I recently got stuck. My attention was scattered, my energy was low, and I didn’t do good work. At those times, I think of something I learned from one of my friends and mentors: Always return to the basics—the truths of life.
When you’re overwhelmed, confused, or lack drive; return to the basics of life. Ask yourself: What makes a good life? What you’ll find is that you already know the answer. The problem is that you ignore it because the truth is uncomfortable.
So after I got stuck last time, I thought of the hard life truths I was ignoring. Once I returned to these lessons, everything improved again. Here’s the list I made for myself. Remember, these lessons are uncomfortable, but deep down, we all know how important they are.
- People are selfish (and so are you)—Look, no one likes to admit this. But we all think about ourselves. That’s not bad. It’s how we become stronger. And when we’re strong, we can help others.
- You suck at a lot of things—Don’t try to chase every single opportunity that comes on your path. The truth is that we’re not as good as we assume. That’s better news than you think. That means you have a reason to only focus on the things you’re truly good at. Isn’t that liberating?
- Most people won’t get you—And that’s okay. You don’t have to be liked by everyone. Be comfortable with who you are. You don’t need acceptance by anyone but yourself.
- You only get stronger by doing hard things—If your life is simple, you will become weak. Always do things that require serious effort. The effort alone will make you better. No matter what the outcome is. Even if you fail, you win because it makes you stronger.
- Making a living requires making difficult choices—We all have to put money on the table. And we need to make difficult choices about how we spend our time. Will you read a book or go to a bar? Will you spend an extra hour at work or will you go to the movies? The choice is yours.
- Think about your future self—You’ll probably be here in 10, 20, 30 or even 40 years from now. Just keep that in mind. How will you live now?
- It’s easy to get stuck—The truth is that life is hard and we all run into obstacles. Setbacks are unavoidable. Hence, you better get used to getting punched in the face.
- It’s hard to get unstuck—When you get punched in the face, most people stay down. Giving up is easy: “I don’t want to go through that again so I’m going to stop trying.” On the other hand, getting up is difficult and no one will do it for you. You have to do it.
- Free things are worthless—Don’t discount yourself. Get what you’re worth. Nobody appreciates things that are cheap or free.
- We don’t appreciate what we have—We only look at what we don’t have. But instead, we should take more time to look at what we do have. Often, that’s already good enough. Want more? Go after it. But don’t forget what you already have.
- Maintaining relationships takes work—Never take people for granted. They might walk away from your life.
- Positive people give you a lot of energy—Make an effort to get close to people who are cheerful and positive. When you interact with certain people, you get a lot of energy. Seek them out.
- Suffering is good—It’s just a little bit of pain. Why are you afraid of it?
- It’s okay to be alone—Look, you don’t have to be around people 24/7. You also don’t have to be friends with idiots. Or marry someone you’re not compatible with. Be comfortable with yourself and don’t be so restless.
- Learning is the answer to everything—Knowledge and curiosity will get you excited again. Return to it as much as you can.
- Impatience is toxic—If you’re always running, you miss what’s in front of you. Don’t live your life in the future. Have some patience. With the right effort and energy, you will fulfill all your desires.
- Personal freedom is worth the price—Being free to do what you want and to spend your time with people who you like is the highest form of success in life. You don’t need a lot in your life to achieve that goal. But freedom has a price. You need to give up everything that makes you unfree.
There are more life truths than this list of 17. In fact, there’s an infinite amount of wisdom that you and I both don’t know about. It takes a long time before we become wise and free. And it surely isn’t cheap. Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best:
“Liberty is slow fruit. It is never cheap; it is made difficult because freedom is the accomplishment and perfectness of man.”
We just have to keep living and keep learning. That’s the path to a happy, free, and useful life.
Join me on this journey. We’ll probably never arrive, but I’m sure we’ll learn a lot.