reason, they’re probably not close friend material. If they make you feel like you can’t be yourself, or if they make you “less than” in any way, don’t pursue a daily connection with them. If you feel emotionally drained after hanging out with them or get a small hit of anxiety when you are reminded of them, listen to your intuition. You don’t have to exile them from your life, but you can give yourself space.
Set boundaries. Make yourself a priority. There are so many “right people” for you – those who energize you and inspire you to be your best self. It makes no sense to constantly force it with people who are the wrong match for you.
8. It’s not other people’s job to love you, it’s yours.
It’s important to be nice to others, but it’s even more important to be nice to yourself. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in the long run. So make sure you don’t start seeing yourself through the eyes of those who don’t value you. Know your worth, even if they don’t.
Today, let someone love you just the way you are – as flawed as you might be, as unattractive as you sometimes feel, and as incomplete as you think you are. Yes, let someone love you despite all of this, and let that someone be YOU.
9. What you own is not who YOU are.
Stuff really is just stuff, and it has absolutely no bearing on who you are as a person. Most of us can make a great life with much less than we think we need. That’s a valuable reminder, especially in a hugely consumer-driven culture that focuses more on material things than meaningful connections and experiences.
To paraphrase Terence McKenna, you have to create your own culture. Don’t watch too much TV or YouTube, don’t read every fashion tip online, and don’t consume too much of the evening news. Find the strength to fill your time with meaningful experiences. The space and time you are occupying at this very moment is LIFE, and if you’re worrying about Kim Kardashian or Lebron James or some other famous face, then you are disempowered. You’re giving your life away to marketing and media trickery, which is created by big companies to ultimately motivate you to want to dress a certain way, look a certain way, and be a certain way. This is tragic, this kind of thinking. It’s all just Hollywood brainwashing. What is real is YOU and your friends and your family, your loves, your highs, your hopes, your plans, your fears, etc.
Too often we’re told that we’re not important, we’re just peripheral to what is. “Get a degree, get a job, get a car, get a house, and keep on getting.” And it’s sad, because someday you’ll wake up and realize you’ve been tricked. And all you’ll want then is to reclaim your mind by getting it out of the hands of the brainwashers who want to turn you into a drone that buys everything that isn’t needed to impress everyone that isn’t important.
10. Everything changes, every day.
Embrace change and realize it happens for a reason. It won’t always be obvious at first, but in the end it will be worth it.
What you have today may become what you had by tomorrow. You never know. Things change, often spontaneously. People and circumstances come and go. Life doesn’t stop for anybody. It moves rapidly and rushes from calm to chaos in a matter of seconds, and happens like this to people every day. It’s likely happening to someone relatively nearby right now.
Sometimes the shortest split second in time changes the direction of our lives. A seemingly innocuous decision rattles our whole world like a meteorite striking Earth. Entire lives have been swiveled and flipped upside down, for better or worse, on the strength of an unpredictable event. And these events are always happening.
However good or bad a situation is now, it will change. That’s the one thing you can count on. So when life is good, enjoy it. Don’t go looking for something better every second. Happiness never comes to those who don’t appreciate what they have while they have it.
Now, it’s your turn…
Which reminder here resonated the most? What else would you add to this list? What important life lessons do you often forget?
Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
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Photo by: skoeber
As always, thank you so much for an enlightening read. Your emails and posts always arrive in my inbox when I need them most. I continue to admire what you two stand for. Above all, this post reminded me that I have a choice. Only I can choose to change my life. Only I can LIVE my life. In the chaos of the daily grind I often forget to choose MYSELF.
This post as a whole reminded me of this quote from your book, which I love:
“You don’t get to choose how you are going to die, or when. You can only decide how you are going to live, right now. Every day is a new chance to choose. Choose to change your perspective. Choose to flip the switch in your mind from negative to positive. Choose to turn on the light and stop fretting about with insecurity and doubt. Choose to do work that you are proud of. Choose to see the best in others, and to show your best to others. Choose to truly LIVE, right now.”
Jeremy Day says
Like most of your articles this one really resonated with me, reminding me that acknowledging my humanness is the first step to experiencing completeness. And how true it is that we tend to forget this simple fact.
As I was reading, I was reflecting on how so much of information floods us that ultimately reinforce what we already know innately, but have somehow forgotten. What causes it? Perhaps denial of our humanness. Perhaps excessive busyness. Perhaps succumbing to consumerist and competitive herd responses.
In any case, I appreciate these vital reminders. Loved reading. Sharing.
Brandon sellers says
This was so well put together. Great reminders for life! Every point spoke to me. Thank you.
Thank you so much Marc and Angel for such motivating words. I’m looking to change careers at the moment and these are just the words of encouragement and wisdom I needed. Great life truths I do indeed forget! Have a great day xxx
Stefano Ganddini says
These are all excellent life-changing truths that I have slowly come to appreciate in the last few years as I entered my 60’s. The only thing I would add is this: everything is subjective. When you realize that everyone’s world is based on perceptions, and that you have the power to change your own perception, then your life can flip upside down. By changing your perspective, you can always find something good out in any situation, no matter how “bad” it may seem on the surface. Every experience is a learning experience, if you choose to make it one. Look for the silver lining, and you will find it.
So very true. I’ve learned the last year that it’s all perspectives, and that there are more than two sides to every story.
Thank you for this post. It’s truly inspiring and connects with me on a more spiritual level. Loved #2. It hit me hard to me as I’m still trying to find the path that I am destined to walk on. It’s always better to be at the bottom of the ladder I want to climb. I’m in that situation right now with a company that I’m not sure I want to pursue long term. The growth and excitement just isn’t there.
Thank you. I’m saving this post for future reference.
Danny Nu says
I have been reading about wisdom in college from multiple spiritual perspectives and we are currently on Taoism. I think so many of the great principles I’ve learned are reflected in this post. Acceptance of change is so important. Everything gets out of control if you resist life’s movement. Another thing that I am reviewing is being okay with the way things are, not rejecting or denying reality… it is so crucial to happiness. I think many people forget these simple truths.
Phenomenal article all the way around! Your blog and book are helping me maintain a growth mindset from the start of every day. Both contain such easily digestible reminders that keep me positive and focused on what’s important.
You have a sentence here that could be added to the list… Everything gets out of control if you resist life’s movement!!! Wow. So insightful. You are going places. Love to you my friend 🙂
Susan Hayes says
As always your writing is spot onto something going on in my life at this moment.
Being reminded that some people are just not for you…isxa lesson I wish U could internalize more. I’m constantly trying to figure out how to connect with certain family members and get exasperated when others dont see what I see. You feel it in your gut that there is deception and manipulatin but others dont see it.
Accepting that you cant control this dynamic and some people are just not for you is a way to unhook from that dynamic.
I just need to remember it more often!
Gloria Donoghue says
FORGIVENESS is such a powerful word….our lives would be somuch more compassionet and loving if we were forgiving instead of hostile
Raymond E O'Neill says
“The truth does not disappear when it is ignored.”
And of course all 10.
Your daily posts do so much good each and everyday.
I LOVE your content! But I don’t always make time to read as much as I’d like. Do you have a podcast or audio files to listen to? I would love to walk and listen to your uplifting and insightful words.
That line – at the top of the ladder you don’t want to be on – resonated. Time to make changes!
I’m thankful for taking the time to read your article, it resonates with me deeply, you’ve given me so much as a reminder and form of guidance. It’s always a pleasure to read your articles. Have a nice day.
Except for the Bible, reading your words of instruction and inspiration is the most soul satisfying truth. That keeps me grounded and hopeful for a better tomorrow.
Bianca O Galindo says
Thank you for this post.
I would add you can never learn enough.My dad told me it’s important to learn for learning sake because it’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.
Being busy does not equal being productive. This is my favorite one because I don’t hear of it that often… Lately I wonder both what I should be doing, or what I really want to do. I quit most social media because I felt like it was stealing one too many minutes of my days, and filling my mind with too much information I didn’t need to know and would forget soon after. I don’t think social media is bad, I just think it’s important to evaluate if what you’re spending time on is really something that makes you happy, calm, healthy, connected, etc. or if you’re doing it out of habit. Sometimes I find it even more beneficial to take a nap or practice mindfulness to restore calmness and regain energy to continue my day.
L. Cole says
It’s startling how life flew by and I’ve gotten old. I spent my life going for what made me happy. Traveled a lot, had boyfriends from around the world, rode race horses, spent a lot of time in the Caribbean, and had so many incredible experiences that people told me to write a book. I’ve had regrets and my share of difficult times, too — it wasn’t perfect. I kept a journal which I now cherish and love to relive my exploits. I’ve heard that your only true wealth are your memories. How true. I encourage you to keep a journal to record things you lived through and your feelings at the time. I’m on the back nine now and was glad for all the experiences and chances I took. Don’t be afraid to go for the gold ring.
This is so true and inspiring.. Thank you for the reminder… Definitely it’s time to CHANGE..
The only constant in life … is change.
Dona Pope says
I love this article! Life is temporary, health is temporary. In fact most of us think that we are healthier than we actually are. Being aware of this is difficult for young people. And it might have something to do with evolution. I think one of the greatest human attributes is to persevere and believe that they are changing their world.