Image by Myriam Zilles from Pixabay
I remember a time, in my mid-twenties, when I was always dreaming of being able to travel back in time.
I knew it wasn’t possible, but I just wanted to press a button, go back in time and correct my past mistakes.
I was literally obsessed with that idea. “If only I had known all the things I know today, my life would be better and easier now,” I thought to myself.
Then, I understood that overthinking and ruminating about the past was time-consuming — and even useless.
It was a turning point in my life. I understood I could actually start living a much happier life, thanks to all the lessons I had learned until then.
During the past years, I have thought about all the important things life taught me and I have written them down.
These are the lessons that transformed me — and that can transform you too.
1. Be less self-conscious.
99.99% of the time people don’t care about how you look or how you speak. They are mainly focused on themselves, they are not even paying attention to your outfit.
Because we are all worried about how others see us. So don’t waste too much energy on worrying about what others think of you. I struggled a lot with this one, but I started to focus on this idea any time I became a little self-conscious and I found it very useful.
Yes, some people do care about your looks or the shoes you are wearing. Do you really care about their opinion?
2. Focus on your strengths and uniqueness.
I see this all the time. People looking at what other people do. I don’t know why some people worry so much about others’ achievements or failures. There is this tendency to always make comparisons with others, which inevitably makes us feel bad about ourselves.
Never compare yourself to others, it’s a waste of time. Improve yourself every day instead. Working on yourself and your personal development will make you feel more motivated. Setting exciting attainable goals and reaching them, will increase your self-confidence.
So, focus on yourself. You will increase the quality of your life and become a happier person.
3. If you feel depressed, do something nice for someone else.
Helping others makes us happy. There’s not much I can say about this. What I know is that when I do something for someone else I simply feel better, much better, and I can’t quite explain why.
They say helping others makes our brain release endorphins, which are the chemicals that help us cope with stress and make us feel happier. So probably this is the reason. Or maybe we feel good when we see the other person smile thanks to what we did for them.
Whatever the reason, if it makes you feel good, go for it.
4. Never assume that someone is mad at you or doesn’t like you.
Mary didn’t say hi today. Or she did but she looked angry or bothered by your presence. And you are wondering what you did to her, or what you could have done differently.
Maybe she was just having a bad day, and how she was acting around you had nothing to do with you. So, don’t always assume someone is mad at you. We’re not the center of the world, and that’s ok.
If the behavior is repeated and that person seems to be mad at you every day, just talk to them.
5. Healthy communication.
If someone did something that hurt you, communicate healthily with them. Avoid being passive-aggressive.
Start the conversation positively. “I know you would never hurt me on purpose because I know you, but please avoid doing this in the future. I’m sure you didn’t realize it, but it hurt me” is a good example of healthy communication.
Talking things out can always resolve potential conflicts. Staying in silence and letting resentment grow, destroys relationships. Communication makes relationships stronger.
6. When you screw up and someone calls you out on that, don’t get defensive.
Apologize and tell them what you can do to fix it. And do it. There’s nothing worse than someone who doesn’t recognize their mistakes and gets defensive.
If you screw up, the best thing you can do to fix things is to show the right attitude. Admit you are wrong and show with your actions — not just with your words — that you are sorry.
Recognizing a mistake and fixing it is something only a few people do. Be one of them, show maturity and respect.
7. Don’t always wait for others to come to talk to you.
Sometimes it will be up to you to make the first step with someone or start a conversation. Yes, sometimes you might feel rejected, and that happens. It’s completely fine.
But oftentimes you will realize how from a simple conversation a nice friendship can start. People sometimes are either shy or highly distracted by their daily routine, and many potentially great relationships fade for this reason.
Don’t be afraid of rejection, interact more with others and build great relationships.
“The quality of your life is the quality of your relationships.”
- Tony Robbins
8. When you fly on an airplane, the flight attendant instructs you to put your oxygen mask on first, before helping others. Apply this to your life.
Take care of yourself and learn to love yourself before loving and helping others. If you can’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to help others. If you don’t love yourself, you will never be able to love someone else.
When you love and take care of yourself instead, you are stronger, you have control of yourself and you can be there for your loved ones.
9. Spend time with your loved ones and be present.
Be grateful for what you have, and be grateful for your relationships.
Make sure you fully enjoy your time with the people you love, because one day you will miss those moments. One day you might regret checking your Facebook home page while you were in their company, instead of spending quality time together and having meaningful conversations.
Be grateful for what you have today and enjoy it, instead of having regrets tomorrow.
10. One of the best medicines for depression is exercise.
I have struggled with depression for years and I have experienced how movement can help.
Exercise can really help you feel motivated and energized. Get outside, work out, take long walks, stay in contact with nature and breathe deeply.
Obviously, if you have severe depression, you have to combine exercise with therapy. But moving and spending time outdoors does make a difference.
11. Never judge people.
There is not much to say about this point. We are no one to judge others.
And we never know the whole story behind others’ actions. What might seems unacceptable from the outside might have a reasonable explanation.
We all have our weaknesses and we all make mistakes. Instead of always having an opinion on someone else’s decisions, what we should do is focus every day on ourselves, on our daily goals, on what we did well and what we could do better.
Anytime you feel the need to judge someone, use it to wisely evaluate yourself and your actions.
12. Don’t let your fears block you.
Be brave and step out of your comfort zone. Happiness is often on the other side of fear, and you truly live when you overcome your limits.
Going beyond your fears increases your self-confidence and gives you the chance to do things you would have never imagined.
13. Emotional support.
If someone is going through a hard time, don’t tell them what they have to do. Tell them you are there for them if they need you. The best thing you can do is to be there and listen to them if they need someone to talk to.
You can’t even imagine how your emotional support can make a difference in someone else’s life.
14. Be patient.
It takes a long time and hard work to achieve massive success. Overnight success doesn’t exist unless you win the lottery. Make sure to work every single day on your dreams and be consistent. Patience and hard work always pay off in the long run.
And don’t let failure discourage you. I’m sure you already know this, so it’s just a reminder. Learn from your failures, they are your best teachers.
15. Get rid of toxic people.
Don’t get me wrong here, you don’t have to kill them. Just don’t let them in your life. Make sure you surround yourself only with great people.
Also, learn to say no and set healthy boundaries with people. If you don’t do this people might take advantage of you, because you trained them to do so. And base all your relationships on respect and mutual trust. If someone doesn’t respect you or betrays your trust, don’t include them in your life.
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
— Jim Rohn
16. Perfection doesn’t exist, but if you aim at it, you can get very close to it.
Regarding this principle, there is a famous quote I love and that motivated me a lot in the last years:
“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”
Being obsessed with perfection is a trap. Sometimes all you have to do is doing your best — chasing perfection without being obsessed with it — and stop at “good enough.”
17. You could lose someone you love today, tomorrow, or in a few minutes. Never take anyone for granted.
I’m sorry to remind you of this, but I have to. Spend quality time with the people you love, and tell them you love them.
Hug them if you are with them, call them if you live in different countries. Just be there for the people you love.
18. Not everyone will like you.
If you want people to like you, just be friendly, open-minded and easy to talk to.
Relax. If someone doesn’t like you, remember that you can’t make everyone like you. There will always be someone you are not compatible with. And it’s ok.
Focus on improving yourself and on nurturing the good relationships you already have.
19. Do what others don’t want to do, this way you will get where others can’t.
If someone settles for less or doesn’t want to make an effort to achieve more, it doesn’t mean you have to do the same. Go the extra mile and stand out from the crowd.
Sometimes what it takes is only a little more persistence.
“Today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I will do what others can’t.”
― Jerry Rice
Don’t settle. Be extraordinary.
Whatever happens to you, life is always teaching you something. Sometimes it feels good, sometimes it hurts, but you always learn and move forward.