Wisdom is a word often ascribed to the elderly. We tend to think that the amount of time we spend on this Earth somehow corresponds to our ability to understand how things work.
In reality, this is a bit like thinking that the amount of time we spend standing in front of a piano corresponds to our ability to play it.
Wisdom isn’t about aging. It’s about experiencing life and learning from those experiences. And that’s something you can do right now.
The following five life lessons are things that you’ll probably learn down the road and regret all the suffering you had to go through because you didn’t learn them sooner. So, you may as well save your older self and learn them now.
1. Your authentic desires are unreasonable, illogical, and 100% worth exploring.
The things that make us feel passionate are rarely based on rational thought. No one has ever deeply, authentically desired to invest in a 401K or secure a steady pension. Thus, in our society especially, we’re taught to mistrust our authentic desires. We’re taught to think of them as childish.
Most people spend a lifetime trying to act like an adult, only to become an older person who wishes they’d fulfilled the desires of their inner child. Don’t live your life in self-ignorance and regret. Especially in this day and age, there are more resources than ever to help you fuel your dreams and passions into a sustainable mode of living. Don’t give up what your heart wants for what your culturally conditioned mind says is the “right” thing to do.
2. There’s a lesson in every tragedy.
If you’re spending lots of time ruminating about something negative that happened in the past, one day, you will have to forgive and let go. Until that day, you will only deplete your physical and mental health focusing on what “should” have happened as opposed to accepting and allowing what did.
Of course, it’s not always easy. It takes hard work and diligence, but when you find yourself emotionally liberated from the effects of a past that you cannot change, you’ll thank yourself, now and forevermore.
3. Your relationships are your most valuable assets.
Remember that song that goes, “When I was young, I never needed anyone, and making love was just for fun. Those days are gone. All by myself…”? That pretty much summarizes what happens to people who spend their lives focusing only on building their careers and garnering material wealth, neglecting the relationships in their lives.
The happiest moments of your life, when you look back on them, will be moments you spent with other people. Don’t neglect your family, your friends, or your partner. Take the time to build respect, communication, and make the kinds of memories you’ll be fond of later.
If you do this, you’ll thank yourself when you avoid the epidemic of loneliness that seems to be hitting everyone these days, as you enjoy the support and comfort of the people you’ve supported and comforted.
4. … And your most important relationship is with yourself.
Most people spend their lives abusing themselves in their heads. They experience all of the exhaustion of an abuse victim and all of the violence of a bully, simply because of their cruel inner conversations.
The most important determinant of your ability to enjoy your life and really experience what this existence has to offer is a feeling of peace within, and the only way to get there is to be kind and loving to yourself.
Of course, getting out of an abusive relationship with yourself isn’t easy, just like it’s not easy to get out of an abusive relationship with someone else, but it is absolutely necessary to your ability to spend your years drinking in the beauty of the outside world (as opposed to stewing in your own suffering).
5. There’s no better time than now.
When we’re young, we tend to think we have all the time in the world. Then, when we age, we wonder where all the time went.
Just think of all the older people you know who have made comments about what they wish they’d have done at your age. Don’t think you’re immune from that strain of regret.
The only way to avoid regretting how you spent your youth is to live like you might die at any moment, to do the things you want to do today instead of tomorrow, and to start using your time to change yourself and change the world instead of simply wasting it.