These 40 brutal lessons about life are hard to accept, but they’ll change your life when you do

One of the most painful experiences I’ve ever had to live through was the passing of a close friend. She had been diagnosed with terminal cancer just two years before her death, and had dedicated her life towards serving others with purpose and passion in the time she had left.

On the day of her passing she had told me her greatest regret: that she didn’t start sooner. That she had spent so much of her life caring about distractions and drama.

Since that day, I’ve tried to live my life to the fullest, never wasting a day in the way she had regretted. I’ve let her words guide me, living by them as my constant reminder. Here are 40 hard truths that are captured from her advice, some which we may not want to hear, but have to.

1) Change is uncomfortable. Change will always be strange, weird, and discomforting, but that’s just the way it is. Be patient, and wait for change to become the norm.

2) How you respond to a situation is more important than the situation itself. You are kidding yourself if you believe life should be simple and uncomplicated. There will always be difficult choices and tough situations, and playing your cards right is the best way to move forward in life.

3) You are your own worst critic. You never give yourself the credit that you deserve, and you need to acknowledge that. You can be too hard on yourself, and you need to feel good about your own strength.

4) You neglect yourself too much. This is something we all do. Take care of yourself, your needs and your wants, and your life will be much better in every aspect.

5) Don’t waste time and energy on things you don’t care about. It can be easy to exhaust ourselves on pointless endeavors. But life is too short doing things that have no intrinsic value to us.

6) Distractions can take over your life if you don’t pay attention. Take a look at yourself: is your life filled with distractions? Could you do without them? Master your focus to master your life.

7) Anxiety is a part of life. You will never feel truly confident, so stop waiting for that elusive imaginary level of confidence, because you are using it as an excuse.

8) Waiting for the right circumstances is wasting your life. We often don’t want to move forward until all the stars have aligned. But guess what? The stars will never align unless you move them yourself.

9) Daydreaming is dangerous. Reminiscing about the past or fantasizing about the future can make you miss out on the only part of your life that matters—the present.

10) You don’t listen to things you don’t want to hear. Many of us surround ourselves in a bubble of opinions and truths that make us feel comfortable. We fail to grow because we never take in what we don’t want to hear.

11) The toughest walls will help you grow the most. Every tense and hard situation will help you grow a little bit higher and a little bit stronger. Embrace challenges for what they are.

12) Even the best chess grandmasters know when to move back. Like chess, life is a game where you have to know when to step forward and step back. It’s all about stepping into the winning position, regardless of where it might be.

13) Pay attention—everyone has something to teach. Don’t take the world for granted. Every obstacle and every interaction can become your teacher.

14) You don’t always get what you want. Deal with it, accept it. Learn to play with what you’ve got, instead of refusing to play at all.

15) Acting like the victim will have you treated like one. Stop complaining; life isn’t fair. Move on from your tragedies, and let you define your life, not the other way around.

16) Sometimes you don’t need closure. There are times where we have to move on from certain people or parts of our lives. We don’t always need to know “what could have been”; just know what could be.

17) Habits are the hardest things in the world to break. Be conscious of your daily habits, especially the negative ones. Don’t constantly fall back into toxic patterns, which will always try to come back into your life.

18) Don’t underestimate your mental strength. Your mind can do whatever you focus on. Use your mental strength to its greatest potential.

19) You can’t create positive habits overnight. Change takes a while. If you find yourself struggling to better yourself, remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day.

20) Patience and waiting are different things. Don’t wait for things to happen; patience is about taking yourself forward one step at a time and staying positive about it.

21) People won’t always be honest about their feelings towards you. Their actions are more important than their words, so pay attention.

22) Don’t let shallow factors define the way you judge others. Don’t value titles, money, and accomplishments; instead, value humility, kindness, and integrity.

23) Popularity doesn’t matter. Live your life without giving a damn about popularity. Do what you want to do, not for the applause, but for the purpose.

24) Evaluate your sources of validation. Don’t live your life searching desperately for the validation of others. True validation can only come from within.

25) Listen to yourself. Don’t forget what you really feel and what you really want; it can be easy to lose track of your true values in all the noise.

26) “I’m busy” is the worst excuse. We are always “too busy”. But finding the time to do something is showing that you value it.

27) You cling onto things that are keeping you down. Evaluate the people and things you have in your life: if they aren’t helping you move forward, then they are keeping you down.

28) Your greatest superpower is staying calm. Don’t overreact, and don’t take things personally. Learn to be bigger than that; learn to stay calm.

29) Negative thoughts are a part of life. Letting your momentum go to waste simply because you had a bad day will forever keep you from reaching your dreams. Don’t let negativity define who you become.

30) Stress comes from within. No matter how tough or difficult a situation may be, the way you respond to it comes from within. Stop yourself from stressing out over everything.

31) Life will give and take, always. When life takes away something important from you, remember that it also gives you new things to appreciate and love. Life is in a constant state of flux.

32) Find peace through forgiveness. Holding grudges over others doesn’t hurt them as much as it hurts you. Solve your inner turmoil by forgiving those that have wronged you.

33) No one stays bad forever. We are always changing. Judging someone by their history no matter how much they have changed is unfair. Give others the chance to grow.

34) Don’t let disagreements turn into hatred. We have a tendency to dehumanize people that we don’t share opinions with. Be cautious, and watch yourself when you argue.

35) Learn to be more human. The modern world has taken some of our humanity from us; learn to embrace what it means to be human again. Smile, look people in the eye, and don’t stare at your screens all day. Talk and listen.

36) We don’t have the time to fight. There are only so many years before we say goodbye to everything, so why waste your time arguing and fighting?

37) Placing expectations on others will only leave you brokenhearted. Don’t expect; just appreciate.

38) Not everyone will respond and act the way you do. You are only setting yourself up for disappointment if you think that people will treat you the way you treat them.

39) Positive people find positive people. The way you think and act determines the type of people who stick to you. If you want good people around you, then you must be good, too.

40) Nothing lasts forever. Look around you and say thanks. Appreciate what you have—love, life, and happiness.

Ask Yourself:

Which of the points above make the most sense to you? How can you change yourself for the better?

Lachlan Brown