Life is a continuous learning experience and there are various ways we gain knowledge about life. We learn lessons for life from our personal experiences, through other people’s experiences, through the classroom, and from reading printed material. Ultimately, what really matters is that we keep learning. One insight that most of us gain as adults, is that we are very ill prepared for life – there are many lessons that nobody teaches us. So, what are some of the life lessons if garnered as an adolescent, would have helped us better prepare for life?
1. Live in the present
Learning to live and be aware of the present is one of the most important lessons for life. A good number of people spend a lot of time thinking about the past – they constantly think about events which took place or events which could have taken place. Others spend all their time worrying about tomorrow – what may or may not happen and pay little or no attention to what is happening in the present. Of course, it is natural for us to occasionally think about the past or the future. Problems arise, however, when we continually allow ourselves to become victims of the past and slaves of the future.
Whenever you are worried about a past or future event, ask yourself this question, “can I do something about it?” If the answer is yes, then do something about it. If you cannot do anything about it, why worry? Focus on something you can change. You cannot change what happened in the past, and the only way to change your future is by changing your “here and now”. The quality of your life will significantly improve once you start living in the present.
2. You can’t please everyone
If you really want to start enjoying your life, then you must understand that you cannot please everyone – it is just impossible. Living to please other people, be it friends, family members or colleagues, is a game you are going to lose, so why play? No matter what you say, which clothes you wear, how you spend your money, which career you choose, there will always be someone who will be unhappy with you. Someone will always criticize your choices. So why even bother? How about doing what makes YOU happy.
We are all different. We have different beliefs, different goals, different opinions and different destinations. Once you accept this fact, it becomes much easier for you to understand why you cannot please everyone. This will help you spend more time doing what you want to do and what makes you content.
3. Happiness is a decision
In our own way, we all want to be happy. The problem is that some people consider happiness to be a destination. They keep waiting to arrive at that destination and have that happy ending – they keep waiting for that day when life will decide to smile at them. Such people associate happiness with a future event. For example,
“I will be happy once I have money.”
“I will be happy when I get married.”
“I will be happy when I start working.”
Thinking of happiness as a future event means that you are programming your mind to be happy in a few months or in a few years, when you finally achieve these goals. How long are you really going to be happy once these goals are achieved? Don’t you think you should be happy now? It is perfectly acceptable to set goals and try to achieve them. But, you might be misguided to feel that you will be happy only when these goals are achieved, because you could spend most of your life pursuing happiness. Happiness is a choice – it is a state of mind. It does not depend on what life brings you, but on your attitude toward life.
4. Take care of your body now
Making sure you are taking care of your body is one of the most important lessons for life. It is common to hear people complain that they do not have time to take care of themselves, because of their busy schedules. All they do is work, work and work even more. The truth is, if you really want to enjoy the product of that hard work, then you must start taking care of your body now.
It does not really take much to take care of yourself, but the end results are priceless. Take a few minutes every morning or evening to exercise, have a quick morning meditation, eat healthily, get quality sleep, get a massage, etc. Your body needs this attention to function efficiently.
5. You reap what you sow
What you are today is the sum of your predominant thoughts and choices that you made in the past. This is a very important life principle. If you want to be healthy tomorrow, find the time to exercise and to eat properly. If you save wisely and make good investments today, you will have plenty to enjoy tomorrow. The way you treat people today is the way you will be treated tomorrow.
We are responsible for our actions. And in life, there is a consequence for every action or inaction, so choose boldly and be steadfast.
Although these are lessons for life you probably wish you learned in your teenage years, it is important to note that it is not too late. You still have “now” to live in the present. You still have “now” to live your life and do the things that make YOU happy. You still have “now” to choose to be happy and not wait until tomorrow. You still have “now” to start taking care of your body. And most importantly, you still have “now” to sow what you want to reap in the future.