8 life lessons most people wish they learned sooner (a little toolkit for life)

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Life is a journey of learning. Sometimes we pick up lessons through our experiences, and other times, we wish someone had given us a heads up sooner.

As Lachlan Brown, founder of Hack Spirit and a mindfulness enthuasist, I’ve spent my life learning – and teaching – these life-altering lessons.

In my journey, I’ve come to realize that there are eight life lessons that most of us wish we’d learned sooner. These aren’t just random tips; they’re like a little toolkit for life.

Let me share these insights with you, hoping that they’ll help you navigate your life’s journey with a little more ease and a lot less regret.

Here’s to life’s lessons learned sooner rather than later!

1) Live in the present

We spend so much of our lives dwelling on the past or worried about the future. But there’s a powerful lesson that many of us wish we’d grasped sooner – the power of living in the present.

As a mindfulness and Buddhism expert, I can’t stress enough how much our lives improve when we learn to stay present. It’s a staple in mindfulness practice and a core teaching in Buddhism.

Imagine how much more fulfilling life would be if we truly savored each moment as it unfolded, instead of being lost in past regrets or future anxieties.

The beauty of embracing the present is that it allows us to fully engage with life, appreciating what we have right here, right now. It’s not about ignoring the past or future; it’s about grounding ourselves in the current moment.

So, lesson number one? Make an effort to live in the present. It’s not always easy, but the rewards are immeasurable.

2) Acceptance is key

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my journey with mindfulness and Buddhism, it’s the importance of acceptance. Acceptance of oneself, acceptance of others, and most importantly, acceptance of life as it is.

We often struggle with things we can’t change, pouring our energy into resistance rather than focusing on what we can control – our own reactions.

Thich Nhat Hanh, a renowned mindfulness expert and Zen Buddhist monk, once said, “The secret of Buddhism is to remove all ideas, all concepts, in order for the truth to have a chance to penetrate, to reveal itself.”

In other words, we need to let go of preconceived notions and accept reality as it is. This doesn’t mean giving up or not striving for better. It means understanding that life is a series of ups and downs, and learning to navigate them with grace.

3) Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional

One of the core insights from Buddhism that many of us wish we’d learned sooner is this: pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

Life is full of challenges. We all experience pain – be it physical, emotional, or psychological. That’s a universal truth.

But suffering? That’s largely a choice. It’s our reaction to pain that determines whether we suffer or not.

We often amplify our pain by ruminating over it, resisting it, or constantly wishing things were different. This mental pattern leads to suffering.

Buddhism teaches us to observe our pain – not resist or indulge in it – and then let it pass. It’s about accepting the reality of pain without letting it define our existence.

The third life lesson? Understand that while pain is part of life, prolonged suffering doesn’t have to be. Acknowledge your pain, but don’t let it consume you.

4) The breath is your anchor

Mindfulness brings with it a simple yet profound lesson that many of us wish we’d understood sooner: your breath is your anchor.

In the chaos of everyday life, it’s easy to lose touch with ourselves. We get caught up in our thoughts, feelings, and external distractions, forgetting to pause and just be.

Here’s where mindfulness comes in, reminding us of the power of our breath. It’s always there, steady and rhythmic, a constant amidst the storm.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or disconnected, simply tuning into your breath can bring you back to the present.

It’s not about controlling the breath or achieving a certain state. It’s about observing it – its rhythm, its depth – and letting it anchor you in the moment.

5) Let go of your ego

A lesson I’ve learned in my personal journey and one that I talk about extensively in my book, Hidden Secrets of Buddhism: How To Live With Maximum Impact and Minimum Ego, is the importance of letting go of your ego.

Our egos often get in the way of our happiness and growth. They cause us to hold onto grudges, compare ourselves with others, and resist change. In short, they keep us stuck.

Buddhism teaches us about the impermanence and non-self nature of everything, including our egos. When we understand this, we can learn to loosen the grip of our egos and live more freely.

So the fifth lesson? Learn to let go of your ego. It’s a journey, not a destination, but every step towards it brings more peace and fulfillment into our lives. You can find more about this in my book, if you’re interested in diving deeper.

6) Attachment leads to suffering

Buddhism and mindfulness teach an invaluable lesson that many of us learn late in life: attachment leads to suffering.

We often cling to people, material possessions, and even ideas or beliefs, fearing the discomfort of losing them. This attachment, however, is a primary cause of our suffering.

Why? Because everything in life is transient. Change is the only constant. When we attach ourselves too tightly to something, we set ourselves up for pain and disappointment when it changes or disappears.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t love or value things. It means learning to appreciate them without letting your happiness depend on them.

Learn to let go of attachments. They’re like chains that bind us, keeping us from experiencing the true freedom and peace that come with acceptance and detachment.

7) Compassion is a strength, not a weakness

A common misconception is that compassion is a sign of weakness. But both Buddhism and mindfulness teachings strongly disagree. In fact, they teach us that compassion is a profound strength.

Dalai Lama, a revered Buddhist leader, once said, “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”

Compassion involves understanding and empathy towards others’ suffering. It’s about acknowledging their pain and extending kindness without any expectation of reward.

At its core, compassion is about recognizing our shared humanity. It reminds us that just like us, others are trying their best to navigate the ups and downs of life.

The seventh life lesson? Embrace compassion. Not just towards others, but also towards yourself. It’s not a weakness but a powerful force that can transform your life and the lives of those around you.

8) Doing nothing can be the best action

Here’s a bit of counterintuitive wisdom that mindfulness brings to our lives: sometimes, the best action is no action at all.

We live in a culture that values constant doing, achieving, and hustling. But mindfulness teaches us the power of stillness and inaction.

There are times when doing nothing – simply being present and observing – can be more productive than any frantic effort.

This is particularly true when we’re faced with strong emotions or difficult situations. Instead of reacting impulsively, mindfulness encourages us to pause, breathe, and observe.

By doing so, we create a space between stimulus and response where our real freedom lies.

Understand that doing nothing can sometimes be the best action. It’s in the stillness that we find clarity and wisdom to navigate life’s challenges effectively.

Conclusion

Life’s greatest lessons often come from unexpected places. They’re not always easy to learn, but they’re invaluable in our journey towards a more peaceful and fulfilled life.

These eight lessons, drawn from mindfulness and Buddhism, offer a toolkit for life that many of us wish we’d discovered sooner. From living in the present to letting go of attachments, each insight offers a path to deeper understanding and peace.

If you found these insights valuable and want to delve deeper into the wisdom of Buddhism and its relevance to your life, you might find my book Hidden Secrets of Buddhism: How To Live With Maximum Impact and Minimum Ego helpful. It’s a deeper exploration of these concepts and how to apply them practically to your everyday life.

Remember, it’s never too late to learn these lessons. Each day offers a fresh opportunity for growth and transformation. Here’s to learning, growing, and becoming the best version of ourselves!

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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