25 Things About Life I Wish I Had Known 10 Years Ago

Socrates, considered as one of the founders of Western philosophy, was once named the wisest man on earth by the Oracle of Delphi. When Socrates heard that the oracle had made such a comment, he believed that the statement was wrong.

Socrates said: “ I know one thing: that I know nothing.”

How can the smartest man on earth know nothing? I heard this paradoxical wisdom for the first time from my school teacher when I was 14 or 15. It made such an impact on me that I used Socrates’s quote as my learning strategy.

“I know nothing” to me, means that you might be a wise person, but still, you know nothing. You can learn from everything and everyone.

One thing that I like better than learning from my mistakes is to learn from other people’s mistakes. Over the years, I’ve been blessed to have great mentors, teachers, family, friends, that taught me about life.

What you will find below is a list of the most important things I learned from other people and books. Some of the lessons took me a long time to learn—but if I had to learn these things all by myself, it would take me a lot longer.

We might learn things quickly, but we often forget things at the same rate—and sometimes we need to remind ourselves of the things we’ve learned.

Here are 25 of those reminders that others taught me.

  1. Struggle Is Good
    Never say “I can’t take it anymore.” Say “Bring it on!”
  2. Don’t Complain
    Complaining is the biggest waste of time there is. Either do something about it, and if you can’t, shut up about it.
  3. Spend Time With People You Love
    That’s your family and best friends. If you don’t have a family, create one. Most people in life are only visitors. Family is for life.
  4. Don’t Start A Relationship If You’re Not In Love
    I’ve done this more than once. You kind of like someone and think: “We might as well give it a shot.” Not a good idea. You’re either in love, or you are not. Don’t fool yourself. It’s not fair to you and the other person.
  5. Exercise Daily
    I didn’t get this until recently. A healthy body is where you have to start everything in life. If you can’t build a healthy and strong body, what CAN you build in life?
  6. Keep A Journal
    No, keeping a journal is not for children. It helps you to become a better thinker and writer. “I don’t want to be a writer” you might think. Well, how many emails and texts do you send a day? Everybody is a writer.
  7. Be Grateful
    Say ‘thank you’ to everyone and everything. “Thank you for this beautiful day.” “Thank you for your email.” “Thank you for being there for me.”
  8. Don’t Care About What People Think
    We all die in the end, do you really think it matters what people think of you?
  9. Take More Risks
    Don’t be such a wimp.
  10. Pick An Industry, Not A Job
    If you want to become good at something, you need to spend years and years doing that. You can’t do that if you hop from industry to industry. Pick an industry you love and start at the bottom. You will find the perfect role for you eventually.
  11. Lead The Way
    When you find yourself in a situation where everyone looks at each other, it’s time for you to lead. You‘re a leader when you decide to become one. There’s no initiation or a title. Just a decision.
  12. Money Is Not The Most Important Thing
    You have to train yourself not to care about money and focus on providing value instead. Also, don’t become too dependent on the stuff you own — otherwise, the stuff will own you.
  13. Be Nice
    I don’t mean you should be a pushover. You can be someone that doesn’t take shit and be nice about it. Just don’t insult people, think you’re better than them, or act like an idiot.
  14. Learn Every Day
    You’ve got to train your brain to stay alert. You don’t have to read a book a day to learn every day. Learn from your mistakes. Learn from the people around you — be open to what they can teach you.
  15. Rest Before You Are Tired
    Even if you love your job, and every day seems like a holiday, you need to take time to rest. You’re a human and not an android, never forget that.
  16. Don’t Judge
    Just because people make different choices than you, they are not stupid. Also, you don’t know everything about people, so don’t judge them — help them.
  17. Think About Others
    Just be mindful, that’s all. We all have families, bills to pay, and our own issues. Don’t always make everything about yourself.
  18. Give Without Expecting Something In Return
    Don’t keep score. You will become a bitter person if you do that. Give solely for the joy of giving. If you get something in return, great, if you don’t, great.
  19. There’s No End Game
    We, as species, just are. Don’t try to figure it all out. Enjoy your journey.
  20. Enjoy Small Things
    I like clichés because they are true. Especially this one. You know why? Everyone says they know it, but no one lives up to it. They just chase big things.
  21. Don’t Take Yourself So Seriously
    Yeah, yeah, you’re an individual, and people have to take you seriously, I get it. But at the end of the day, we’re all a bunch of ants trying to chase the same things. Lighten up.
  22. Don’t Blame People
    What’s the point? Do you want to punish them? You don’t do that to people. Also don’t blame yourself — you’re only human.
  23. Create Something
    Not to leave a legacy, you won’t be here to see it anyway, but to be of use. Make music, write a book, build a table, anything. You’ll feel good about yourself, plus you give something back to people to use or enjoy.
  24. Never Look Back Too Long
    Reflecting on the past is only good for one thing: Learning.
  25. Take Action
    Don’t just sit there, do something. Without action, there is no outcome.

You might know a lot. But like Socrates, you and I know nothing at all. So we have to keep learning.

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  1. Darius – I like this article. I originally found it on medium.com. I think it’s full of great reminders. Can I suggest you tweak #21. to read “Don’t Take Yourself Seriously” ?

    1. Speaking of #21 there’s this quote I remember “Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world” by a certain Japanese swordsman

  2. Darius – Great stuff for us all. I like # 7 best.
    John Poyser – My tweak for #21 is “Don’t take yourself too seriously”.

  3. Hi Darius. Is your website a hand-built site or a WordPress theme? I love the look and would love to its style name if a template. Many thanks

    1. halo…jst wanted to ask..4 is not clear..most of the time relationships end up in romance ?..or strt with romance…whats the love point in that…humans get into relationships..if dont work out well ..they breakup nd move on..
      clearification will be most appreciated..thnx

      1. what i wanted to say was..is not normally what we do..we first like someone..then we ‘give it a shot’ and is only done when both like each other and results in a relationship starting points..and in all this love is getting richer…i mean whats the point if we dont even try…what says??

  4. Thank for sharing great ideas! I would love to apply principle number 10 – Pick an industry, not a job. And Keep learning! Your article reminds me of one of the 30 golden rules of Dale Carnegie – Dont criticize, condemn or complain. Thank you again.

  5. “ I know one thing: that I know nothing.”
    Very poignant.
    Great advice and a great read.
    According to the time stamp I’m posting my comment almost an hour before your last comment. That mean’s you’re well east of me since I’m on the east coast of the USA. Where might you be?

  6. Am i allowed to translate and re-publish this post on my own blog? (of course i give you attribution, but i’d love to share this on spanish to many other people)

  7. Darius, i disagree with your point that money is not important. Material possessions are not important, that is a given. But having wealth empowers one with the freedom to engage in many of the other activities you list as essential. Spending time with the people you love, and having time to exercise regularly, are two relevant examples.

  8. Although I haven’t studied Socrates, I just wanted to let you know…because it is about something vitally important: I know nothing does not mean we need to learn more. Humanity in general regards knowledge as being a collection of information…information about things. Within language at least, “nothing” is the opposite of “things”. That which is beneath all we see, beyond even the most core aspects of being human, is that reality which is not things, is not matter or energy, and thus not ensconced in time or space or any boundary-clad framework. Unlike things and information, which can be learned, this reality cannot be learned or added to, modified, etc. It can only be “known” through direct awareness of it. So to say “I know nothing” is a literal reference to actual knowledge. Although reality (and knowledge) is not involved with things and not directly manipulating of things, Its influence in the world of things by being one with people, who are, beneath it all, real…evokes an aligning of thought and emotion that is not merely beneficial to humanity and any individual…it is the foundation upon which all things are built…the solid rock as it were. And in being such, it is the glue that holds all together. When society is spiraling downward, attention to this inner knowledge can repair it and in fact is the only lasting repair and restoration. In spiritual terms, it is that which religions feebly attempt to talk about and represent, and which their doctrines and scriptures greatly misunderstand and refer to as God. It is available to everyone at all times. Just form the intention in mind to look at the core reality of yourself and of all (not thinking about what you believe about yourself or examining feelings etc.). Just the intention is enough without any sign or evidence…the intending itself will create influence acceptance. Do this for a brief moment here and there throughout each day. Do this several times a day at least and don’t stop doing it. After awhile it will become natural recognition that it…whatever you and all are…is actually there, being real…and its influence will be noticed even though it is non-energetic and silent in and of itself, and has no agenda other than its reality as whole and undivided, and thus non-conflicted. It actually is what doctrine-related concepts such as salvation are not and cannot become due to the misunderstandings built into the underlying concepts…and yet it is salvaging to know this reality…this one and only reality…that is you. Indeed…I know nothing, and it has saved my life several times as well as completely changing it…toward peace and in this world ultimately toward genuine love of self and mankind. Nothing is the truest of blessings. In this context, it is actually true that to know thyself is to know that you are whole complete right now and totally free, regardless of any situation.

  9. I found you through Upworthy and I must say I like your article much better with this original title. They changed it to ‘cliches that are actually true’, which made me frown. Hoe can ‘take more risks’ be true, right?

  10. I don’t know, There are a couple of things in this article that I could say that they contradict; for example, #4 and #9. You could be called a wimp or something else if you don’t take the risk of asking a guy or a girl out on date. Also i’m just a nobody but I can tell you that in this day and age money is important.

  11. I think that this list of learned doctrines are points to follow for a fulfilling life, just to don’t take too literally, as ‘I only know I know nothing’ didn’t means that he didn’t know nothing ;Socrates was obviously wise, he just showed he could be wise being also humble.

  12. Darius, I read this article on Greatist and actually printed it to hang up at work and home. Thank you for such a great and inspirational article! I need to check your website on a regular basis. Have a great day!

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