I often wonder, why do people celebrate their birthday?
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against it. The celebration is great and we must do that to make someone feel special.
But what is the purpose?
Maybe to remind someone how special he/she is or to let someone know that his/her birth has made some difference to this world or maybe something else. Perhaps there is no single answer.
What do you think about this? Why a birthday celebration is meaningful to you?
You can also say ‘I don’t celebrate my birthday, my friends celebrate to get a party from me’. That’s also a fair enough answer.
I do also have my own perspective on this. A birthday celebration works like a reminder to me. It reminds how little time is left in my life and fills me with a sense of urgency.
As I become 26 years old today, I look back at my life to extract some lessons life has taught me in my good times and in my bad times. I remember one of Seneca’s quote where he said-
“It is not that we have a short time to live,
but that we waste a lot of it”
You might think, who am I to write about life lessons?
Honestly, I thought about the same a lot. Why should I write about what I learned after living for 25 years?
Everybody goes through different phases in life, everybody has a different story. We all learn numerous lessons as we go through life. In fact, this article is not just written for the reader but also for myself. It’s a template for me to know what I have felt after turning 26.
Ok enough of my rubbish, here are 26 lessons listed below that I felt are worth your time-
1. Personalities are not permanent
What type of person are you? Do you believe you are a born introvert or extrovert?
If you think you are a certain type of person from childhood and will remain like that, then you are wrong. There is nothing like a fixed personality. People change and so is their personality.
I was one of those shy, socially awkward, and geek type of guy in my childhood. Even at my teenage, I was the same. I had to listen a lot from my own family about how pathetic my social skills were.
But today I believe, I am not the same guy anymore. I have improved, my interests have grown. In fact, today I enjoy whether it is to give presentations in front of a packed audience or to talk with strangers.
So if you are thinking you can’t change then you are wrong. Of course, it will take time but eventually, you will.
2. Your beliefs shape you
Ever wondered why do you think in a certain way? Why do you behave in a certain way?
It’s because of your beliefs. What we believe is what we think and what we think is what we do. You follow a certain religion because you believe in that. People have superstitions because they believe in that.
Most often you are not even aware of what do you believe. It’s given to you by your parents, surroundings, and society. But surely you can change your beliefs. So if you know beliefs are so powerful, then believe in abundance, growth, and affluence. It will bring good to you.
3. Don’t compromise too much with yourself
There come some times in life when we feel like compromising with ourselves. Like when we try to please others, when someone criticizes us, when we go through some hurdles we try to over compromise with our original self.
Don’t be that guy. Yes, sometimes a little bit compromise is beneficial, like when you want a fulfilling relationship or when you move to a new place, but don’t do that by sacrificing your self-esteem.
I have been to different places for my education. What I experienced is, sometimes you feel lonely because there could be no one to share your story, finding a trustworthy friend could be challenging.
In such situations, you could sacrifice some of your principles, your values in order to make friends. They might not accept you the way you are. In such situations don’t lose yourself. Be the person who you are. You will find someone loyal, trustworthy sooner or later.
Don’t lose your integrity ever.
4. Passion is overrated
Follow your passion. How many people have advised you this line?
I am sure many. Have you thought what actually passion is?
It’s easy right. Things that makes us joyful and we have a natural inclination towards it are our passion. But is it pre-defined or people develop it?
Until you try something, how will you know you are good at it or not. And if you don’t know whether you are good at something or not, how will you find your passion.
There are many instances in people’s lives where they found it difficult to learn some skill, but with desire, focus, and deliberate practice they mastered it and it became their passion.
Do you think running was Usain Bolt’s passion from childhood? or writing was a passion for J.K Rowling from the beginning?
In the beginning, they just liked it. But even they had to work for years/decades to hone their crafts. Passion is not something people relate to natural calling. I don’t believe in that. Rather it’s more of a self-discovery process.
I never thought until 2018 that I could write blog articles someday. But today I feel like it is one of my passions. I want to write till I am alive. So my suggestion is to try more number of things, learn as many skills as you can.
In the process, you will learn about your likes and dislikes. Then work on things you liked to get better at them. Trust me, someday you won’t even realize and people will tell you ‘you are so lucky, you found your passion’.
5. Value skills, not degrees
When I was in school, I thought getting a college degree would be a great achievement. The highest degree in my family was a Bachelor’s degree. I thought getting a Master’s degree would be a proud moment for me.
Then I got a Master’s degree, but there was no excitement. Later, I have enrolled in a doctoral program but trust me even today I don’t have any extra excitement about the so called highest academic degree Ph.D. But the feeling that I am learning many skills and that wouldn’t be possible had I not enrolled in the Ph.D program makes me feel good.
I often think, why I thought degrees would make me happy?
Perhaps, this is what everybody taught me. Everybody asked questions like
‘Which degree you are pursuing?’ but nobody asked ‘What skills are you learning?’
Perhaps, I thought degrees would give a job. I was wrong. It’s not degrees won’t give you a good job but the problem is it doesn’t guarantee you the skills. Most importantly you will feel bad if someone tells you ‘you have the degree, but don’t have proper skills.
So I urge you to not give much importance to degrees. Hone your skills otherwise, some robots will take your job in the future. In today’s era, having a degree doesn’t guarantee a job but having a skill is.
A few days back I saw somewhere Elon Musk said- ‘In my company, I don’t care if you are a high school graduate or not, if you have skills welcome to my company’. You might think your place is still degree oriented but it won’t be for long.
6. Have an earning hobby
Do you remember during the examination time, most of us used to carry more than one pen in the examination hall.
Why did we carry multiple pens?
Because having a backup option is good. We wanted to be on the safer side. I wonder why we don’t follow the same strategy in life also?
Why do we forget to keep a small back up option in our career?
In today’s time, I think it’s a good idea to have a hobby which has the potential to earn in the future. Do your job sincerely, but keep a hobby which you like and can generate some income in the future.
This way, you will feel safe and perform better in your current job. Remember those friends whose fathers had a big shop or businesses. They were relaxed because they know they had a backup option.
You can do the same for yourself. Even if you are satisfied with your current job, still having an extra monetizable skill is beneficial. At least, you can earn some more money. Just imagine how many people will lose their jobs because of this pandemic. They can save themselves by having some extra skills. No one knows what will happen tomorrow.
7. Read books on diverse subjects
What would be the single line answer of the question
How to become the smartest person in the room?
The answer is- just read more books than everybody else.
Everybody knows the benefits of reading books. So I am not talking anything about that. But I would like to give you a suggestion from my personal experience
Don’t just read books on the same subjects, read about diverse subjects. This will make you more creative and astute. Read books on science, economics, health, history, personal growth, fiction novels, finance, relationships, spiriuality, etc. Just read multiple genre books.
8. Writing is powerful
You must have heard the line ‘The pen is mightier than the sword’.
There is a reason for that line. Writing brings out the soul inside you, which you never knew existed. There are numerous scientific studies which showed how writing leaves a profound positive effect on your life. Now you might say ‘but I don’t like writing’.
C’mon, you have already written so much in your examinations. and you don’t have to become a writer. All you need is to write down your feelings, thoughts on paper, or on the computer. You can just even write bullet points or make mind maps. Whatever you like but I promise, you won’t regret the decision to start writing. But this time for yourself not to pass any examination.
9. Choose your role models wisely
Who is /are your role model? Who inspires you?
The answers to these questions have a deep effect on your life. When you choose someone your role model, your life will be affected by your role model consciously or subconsciously in a positive or negative way.
When you choose someone as your role model, he/she become your benchmark, which means that you have instructed your subconscious mind that you can’t become more than your benchmark.
You must have heard the story of Roger Bannister, the first man to run a mile under four minute. Before him, everyone, including sport researchers thought it is impossible to run a mile under 4 minutes. Had Roger Bannister made some runner his role model, he wouldn’t be able to achieve what everyone thought unachievable.
You try to imitate your role model’s actions even when you are not aware of that. Take inspiration from someone’s life and their legacy but try not to set a benchmark. And even if you want to have role models, choose them wisely.
10. Label your negative emotions
Managing our negative emotions well is key to a successful life. Researchers call it ‘Emotional Intelligence(EQ)’. Your success doesn’t just depend on IQ but also on EQ.
Everyone has to go through the ups and downs of life. I am myself a worrier, an overthinker. Sometimes I worry too much and I feel it’s normal. But thinking about controlling it doesn’t produce anything good.
So what should you do when you are angry, worried, anxious, or sad?
Research have shown that putting a label on your emotions helps you a lot to manage your negative emotions. What does it mean?
It means giving your negative emotions a verbal or written expression. You can write down about your emotion in a paper. Ask yourself-
Why are you feeling worried or sad? What can happen? What can you do to prevent this?
Writing down answers of these or even just talking to someone or to yourself loudly about your emotions helps a lot tone down your emotion.
What basically it does is, it transfers the negative thought from your emotional brain (amygdala) to the rational brain (frontal lobe), so you get a chance to think more logically and hence will be able to better handle with the situation.
Now you know people who often talk to themselves loudly are not crazy. By the way, I am one of them.
11. Relationships are key to a happy life
If any day you have to choose one thing among money, power, fame, and stable relationships. Choose the last one, it’s not me but the longest research done on happiness by Harvard Psychologists are saying. See the video below-
I hope there would not come any day when you have to choose. I wish you will get everything including money, fame, power, and good relationships. Humans are social animals. So if your relationships are not in place, nothing can make you truly happy.
12. Rise but don’t fall in love
When we talk about relationships, the most challenging relationship is perhaps the relation with your spouse or your girlfriend/boyfriend. I think the reason is obvious, you cannot choose your parents, your relatives but you can choose your better half.
When you choose something on your own, you expect much more from that relationship. And that’s where we make blunders many times and make our life miserable. The romantic movies, novels taught us that there is some soulmate waiting for me. Love is effortless.
Whereas, in reality it is not the case. Yeah, of course, love is a feeling at the beginning but after some time it becomes a choice. Like everything love also comes in a package, there are goods and bads.
You have to choose whether you want to handle the mood swings of your partner (which are not always pleasant, I am telling), whether you are ready to cheer the other person even when you are not feeling well, whether you want to face some uncomfortable conversations with your partner. At times, you might feel like giving up. In those moments it’s up to you to choose whether you want to still love that person or he/she doesn’t deserve so much of your time and energy.
Your romantic relationship is just a part of your life, not your whole life. Don’t lose your self-esteem in order to impress your partner. Rise but don’t fall in love as I wrote in one of my previous articles.
But yeah, when two people have love and respect for each other, perhaps, ultimately everything falls into place. As there is a saying in Hindi- ‘Aag ka dariya hai, aur doobke jana hai (It’s a river of fire and we have to sink to go through it).’
13. Your health is your actual asset
Our health is probably the most underrated thing in this world. We only realize it’s value when we lose it. And many of you are perhaps thinking ‘I understand man, health is important’.
Instead of knowing its importance, we don’t do much to keep it fit. A few years back health was not on my priority list, I didn’t know what an active body means. But after I started to inspect my food intake, running, and exercise I realized what it feels like to live with more energy.
People dream about driving a Mercedes, BMW, Ferrari, Rolls Royce but forget about the most beautiful machine they possess. Your body is the most beautiful and powerful machine. The choice is yours whether you want to run it like a 2nd hand car or like a premium car.
14. Learn about finance
This is the most neglected area by most of the people. Everybody thinks he/she knows about finance, whereas in reality don’t. Most people think ‘what is there, just earn more money, spend less, and save as much as possible, that’s all finance is’.
It’s only in recent times, I have realized that I need to learn a lot about finance and it’s a fascinating world. The problem is no one talks about this. Schools don’t provide financial education, parents don’t make children financially aware. In fact, parent’s are themselves unaware of this and it’s not their fault.
Finance is not a specialized subject. Everybody has to deal with money in their life. So it ‘s a must learning subject. Learn at least basics like-
How does the economy work? How do banks work? What is compound interest? How to invest money? What is wealth creation?
I promise you, these learnings will pay off you in the future.
15. Your salary alone won’t make you rich
Do you want to become rich?
Yes, the meaning of rich is different for different people. But here I am talking about monetary wealth.
For me, you are rich when you don’t have to work for money. When you can pay your bills even if you don’t work. It’s called financial freedom.
Are you thinking it is impossible?
Yeah, it is rare to happen in your 20s or 30s, but it is certainly possible in your 40s or 50s. You just need to plan your financial life well.
I am from a background where people think only a high paying job or a million dollar business can make you rich. But I can assure you it is not just that. Paying EMI for your home, car, gadgets, and what not with your high salary year after year doesn’t prove you are rich.
A person with a six figure salary can become bankrupt or live under debt whole life and a person with much less salary can achieve financial freedom.
Study the rich people everywhere in this world, you will find things common in them. All of them have multiple sources of income. They know how to grow wealth. If they can, you can learn too.
Ultimately being rich is not about showing off your luxury lifestyle but to reach a point where you don’t have to worry about money anymore. So keep in mind, your salary alone won’t make you rich but how you utilize your salary will.
16. Travel whenever you get chance
Who doesn’t love to travel. It’s amazing to see new places, new cultures right.
Till I was 20 years old, I haven’t gone outside my district, let alone state. Later I got the chance to travel to different places. When I experienced how it feels to travel, I realized why everyone talks so much about traveling.
But I felt the more you travel like a tourist, the less you will get out of your travel. Rather, try to talk with people there, know their culture, don’t have any prejudices about any place. Travel with an open mind. Your perspective about the world will change.
And yeah, travel solo sometimes.
17. Be a doer
I am a procrastinator. So this is the most important lesson for me.
Imagine a situation where you have brought all the fresh vegetables and fruits from the market. You know it’s good for your body. But what’s the point if you don’t eat them.
The same thing happens with your mind. We read books, blogs, watch videos, take seminars but what’s the point if we don’t act on them. You must become action-oriented rather than just collecting knowledge.
This is something I still tell myself time and again-
‘You can become something by acting on something not just by thinking about it’
18. Learn to live alone
Don’t get me wrong, I am not telling you to isolate yourself. Just learn to enjoy solitude.
Don’t rely on anybody. Become the captain of your ship. Many times nobody would want to travel on your ship. So learn to live with yourself.
The person who enjoys his/her own company can be in peace with himself/herself. Accept the fact that you have come alone in this world and will die alone. The better you understand this, the more peaceful you will become.
19. Television is really an idiot box
You must have heard the old saying ‘TV is an idiot box’. Well, I never really thought about this. I used to love watching TV. There were days when I used to watch TV for 5-6 hours daily.
But then I have come to know about the ill-effects of watching TV and how it actually makes us an idiot. I am not saying to remove your TV from your home but at least be aware of how much of your time you spend watching TV.
Numerous studies have shown that TV viewing is detrimental for the development of intellectual abilities, especially during infancy.
20. Don’t become a slave of social media
Today’s generation is not interested in TV right, social media is the new culture. It’s a great platform. I mean who thought 20 years back that we could be in touch with someone from other corners of the world. Social media have made it possible.
But unfortunately today the world talks about how social media is making us miserable. How it is decreasing our attention span. Don’t let that happen to you.
The problem is social media can become an addiction just like alcohol or drug. You might be even unaware of the fact that you are addicted. So keep track of your time while using social media.
You can utilize social media for creation rather than just for consumption. Limit your time and create more if you love social media. Remember data is the new currency, it is more valuable than money. Be aware of whom you are giving your data.
Use social media with a purpose, but don’t become a slave of it.
21. Spirituality is not about religion
We often think being spiritual is not my cup of tea. You don’t have to become a yogi or do meditation on Himalaya to include spirituality in your life. Spirituality is just like a lifestyle.
Am I spiritual?
I don’t know, maybe not yet. I don’t even have much idea about the word ‘spiritual’. But I believe there is something special about being spiritual, which elevates you.
Maybe it’s about believing in a superior force than you, or letting things go sometimes can make you more content. I perhaps don’t know much about it right now. But I do know that you don’t have to be from any particular background to lead a spiritual lifestyle.
As we go through life and become mature, we get to know more about it. But first of all, you need to believe in it.
22. Learn to enjoy small things in life
I always thought, my achievements would make me happy. But that never happened. Today when I try to remember my school days or college years, all I remember is the moments I had with my friends, the celebrations, the laughs, trips, etc.
I don’t remember my achievements. Even if I remember some of them, those achievements are ok but that does not bring any extra smile on my face. But moments with friends, people do. I am sure same is the case with you.
Therefore, don’t forget to enjoy your present in order to make your future. Don’t wait for big achievements, enjoy the small things in life.
Whatever you are trying to achieve, nothing much you will remember ten years down the line, but you will surely remember some moments you had with your friends.
23. The world gives more to givers
You may have heard a lot from people that the more you help others, the more god will return to you.
But today it’s being proven by even scientific studies. Adam Grant, a psychologist in the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania has shown in his studies that you will increase your chances of becoming more successful by helping other people. You can read his book ‘Give and Take’.
Help others not with a selfish motive, but to be at peace with yourself. We all know it right, whenever we help someone needy, we feel great. It is basic human nature to help needy people.
24. Science is just an instrument
This is what I personally feel. It has nothing to do with your belief.
When someone says, my religion is best. We call him/her immature or intolerant. Similarly, when someone says, science is everything, I see no difference between both the person.
Science is great. I am also involved with this. The invention of Science and scientific thinking is the biggest invention in human history. But I think it is just like an instrument.
It is quantitative. You can’t measure your feelings, you cannot make moral judgments using science. Science is like a beautiful instrument that you can use to create something worthwhile. Some people use the word ‘science’ just like religion as if it can give answers to everything.
Critical thinking is much more important rather than citing a research paper for everything.
25. Be a lifelong learner
How attractive this word ‘lifelong learner’ is right. But these are not just attractive words but a must have skill for survival, for growth in today’s era.
In our father’s or grandfather’s era, they just needed to learn any one skill in their early age and that was enough to live the rest of their lives with comfort.
But today, circumstances are different. Every 5 years some jobs are becoming obsolete and new kinds of jobs are arising. It means what you learned in your college may become irrelevant today.
In such a situation, the only way to ensure a comfortable life is to keep on learning new skills. Once you adopt this mindset, learning skills will become fun for you.
26. Explore yourself and the world
What is the most important thing I learned?
You can listen to many great people, you can read as many books or articles as you can, you can watch as many inspiring videos as you can but your answers you have to find yourself.
No one else can give you your answers. There is no single answer for everyone. You are unique among 7.7 billion other people on this earth. Your answers will also be unique.
How would you find them?
Explore yourself. Check what you like what you don’t. Try diverse things, talk with people from various backgrounds, travel to different places (not just the usual places), put effort to learn various skills.
Keep exploring yourself and the world around you, one day you will find your answers.
I know it’s been a long post. If you have read it, thank you for bearing with me. I hope you gain some good insights from it. I Would love to hear from you.
Have a great life. Until next time.
Source of images: Google images