About five years ago I did two things that changed the course of my life and put me in a position where I could (or HAD to) quickly learn some very important lessons to live by.
– I lived in Africa for half a year, kind of on my own (you can read about it at www.africathings.wordpress.com–I plan on making some time before too long to finish that series). The biggest lesson I learned there: You can make HUGE things happen if you really want to.
– I arrived back from Africa to my hometown in Florida and promptly moved all the way up to frozen Minnesota, with hardly a penny to my name, and started figuring out life on my own. (A beautiful girl is a strong motivator.)
Both of those were scary things, and both changed my life in big ways. Strangely enough, moving on my own to Minnesota and starting school and getting into business has been way scarier and harder than going off to live in Africa. Especially learning what “grown up” life really entails: Interacting with bosses, writing resumes, learning how to interview, budgeting, building credit, saving money, renting, financial planning, insurance, networking, building relationships, dating, etc…
It’s been a struggle, but I am proud to say I am very happy.
Looking back, a few things stand out as the most important things that growing up and working on life have taught me. They’re definitely lessons you don’t learn in school. I pass them along as encouragement to young people getting started themselves, and encouragement we all need, no matter how seasoned we think we are at life:
1. Self-leadership absolutely comes first. You can’t control life, but you can and must control your attitude and behavior.
“The first and the best victory is to conquer self.” – Plato
2. You can try to blame your life on others, but taking responsibility for all of it gives you the power to change your life.
“When we have begun to take charge of our lives, to own ourselves, there is no longer any need to ask permission of someone.” – George O’Neil
3. You need help. And having the courage to find people who can help you and then actually ask for and accept their help will change your life in big ways.
“People who ask confidently get more than those who are hesitant and uncertain. When you’ve figured out what you want to ask for, do it with certainty, boldness, and confidence.” – Jack Canfield
4. The grass is not always greener on the other side. Pick your garden and cultivate it.
“The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance. The wise grows it under his feet.” – James Oppenheim
5. Having a passionate vision and setting serious goals is an incredibly powerful way of life.
“If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca
6. Always be a student of life. Learn from books, learn from others, learn by experiencing, and learn by observing.
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eight. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” – Henry Ford
7. Make sure to have a balance in your life of creating, learning, and enjoying.
“Be aware of wonder. Live a balanced life; learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.” – Robert Fulghum
8. You are a whole person. Take care of your body.
“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” – Jim Rohn
9. Loving and being loved is absolutely essential. Caring gives life meaning. And giving is oxygen to your soul.
“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow-men; and along those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and come back to us as effects.” – Herman Melville
10. Happiness and peace come from the inside. Slow down and deeply experience your beautiful world.
“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.” – Dalai Lama
I hope all this was encouraging for you. :)
PS. #9 needs some repeating. Until you grasp the significance of the people around you, I promise you will not be happy. Your life is insanely meaningful, and every interaction you have with every human being is insanely meaningful. Be incredibly careful, and be incredibly grateful. There is one more related quote that I couldn’t help but stop and meditate on for a while after I read it:
“When you have once seen the glow of happiness on the face of a beloved person, you know that a man can have no vocation but to awaken that light on the faces surrounding him; and you are torn by the thought of the unhappiness and night you cast, by the mere fact of living, in the hearts you encounter.” – Albert Camus
What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned in life? Please pass these along and share your own! Let’s all help inspire each other!