You want to live happily.
But what does happiness mean to you?
Having an extremely profitable business, a big beautiful house, lots of money in the bank, become famous, travel around the world with no worries…?
The list goes on and on.
But let’s dig deeper. What would you do if you only have 1 more day left to live?
Are you going to work to build your business, go outside and watch your beautiful house, check your bank balance or go to a famous wonder of the world?
If you are not doing those things, why do you think they mean happiness to you?
Let’s try again. What would you do if you only have 1 more day left to live?
Are you going to spend time with your family, your loved ones, tell them how much you love and appreciate them, ask for their forgiveness for your mistakes and wish you could have done all of these sooner?
We ultimately want to live a happy life. But our life goal was soon replaced by other short-term goals, which, indeed, went the opposite way to your happiness.
Because of the physical comfort they bring to us, we mistakenly confuse them with happiness.
Here are 10 lessons that many people did not learn until they have lost everything, including their lives, their health and wealth.
1. Family comes first
Obviously, the people who we want to be around us when we are laying on our deathbed are our families who we love the most and we know they love us the most.
But we often take them for granted and do not appreciate them. Why? Because our families are always there for us. They are the people who truly love us because of who we are, not how much money we make or what we have done.
Take this lesson from a dying person and start appreciating your families and the unconditional love they give you.
2. Work for a living, not living for a work
If you love your job and work for the sake of joy, you are lucky. Most people aren’t. We work to earn money, pay the mortgage and put food on the table.
The increasingly high demand and work pressure make people stay late for work, bring work home or work on the weekend. We all need to do that. But let’s slow down and think about the trade-off between work-life. Sometimes we get so caught up in work that we forget our ultimate goals and forget to prioritize what really matters to you.
Many people break their marriages, never see their parents and do not spend time with their children because of their jobs. Don’t let it happen to you. Take control of your work-life balance.
3. Money cannot buy happiness
When you are young, healthy and have your whole long life waiting for you, you think money means everything. Money surely cannot buy happiness, but it can buy many other alternatives. A big house, fancy cars, and luxurious vacations.
Yes, money can buy you many things and bring you comfort. But those things never represent happiness.
Happiness is a state of mind and emotion. It has no attachment to any certain object and therefore be independent of physical things in your life.
The comfort you receive is a physical feeling. It is a satisfaction when your desires are met. This satisfaction reduces over time when you enjoy the same comfort you receive from a certain thing.
Don’t fall into this loop. Money is not happiness. Find your real happiness.
4. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes
You don’t want to make mistakes. You don’t want to look stupid in front of others. So you decide to not give any opinion, not do anything you are not 100% sure of. You play it safe. You only chose to do things that guarantee 100% chance of success.
But, what is it in life if you don’t have any vulnerability?
If you are scared of getting out of your comfort zone, you will never know what you can do. If you never reach beyond your limits, you will never discover new ability and learn new things.
Playing safe all the time can make you feel secure, but it doesn’t give you joy. Do you feel victorious after brushing your teeth, which is something you are 100% sure you can nail it?
Mistakes and failures are what make success feel good. We only live once, make sure you have tasted all the flavors.
5. You cannot change anyone but yourself
You might think or realize you have a better life than some people. And you have a good reason why.
You work harder, you eat healthier, you exercise often, you are not addicted to anything.
They, on the other hand, don’t dedicate themselves to a job, never show concern about their health and they are addicted to alcohol or cigarette.
You are itching when you see what they are doing with their lives. You want to help them, so you talk the sense out of them, trying to change their thoughts and behaviors.
You think you are helping them. But what do they think?
They see you are controlling them, attacking their vulnerable spots. They will run away or fight back.
Remember, the only person you can change is yourself. Doesn’t matter how much you love other people and try to help them, you don’t have control over their lives and you cannot make them live the lives you please.
6. Your health is your most valuable asset
Your health is an invaluable asset, a gift, a blessing. A good health makes it easier for you to reach your goal, achieve your dream and enjoy your life to the fullest.
Unfortunately, good health is often wasted when we are young. We don’t appreciate our health until we lose it.
Take a good care of yourself now, nurture your body and protect your health. Don’t be one of the people who always say: “I wish I would have taken a better care of myself”.
7. Be willing to build relationship, but don’t uphold the toxic ones
You meet a lot of people in your life, but you will not encounter into any form of relationship with most of them.
You might be one of the people who are not into commitment, you still want to enjoy your life with no boundaries and no responsibility. Or you had a bad experience with a relationship before and now you are trying to not get hurt again.
But protecting yourself from getting hurt also means loneliness. You would not find comfort from anyone until you open your heart to them. What is good with life if you cannot share it with anyone else?
Building relationship is hard. But letting go the toxic ones is even harder.
Some people you consider friends could easily walk over you, treat you like a doormat, replace you if they have better things to do, talk to you like they are giving you a favor.
Don’t let it happen. Don’t be ok to be the last person they call when they feel lonely. Doesn’t matter who they are or how long you have known each other, let it go. Life is too short to waste your time for people who don’t treasure you.
8. Love yourself
We tend to seek validation from others, try to please everyone and avoid conflicts at all cost. It is natural that we all want to be liked, respected and appreciated. But not at the expense of your true self.
We always lose ourselves in the effort to become the person everyone loves.
This strategy works perfectly until we realize that we don’t love ourselves. We don’t even like the person we tried so hard to become. And we start to question our worth.
This has to end.
Being people’s favorite doesn’t make you happy. If you want to be happy, you have to become your own favorite. You have to let go the urge to please everyone and start living your life for your own sake.
9. It is never too late to start
You might have a dream of the person you wanted to become since you were a kid. But that dream was soon replaced by your daily realistic routine. You might even forget you used to have one. Or you constantly tell yourself “I would pursue my dream only after I achieve that goal, after my children graduate and have a good career”.
Before you even realize, you are past 40, or 50, or retired.
And you thought “it is too late now”.
But it isn’t.
It is never too late to start. Stan Lee created The Fantastic Four when he was 39. Julia Child wrote her first cookbook at 50, Harry Bernstein had his first hit at the age of 96.
Whatever your dream is, today is the perfect day to start building it.
10. Be brave and follow your heart
Sometimes you might face situations when everyone tells you to go left, but your gut tells you to go right. If you play it safe, you will go left to please others, so if you fail, you have a perfect excuse to tell yourself “They told me to go left”.
But deep down, you know you could have done it differently if only you followed your heart.
Your life is in your hand. No one knows which is the best for you, except yourself. And they do not have any responsibility for your life. You are the captain of your life, so you make the decision.
It takes great courage to be yourself, to be brave and listen to your heart. But you will never feel regret for not trying.
We don’t really learn these lessons until we’ve actually been through them
It is hard sometimes for us to listen to old men’s wisdom. Because we all have different situations, different opinions, and different perspectives. And we often learn these lessons the hard way.
Learning and living are always work in progress. No one can say they have figured it out.
Just follow your heart. Do things that feel right. Be kind to others and to yourself and treasure all the people in your life.
Before you go
I believe we can create our own happiness. I help overwhelmed and frustrated people to ditch their stress and enjoy their lives again. Grab your free actionable cheatsheet: 5 Simple Tips to Release Stress and Bring You Calm in Under 5 Minutes and join my free 7 Joyful Days Challenge email course.