21 Life Lessons Learned Hard

There are a few life lessons people I have encountered that have taught me. Some have been slightly humorous and others profoundly sad, but all incredibly helpful in the long run. I want to post them mainly because they’ve been beneficial to me when I picked myself up out of the dirt and it increases the chances I won’t forget them.

1. Actions always speak louder than words (and more clearly).

This lesson, I’m not sure why it took me so long to realize. I guess it’s one of those you have to experience to learn. People easily say anything, but have a harder time disguising their behavior. If someone genuinely cares about you, it is evident in their actions and how they treated you and reinforced with words.

2. 90% of the time it isn’t worth the fight.

I can be a feisty cat when I want to be and can fight with the best of them (literally and metaphorically). The thing is, most of the conflicts you encounter are little things. The fundamental lesson has been one of the hardest for me to learn. Pick and choose your battles. It’s hard to know when it will cause more damage to fight or just to let it go. But when in doubt, just let it go.

3. Revenge is not ours to seek

This one is purely opinion and boils down to faith. I am a firm believer in what goes around comes around. You get what you give. You reap what you sow. Karma will kick you in the ass, etc., and as such do not believe that revenge is of any use. I have faith that the universe/God will see to any wrongdoings. Hate is a perversion of justice.

4. Too much anger too often poisons your soul

I’ve gone through some turbulent periods in my life and can’t say now with any certainty that rage has been useful beyond alerting me to the fact that I’m being mistreated. I used to use my anger as a “beware” sign for other people. I used it to affect others, as a form of punishment. To “show them.” Well, then I got over myself and realized most people don’t care if I’m mad at them. Most of the time I was the only one punished or shown. It’s taken time for me to learn to use anger as a tool kind of like a compass.

5. The person you most want to recognize your value usually doesn’t, and the person you least expect to understand it often does

I can’t begin to go over how so much of my life has been for other people. Skills I have now, traits, even appearances have been built and molded for other people (mainly whoever was important in my life at that time). I spend/spent so much time building myself up as what I thought someone would like and approve of. My thought process usually runs along the lines of whether or not a particular skill or whatever would make me more appealing, which is not always a bad thing. In a nutshell: the person you’re trying to impress won’t notice or care a majority of the time, so do and learn things for the right person: you.

6. Changing for someone else is a good thing!

This is a dicey subject. I believe changing (for the better) for someone you love is not wrong, but the greatest gift you can give someone. We all have an individual identity that serves as a primary guide in the ocean of life. If someone inspires you to be a better version of yourself, go for it!

7. Living for someone else is one of the noblest things you can do

In a society that is individually centered most people scoff at this lesson. I, however, have great respect and admiration for someone who can look beyond themselves and place another human being before them. This doesn’t work if you’re going to be bitter about it. You have to want to live for this other person/people truly. Mothers come by this skill easily; people of religion (priest, nuns, etc.) regard it as a calling. Doesn’t matter what form it comes in, living for someone other than you is a great, great thing.

8. Love usually means sacrifice

Loving someone else almost always means sacrifice, which in its original Greek means to make sacred. You give up bad habits for the person you love. We endure pesky friends and relatives for this person and look beyond their annoying habits. We’ll go out of our way to ensure the other person’s happiness, even if it is at the cost of your own.

9. True love does not seek reward but is a reward itself.

This in its purest form is about intention. True love isn’t self-seeking, in fact in a strange irony it isn’t about you at all. It’s about the other person. Why you love them, what you’d do for them. If you “love” for a car or an allowance you will be an empty shell. Love at its purest is all consuming and fulfilling.

10. No one is inherently good or evil.

All of us have a capacity for great good or great evil. I don’t believe good or evil is an external issue, but an internal choice. There is darkness in everybody, and some people walk a more delicate line than others.

11. People you most expect to be there for you can and will let you down while salvation can come from the most unlikely source.

I try to be there for the people I love. All the time. The peskiness of humanity won’t let that happen though. Luckily love isn’t a word I throw around, so my list of people I love is short. However, I know that I am just one person against the many in these peoples’ lives and try to remember that when I am occasionally let down. It stings, but you move on. Amazingly, people I’ve never thought would come to my aid had moved in to help me when I needed it.

12. Redemption is a hard, ongoing, and never-ending process.

I admit it, I was a bully. I was a mean-spirited kid. If there were someone weaker or different than me, I would usually be the ringleader of teasing. I looked down on people without reserve and without knowing them. I’m ashamed of that now and make it a focus of mine to atone for it. Sometimes I take crap off some people because I partly feel like I’m being punished for how I was. I go out of my way now to be good and kind to everybody. It’s hard, and sometimes I slip, but that’s okay; there’s always tomorrow.

13. Religion is a personal journey, and that’s okay

People who know me well know I’m very skeptical of organized religion. For me, religion is something just too personal to share with other people. Everyone has their own definition of religion and what is right and what is wrong. In organized instances, I feel compelled to compare my spiritual progress with Joe and Mary two pews in front of me and how I add up compared to the rest of the congregation. For me, that is detrimental to what religion is. Organized religion though can be good for some people. It provides guidance and direction and company for those who feel they need it on their spiritual journey. There’s nothing wrong with needing it just like there’s nothing wrong with not needing it.

14. Our actions have repercussions beyond our vision and comprehension

As humans, we aren’t divine (obviously) and as such, we can’t see down the road, so we usually don’t try. In our scope of vision, our actions affect us and us alone. That just isn’t the case in my opinion. If we take the time to look beyond our own windows, we can see how our actions affect not only us, but the people and the world around us. We’re small creatures compared to the whole world, so it is difficult to imagine having an impact. We do make an impact, and sometimes it is more than we’ll ever know.

15. Nothing happens by accident or coincidence

I don’t believe in coincidence. I believe everything happens for a reason. Yes, I believe in fate and destiny. But I don’t believe in absolutes. Everything that happens to us I believe is 50% our own making (via the law of return, etc.) and 50% part of a grand plan. Everything I’ve experienced, everything I am has prepared me for who I’m going to be and where I’m going. The people who have come into my life have all been for a reason (especially the ones who have hurt me) I believe our destination has already been chosen, it is just how we get there that varies.

16. Laughter is like a soul colonic

I love to laugh. I especially love to laugh so hard my ribs hurt, and I can’t breathe. And I always feel better after laughing. You won’t ever find me with someone who isn’t funny. You can rest assured that if I’m friends with someone, they are funny.

17. Life is way too short to choose to be miserable

What I think is pretty self-explanatory.

18. People can suck

Man, can people suck. I run into people on a daily basis that are miserable and go out of their way to make me miserable too. I used to feel a great big swell of anger with a dose of hate for these people. Now, I only feel pity and do all in my power to either go the opposite direction or ignore it and return their bitterness with a big smile.

19. Hate is a useless emotion

There is nothing constructive about hate. It destroys and manipulates everything it encounters. But, I think it is as misunderstood and misused/overused as love is. Hate is Love’s evil twin and its kryptonite. The only thing I know that can destroy love is hate. On the flip side, Love can destroy hate, probably easier. Many people think Hate is the opposite of love, and on the surface, it looks like it. But the opposite of love is indifference. Hate is a perversion of love; you have some mutated version of love for someone or something if you care enough to hate it.

20. Forgiveness and compassion go hand in hand

You can’t have forgiveness without compassion. No way, no how. It takes a powerful and compassionate person to forgive. And it takes strength to have compassion. It irks me how a lot of people equate forgiveness and compassion with weakness. It takes a bigger and better person to forgive than to hold on and succumb to pettiness. And forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting. A person will always remember a wrong, but to forgive is to accept it and let it go. Some people are concerned with whether or not someone deserves forgiveness, (it usually ranks pretty low on the scale of what someone who wrongs us deserves) but we forgive not because someone deserves it, far from it, we forgive someone because they need it. And we need it too. If we’re holding on to anger and hostility; it’s poisoning our souls. Compassion and forgiveness are bright rays of light that cut through the darkness in our lives.

21. Love has incredible redemptive power

Love is an incredibly powerful thing. It is just amazing what the power of love can do. Pure love and intention can melt the coldest of hearts, brighten the darkest tunnel, and redeem the unredeemable. No one is incapable of love just like no one is undeserving of it. Love‘s power to redeem is most fascinating to me. Christ’s love is one example of this. According to Christianity, because of Christ’s love and sacrifice people are redeemed for their sins. I think there’s a Christ-like power in love from a friend or partner or family. They love you in spite of your sins and your foibles, which is forgiveness in a sense because you have to love to forgive. Soon, you begin seeing your self through the other person’s eyes, and it is wonderful.

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