15 fundamental lessons most of us learn too life in life, according to psychology

Pain is a teacher but most of us are poor students. 

The truth is that a huge part of making life what we want it to be is starting by recognizing life as it is:

Unfortunately, many of us learn life’s lessons too late to fully put them into practice. 

This is why gaining deeper insights into the most fundamental and crucial life lessons that most people learn too late. 

It’s never too early or too late to begin, so let’s dive in!

1) Self-worth comes from inside

Many of us grow up not getting the validation and support we need. 

We grow up without a firm ideal and role model in many cases and fail to learn that true self-worth comes from inside. 

It doesn’t come from the car we drive or the price tag on our clothes, nor does it come from how much people like us or who dates us or whether we have a good job or not.

It comes from inside. 

2) Time is limited and life is short

When we’re young we tend to feel like life will last forever. 

As the reality of mortality becomes clear, most of us do our best to push it away and focus on enjoying life instead. 

That’s a good thing, because life should be enjoyed! But it’s also important to remember that time is limited and short. 

It’s crucial to focus on hitting our goals and keep moving forward without getting paralyzed by anxiety and unknowns. 

As psychiatrist Brook Choulet MD notes

“Many people get paralyzed by fear and anxiety, worrying about the future and various unknowns. High-performers are able to convert uncertainty and/or worry into actionable items.” 

3) Relationships matter more than wealth

Having money is important in this world, but it’s a tool not a final goal. 

Money is necessary for our survival and well-being, but it won’t keep us warm at night or provide stimulating conversations. 

Relationships are what matter more than anything else, and when we’re old and losing our health we’ll be most touched by those we love. 

Relationships and family ties are what truly bond us and last the test of time. 

4) If you don’t adapt you get left behind

The one constant in life is change.

It often requires us to adapt and shift in many ways, and a refusal to do that can lead to getting left behind.

Adaptation is necessary for life, relationships and mental and physical health. 

As psychology writer Kristin Meekhof notes:

“The ultra-successful view change as an opportunity, not an interference. They understand that circumstances beyond their control happen; however, they optimize the change and leverage it to their advantage.”

5) The more you give, the more you get

Whatever your beliefs on karma, life provides endless examples of the benefits of being a giver:

When we give our energy and time to a project, it begins to grow and more people join, help and provide.

When we commit to a relationship, we offer the invitation for others to also commit. 

It’s a reciprocal process: you get out what you put in. 

6) Health is our most valuable currency

Despite the advances being made in medical technology, there’s no magic pill that makes you fit and healthy. 

Exercise, a healthy diet and a harmonious lifestyle has never been so important as it is these days. 

When we care for our health, we make an investment that pays off for decades to come. 

“CRISPR technology is amazing, but gene therapies do not solve most modern health problems. Research conclusively demonstrates, for example, that less than half of our lifespan is explained by genetic factors,” explains Psychiatry Professor Thomas Rutledge, PhD.

This ties into the next point…

7) Self-care is an indispensable part of life

There’s no substitute for self-care. 

It’s an indispensable part of life and of being prepared to face the world. 

Part of being able to give a lot and put your heart and soul into things is taking the necessary time to rest, reflect and recover through self-care

Without looking after ourselves, we’re not able to look after other people. 

8) Learning is a lifelong process 

Learning never stops. 

Graduation is really the start of an even deeper study session which happens your whole life:

We’re always growing, changing and absorbing new information, perspectives and experiences. 

That’s a good thing. And it brings us immense rewards and growth to be open to continuing to learn throughout life from the new experiences we have and the new people we meet.

9) Consistency beats inspiration 

The next thing that often comes too late in life is that consistency beats inspiration: 

While having big dreams is important, it’s never a replacement for having a routine. 

In the end of the day, a daily routine will be far more effective and lead to far more fulfilling results. 

By choosing habits that will lead to eventual improvement, they make themselves into a more effective and fulfilled person. 

As Meekhof puts it

“They understand which daily practices enhance not only their daily performance, but lead to their reaching their goals, and they consistently engage in these habits.”

10) Self-discipline pays off more than indulgence

This relates to the previous point and is something many of us learn too late in life once we’ve already wasted a lot of potential.

The lesson is that self-discipline is crucial in every area of life. 

From diet and exercise to emotional management and career, learning to have self-discipline and self-mastery is vital. 

It makes everything in life much more manageable. 

11) Long-term goals yield bigger rewards than short-term

There are worthwhile short-term goals and many larger goals have short-term components, of course. 

But putting things off until later and delaying gratification is an enormously rewarding prospect. 

By having a longer-term goal, we are able to accept and weather many more storms along the way and deal with a lot more hardship on the path to achievement. 

“High-hope people are also creative problem solvers. When faced with a challenge, they don’t give up easily. 

Instead, they come up with creative solutions that help them overcome obstacles in their way,” observes Dan Tomasulo PhD., TEP.

12) Don’t take other people for granted 

Life is short and many people we care about most can become such a daily part of our lives that we take them for granted. 

This is one of the saddest things to see when somebody experiences a breakup, family loss or growing apart from a friend because they took them for granted. 

Life is short, and relationships do matter more than wealth, which is why it’s so crucial to realize that our friends and loved ones are worth far more than their price in gold. 

The joy we bring to their lives and the joy they bring to ours is a beautiful thing, even if there are some rough spots! 

13) Sometimes saying no is the best option

There are times in life when saying no is definitely the best option. 

Even though it’s nice to please people and be helpful and available, this can definitely go too far. 

When people-pleasing becomes a way of life and reaches extremes, it can lead to you forgetting your own dreams and beginning to live your life more for others than for yourself. 

This is a mistake. 

“You can only agree to so many things before you run out of fuel,” notes Psychology Professor Heidi Reeder, PhD.

14) Being true to yourself matters more than outside approval or popularity

Life often offers short-term benefits and rewards for those willing to sell out or try to be a popular category in society. 

But life’s too short to try to be somebody you’re not or worry what other people think, and any love or friendship you gain under false pretenses isn’t worth much. 

It’s also important to spend time around positive and can-do people who help us realize our own potential and value. 

“That they tend to spend more time associating with people who share an optimistic and proactive attitude,” notes Tomasulo.

15) Failure is rarely final 

Many of us take a huge hit to our self-esteem when we fail, get rejected or experience a long period of inactivity or stagnancy. 

Failure is rarely final and can often be a stepping stone to greater learning and knowledge:

Rather than spending months or years in self-doubt and negativity, learning to see failure as training in resiliency is a wonderful idea. 

“While they recognize their disappointment, they do not ruminate in negativity,”  explains Meekhof. 

“They override the pessimism with optimism and gratitude for the people who help them climb over the hurdles.” 

Paul Brian

Paul R. Brian is a freelance journalist and writer who has reported from around the world, focusing on religion, culture and geopolitics. Follow him on www.twitter.com/paulrbrian and visit his website at www.paulrbrian.com

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