9.1
April 8, 2019

41 Things I’ve learned by age 38.

Whether you’re 9 years old or 90, you’re never too old to learn.

Of course, I’m not even halfway to 90 yet, but I do think I’ve learned some things on my way there.

Here are some of the most important ones:

  1. Don’t just be motivated—be disciplined. Good habits are much more valuable at keeping you going than sheer inspiration. Start by forming good habits, add them on to existing habits, and stick to them. And if you can become obsessed? That’s even more valuable.

“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” ~ Jim Rohn 

  1. Starting your own online business just makes sense. There’s never been a better time! For me, it’s so much better to work for 15 hours a day for 5 to 10 years to build my own business and then be my own boss for the rest of my life. Of course, there is the option of working 40 hours a week for 30 to 40 years for someone else building their business. But research shows that 75 percent of Americans are unhappy at work. You can decide if you want to be one of them—but I sure don’t!

“If you don’t build your dream someone will hire you to help build theirs.” ~ Tony Gaskins

  1. Time flies by very quickly. Almost everyone I meet today is younger than me, which, of course, makes me feel that I’m already pretty old. But I’m not. Even so, if you want to do something, don’t put off accomplishing your goals until later and assume that you’ll still have time. Because even certainty is uncertain. Make today count!

“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” ~ William Penn

  1. Some people learn only by making mistakes themselves. Although you might want to be helpful, it can be futile to warn these people. You can try, but most people won’t listen, so don’t waste a lot of energy on it. They may just need to burn their fingers to learn that the stove is hot.

“A smart man makes a mistake, learns from it, and never makes that mistake again. But a wise man finds a smart man and learns from him how to avoid the mistake altogether.” ~ Roy H. Williams

  1. People are obsessed about how they look in other people’s eyes. Do you think you would really care about your outward appearance if you were the only person in the world? Stop worrying about what other people think and start living up to your own standards of character.

“Care about people’s approval, and you will always be their prisoner.” ~ Lao Tzu

  1. People are good by nature, but too often they act like jerks. If they do, don’t try to please them or understand them. It’s a waste of your time. Just move on and find someone who is better to spend time with.

“The world is so beautiful, but alas! There are so many assholes.” ~ M .F. Moonzajer

  1. Travel as much as you can. This is especially true if you’re still on your own, because family can make travelling a lot harder. People who travel seem to be better people—kinder, more understanding, appreciative, and just more enjoyable to be around. Their experience makes them more interesting.

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” ~ St. Augustine

  1. Don’t get involved in a relationship with someone because you’re afraid to be single. Honestly, you are much better off on your own. It’s better to be single for your whole life than to find the wrong person who will drag you down.

“It is far better to be alone than to be in bad company.” ~ George Washington

  1. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t succeed quickly. The Great Gatsby took 40 years to become a bestseller. Jack London received over 600 rejections before selling his first story. Success very often is a slow-growth strategy. Take your time. Be patient. The worst thing you can do is quit.

“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” ~ Aristotle

  1. Live for today. Don’t look forward to the future hoping that something will get better. Don’t expect that you will be happier “someday” and everything will be fine. If you’re living in the future, you’re completely missing out on the present. Life is really not as long as you may think. Enjoy today while you have it instead of wishing for tomorrow.

“The whole future lies in uncertainty: Live immediately.” ~ Seneca

  1. We suffer for happiness. Maybe not always, but in many cases we do. You suffer trying to get prepared to win that race, but once you do win it? You will feel exhilarated! You suffer trying to get that degree, but once you get it? Your life could change for the better. Sometimes you have to suffer now for the longer game of happiness.

“To live is to suffer. To survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

  1. Don’t worry about what other people say about you. Imagine that you live on a tiny planet. As Sagan put it, you live on a pale blue dot that is moving at a speed of 67,000 miles per hour and is suspended somewhere in an infinite universe which is full of stars, galaxies, other planets, and whatnot. The universe is huge! Why would you care what other frail people think of you?

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” ~ Dr. Seuss

  1. There are two sure things in life: death and change. You won’t survive—that’s obvious. But you also cannot stop change from taking place.

“Things change. And friends leave. Life doesn’t stop for anybody.” ~ Stephen Chbosky

  1. Appreciate what you have. Start a gratitude journal and write down what you’re grateful for each day, even if it’s something trivial, like small tasks that you managed to accomplish. This should help you realize that everything in your life is really not as hopeless as it may seem. There are a lot of people out there who wish they had what you have! Learn to appreciate it.

“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” ~ Zig Ziglar

  1. No matter what you achieve in life, how many battles you win, and how successful you become, at the end everyone will eventually fail.

“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” ~ Michael Jordan

  1. Life comes with suffering. We go through life trying to experience happiness and avoid suffering. But somehow the great, everlasting happiness that we’re looking for always eludes us and suffering, in different forms, finds us no matter where we hide. So we might as well just live our lives without fear.

“Don’t look forward to the day you stop suffering because, when it comes, you’ll know you’re dead.” ~ Tennessee Williams

  1. There will come a time when almost all of us will be completely forgotten like we never existed. So you might as well make the most of the time that you have. Leave a legacy in your own time rather than worry about what they will think of you in the future.

“There are three deaths. The first is when the body ceases to function. The second is when the body is consigned to the grave. The third is that moment, sometime in the future, when your name is spoken for the last time.” ~ David M. Eagleman

  1. Most of the things you worry about in your head actually never happen in real life. There were so many things that I worried about, so many things I imagined could go wrong (and some indeed went wrong). But very few of them actually became reality. And that worry was a waste of precious time.

“I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.” ~ Mark Twain

  1. You don’t know how important your parents really are until you’re old enough to notice things about them that you didn’t notice earlier. Even when they failed, they almost always did their best for you.

“Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them.” ~ Oscar Wilde

  1. Hard work always beats talent. Don’t worry if you’re not yet as good at something as others. If you really believe in yourself and are ready to work hard, you will excel.

“Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.” ~ Kevin Durant

  1. Don’t be afraid of failure. Failure is an indicator that you had the courage to try instead of doing nothing. Failure actually can teach you more than success if you choose to learn from it.

“There is just one thing that makes your dream become impossible: the fear of failure.” ~ Paulo Coelho

  1. Small everyday steps will lead you to big wins. Planning is very helpful, but it means nothing without follow-through. In my experience, here’s what works: set a goal for a year and then plan what you need to do every month to achieve that goal. Then plan what you need to do every week to achieve your monthly goals. Then plan what you need to do every day to achieve your weekly goals. Don’t go to sleep before you plan what you want to work on tomorrow.

“Everything starts with one step, or one brick, or one word, or one day.” ~ Jeremy Gilley

  1. Don’t deprive yourself of sleep. You may not realize how important sleep is for your health, both mental and physical. Humans are probably the only animals who consciously deprive themselves of sleep—and we’ll be less successful because of it.

“Sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.” ~ Thomas Dekker

  1. Read as much as you can. Reading improves memory, imagination, concentration. And, what’s most important to me, reading helps us to gain knowledge. The more I read, the more I learn. If you’re busy and can’t read one book a week, then try to read one book a month. If you want to become an expert in something, then read 10 to 20 books on the subject. You will know more than 90 percent of people. Plus, it’s really just a lot of fun!

“Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary.” ~ Jim Rohn

  1. People spend way too much time in their heads. Don’t overthink and overanalyze what you said or did. Let it go. Don’t torture yourself with thoughts. Just get on with life and let it flow. If there are some things you need to do today, put your daily tasks on paper and just read them, but don’t obsess over them. When you write things down, it triggers your memory, leading to less worry. Your mind will be more still and at peace.

“Overthinking, also, best known as creating problems that are never there.” ~ David Sikhosana

  1. Be curious and never stop learning. Don’t get satisfied with mediocrity but dig deeper and learn from those who are already where you want to be in the future.

“Formal education will make you a living and self-education will make you a fortune.” ~ Jim Rohn

  1. Remind yourself often that your time is limited and your life is finite. This should give you courage, spur you to do the things that you’ve always put off until later, and allow you to live more fully.

“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.” ~ Norman Cousins

  1. Break a sweat every day with exercise. Go for a run, do some push-ups, swim—do anything to make your blood flow faster. It will make you feel younger, you will have more energy, and you will become more disciplined. This can positively affect all other areas of your life.

“We do not stop exercising because we grow old—we grow old because we stop exercising.” ~ Kenneth Cooper

  1. Take time to enjoy yourself. Walk with your dog; have a short conversation with a loved one; play a game with your niece or nephew; work in the garden with your mom; watch a movie with your family. Today all these things may seem to be nothing particular, but they can be treasured memories for tomorrow.

“Enjoy these little things for one day, you may look back and realize they were the big things.” ~ Robert Brault

  1. In order to help others, you first need to help yourself. A radiator first needs to heat itself up in order to be able to give its heat away to people in the room. In the same way, you first need to take care of yourself so that you can take care of others later.

“It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, and make your happiness a priority. It’s necessary.” ~ Mandy Hale

  1. There is more pain in not doing something than in doing it. You will suffer less if you decide to try something out. Even if it doesn’t work, you’ll be better off than if you didn’t try at all.

“You don’t get over the fear of doing something by not doing it.” ~ Zero Dea

  1. What is life? What really happens after death? Does God really exist? What is the nature of existence? Deep down, we all know that we don’t know the answers to these fundamental questions, but we ignore that. It’s okay to not know everything, as long as we keep searching.

“If I cease searching, then, woe is me, I am lost. That is how I look at it—keep going, keep going come what may.” ~ Vincent van Gogh

  1. We often “work hard” for many of our own diseases. We all know that diseases like atherosclerosis and many others don’t happen overnight. When we make poor choices in life, ignoring our health and working too hard, we sometimes are headed down a path of destruction.

“Sickness is the vengeance of nature for the violation of her laws.” ~ Charles Simmons

  1. The goal of life is not necessarily to be happy, but rather valuable, helpful, and useful. Of course, one doesn’t preclude the other. In fact, you may discover that finding your value will also reveal your happiness.

“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” ~ John Holmes

  1. Beware of hastily judging someone else’s mistakes. What do we know about their fight with their own weaknesses? We don’t know what someone else has had to overcome. In fact, maybe what looks like a mistake to one person is a huge victory for another.

“Brave men rejoice in adversity, just as brave soldiers triumph in war.” ~ Lucius Annaeus Seneca

  1. Immortality doesn’t make sense. Everything needs to end—this is the law of nature. Ultimately nothing will survive, so we should live with today in mind. But when we leave a legacy through a life remembered, we somehow always exist in the future.

“The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering.” ~ Bruce Lee

  1. Practice what you preach. If you want to help people, first of all, be for them a good example. If you give advice but do the opposite of what you say, you won’t be trusted. Live your life well and others will naturally want to follow you.

“You cannot say one thing and then do another and expect people to just do what you say. Words you say mean nothing, but doing—setting an example—says more.” ~ Catherine Pulsifer

  1. We are poor judges in our own cases. It’s difficult to see our own lives from an unbiased perspective. The cure to this is to avail ourselves of people who will tell us the truth. This usually means they’ll help us see past our faults and into our strengths. But it also might mean that we need to hear some hard truths sometimes.

“Butterflies can’t see their wings. They can’t see how truly beautiful they are, but everyone else can.” ~ Naya Rivera

  1. Satisfaction is your choice. If you don’t like your life, choose to do something about it and make a change. Otherwise, if you are unsatisfied, that is really up to you because life is what you make of it. It’s not what you sit around waiting for. Even if you only have a little, you can choose to be happy with that instead of being miserable by always wanting more.

“When you are discontented, you always want more, more, more. Your desire can never be satisfied. But when you practice contentment, you can say to yourself, ‘Oh yes, I already have everything that I really need.'” ~ Dalai Lama

  1. Celebrate the little things. When you’re on your way to meeting your goals, it’s good to stop and congratulate yourself for even the little accomplishments. That way, you get all of the benefits of quick gratification, added to the huge delayed gratification at the end when you meet your final goal.

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” ~ Vincent Van Gogh

  1. People like you not for who you are but for the impression you make on them. Since no one really knows you except for what’s on the surface, they can really only like the impression you make on them.

“I understand how a first impression is often just that: a quick snapshot that, on its own merit, is meaningless.” ~ Adriana Trigiani

~

And now, even though I’ve learned so many things, I’m certainly not going to stop learning. There’s so much more to discover, know, experience, and explore. Won’t you join me on the journey of learning?

What is the most valuable lesson that you have learned in your life so far?

author: Luke Glowacki

Image: A Star is Born (2018)

Image: Elephant Journal on Instagram

Editor: Kelsey Michal

Bonus:

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Jeramie Vaine Apr 24, 2019 6:37am

Love this. The quotes. The context they are described in. It has become a weekly read for me. Sometime weeks. Daily. Thank you!

David Chauncy Apr 13, 2019 4:00pm

Hi. Terrific, I’m going to email my self a quote everyday

Deb Rich Apr 13, 2019 3:57pm

I am much older than you, and learned something by reading this today. Thank you for a thoughtful essay.

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Luke Glowacki

Luke is interested in psychology and philosophy. He’s also an enthusiast of personal development. He has a blog where he writes about meditation, lucid dreaming, stress, binaural beats and more. Please check his blog and Pinterest profile.