Things I Wish I Knew Earlier: Life’s Top Lessons Learned Through Experience

Life is an experience – from birth until our last breath, we are constantly learning and evolving. Innately curious and adventurous, children are sponges for knowledge. Every day, guidance from parents, school and religious institutions combines with their own exploration to shape how children perceive the world. New experiences offer new information and with age comes maturity, a better sense of self and a more concrete understanding of what’s truly important in life. When asked to reflect back on their life, many adults say “I wish I would have known XYZ when I was younger.”

Highlights:

  • Every day is filled with experiences and new information that shapes who you are as a person. With age comes maturity, a better sense of self and a more concrete understanding of what is truly important in life.
  • Some of the most important discoveries learned through life include: eat today for your health 20 years from now, surround yourself with people who lift you up, find a sense of purpose, prioritize self-care, try new things, be nice to everyone and learn how to say “no.”
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So what are these lessons learned through experience? The most important discoveries throughout life include the following:

  1. What You Eat Today Determines Your Health 20 Years From Now – most conditions, illnesses and diseases take YEARS to develop, and up to 95% of them are influenced by diet and lifestyle! Food is our fuel and if you’re continuously putting junk into the engine, it’s only a matter of time before the system breaks down. Cancer, for example, can take up to 20 years to be detectable in routine screenings. With every bite that you take, you make a choice.
  2. Struggle Is Good – we have to go through the bad to appreciate the good. During bad times, just remember that there will eventually be a silver lining. Be in the moment, and feel your feelings in order to learn, grow and fully move on.
  3. Surround Yourself with People Who Light You Up – your inner circle has a great influence on how you act, feel and show up in the world. In order to bring out the best version of yourself, surround yourself with love, positivity and people that you admire.
  4. Don’t Start A Relationship Unless You’re In Love – love is a beautiful thing but it cannot be forced – either it’s there or it isn’t. Just because a person looks good on paper or has the approval of mom, dad or Mary Jo down the street does not mean that YOU love this person. Trust your gut and follow your heart.
  5. Daily Exercise Is A Must – the benefits of exercise are innumerous, but the bottom line is that it helps you feel good mentally, physically and emotionally. Go for a walk, take a dance class, run around with your kids or garden to reduce stress, improve mood and boost overall health.
  6. Don’t Get Wrapped Up In What Other People Think – wanting to be liked and accepted is a part of being human; however, conforming takes away from what makes you, YOU. People are drawn to new ideas and people who own their individuality. Be a leader rather than a follower!
  7. Try New Things – although helpful, routine also limits your potential. Try new things and get out of your comfort zone to open new pathways in the brain and to grow as a person.
  8. Things Are Not What They Seem – nobody is perfect, no matter how they portray themselves. We all have bad days and flaws. Avoid the comparison trap and be grateful for the life that you have created for yourself. More often than not, the grass is not greener.
  9. Money Is Not the Most Important Thing – sure, having money makes things easier in many regards, but beyond the necessities, the “things” that money buys only take us so far. Happiness is an inside job that comes from connection, experiences and self-care.
  10. Be Nice to Everyone – it’s a small world and we’re all connected in some way, shape or form. It pays to be a good person – you never know when you may bump into this person again.
  11. Give Without Expecting Something In Return – if you give a gift, take care of a meal, or practice a good deed, do so from the kindness of your heart and avoid keeping score, especially with loved ones. Everything comes back around in one way or another.
  12. Be Present – spending too much time holding onto the past or worrying about what might happen in the future prevents you from actually living in the moment. Life is short and the moments pass quickly. Take control by learning to appreciate what’s right in front of you.
  13. Avoid Negativity – energy is contagious and negative people are draining and stressful. Protect your energy by spending as little time as possible with people who leave you depleted and defeated.
  14. Find Your Purpose – whether that’s to be a great mom, a killer salesman or a mentor, having a purpose gives you a reason to get up every day.
  15. Take Action – there’s no better time than now to go after that dream, try something new or face a fear. Just do it! Even if you fail, at least you can say you tried.
  16. Learn to Say “No” – protect your space and time. Say “no” when you aren’t really interested or don’t have time. From weekend plans and trips to job opportunities, declining sends a message to the universe about what you ARE looking for. The universe usually responds by sending even better opportunities your way.
  17. Honesty is the Best Policy – don’t lie, cheat or steal. Regardless of the situation, it is lighter and much more respectable to just tell the truth.

Life is short. When you focus on the little minutiae and everyone else’s opinions, you prevent yourself from fully living. This list is a good reminder to take a pause. By clearing the noise, you allow yourself to determine what really lights YOU up, something that’s different for every person. Be good to your body and other people, and they’ll most certainly return the favor. Even when life seems tough, simply being grateful for the things that you DO have can be enough to lift sadness, frustration and comparison. We’re all truly blessed and intended to have UNIQUE experiences in this life. Follow your own path, live life to the fullest and maximize as many moments as possible by staying present!

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