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Life Truths: 17 Universal Truths We All Share

Written by Mandy Kloppers
Mandy is a Psychologist/CBT therapist who believes getting through life is easier with a robust sense of humour.
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There are universal life truths that apply to all of us. In many ways, we are all ‘in this’ together and we have many similarities, or common life truths, that affect everyone in some form or another. Despite religious, cultural and geographical differences, there are many commonalities that we can all embrace. We often feel we are the only ones going through struggles and tough times. Shared experiences allow us to feel more connected, less alone and isolated in what we are going through, even if we aren’t physically sharing them together. Hopefully this list of universal life truths will help you to realize you are not alone.

1. Parents and upbringing

A life truth that applies to us all is the way your parents treated you. From the moment you’re born, the way your parents treat you affects you for your whole life. Your attachment style in adult relationships is shaped by whether your parents consistently met your needs or not as a child. Three attachment types exist: secure, anxious-ambivalent and anxious-avoidant. If your parents consistently attended to your needs you will more than likely have a “secure attachment.”

2. Stress

Stress is an inevitable part of life and a common universal life truth. Stress can represent different things to different people, but no one escapes it. Traffic jams, taxes, bereavement, divorce, rejection, and lack of control in our lives are just a few of the catalysts for stress. Thankfully there are ways to alleviate stress from meditation and massage, to exercise and self-soothing techniques. Identify the main triggers of stress in your life and develop an action plan to deal with them more effectively.

3. Born equal, leave equal

One of the fundamental life truths that we all have to go through is arriving on this planet and leaving it one day. Perhaps life works this way to teach us all to make the most of each day and to be less fearful of what life presents us with. The end result is the same so it makes sense to be adventurous and extract the essence of life out of every experience. Say what you mean and let others know that you care. There’s no time like the present to do all those things you’ve been putting off. We are all born with nothing and we leave with nothing. There’s nothing like that concept to help keep perspective on material goods.

4. We all want love and acceptance

No matter who you are or where you are, love is a feeling that we all want to experience. Feeling loved validates us and helps us to feel important. Whenever you don’t understand someone or feel detached from them, remind yourself that they too, just like you, want to be loved and accepted. I have never met anyone who disagrees with this life truth.

5. Happiness is a fleeting feeling

There is a common misconception that happiness is a consistent state of being. A feeling or emotion that lasts for hours on end. The truth is that happiness is a fleeting emotion. It appears, sometimes we acknowledge its presence, and then it disappears. The last time I felt this brief burst of joy was when I danced around my bedroom to one of my favorite songs. I remember thinking, “I feel very happy right now.”


6. We all experience intrusive thoughts

For some of us, an intrusive thought might be that we need to tap on the table ten times before leaving the house. For others it might be that we fear shouting out something inappropriate in public. Take comfort in knowing that we all have these types of thoughts. It’s normal. Thankfully, many of us do not act out these intrusive thoughts (that could get interesting) and carry on with the rest of our day.

7. Society conditions us

It is in the interests of large societies to have people that follow the rules and do as they are told. Chaos would reign if this didn’t happen. This life truth is found throughout the world. Being aware of this conditioning helps to challenge the status quo and to encourage critical thinking. Despite rules and protocol, we can still be individuals and assert our unique differences. We don’t always have to follow the crowd. Take pride in your differences and think for yourself.

8. Toxic, nasty people are projecting their inner misery

When you know this, you need never take an insult to heart again. Judgmental, mean people who criticize and spread negative energy do this from the overflow of negativity that they have within them. You don’t often see a happy, contented person spewing sarcasm and ‘venom.’ It’s the unhappy people in the world who project nastiness onto others. They are giving you a ‘taster’ of how they consistently experience the world around them. Feel glad that your inner world is healthier and more balanced than theirs.

9. Money doesn’t automatically bring happiness

I think most people ‘get’ this or at least, they think they ‘get’ it. Money definitely does offer freedom and choice, but it cannot make others love you or help you feel happy about yourself and your life, especially if your attitude isn’t right. It does not offer meaning and purpose to life and can sometimes cause more problems than it solves. Those who lack money see it as the savior, but this is short-sighted. Money is useful, but there is a cut off point.

10. Someone close to you will let you down

Sadly, disappointment is an intrinsic part of life. Yep, another life truth for us all! We start out in life with great hopes and aspirations and as we get older we learn a few hard life lessons. One of them is being let down by someone you trust. This inevitably happens at least once in everyone’s life. It could be that a loved one or a close friend has disappointed you in some way. Try not to take it personally. It happens to the best of us. See it as a ‘rite of passage’ into emotional maturity.

11. Thoughts can create heaven or hell under the exact same circumstances

It really is mind over matter. Two people can experience the exact same negative event, yet one person will somehow manage to get through it without falling apart. What is it exactly that allows one person to be stronger? There are a few variables involved here but one of the main contributors is your thinking. Look for solutions and don’t wallow in the possible negative outcomes. Do what needs to be done and only pay attention to useful, positive thoughts.


12. We do not experience reality directly

No one experiences reality directly. We all experience reality through our perceptual filters. We assign meaning to our experiences as they happen, and the meanings we give to our experiences are influenced by our attitudes and past experiences. It therefore pays to remember that the way we see a situation—or when we assume something about someone else—we are doing this according to our perceptions of the event, not the actual event itself.

13. Congruency adds to contentment and peace of mind

When your ideal self (the image you show to others) and your actual self (the real vulnerable you) are congruent, amazing things occur. When your ideal self and actual self match and are the same, contentment and peace of mind are attainable. This is because you feel ‘at one’ and show the world your true essential self. You can help yourself towards inner and outer congruency by sticking to your goals and values, even in the face of opposition. Never change yourself to please others.

14. True fulfillment comes from thinking beyond yourself

Meaning and purpose are heightened by helping others and by looking at life beyond your own needs and desires. Helping others without seeking validation for yourself is a priceless way to add value to others’ lives and make a difference. The emotional rewards are immense.

15. Change and uncertainty = certain, guaranteed elements of life

We may as well accept that we cannot control our lives 100% of the time. It is the wise person who finds ways to manage uncertainty rather than resisting it, and it all comes down to attitude. See change as a way to grow and learn. A compulsory life lesson in figuring out what you’re made of. Instead of being frightened at the idea of change and uncertainty, embrace it. I squirm at the thought of change and future uncertainty, yet I know I am much wiser and more adaptable now compared to when I was younger, and that is directly related to experiencing change and learning from it.

16. Ignorant parenting causes a lot of trouble in the world

This may seem a controversial statement, but many parents do not seem to realize how vital their influence is on bringing up a stable, grounded child. I can usually tell from observing a parent how their children will turn out. When parents take their frustrations out on their children, constantly criticize their kids, or when the love they give is conditional upon achievements, their children grow up to be insecure adults who never feel good enough unless they are achieving. Constant criticism leads to insecure adults with low self-esteem. If parents were more aware of how to interact with their children so as not to cause emotional damage, I believe we would have a more stable society with less crime and dysfunction.

17. The right one for you isn’t necessarily the one you think

Now, onto the subject of love. Many of us have an ideal image of what type of partner we would like. Good looking, funny, tall, clever, and so on. We nurture this imaginary person in our minds and this can lead to rejecting possible partners that might be ideal for us. Internet dating has intensified this issue and almost made dating another commoditised enterprise. Be open-minded about the type of person whom you may consider ideal. The ideal person who would make you happy and love you in the ways you want might just be right under your nose.


The more people I meet, the more I realize how many fears, experiences and emotions we share. Life is so busy that we often don’t have time to connect with one another about the above universal life truths. Sometimes it feels good to stop for a while and think about the millions of others who may be feeling exactly the same as you at this moment in time. It suddenly feels a lot less lonely as we connect with the ephemeral ‘other.’ Right now, somewhere on our planet someone is feeling exactly the same as you…whether that be sad, happy, scared, lonely, rejected, excited or jubilant. Without knowing it, many of us are leading parallel lives. You are never alone, even when it feels as if you are.

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