8 lessons 95 percent of people learn too late in life, according to psychologists

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It’s one of the most universal and unavoidable aspects of being human:

We all make mistakes, we all have regrets, and we all learn lessons the hard way.

You’ve been there, haven’t you? You’ve made decisions that seemed perfect at the time, only to look back and wish you could do things differently.

Sometimes, it’s not even about huge, life-altering mistakes.

You just somehow realize, years down the line, that there were certain truths about life you wish you had grasped earlier.

Here’s a peek into some of those lessons that a staggering 95 percent of people learn too late in life, according to psychologists.

1) Not everything requires your reaction

It’s a part of our human instinct, isn’t it?

We feel the need to respond to everything that bothers us, every comment that irks us, and every situation that doesn’t go our way.

But one of the biggest lessons life teaches us, often too late for many, is that not everything requires our reaction.

From the office politics to the neighborhood gossip, from social media slights to family disagreements – it’s not always necessary to step into every battle.

Learning to pick your battles wisely and understanding that silence can sometimes be the best answer is a lesson most of us learn late in life.

Unfortunately, many of us learn this after wasting too much energy on things that don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

2) It’s okay to say no

This one hit me hard. I was always the ‘yes’ person. You know that kind, right?

The one who nods and agrees to every request, every favor, every additional responsibility – just to keep everyone around happy.

But somewhere along the line, I realized it was draining me. It was taking a toll on my mental health and personal life.

One of the most profound lessons that many of us learn too late in life is that it’s perfectly okay to say ‘no’.

It’s okay to prioritize yourself over others. It’s okay to put your needs first. And it’s absolutely okay to decline something that does not align with your well-being or values.

Saying ‘no’ does not make you selfish or unkind. It just means you value your own peace and happiness as much as others’. This understanding often comes later in life, when we’ve said one too many ‘yes’s.

3) Forgiveness is a gift to yourself

I remember a time when an old friend wronged me. I was hurt, I was angry, and I held onto that grudge for years.

I thought I was punishing them by denying them my forgiveness. But the reality was, I was the one who was suffering.

That bitterness, that anger, it was like a dark cloud hovering over me, tainting my happiness and peace of mind.

It wasn’t until I finally let go and forgave them that I truly understood the power of forgiveness.

Forgiveness, as I’ve come to learn, is not about letting the other person off the hook. It’s about freeing yourself from the burden of carrying that anger and resentment.

It’s one of those lessons that most of us learn too late in life – that forgiveness is ultimately a gift you give to yourself. And trust me, it’s one of the most liberating gifts you can ever give.

4) Living in the present is where happiness lies

Did you know that our minds are often caught up in thoughts about the past or the future? Psychologists estimate that we spend about 47% of our waking hours thinking about something other than what we’re doing.

In my own life, I’ve noticed how this constant mental time travel can rob us of the joy of the present moment.

I used to be one of those people who were always planning for the future or ruminating over the past. It was like I was living everywhere but in the here and now.

Over time, I’ve learned that true happiness lies in embracing the present, in living fully in the ‘now’.

It’s not about disregarding the past or ignoring the future. It’s about appreciating and enjoying what’s right in front of us here and now, because that’s all we truly have.

And this is a lesson that, unfortunately, many of us learn too late.

5) It’s never too late to change

Life is a constant journey of evolution, isn’t it?

We grow, we learn, we stumble, and we pick ourselves back up. And through it all, we change.

But there’s this common misconception that after a certain age or stage in life, we’re set in our ways and it’s too late to change. I used to believe that too.

However, the truth is – it’s never too late to change. Whether it’s a habit you want to kick, a skill you want to learn, or a career path you want to switch – you can always make that change.

Life doesn’t come with an expiration date for personal growth or transformation.

Sadly, this is a realization that comes too late for many of us. We get stuck in our comfort zones and routines, thinking that it’s too late to make a change. But trust me, it’s not.

6) Taking care of your mental health is crucial

Growing up, I was taught to take care of my physical health. Regular exercise, balanced diet, ample sleep – these were all drilled into me.

But taking care of my mental health? That wasn’t something I was taught.

It wasn’t until I experienced a period of intense stress and anxiety in my adult life that I realized the importance of mental health.

Our minds need care and attention just as much as our bodies do. They need rest, they need nurturing, and sometimes, they need professional help too.

Unfortunately, many of us learn this lesson too late in life. We neglect our mental well-being until it reaches a critical point and starts affecting our overall quality of life.

So here’s a crucial lesson that’s worth learning sooner than later – taking care of your mental health isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity.

7) Failure is not the end, but a beginning

In school, I was afraid of failure. A bad grade, a missed goal, a lost competition – any form of failure would send me spiraling into self-doubt and disappointment.

As I grew older, I realized that failure is not the terrifying monster it’s made out to be. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Failure is not the end of the road, it’s actually a new beginning. It’s an opportunity to learn, to grow and to become stronger.

Each failure brings with it valuable lessons, and often opens up new paths that we wouldn’t have discovered otherwise.

But sadly, many of us learn this lesson too late in life. We spend our early years running away from failure, when we should be embracing it as a stepping stone towards success.

So don’t fear failure. Instead, see it for what it truly is – a chance to start over with more knowledge and experience than before.

8) Self-love is not selfish

I spent a large part of my life putting others before myself. I thought that was what I was supposed to do. That self-love was a form of selfishness.

I was wrong.

It took me a while, but I finally understood that taking care of myself, prioritizing my needs, and loving myself unapologetically is not selfish.

In fact, it’s necessary for my well-being and happiness. Only when I’m at peace with myself and love myself can I truly love others and contribute positively to their lives.

This is a lesson that, sadly, many of us learn way too late in life. We’re so caught up in pleasing others and meeting their expectations that we forget to love ourselves.

So here’s the most important lesson of all: Self-love is not selfish. It’s essential. And the sooner we understand this, the happier and more fulfilled our lives will be.

Final thoughts

Looking back, we can all identify lessons we wished we had learned a little earlier in life. It’s part of being human. The beauty, though, lies in the fact that it’s never too late to learn, change, and grow.

Reflect on these eight lessons. Do they resonate with you? Have you already learned some of them or are you still in the process?

Take this moment to pause and consider where you stand. Can you embrace the present a bit more? Could you benefit from saying ‘no’ more often? Are there grudges you need to let go of for your own peace of mind?

Remember, it’s not about regretting the past or fearing the future. It’s about embracing where you are right now and moving forward with wisdom and courage.

Life is a journey of continuous learning. And the most important lessons often come dressed as mistakes or failures. Embrace them, learn from them, and move forward.

As Maya Angelou once said, “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”

Here’s to doing better, growing wiser, and living a life that’s true to who we are.

Ava Sinclair

Ava Sinclair is a former competitive athlete who transitioned into the world of wellness and mindfulness. Her journey through the highs and lows of competitive sports has given her a unique perspective on resilience and mental toughness. Ava’s writing reflects her belief in the power of small, daily habits to create lasting change.

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