“The difference between school and life is that school teaches you a lesson and then gives you a test. Life gives you a test and then you learn the lesson.”
Life lessons are full of wisdom because they often have to be learned the hard way – and many times we only see the opportunities life gives us when we’re looking back.
But the sooner you learn these seven hard-earned life lessons, the better…
1. If you want to do what you love, you have to work three times as hard as everyone else
Most people do not get to spend their lives doing whatever it is they love. Instead, they do what they are told they should do, or what their parents or peers suggest that they do. Or they simply pursue nothing close to their hearts at all. But if you want to follow your passion you need to see that as a privilege, not an expectation. And those who do are not in the majority. So if that’s what you truly want, you have to put in the work now.
2. Regret hurts far worse than fear
Whether it’s quitting your job to build a business, running a marathon, or travelling to unknown parts of the world, any worthy endeavour requires risk, struggle and sacrifice. Some of these things may even terrify you, but ask yourself if these fears are stronger than the most powerful of fears: the fear of a wasted life. It’s far better to look back on life and say, “I can’t believe I did that,” than to look back and say, “I wish I did that.” Don’t let time pass you by like a person waving from a train you desperately want to be on. Don’t spend the rest of your life thinking about why you didn’t do what you can do right now.
3. We don’t care about the things we get easily
Sadly, this is true in all the areas of life. Take health, for example. We know that if our health is lost, we won’t be happy, yet still we eat junk food and never exercise. Why? Because we don’t take our health seriously and the real reason behind that is we immaculately got it for free. We spend hundreds of thousands on cars and take care of them. Imagine what it would cost if you could put a price on the human body. And then imagine how well we’d take care of it if we had paid a huge amount of money to get our bodies.
4. Love is more than a feeling; it’s a choice
That burst of initial exhilaration, pulse-quickening love and passion does not last long. But that doesn’t mean long-lasting love is not possible. Love is not just a feeling; it’s a choice that we make every day. We have to choose to let annoyances pass, to forgive, to be kind, to respect, to support, to be faithful. Relationships take work. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s incredibly hard, but it is up to us to choose how we want to act, think and speak in a relationship.
5. Success is complicated
We love to praise people for becoming famous, for winning championships, and for making tons of money, but we rarely discuss the costs of success. Did the beauty of Van Gogh’s art add more joy to the world than the pain he endured as a result of mental illness? People often talk about the success they aspire to in life, but very often, there is baggage with the bounty? It’s easy to want financial independence, the approval of your boss, or to look good in front of the mirror. But are you willing to spend two extra hours at work each day rather than with your kids? Do you want to put your career ahead of your marriage? Do you want to wake up early and go to the gym when you feel like sleeping in? What kind of pain are you willing to bear in the name of achieving these things?
6. Absolutely everyone, including you, is replaceable
You’re probably absolutely fantastic, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t still just one person out of 7 billion on this planet. People can live without you, love without you, work without you, exist without you. And they will. You need to learn how to live with a healthy blend of humility and the understanding of your own insignificance, while also having the confidence and willpower to live anyway.
7. If someone wants you in their life, they’ll make room for you
You should never have to fight for a place in someone’s affections. Never allow yourself to become invested in someone who continuously overlooks your worth. And remember, it’s not the people that stand by your side when you’re at your best, but the ones who stand beside you when you’re at your worst who are your true friends.
What would you add to this list? What important life lessons have you learned the hard way?
Are you committed to understanding life’s challenges and how to best to navigate them, and imparting this valuable knowledge to others? You may be suited to a career in counselling. The South African College of Applied Psychology offers a range of courses, including a BPsych degree, which is accredited by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA). For more information, enquire today.