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8 Life Lessons You Should Learn Today

8 Life Lessons You Should Learn Today

    You grasp many life lessons only after making a mistake and realizing, “Oh crap. I wish I’d done something very different.” For some lessons, that’s not that big of a deal. In other areas, you’d be a lot better off if you could get started working to counteract the problem before it happens.

    Here are eight of these life lessons you should consider addressing now, while you don’t need to:

    1. Cut your living expenses – dramatically.

    If you’re in the US, there are so many material goods so readily available it’s easy to get caught up in accumulating as much stuff as you can. As long as your income is rising, that can be manageable in the short-term. Sooner or later though, there’s a very real possibility you’re income won’t be rising for at least some period of time.You then have to make quick (potentially painful) decisions about what in your lifestyle gets cut to avoid accumulating debt.

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    Far better (although maybe not easier) to pare back elements of your lifestyle well before you need to do so. Not only does it curb potentially over-ambitious expectations for you (and your family) about what is “necessary” to be happy and fulfilled, every dollar of expense you eliminate is a dollar to be saved or invested for the proverbial “rainy day.”

    2. Ask for help from your professional and personal networks.

    It’s one thing to build a network and accumulate hundreds of contacts on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere online, plus those which exist in real life. But having a name and skeletal contact information in an online list isn’t really an active network. A functioning network comes from knowing you can reach out to people for help and they’ll actually recognize you and respond. It also means first doing your part to benefit those within your network.

    So before you find yourself out of a job or in some type of jam where you need help RIGHT AWAY, get active with individuals in your network sharing ideas, offering help, and asking for their assistance in areas which aren’t critical. Getting a comfortable and regular dialogue going with specific people will make it much easier to make the “big ask” when you’re in a real pinch.

    3. Seek out a career change.

    The last few years have obviously seen a tremendous amount of uproar and change in the career prospects of millions. Jobs which seemed secure (in part because particular employers and industries appeared secure) have turned out not to be. With so many uprooted at once in tremendously challenging economic times, finding that next job has taken much longer. That’s why it has been important (and will likely remain so) to anticipate what your first steps will be if you’re suddenly out of work.

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    When you don’t really need to, create a plan B (and maybe even a plan C) and work multiple options so if a potential career derailment strikes you, you’re able to transition as seamlessly as possible to your next best alternative. Sure this means more work and effort, but better to be prepared ahead of time than thrown into a life crunch with no realistic preparation to exploit.

    4. Hone your selling skills.

    Many people not in sales jobs have the mistaken belief they aren’t salespeople. In reality, if you work, live, or interact with others in any way (that should include everybody reading this) then you are certainly trying to convince people to adopt your point of view. That means you’re a salesperson.

    The implication is you’ll benefit from doing some reading and practicing selling skills right now. Doing so will help you improve at understanding others’ points of view, identifying what needs and benefits are important to them, and being able to anticipate and respond to objections they pose. Plus, if you ever find yourself needing to more actively sell (i.e., you want or have to start your own business), you’ll be so much further along in achieving sales success.

    5. Get smarter.

    Do you hear that popping sound? That’s your knowledge about whatever it is you do evaporating as new technology, new practices, new marketplace realities, or any of a thousand other things render your knowledge ineffective or downright incorrect. What do you do? Make an active and very concerted effort to continue learning during and after you are in school. Social media both makes ongoing learning easier (through ready access to experts and information you’d never have been able to reach before) and harder (since many “experts” have no clue what they’re talking about).

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    As a result, use every means you can to not only stay current on what you’re doing right now, but also try to anticipate what you may be doing in the future to get a head start on learning in newer areas. Pay particular attention to techniques on how to learn more effectively and faster, which apply across multiple fields of study. Far better to have a familiar command of a new discipline than learning from scratch in an accelerated time frame.

    6. Exercise.

    I always hated exercising, so I never did any in my 20s and most of my 30s. My resistance was bolstered by the fact my weight was manageable, although my waist size slowly increased by 6 inches in the years after getting married. When my wife finally got me to work out and then signed me up with a trainer, the initial physical assessment showed I was out of shape and had about 25 pounds to lose.

    Slowly but surely over the course of a couple of years, I lost all the weight and dramatically reduced my body fat percentage. Only problem? There are areas (such as “love handles”) that show no signs of going away no matter how well I eat and work out. If I’d been exercising all the way through, I’d have been in a lot better shape, controlled some of those problem areas, and had much less of a hurdle once I started exercising way too late.

    7. Pray.

    Don’t you hate when you only hear from someone when they need something? Me too. And we’re not the only ones either. When things are going well, take a little time to work on your spirituality, irrespective of what or wherever you choose to do it. Getting in touch with something bigger than you even if it only lies within yourself always helps put things in the proper perspective. And understanding the consolation spirituality provides when everything’s going your way allows you to understand the kind of spiritual second wind that can be yours when nothing’s going as you planned.

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    8. Be humble.

    When things are booming, you’re not typically thinking about what life might be like when your situation isn’t going as well. That can lead to overlooking others who are important contributors to your success, especially if they tend to stay in the background and embrace a servant leadership approach to how they conduct themselves. The irony is that at those times when things are going super for you, you’re best served by noticing the “little people” and adopting some of their orientation to humble service. Doing this will reduce the number of people who will be rubbed the wrong way by you reveling in your success. It will also ensure you’ll have many more friends should your fortunes turn because you’ll be supported by others who care about you and not what you’re accomplishing.

    Summary

    My advice? Select at least a few of these areas to begin addressing right now. Which ones to select? That’s up to you based on what’s going to be most important to you when things aren’t going like you hoped!

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    Last Updated on February 25, 2020

    5 Rules for Overcoming Adversity and Emotional Pain

    5 Rules for Overcoming Adversity and Emotional Pain

    “Some people choose to see the ugliness in this world, the disarray. I choose to see the beauty. To believe there is an order to our days. A purpose.” – from the popular show, “Westworld”

    It’s different for us all. My personal quest for purpose began with five stages of grief and one startling realization that everything’s endlessly fragile. Adversity, as it happens by rule, found me terribly unprepared, so I decided to take my time. Today, I can honestly say that I’ve grown.

    Ugliness and beauty, good and evil, pain and laughter – everything in the universe consists of two forces that are opposing but complementary. In the face of difficulty, that is the only mantra you need.

    Here’s how I learned it and why you should too, with five simple rules.

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    1. Embrace the Complexity

    Quite insidiously, adversities come in all shapes and sizes. Paralyzing physical disabilities, mind-wracking mental problems, ruthless emotional havocs, all leading to the same painful acknowledgement: all the beauty in the world cannot possibly make up for the ugliness that surrounds us. Shattered to pieces, helpless and bare naked, we sit in our therapy chairs, apologizing for being so negative.

    Eventually, what it all comes down to is the nature of negative emotion. Our positives overshadow our negatives, thus wrongly teaching us that the road to well-being is paved with nothing but positive feelings and thoughts. How utterly wrong!

    “If you’re not failing every now and then, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything innovative”, Woody Allen said.

    It’s a classic “learn from your mistakes” rule, but in this case, it implies growing from negative experiences. Make peace with your negativities and embrace beauty and ugliness alike! Accepting this marvellously complex world just as it is will allow you to find purpose in adversity and meaning in misery.

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    2. Find Balance, Regain Control

    Still, accepting adversity is only the first step toward eventual victory. One can endure only so much trauma in life; if we’re not prepared to deal with difficulties in a productive way, even the minor setbacks can get us off track. Our strengths come from learning, and the best way to learn is through a series of trials and errors. Just like phases of grief or stages of drug addiction, adversities suggest a disabling loss of control, so find your way to regain it.

    Some call it the coping mechanism; for others, it’s a spiritual will. However you choose to name yours, know that not all supporting systems are equally beneficial, though each is effective in its own way. Escapism was mine, but it only helped me retain the illusion of beauty. It wasn’t until I opened up toward the ugliness and accepted the naked truth that I was finally free. Whether you choose to dwell in art, religion and spiritualism, thus feeding your resilience from within or to reach out to others for help, choose wisely.

    Whatever the means, the second rule is a golden one: find your inner balance and stick to it. Eventually, it will lead you out of the vicious circle.

    3. Fight with Patience

    My bargaining turned in depression with a single touch. Fearless and free, my dance instructor timidly put her hands on my shoulders and I realized, for the first time, just how tense, stiff and cloistered I was. And just like that, I started letting go. Adversities have their sneaky ways, but in my experience, becoming aware is what hurts the worst. It took me a year to recover from this little moment of self-discovery, and I know remember it as the edge of the rabbit hole.

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    Some sufferings are impossible to console; I know that now. The only way to get through is to, well, get through. Depression and despair are only the beginning of the excruciatingly unnerving process that ravages the mind and shrivels the soul, and once they strike, there is no easy way back. So, fight them with patience. When your head starts spinning and your feet lose ground, go to your happy place. Over there, you’ll be reminded that nothing is forever, not even our little existential psychosis.

    Take a deep breath and say “om”. When things cannot be combated, they have to be endured, so practice patience and learn to let go. Finally, keep repeating to yourself that this too shall pass.

    4. Keep Swimming

    Nothing is impossible, in the end. Your negative thoughts will gently pour into your positive ones, just as two streams come together to become a river. In the event of the inevitable disaster, one can only be as calm as still water. Suffering teaches patience, and the latter gives rise to flexibility. Ultimately, what is life than a series of unfortunate events and a handful of bright moments in between? If adversities are impossible to avoid, than learn to glide through as smoothly and patiently as water does with rocks.

    Even if spirituality isn’t exactly your cup of tea, you have to admit that this is one solid metaphor. Staying adaptable in the face of change will soothe your panic attacks and keep you sane and sober-blooded. Even if you fail, you’ll know exactly how to breathe and face what’s in front of you once it eventually strikes again. Stay calm and visualize a better tomorrow; if anything else, it will give you strength to dive deep and weather the storm. And, in case there’s somebody’s hand to reach out to, grab it firmly and don’t let go.

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    Being flexible against adversities takes a lot of learning, just as staying brave demands a lot of courage. It’s a long, arduous step-by-step routine, and you can reach the end only by swimming on. Persist, even when you fall.

    5. Never Stop Searching for Inspiration

    And, if it’s a guidance you need, where else to seek it than in experiences of others? Find it in art, in people around you, in chance encounters. The pure beauty of perseverance can be discovered where you expect it the least, so never stop searching for inspiration. If self-help literature soothes your pains and clears your mind, don’t let cynics discourage you. Your path toward reconciliation is nobody’s but yours to choose.

    Ever heard of Nick Vujicic? Or Nando Parado? Inspiring people sound their yawps over the roofs of the world, sometimes voiceless, sometimes limbless, sometimes both. Born without arms, Jessica Cox became the most unusual certified pilot in the world, and you can rarely see her without a smile on her face. If you’ve already ripped all of your bucket lists and said goodbye to your dreams and plans, meet Sean Swarner, who’s officially became the first cancer survivor to climb Mount Everest. The stories just go on.

    Make your own guidebook! Pen down your positive thoughts, cover your walls with quotes and devise your personal mantras. Whenever things get hard, they’ll be there to remind you of what you need to do. It’s the simplest of all life hacks, and one of the most effective ones.

    Find beauty in the world, but never stay blind for its ugliness. However daunting, adversities and emotional pain challenge our inner strength, thus making us resilient and allowing us to grow. As soon as you recognize them as the wind in your sails instead of the devastating storm, the purpose will become simple and clear.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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