While writing, reading and arithmetic are the building blocks of a basic education, I have come to learn that some of the most important lessons will happen outside of the classroom. Some you might have to learn the hard way, and others will come easier, with a little luck. Today I’m going to help guide you in the right direction with 10 of my best life lessons I’ve learned in the real world. Keep these lessons in your back pocket for years to come…
1. The important questions can’t be answered.
If all of life’s most challenging moments had answers, everyone would be going through the motions without actually living. Do not get frustrated when you face a tricky situation that does not have answers. The future is exciting and scary for a reason. So instead of worrying, choose the course you want your life to take, and then work hard to make it happen.
2. Life is a marathon, not a race.
This lesson may sound cliché, but most of us try to sprint through life—whether we realize it or not. There is no “first place” in life. Making comparisons will only leave you feeling unhappy, unappreciative, and unaware of how many blessings you have. To be the happiest you can be, concentrate on fulfilling your own personal goals in the timeline that is right for you. People will get promotions, get engaged, and start families at completely different times. There’s no right or wrong time for any of those things.
3. Stand up for yourself.
There is a graceful yet assertive way to ask for what you want. Learn this and you will have unlocked the key to getting what you want in life without burning bridges along the way.
4. Worrying about things you cannot control is the biggest waste of your time.
Throughout your entire life there will be situations that you want to control but the outcome is 100% out of your hands. This is for a reason. If we could control everything, life would be one pre-written story. It wouldn’t be exciting, and you wouldn’t learn a single thing. You can live a stress-free life if you learn to let go of the things you cannot control. Because when we do try to control situations, we often times look back years later and wonder why we wasted so much time on them.
5. Exercise isn’t about numbers.
Once you realize that treating your body well and being healthy isn’t about being “perfect,” you will free your mind. Exercising is about getting your blood running through your body, pumping oxygen to your brain, strengthening your heart and muscles, and reaping the wonderful benefits of those mood-boosting endorphins. You will find that the more you accept your natural physique and embrace the figure you were given, the more you will fall in love with your body and treat it like a temple.
6. Make your mother proud.
When it comes to deciding right from wrong, ask yourself if your mother (or another mentor) would be proud of you for making the decision at hand. It can be easy to lose sight of where we came from, who brought us into the world, and the sacrifices that our loved ones made to ensure we would be happy. This doesn’t mean you should hold back from taking risks or trying new things—that is what life is about. Just make sure you keep your moral compass in mind. Honor your family by making choices they would approve of and I can guarantee you will look back with fewer regrets.
7. The happiest people have low expectations, few desires, and great appreciation for the little things.
Every so often, we are all guilty of focusing on things we don’t have, things we want, and things that aren’t perfect in our lives. These thoughts will only lead to an ungrateful mentality, and the never-ending search for a “perfect” life that doesn’t exist. It is great to have goals and things to look forward to. Don’t get me wrong—I love saving up for a brand new purse as much as any girl! But I find that I am much happier when I focus on the small blessings and the things I have instead of worrying about what I don’t have. Take a few minutes each day to yourself and think about how grateful you are for your family, your friends, having food on the table, and all the other small pleasures in life that go unnoticed.
8. Helping your community will enrich your life.
It’s easy to get wrapped up with doing something that makes your resume look well rounded. Sure, saying you were involved in a charity might help you look good when you apply to college or go to job interviews. But community service will also add a special touch to your life. You will gain valuable insight, become more grounded, and gain an understanding for people in ways you never thought you could.
9. Never settle.
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received was to never settle in relationships, friendships, your career, or your dreams. Never accept less than what you think you deserve, and aim for bigger and better (because you will probably get it!). You never want to look back and think, “I could have done more.” You can do more…right now. Stop saying “someday.” Start saying “today.”
10. There is no such thing as a perfect life.
The overall goal in many people’s lives seems to find the perfect partner, reach the perfect weight, have the perfect job, or wear the perfect wardrobe. The problem is, none of these things exist. Everything has its flaws, and most of those flaws are what makes your life exciting, challenging, and, in fact, pretty perfect if you look at it the right way. Your boyfriend is going to make mistakes, your job will have its down days, and you will have moments where you want nothing more than a full-fledged makeover. Take these moments as positive opportunities to make exciting changes instead of dwelling on the negative aspects. And, enjoy the next chapter that awaits you after these changes do happen.
I hope these lessons helped you all to learn something about yourself today. And remember that a classroom education is of course invaluable as well. You need lessons inside and outside the classroom to truly understand how you want to live your life.
Have you learned any valuable lessons outside the classroom?
List yours off below. I would love to read them!