Four Things I’ve Learned About Life Recently That I Wish I Knew When I Was Younger
Experience is something special so special. I believe there is some truth to what Julias Caesar said:
“Experience is the teacher of all things.”
The older I get and the more I experience, the more I learn gems about life in general. Little nuggets that help me to traverse more joyously the pathways in front of me. There are a few things that I’ve learned recently through my experiences that I feel are helping me tremendously and I would really like to share these gems with you. These are gems that I wish I’d learned earlier, and I feel that they can help you on this journey that we call life. So here’s just four things that I want to share with you:
Point #1 — Do Good Things for Other But Don’t Expect Anything in Return
Now this might sound almost a little negative, specifically the “Don’t Expect Anything in Return” part, but hear me out please. In the past I used to always try to do good things for people because I felt this would make me happy, which is undoubtedly true. Some people would reciprocate, but others just made me feel very unappreciated, and would actually get very upset with me for minor lapses in judgment over fairly trivial things though I felt I was always trying to do good things for them. Honestly, these experiences took a lot of my joy of giving away, and my inner joy as a person. But having the attitude that I just mentioned about not expecting anything in return has helped me out tremendously. How so?
The saying that “there is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving” is very true. But the thing about this truth is that you must learn to love giving. When you learn to love giving, that’s when giving becomes truly enjoyable. When you learn to love seeing people’s joy as you provide them a gift, or make them laugh, or share a story with them, or buy them a drink, or any form of giving, then that’s when you become truly joyful in doing so.
But, to truly experience an unfailing joy in giving, it is essential that you take it one step further. You have to love giving simply because of how it makes others feel and because you love giving, not because you want people to love you back, or treat you special because of your actions. Does that sound strange? Maybe. But think about it, if you don’t care if someone is not appreciative, and you don’t care if someone treats you unkind though you try so hard to treat them with kindness, then you now have complete control over your joy. Why? Because no matter how much effort you put forth, you can’t force people to act in a certain way, but you can always control your own actions. So as you’re giving and experiencing that deep inner joy from doing so, no one will be able to take that away from you through unkindness.
Please trust me, once you adopt this attitude, you will find that you have a level of joy that is securely protected, and that people will be unable to strip away from you.
Point #2 — Take Advantage of All Opportunities Because They May Not Happen Again
When I was younger and opportunities would present themselves for me to do something special, I would sometimes think, “Ah well, now is not a good time, but I’ll do that in the future.” Super bad way to do things. Why? Because so many of those opportunities have never risen for me again. So what should you do?
When an opportunity presents itself to do something fun, cool, once in a lifetime, or just something different, take the opportunity. Don’t make stupid excuses. Your circumstances will never be perfect, so just take hold of life and enjoy it. Now I’m not saying to be an idiot and do things that are dangerous or may have long-term consequences just for the sake of experience. You have to be balanced. But if it’s not something that’s absolutely inane and ridiculous, just take advantage of the moment.
Since adopting this mentality, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been confronted with an exciting situation with trepidation, decided to just go ahead and do it, and been absolutely ecstatic with the results. In the past, I would have multiple regrets, wishing that I had done things differently because of feeling like I missed out on an awesome experience. That happens to me no longer. As a matter of fact, as I’m writing this, I’m just coming back from a last minute decision trip to Tenerife, Spain and Ireland. Do I regret it? What do you think? I was frightened to take the trip at first because money was tight, but I just went ahead and bought my tickets and my lodgings and I had one of the most amazing experiences of my life!
Point #3 — Work Hard
This may sound very obvious. But I want to elaborate a moment on what I mean by this statement.
A lot of people work hard on very specific things. For example, they’ll work hard to get good grades, or pass an exam, or they’ll work 8 hour days for their job, and they are considered hard workers. And they most certainly are. But I’m talking about a different kind of hard work. The hard work I’m talking about is focused work towards something specific that you really want to accomplish in all areas of life. What do I mean?
Here’s an example. I love playing basketball. It’s fun to simply step onto the court and have a good friendly game with no serious expectations laid upon myself or my abilities. However, is it not true that everything becomes more enjoyable as your skill level increases? Because of this truth, I really wanted to get to a point in basketball where I could go to any court and play whoever was there with full confidence in my abilities. So I worked hard for that. After taking care of my other responsibilities for the day, instead of going home and turning on Netflix, I would go to the basketball court, and I wouldn’t leave until I made 300 shots. Then I’d practice other aspects of the game. What happened? Well I ended up reaching my goal and being able to play anywhere with confidence, and I found so much more joy in the game.
Then, I wanted to be able to speak Chinese because it’s a language spoken by over 1 billion people on the planet. So I started working at it. I would find people who spoke it and try to speak to them and ask them questions, and I would read books and use apps. The result, I can now speak decent Chinese and it feels awesome.
There’s so many things you can learn. Learn to play an instrument, learn to paint, learn to play a sport, work out and lose weight or gain muscle. Just work hard on whatever you decide to do and you’ll find great joy in your hard work.
A common misconception of man, is that in order to attain certain abilities you have to be born with that specific “talent”, and if you’re not, then you just can’t be a good painter, musician, dancer, etc. But I want to tell you, that’s a complete lie. One of my favorite quotes ever is…
“Talent is the lazy person’s word for effort.”
…and it’s true. Certain people do seem to have a head start on things, but trust me, you can master anything, if you put forth diligent effort. If you look at anyone who has become skilled at anything, they’ve been doing it for a long time, and working hard at it. It’s that simple. And I say this because I don’t want you to not realize the joy and satisfaction that you can receive just from improving in skills, simply because you don’t believe that you can. So go out there and WORK HARD and reap the sweet benefits!
Point #4 — Enjoy Your Friends and Family and Strangers
I’ve been all over the world, I’ve had a lot of money at times in my life, and at other times barely anything. I’ve lived a life that many people would dream to live, and one thing that I can tell you, is that one of the most important things for joy, is people. People are fascinating and people are important! In Panama they have a phrase…
“Cada cabeza es un mundo. (Every mind is a world.)”
…and what they mean by that is that every person has an awesome story, a different way of looking at the world based off of their own experiences in life and upbringing. And it’s so cool to navigate the streets of their world through conversation.
I have met some of the coolest people, and have had some of the most enriching experiences simply because of conversations. It’s so fascinating the people that are out there. Painters, poets, musicians, architects, photographers, artists, writers, all kinds of people in all walks of life. And they’re all just waiting for you to talk to them. So get off your phones and tablets and just talk with the person next to you. Ask them how their day has been, what they like, dislike, how they feel about current events, what they do for fun, for hobbies. Really get to know them, and actually be interested in them. You’ll enrich their life, and you’ll also enrich yours. (One of my upcoming articles is going to be all about the art of starting conversations so stay tuned.)
And when it comes to family and friends, always make time for them. Go and visit that friend who lives in another state or country and stay with them for a few weeks. Call your parents and siblings and chat with them and go visit them for a while. Be there for them when they need someone. Put others first, and you’ll have a much higher level of satisfaction.
These are just a few precious nuggets that I have acquired in my little time on this earth. I really hope you found something that may help you out in your own life. There’s obviously a lot more that I can talk about, but these are just some things that I really wanted to share with you readers for now. I hope that it makes somewhat of an impact in your life and I hope that you can benefit from it in some way. Let me know in the comments section what you think and how you’ve benefited by applying these things.