I just turned 30 about two weeks ago. Is it a good thing? Is it a bad thing? I’m not sure. But, while I’m not a big fan of aging (who is?), I noticed that the older I get, the closer I am to the type of person that I want to be. On top of that, I learn new things everyday and life keeps teaching me new lessons. Which is great. Here are seven of the most important ones that I have learned so far.
1. It’s good to be poor
I didn’t have an easy childhood. My father was an alcoholic and we were at the bottom of the income chain. While I hated this back then, I now realize how much the fact that my family didn’t have money helped me. I had to learn to make money on my own and to look for creative solutions in order to achieve this. For example, in the 9th grade, I opened my own (let’s call it) “Internet Cafe”, where I was renting my PC by the hour to other kids in the neighborhood. It didn’t last long as I easily found out that clients don’t come back the second time when your dad yells 24/7. So I moved to making money from fixing different PC issues and typewriting books in Word. This is how I survived through high school.
Also, not having a lot of money taught me to find joy in small things and made me good at money management. This is a skill that you automatically learn when your funds are limited. Although I’m currently doing pretty well financially, I still make income/outcome lists and organize my money in different categories.
2. I learned to appreciate what I have
We take a lot of things for granted and we imagine that we’ll always have those things in our lives, no matter what. I’m talking about basic stuff such as water, food, clothes or shelter. For most of us that were born on the lucky side of the planet, these things are just as normal as having two arms and two legs.
Have you ever imagined life without them? A few years ago I lived in Sicily, Italy, for about six months. I left there for work, as the average wage in Italy is higher than in Romania. But, as jobs weren’t as easy to find as I thought, I barely produced any money. Generally speaking, my income reduced to about 150 euros/monthly. My first priority was to pay the rent and bills while I had to handle food and other expenses with whatever was left. Most of the days I only ate half of meal. And you probably didn’t know this until now but water isn’t potable in Sicily, so you have to buy it. And for this you need money. So water easily turned from normality to necessity, as well.
Last but not least, after an unfortunate series of events, I was left without any clothes (except the ones that were on me) and was also kicked out from the place that I rented. Up to that point, I never appreciated having food, water, clothes or shelter and I was complaining about other things that I didn’t have, which weren’t as important.
This experience taught me that things can always be a lot worse than the situation you’re currently in. Learn to appreciate everything around you, as stuff can always get a lot worse. Happiness is about seeing the positive things in your life, now!
3. Your family will always be there for you
Friends may leave you, your wife/husband may divorce you, your kids may never want to talk to you, but you will always have at least one member of your family that will love you, listen to you, and help you, no matter what. Family will always want what’s good for you. So keep it close as they’re your number one support on the planet.
4. What other people think about you is not important
Imagine that you’re running a race, and on the sides, there are various people saying that “you can’t do it!”, “you will fail!”, “your feet hurt!”, “you’re no good!”. This would be pretty dishearting, wouldn’t it? But what if you were not to listen to these people and just keep focused on what’s ahead of you – the final goal?
This is pretty much your life, as most people will only see the negative side of things and they’ll discourage you with their limited mentality. Their opinions are like bumps in the road. Each time you hit one it may take you off-track for a while. Thus, you have to avoid these opinions. And the best way to do this is to not mind them at all. The irony here is that, although these are the persons we should listen to less, they’re also the ones that usually influence us the most.
The reality is that the only big obstacle in your road to “whatever” is YOU, and only YOU decide how far YOU are willing to go to achieve what YOU desire. So keep focused on your path and don’t mind the naysayers. Most of them don’t even have the courage to start this race.
5. True joy lies within us
We live our lives looking for happiness in different places or things. How many times haven’t you heard someone say:
- “If I’ll get that job, I’ll be happy!”
- “If I close that deal, I’ll be happy!”
- “If I get this monthly income, I’ll be happy!”
And when you eventually get to accomplish your goal, you realize that happiness either wasn’t there in the first place or it didn’t last for long. So you set a new goal, in the hopes that this time it will be different. And then the next, and the next, and the next… where does all this stop? It’s like looking for your glasses all over your house when all this time they were on your nose.
There are poor people that are much happier than rich ones, or sick people that enjoy life more than healthy ones. Why do you think this happens? Because happiness is a choice which we can make at any moment. Say it with me, loud and clear: “I’m happy, no matter what! I’m happy, no matter what! I’m happy, no matter what!”. Didn’t this make you feel better already?
6. It’s all about what you leave on this Earth
A few years ago, I went to this funeral where I’ve probably heard one of the most life-changing speeches. To summarize, the priest said: “When you die, you don’t take anything with you, so life’s all about what you leave behind.“. So, when the clock ticks, and you look back at your entire life, how do you want this to look like? Would you desire to have lived a meaningful life that you’re proud of or a mediocre one? What is the number one thing that you would have wanted to accomplish? Your answer to this is probably your life-long goal as well.
What is your choice? What is your desire?
7. Always bring joy to others
Life isn’t always about you, but it’s about the people around you as well. And if you’re aiming to live a fulfilling life, making other people happy should also be on the menu. I don’t know about you, but I always feel better or “purified” when I help someone or do some charity act. I feel meaningful. And most people reported having the same feeling of well-being when helping others.
So, no matter if it’s a random act of kindness, making a surprise to a person dear to you, or just complimenting someone, this should be part of your day by day life, as important as eating or sleeping.