“Old age is like everything else. To make a success of it, you have got to start young.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Old age makes one reflect on the life they have lived and ponder whether they made the most of it or not. While some feel a sense of contentment looking back on the years past others are consumed with regret.
What are the realizations that mostly dawn on us by the time it is too late?
17 Lessons People Learn too Late in Life
We have compiled a list of 17 lessons that should be learned sooner than later.
- Shame is a wasted emotion. Fear of embarrassment keeps you from going after the things you want. Learn to be unafraid of failure and banish shame from your life. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. It doesn’t matter how many times you fall what matters is that you get up each time.
- Confidence is your armor. Confidence is not an option but a necessity to survive and thrive. Now that doesn’t mean each and every one of us should be an incredible orator unperturbed in front of huge crowds. But confidence in yourself and your abilities is crucial. Nothing hampers progress like self-doubt and self-effacement. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinions, stand by your values and fight for what you believe in.
- Don’t waste your time worrying about what others think. Because truth be told people are not thinking about you that often anyway. Don’t talk yourself out of plans or set aside ideas because you are afraid of being criticized. Not everyone is going to like what you do, and that is perfectly alright. Filter the negativity from the criticism you receive and focus on the aspects that could help you improve.
- Nothing lasts forever. Even the most difficult times will come to pass. So keep your chin up and keep moving forward. Don’t confuse your current problems as your permanent circumstances because change is inevitable. Things do get better as time passes so don’t be too fixated on the present situation.
- Do what you love. Stan Lee was a keynote speaker at UCLA in 2017. He delivered the following message as he sat leg-crossed in his chair addressing an audience full of college graduates: “If you have an idea that you genuinely think is good; don’t let some idiot talk you out of it”.
When you are nearing the end of your life you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than the ones you did. So go after what you love and what inspires joy in you.
- Happiness is a choice. Life is beautiful. But to find the beauty you have to look first. Happiness is not dependant on external factors but it is an active choice that we make. Appreciate the simple pleasures in life and practice gratitude. When your story finally comes to a close, you will be surprised to feel a yearning for the little things.
- Your emotions take practice. Don’t let your emotions control you and dictate your actions. The emotions you feel coursing through your body are a product of years of conditioned thinking. Analyze your feelings before reacting to them. Years from now you will regret the relationships lost because you reacted in the heat of the moment.
- Life is your responsibility. You are solely responsible for where you end up in life. Yes, there are events outside our sphere of control. But it is the response we choose and our attitudes towards external stimuli that determines the course of our lives. Let go of the blame game as soon as you can and try to make the most of whatever you have.
- The journey is the goal. The struggle you go through to achieve your dreams is worth a lot more than the end prize. The journey molds your personality for the better. It teaches you lessons that you would not have learned if life was always a bed of roses. Appreciate your hike to the top more than the fleeting euphoria of success.
- It is better to forgive. Eva Kor a holocaust survivor who suffered extreme brutality at the hands of the Nazis made the surprising decision to forgive the perpetrators who caused her unbearable pain. She died in 2019 but left this beautiful message for the world:
“Who decided that I as a victim must be, for the rest of my life, sad, angry, hopeless and helpless? I refuse it. You can never change what happened in the past, all you can do is change how you react to it.”
- Material things do not matter. The time you spend with loved ones is more precious than any material possessions. Cherish the moments you spend with family and friends. These are the memories that will bring you the most joy.
- There is no perfect decision. We are terrified of taking a wrong step and messing up our plans. The reality is there is no such thing as the perfect decision. Your actions should be in harmony with your values and that is all that should matter. So don’t be afraid to take risks and step out of your comfort zone. The most important thing is that your morals and values are not compromised.
- Life isn’t fair. We should just accept this very early on. This is why we should focus more on the journey and not the end results. We could put in our 100% and still not get what we want. But it is okay because no experience is ever wasted, as long as we keep trying we keep learning and growing.
- Don’t try to change other people. The only person we can change is ourselves. We can choose which people to keep in our life and which people have a negative effect. We should focus on improving ourselves rather than fixing others.
- Treat yourself with love and respect. Your relationship with yourself needs the most work and attention. Often we ignore this very important relationship with the Self and focus more on our relations with others. The way you treat others and the way others treat you largely depends on how you feel about yourself.
- Say what you mean to say. Words have meaning. Respect the words you utter. Don’t make empty promises and leave people hanging. Have the courage to speak up for yourself and others in distress.
- A lifetime is not that long. Don’t put off things for later. Live life as if there is no tomorrow. You will be starring down the end of the road sooner than you realize and it will seem as if your life passed in the blink of an eye. Make most of your life while you still can.