The Ultimate List Of 143 Life Lessons You Must Learn

Do you ever look back on your life and think, “Gosh, I wish I'd learned that lesson a long time ago?”

You think you have a handle on how life works only to discover after a few failed relationships, difficult challenges, and misguided assumptions that you've been missing something valuable.

As a result, much of life is wasted on worry, regret, pain, and heartache. Of course, some of this is inevitable and necessary.

But we end up spending too much time sweating over things unnecessarily instead of focusing on what is important in life.

It seems “life lessons” are called that for a reason. The lessons learned in life are a byproduct of life itself. But you can learn some of these lessons before life forces them on you in a painful way.

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What are life lessons?

A life lesson is a powerful piece of wisdom, knowledge, insight, or self-awareness that you adopt to improve yourself, your relationships, and your life in general.

You often need to experience life in order to learn the lesson. And the more life you experience, the more lessons you accumulate.

But some extremely valuable lessons can be learned from wise thinkers and experts as well as from friends and family.

Although some lessons must be learned through experience, you don't have to wait until you're old to become aware of what's truly meaningful and worthwhile. You simply need the curiosity and desire for self-awareness and personal growth.

Once you learn the lesson, you can apply it in your life at any age and enjoy the benefits that enhance your happiness and well-being.

To help you navigate these life lessons, there is a table of contents below that will help you “hop” to a specific area.

The Best Life Lessons Ever

1. Your life is now.

We keeping waiting for that amazing thing to happen in the future that will be the key to our happiness.

person snow skiing life lessons

But this is it. Your life is right now. Life continues to be a series of right nows. So learn to love your life right now, and you'll have an amazing life.

2. Fear is an illusion (mostly).

Most of the things we fear never happen. Or if they do happen, they are rarely as bad as we fear they will be. For most of us, fear is the worst thing that will happen to us. Reality isn't as painful.

3. Relationships rule.

At the end of the day, what matters most in life are the people in our lives.

Put them first every single day. Before work. Before the computer. Before your hobbies. Treat them like they are your everything. Because they are.

4. Debt isn't worth it.

Nothing is more draining and humiliating than being in debt.

Buying things you can't afford might give you a short-term buzz, but in the long run, it's extremely stressful.

Spend below your means. Save money. Wait until you can afford it. Live a debt-free life.

5. Your kids aren't you.

You are the vessels to bring your children into the world and their caretakers until they can care for themselves.

You can teach them, love them, and support them, but you can't change them. They are unique individuals who must live their own lives and learn from their own mistakes. Let them.

6. Things gather dust.

Time and money spent accumulating material things will one day irritate you.

You have to clean, maintain, store, and move stuff. The less stuff you have in your life, the freer you are. Purchase mindfully. Simplify. Declutter your life.

7. Fun is underrated.

How much of your daily life is fun? Really fun?

Life is short. You should enjoy it. Don't make things serious that don't have to be.

Create more fun in your life. Don't worry about what other people think of your fun. Just enjoy it.

8. Failure is good.

We try so hard to avoid failure, but failure is the real evidence that we've had the courage to try.

If you avoid failure, you avoid taking action. Expect and accept that failure is part of the experience. Learn from it, grow from it, and move on.

9. Friendships need care.

One of the top five regrets of the dying is that they let their friendships fade away.

Friendships need time and attention. They need to be prioritized not just in word but in deed.

friends, important life lessons

Nurture them like a prized garden. The payoff is so worth it.

10. Prioritize experiences.

The pleasure and positive memories afforded by great experiences far outweigh material things. If you're trying to decide between the new sofa or the family trip, take the trip every time.

Save and plan for new adventures and meaningful experiences. Don't just dream about them — make them happen.

11. Anger isn't worth it.

The feel-good release of anger lasts a few minutes. The repercussions last far longer.

Regret, stress, and unhappiness are the byproducts of angry outbursts. Learn healthier ways to communicate your feelings, and when anger arises, step away until it dissipates.

12. Kindness matters.

Small expressions of kindness have an enormous positive impact on other people and on your own happiness.

It doesn't take much to be kind. Practice it every day of your life, in every situation, until it's your natural way of being.

13. Age is a number.

When you're twenty you think fifty is old. When you're fifty, you feel thirty. When you're seventy, fifty looks like adolescence.

Our chronological age doesn't have to define us. Don't allow a number to hold you back or prevent you from being the person you are inside. Just be the person you are inside.

14. Vulnerability heals.

Being real, open, and vulnerable invites people in and allows them to relate to you on a much deeper and more intimate level.

Vulnerability, practiced with safe and loving people, can heal emotional pain and strengthen relationships.

Let down your walls and connect. It's surprisingly liberating.

15. Posturing builds walls.

Creating a persona to impress or shield yourself from pain diminishes intimacy and authenticity.

People generally see through this, and it pushes them away. And you look like a fool.

16. Exercise is power.

Exercise should be a daily priority for everyone. It makes you physically, mentally, and emotionally stronger.

It improves your health and your outlook. It is the panacea for just about everything.

17. Grudges cause pain.

Holding on to a grudge is like injecting poison into your body every day. Forgive and let go. There's no other way.

If your ego is preventing you from forgiving and letting something go, then tell your ego to take a hike. It's getting in the way of your happiness and well-being.

18. Passion upgrades life.

When you find that thing you love to do with all your heart, every day feels like a gift.

If you haven't found your life passion, make it your mission to find it. The joy it brings you spills over into all aspects of your life.

19. Travel expands you.

Travel makes you a more interesting, insightful, and accepting person.

It expands you, enlightens you, and teaches you about the variety of people, lifestyles, and cultures. It is a pursuit well worth saving for.

20. You aren't always right.

We think we have the answers, know what's right and wrong, good and bad, best for ourselves and other people. But we aren't always right.

There's always more than one version. There are many perspectives that are valid. Always remember this life lesson and keep yourself open to that truth.

21. It will pass.

Whatever is causing you worry or pain right now won't cause you worry and pain forever. Time heals. Things change. It will pass.

22. You define meaning.

A meaningful life is what you define it to be.

If you neglect to define meaning for your life, you won't experience it. Decide what makes life worth living for you, and then design your life around that.

23. Risk expands you.

To make a positive change in your life, you often must take a risk. You must tolerate some level of uncertainty.

Taking thoughtful, calculated risk strengthens your “change muscle” and helps you grow.

24. Change is good.

Life is change. We shouldn't resist it.

Remaining stagnant is in opposition to the natural order of life. Flow with change. Embrace it and regard it as an adventure.

25. Thoughts aren't real.

Every moment of the day, we have random thoughts floating through our brains.

Many of the thoughts are negative and limiting. You don't have to believe them. They aren't the truth or the whole truth.

Thoughts can become our reality, but only if we let them.

26. You can't control others.

We want people to think and behave as we do. We want them to accommodate us and live the way we think they should live. We want to change them.

But with awareness, we realize we can't and shouldn't try to control others. Instead, embrace differences and honor the uniqueness of the people in your life.

27. Your body is a temple.

We all have something, or many somethings, we hate about our bodies. But your body houses your very essence.

Treat your body with respect and care for the efficient and wondrous way it takes care of you. Even if there are parts of your body you don't like, focus on your body with a sense of love and gratitude.

28. Touch heals.

Physical touch is healing and intimate. It bonds us to other people and relieves stress and anxiety.

It has a myriad of health benefits such as lowering heart rate and improving the immune system.

Mindful, loving touch with those you love is a gift that should be shared.

29. You can handle it.

Whatever you think you can't handle, you actually can.

You have more strength, more resilience, and more inner wisdom than you give yourself credit for. You'll get through it and survive — and maybe even be better for it.

30. Gratitude multiplies happiness.

Consciously focusing on all you have rather than thinking about what you don't have is a far better use of brainpower. Gratitude fosters positivity and well-being.

31. Intuition counts.

Your judgment is important, but your intuition supercharges your judgment.

Intuition is data from your subconscious mind, based on your past experiences and patterns in life.

It can arise spontaneously when you are called on to make a decision or need information. 

32. Please yourself first.

Pleasing others for approval and acceptance might feel good in the short term, but eventually, you will lose yourself and feel resentful.

Please yourself first and give to others based on conscious choice, not the desire for approval or feelings of guilt.

33. Self-honesty is freedom.

When you are in denial about something, you are blinding yourself to the truth.

Even if the truth is temporarily painful, it will ultimately set you free. Be radically honest with yourself so you can live authentically.

34. Perfection is boring.

Perfection is unattainable, and the pursuit of it makes us boring.

It is our differences, our foibles, and our imperfections that connect us to humanity and make us real.

35. Serving creates meaning.

If you want fulfillment in your life, start with serving others. Find a way to make a difference, even a small difference, and your life will feel purposeful.

36. Little things matter.

It's not the big wins, the great accomplishments, or your status in life that really count.

It's the accumulation of little things — the quiet moments in nature, special time with our kids, seeing the smile on your spouse's face when you walk in the door. Pay attention to these things.

37. Learning is forever.

There is so much to learn and explore in our very short lifetimes. Take advantage of learning every single day.

Challenge yourself to acquire a new skill, read something different, take a class. Learning keeps our minds engaged and sharp, even into old age.

38. Aging happens.

Our bodies age. It is a truth we can't avoid. You can manage to age well by doing the best with what you've got.

Beyond that, do your best to let it go. Enjoying life is the best antidote to getting older.

39. Marriages change.

The person you married will change over time. You will change over time.

Hopefully, you will change in the same direction or come to love the changes in the other person. Don't let these changes take you by surprise.

If the changes start to pull you apart, take action as soon as possible to heal the rift.

40. Worry is worthless.

Worry is useful only if it leads directly to a solution. But the very nature of worry implies that it doesn't.

You worry about “what ifs” that aren't real, and the worry itself creates stress and physical symptoms that cause real reason for angst. Learn how to manage your worry thoughts.

41. Heal your wounds.

Don't allow pain from your past (or present) to linger and cause you suffering.

Don't stuff it down or pretend it doesn't matter when it does.

Seek support from a professional trained to help you heal and renew your emotional health.

42. Simple is better.

A life full of complications, obligations, and an overwhelming schedule make life more difficult and stressful. A simpler life in all regards gives you more space for joy, authenticity, and engagement.

43. Do the work.

If you want something in life, you must do the work to get it. There are rarely shortcuts.

woman smiling while using her laptop important life lessons

But fortunately, the work is what affords the most sense of accomplishment. The process is more engaging than the outcome.

44. It's never too late.

This is an excuse for not trying. Great things can be accomplished at any age. Telling yourself otherwise is a sure way to remain stuck and frustrated.

45. Action beats angst.

Action is the cure for worry, procrastination, indecision, anxiety, and frustration.

Stop thinking and do something, and you will create momentum that leads to something valuable — or at the least heals your turmoil.

46. Creation beats reaction.

Be proactive in your life, designing exactly what you want rather than reacting to what life throws at you.

Creation empowers you and expands your opportunities. Reacting disempowers you and diminishes your choices.

47. Release attachments.

Don't become too attached to outcomes or beliefs. Remain open to all possibilities and ideas.

You will be surprised how much more there is to life when you don't cling to your beliefs, opinions, and things.

48. Words matter.

The words you speak have power. Consider your words carefully. Use them for good rather than harm. Once they are out, you can't take them back.

49. Make every day count.

If you live to age ninety, how many days do you have left?

It is a finite number, and one day you will reach that last day. Remain conscious of the value of every single day.

Ask yourself every morning, “What can I do to make today count?”

50. Love is the answer.

Love is why we are here. It is the force for good in this often random, painful, and harsh world. Share it freely. Express it daily. Use it as your lodestar.

Inspirational Life Lessons for Kids

51. You deserve respect.

Just because you're a child doesn't mean you shouldn't be treated with respect.

Respect means others show you kindness and care. They listen to you and value you for the person you are.

52. Sharing feels good.

Sometimes it's hard to share your things with other people.

You might fear that by sharing, you may lose something, or someone might take advantage of you.

But sharing feels good because you are showing the other person that you care and want them to enjoy what you are enjoying.

Being generous this way makes you like yourself even better.

53. Challenges are good things.

When something is hard and challenging, you may not want to do it. It's much easier to do something that is simple and fun.

But challenging things help your brain become stronger and teach you new skills.

The more challenges you tackle, the easier it becomes to take on the next one.

54. Growing up isn't so hard.

When you're a child, thinking about becoming a grown-up can be scary.

You might wonder how you'll ever be able to do what grown-ups do.

You might wish you never have to grow up because it looks so hard.

But growing up happens slowly with the help and support of your parents and other caring adults. You don't need to worry about it.

55. Manners matter.

Learning good manners makes a difference in how other people perceive you and helps you succeed in school and life.

Helping others, saying please and thank you, holding the door for someone, taking turns, and cleaning up after ourselves are examples of manners that other people notice and like.

56. Stand up for yourself.

It's hard to feel strong and brave when someone bullies you or gossips about you.

When other children are unkind or when you are left out, you may feel uncomfortable speaking up.

But you can stand up for yourself by letting others know how their words and behaviors make you feel and that you don't like being treated this way.

57. Do hard things first.

This is a hard life lesson for children and adults. We want to put off the things that are hard and do the easy, fun things first.

But the longer you delay the hard things, the harder they become.

When you put things off, you might not have enough time to complete them when you are supposed to.

Get the hard things (like homework and chores) out of the way first so you can enjoy the things you like to do without worry.

58. Think good things about yourself.

When you think of yourself as smart, strong, happy, and attractive you will become more of these things.

But if you think negative things about yourself, you will feel bad and unhappy.

Work on having positive thoughts, and speak positively about yourself, and you can change how you feel.

59. Have big dreams.

You can achieve just about anything you set your mind to.

Wake up every morning with an idea and think about how you want to make it happen.

Have some goals about what you want to do in school and once you become an adult.

Having life goals and dreams helps you make them real.

60. Practice honesty.

Telling the truth, even when you think you might get in trouble, is one of the most important life lessons to remember.

Your honesty shows others what kind of person you are.

You want others to trust you and believe you, but if you frequently tell lies or don't tell the entire truth, people begin to doubt you.

61. Be a good friend.

What does it mean to be a good friend? It’s easy to be a good friend when everything is fun and lighthearted.

But what about when your friend is upset or when other people say bad things about your friend. 

Being a good friend means being loyal, standing up for your friend, and forgiving them when they make mistakes. It also means saying you’re sorry when you hurt or offend your friend.

62. Play more. Plugin less.

Play is the most important thing you can do as a child. Playing outside or inside stimulates your creativity, helps you learn valuable life skills, and allows you to work off steam from school and other pressures. 

Playing outside makes you physically stronger, faster, and more coordinated. It also helps your brain develop in a healthy way — something that surfing your smartphone or computer all day doesn’t do.

63. Be yourself.

You may look at another friend and wish you could be more like him or her. Maybe they possess a quality you wish you had. But you are a unique and special person, and the best person you can be is yourself.

Starting today, look in the mirror and say, “I like myself. I am nice and fun to be around. I don’t need to be anyone different because I’m great just as I am.”

64. Keep trying.

Maybe you’ve had a hard time with homework or remembering things for a test. Or you haven’t done as well as you’d like in a sport or extracurricular activity.

When this happens, you may think you just can’t do it, or you don’t have what it takes. 

Don’t give up! When things get tough, you may feel like quitting, but push yourself a little harder and try again. You can improve anything if you keep trying.

65. Listen to your parents.

You may not like it when your parents don’t let you do things you want to do or punish you when you disobey.

But remember, your parents are the people who love you most in the world and who want you to stay safe, healthy, and happy. 

Your parents have a lot of life experience, and can guide you to make good choices and decisions that help you have a better life.

They give you a lot (their love, a home, clothes, toys, food), so show them your respect by listening and honoring them.

66. It’s okay to ask questions.

You may feel embarrassed or too shy too ask a question in school or with an adult.

Maybe you think asking questions means you aren’t smart or shows that you don’t know everything. But even adults don’t know everything, and asking questions is the best way to learn. 

Asking questions isn’t dumb but instead shows that you are curious and eager to learn. It shows how smart you are to want to know more. 

67. Talk about your fears and worries.

There’s a lot going on in the world that can be scary and upsetting. Sometimes things happen at school or with friends that are confusing or hurtful.

Or maybe you’ve done something you shouldn’t have done, and you feel guilty and bad. 

Holding these feelings inside can make things even worse. Worry and fear can even make you feel sick. But talking about your feelings with your parents or another safe adult makes you feel better and helps you understand your emotions.

Even if you’re worried your parents will get mad, it’s better to talk to them than to bottle up or hide what’s inside of you.

68. It’s okay to cry.

Crying is another way to release your negative feelings. It doesn’t mean you are weak or a baby. In fact, tears help you release stress chemicals in your body and make you feel calmer.

Boys especially need to accept that their tears are perfectly normal and acceptable.

69. Your grades aren’t as important as your character.

Of course, you and your parents are proud when you make good grades. Working hard in school is important and will help you with your future goals.

But your character is more important than your grades. You should never cheat to make good grades, and your grades are not as valuable to you or others as your honesty, kindness, and integrity. 

Life Lessons for Young Adults

70. Life isn't always fair.

Life will hand you difficult and sometimes terrible circumstances.

You may feel like you've somehow been singled out for punishment or that the world is out to get you.

But over time, you'll discover that life isn't always fair for you or anyone.

The sooner you accept that, the easier it will be to move past difficult times and handle them more gracefully.

71. Your mom and dad know a few things.

As a young adult, you're working to establish your own identity, separate from your parent's identity.

women at window, important life lessons

Sometimes that shows up as pushing away their advice and believing your mom and dad don't have the answers.

They may not have all of the answers, but their many life experiences do provide them with wisdom and knowledge that can be extremely helpful to you.

72. Your happiness is your responsibility.

No one else is to blame for your problems, and no one else can make you happy.

It's completely up to you to figure out how to solve your problems and what you need in life to feel satisfied and content.

73. Be independent before you marry.

Before you get married or live with someone for the long-term, be sure that you can stand on your own two feet emotionally and financially.

Don't depend on a love partner to fulfill you or take care of you.

Learn to be self-sufficient and independent before you settle down.

74. Take care of your body.

The investment you put into your health and fitness now will pay off in spades as you get older.

Don't take your health for granted, assuming it's fine to abuse your body (with drugs, alcohol, smoking, and being sedentary) because you're young.

Many older people look back with regret and wish they had taken better care of their bodies when they were your age.

75. Don't try to please everyone.

This is an impossible goal to achieve. Not everyone will approve of you, agree with you, or even like you.

Stay true to yourself, find your tribe, and accept that you can't please everyone. Trying to will only make you crazy.

76. It's not always about you.

When you encounter someone who is unpleasant, rude, or critical, quite often this person is dealing with their own issues and projecting them on to you.

Don't allow the bad behavior or negative temperament of someone else drag you down.

Remember that it's not always about you and isn't a reflection of your character or abilities.

77. Make your bed daily.

If you can develop this morning habit and do it every day when you get out of bed, you have set yourself up for success throughout the day.

It's a small accomplishment that sets the tone for the entire day, encouraging you to complete other tasks and goals you want to achieve.

78. Practice mindfulness.

Mindfulness is being present in the here and now and savoring the moment.

Rather than dwelling in the past or fretting about the future, you are focused on exactly what you are doing with full attention.

Mindfulness prevents anxiety and regret and gives you the mental and emotional bandwidth to enjoy life without mental distractions.

79. Character matters.

Having good character and living your life in alignment with your integrity sets you apart and gives you a foundation for making the best decisions and choices.

Good character traits like honesty, loyalty, responsibility, and perseverance should be an essential component of your identity if you want to feel good about yourself and gain the respect of others.

80. Tip well.

Whether or not you’ve worked in a restaurant, you know how hard servers work and how they rely on tips for much of their income. Never skip out on tipping a server or leave an insulting amount of money for a tip.

If the service is average, tip 15%. Tip 20% for service that is better than average. Tipping well communicates to your server that you appreciate their efforts.

81. Everything in moderation.

You don’t need to get drunk to enjoy social drinking or starve yourself in order to have the perfect body.

If your mental health is suffering because you’re pulling all-nighters to have a 4.0 GPA, then your life is out of balance. Or if you’re not studying because you’re on social media all the time, something’s amiss.

It’s easy to fall into habitual or even addictive patterns that are unhealthy. The old adage, “Everything in moderation,” can be your mantra to help you create boundaries to protect yourself from overdoing it in any area of your life.

82. Find your community.

As a young adult, this is the time you’re discovering yourself and who you are.

Look around you to see if the company you keep reflects the person you are or want to be. If not, find a community of like-minded people who support you and inspire you to be your best. 

83. The internet is forever.

If you put it out there, it stays out there. In five, ten, or twenty years, do you want that picture of you drunk at a party or the not-so-professional comments you shared in a weak moment to reflect your character?

As Viktor Frankl wrote, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response.” Use the space before you hit “enter” to consider what you put online and how it might impact you in years to come. 

84. You are not entitled.

It doesn’t matter where you grew up, how successful your parents are, the color of your skin, or how attractive you may be — you aren’t entitled to anything special as a result.

You may have a leg up because of these things, but your response to this should be gratitude for the gifts you’ve been given rather than entitlement because you have them. 

Life has a way of showing us that the gifts we were born with don’t compare to the effort we expend and the gratitude we express along the way.

85. Be the change you want.

You are the future. You are in charge of building the world that you want. Don’t complain about what past generations have done or the legacy they have left. Get busy being the change you want to see. 

86. Save. 

If you want to build wealth and live a comfortable life, save money every month.

Learn to delay gratification and prioritize putting money away before you spend on non-essentials.

If you start at age 25 saving $100 a month (at a 7% return rate), you’ll have a nest egg of $343,000 at age 70. If you save $200 a month, you’ll have $767,000 when you retire.

87. Your problems aren’t unique.

It’s true that young adults today suffer more anxiety and depression than the previous generation. And it may seem your problems are unique and more challenging than those faced by past generations. 

But each generation has faced turmoil, defeat, and calamities. What matters is not who has it the hardest but rather how can you learn to cope with the inevitable challenges of life.

Fortunately, you have more resources than ever available to you online and with counseling, coaching, and other helping professions. 

88. Pursue adventures now. 

If you long to travel or want to follow a career passion that isn’t as certain as that accounting job, do it now before you have family commitments or time restrictions that prevent you.

Use this adventure time to expand yourself and your interests. Meet new people and make valuable connections for the future. Take on a part-time gig to support your travels or your passion if need be.

Life Lessons for Your Career

89. Be prepared for opportunity.

If you want to move ahead in your career, you need to set yourself up for success.

That requires being prepared when opportunities arise.

Learn as much as you can about your career field and know what you want your next move to be. Learn additional skills that will make you more of an asset.

Keep you resume updated and your interview skills polished.

90. Prove your worth.

Show the people you work for that you are worth every penny they have invested in you.

Do more than is asked of you. Initiate new ideas that support your company’s mission.

Show up early and stay late at times. Be prepared and on time for meetings and events.

91. Stay professional.

There will always be conflict and difficult personalities in any job.

But rather than allowing these challenges to frustrate you and compel you to lose your cool, do your best to remain professional in these situations.

Be the steady and thoughtful anchor when others around you are behaving unprofessionally.

92. Have goals.

Know what you want in your career and have a vision for how you are going to get there.

Don’t allow the winds of fate to determine your professional future. Become the captain of your destiny and work toward achieving what you want.

93. Build connections.

You never know who can support, sponsor, and promote you along the way.

Build relationships with all sorts of people and show them that you value their work and contributions.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to those in higher positions to introduce yourself and see how you might add value to what they do.

94. Focus on results, not activity.

Being busy at work doesn’t necessarily mean you are being productive. Know what you are working toward and what your organization is trying to achieve.

Spent your time and energy where you’ll get the most results that benefit you and your company.

95. Find mentors.

Seek out someone who is doing what you want to do, who has more experience and insights. Study that person and learn as much about his or her career path as possible.

Find a way to support that person and if possible, spend time with them so you can learn from them.

96. Control digital temptations.

Just about every job involves time on a computer and smartphone. These valuable work tools can also be huge distractions.

Make it a priority to resist the temptations of social media, email checking, and news surfing so you don’t lose focus and time on the job.

97. Give credit to others. 

Look for opportunities to let others shine in the spotlight and give credit when credit is due.

Yes, you must promote yourself at times, but you will gain more respect when you honor and support the people around you as well.

98. Listen more than talk.

We all love the sound of our own voices, but you’ll learn more by listening than talking.

When you listen more, you prevent yourself from saying something dumb or not well-considered.

You also gain more knowledge and information. Then when you do speak, people will really listen.

99. Diversify your knowledge.

You don’t want to stagnate in your job because you are pigeon-holed in one area or skill. Take the initiative to learn new skills or get more education or training to make you a more valuable and marketable employee. 

100. Remember, success doesn’t happen overnight.

In a world of instant gratification, it’s hard to wait for success in your career. But most people don’t find career success until they’ve put in many years of effort and hard work.

Rather than delaying your happiness until you’ve reach the pinnacle, find joy in achieving small wins and milestones along the way.

Find fulfillment in the process of success rather than just the culmination. 

101. Learn your boss’s job.

You’re not trying to get rid of your boss but rather to be prepared if the times comes for someone to replace him or her.

Observe what your boss does daily and how he or she does it. Ask to take on some of your boss’s responsibilities with supervision.

Find ways to make your supervisor’s work life easier and more productive. As you become more invaluable, others will see you as next in line.

102. Be a positive influence.

There may be parts of your job you hate, or you may find your co-workers or even your supervisor difficult or unpleasant.

But rather than complaining or joining others in kvetching about the work or your organization, be a positive and calm force who doesn’t complain or gossip. 

103. Dress for the job you want.

These days the office environment is more casual than in years past. Entry-level employees in particular may get by wearing jeans and other informal attire. 

Pay attention to the person whose job you’d like to have. What are they wearing? You don’t need to dress like the CEO, but up your game by making your work wardrobe more polished and professional — even if your peers don’t.

104. Be smart but ethical.

If you are vying for that promotion or to lead the next project, your co-workers are likely doing the same thing.

Everyone is competing to rise to the top, so be smart about your opportunities and distinguish yourself from others. 

But don’t compromise your ethics to reach your goals. Your character speaks volumes to decision-makers.

105. Be willing to do the hard things.

Every job has its fair share of grunt work and difficult tasks. By avoiding them, they don’t get easier or make you look professional.

Tackle the tough stuff first and get it out of your mind so you have the bandwidth to work on more interesting things. 

106. Don’t always ask for permission.

You’re an adult and have a job that needs to be done. You don’t need to ask permission for everything decision or action you take.

Be a self-starter and try to find solutions on your own without first going to a supervisor. 

Get feedback from co-workers or other more senior staff if you need to. Show that you’re capable of figuring things out without handholding. 

107. Don’t hold grudges.

There may be people in your workplace who have offended or mistreated you. You may have been fired or not given a position you thought you deserved. 

Express your anger or resentment to your friends and family, but avoid holding grudges against those who’ve wronged you. You never know when you may meet up with this person again in your career.

And you don’t know if your negative comments might one day reach a future potential employer.

Life Lessons for Your Relationships

108. Learn to compromise.

You can’t be in a successful marriage or love relationship without compromising at times.

The power dynamic can’t be one-sided — you are partners who must learn the give and take required from being paired with someone.

109. Forgiveness is powerful.

Be quick to forgive and let go of minor issues. Try not to keep score or hang on to grudges.

Don’t allow resentment and anger to fester. It will destroy your relationship over time.

110. Love doesn’t heal everything.

The love between you is what brought you together and keeps your relationship alive.

But love alone isn’t enough to manage the challenges and issues you’ll face as a couple.

Good communication skills, patience, and kindness (among other things) are essential for a healthy relationship.

111. The relationship must come first.

Your relationship must be your priority — over career, kids, extended family, or anything else.

It should be the centerpiece of your life if you want all of the other aspects of your life to be happy and healthy.

112. Emotional abuse destroys intimacy.

Immature behaviors, verbal attacks, passive-aggressiveness, and control will undermine your closeness and the trust and respect between you.

Avoid emotionally abuse behaviors at all costs so you don’t poison your love and intimacy.

113. Your identity doesn’t depend on your partner.

Your relationship is primary, but that doesn’t mean you can’t maintain your separate identities.

Look to your spouse or partner as a partner — not someone you depend on to define you and make you whole.

114. Honor your love languages.

Learn about the five love languages and how important they are to your relationship.

Honor your partner’s love language, and ask your partner to honor yours.

You both need to be loved in the way that feels loving to you.

115. Communication is critical.

You can’t ignore problems or stop talking because you are angry or frustrated. If you do, resentments build and create bigger problems.

Regular communication about conflict and difficult issues may be uncomfortable, but it ensures you clear the air and find solutions together. 

116. Alone time is important.

We all need time to ourselves even in the most connected and intimate relationship.

You both need time for self-reflection, reading, or just recharging.

Giving that time to one another is a gift, and it doesn't mean you aren't bonded as a couple. In fact, it allows your bond to be stronger when you come back together.

117. Keep the spark.

Romance and intimacy can diminish over time, so it's vital to your relationship that you work on keeping the spark alive.

Plan dates together and find mutual interests that you can enjoy as a couple.

Find ways to spice up your sex life so it doesn't become rote and boring.

118. Be present.

A relationship is all about relating, and you can’t relate if you are constantly distracted and disengaged. When you and your partner are together, be fully present for him or her. Put down your phone and turn off the TV. 

Take a walk together and talk about your day. Listen to your partner attentively and show him or her that you genuinely care about what they are sharing.

If your life is busy, schedule time every day to be present for one another so that you don’t drift into separate lives. 

119. Never show contempt.

Contempt is showing disdain, condescension, and disrespect toward your partner. It’s a way of telling your partner you are better or smarter than they are.

According to relationship expert, Dr. John Gottman, contempt is the most destructive behavior between love partners.

It erodes intimacy and ultimately kills the relationship. Contempt is an attitude you should never, ever have toward your partner or express to them. 

120. Heal conflict quickly.

If you allow conflict and discord to simmer for days or weeks unresolved, it becomes much more difficult to address.

The problem grows in the minds of both of you, and what could have been resolved easily now takes more time and emotional energy. 

Or you may sweep a conflict under the rug, never addressing it at all, only to have resentment and anger undermine your closeness and trust.

Address conflict as soon as you are both calm and able to talk as a team, putting the health of the relationship first. 

121. Understand you won’t change him/her.

If you begin a relationship believing you can change the other person, you’ll be in for a sad surprise.

You may see qualities in your significant other you don’t like and believe you can inspire him or her to let them go. 

But real change occurs when people have internal motivation to change. If you try to strong-arm change, your partner will resent you and feel they are never enough.

Accept your lover as he or she is and focus on what you love rather than what’s missing. 

122. Be appreciative.

One of the most common relationship complaints is the feeling that one partner takes the other for granted. The best way to remedy this issue is by both partners showing daily appreciation for one another. 

Be appreciative of who your partner is, what they bring to the relationship, and how they positively impact your life.

Show gratitude for the small and large efforts your partner makes for you and your family.  

123. Recognize your partner’s not a mind reader.

Never assume your spouse or significant other knows what you are thinking or feeling. He or she can’t read your mind and shouldn’t be expected to intuit your feelings and needs.

Don’t use passive-aggressive behaviors to hint at what you want or how you feel, even if you’re uncomfortable expressing it.

Speak directly and plainly if you want your partner to know and understand you.

124. Change happens.

If you’re in a relationship for the long haul, expect that your spouse or partner will grow and evolve over time. So will you. Sometimes you grow together and sometimes you don’t.

Preparing yourself for the inevitable changes you both experience can help you navigate them as a team and keep your relationship solid. 

125. Comparison creates animosity.

Does someone else’s husband or wife seem more successful, attractive, or attentive than yours? Do your neighbors live a more lavish lifestyle than you can afford? 

Comparing your situation or your spouse to another person’s is a recipe for constant dissatisfaction and animosity between you.

Spend your emotional energy on the positive aspects of your relationship and life, and you’ll find that you are both happier. 

126. Know when to let go.

Hanging on to a relationship out of boredom, fear, loneliness, or guilt is not the foundation for loving and close connection.

If the relationship is broken, and you know it can’t be fixed, then the best thing you can do for both of you is to let it go.

Letting go doesn’t mean you or your partner are failures. It reveals self-awareness and courage to say goodbye to someone you once loved when the connection no longer works. 


Moral Lessons

127. Practice empathy.

Empathy is the ability to put yourself in another person's shoes and understand his or her feelings.

Empathy shows you aren't just self-interested but want to connect with other people in a kind and loving way.

128. Respect the property of others.

By definition, showing respect for people requires you to respect their possessions. You don't take things or “borrow” them without asking.

If you are using something that belongs to another person (with permission), you take care of it and return it in the same (or better) condition it was when you borrowed it.

129. Develop courage.

Courage is showing strength in the face of hardship, grief, or pain. It's also doing something difficult and necessary in spite of your fear or anxiety about it.

Being able to step out of your comfort zone for a greater good reflects character and self-confidence. It makes you stronger and more resilient.

130. Be loyal to others.

Being loyal with those you care about means sticking with them through good times and bad — even when it would be easier or less painful to cut them off.

Loyalty involves being honest even when it's hard. It means there are not “conditions” on your relationship or friendship. And it also means you have boundaries and respecting the boundaries of the other person.

131. Cultivate tolerance of others.

Tolerance means you acknowledge and accept the opinions, values, culture, and beliefs of others — even if they differ from your own.

You don't respond to these differences with negativity or anger but rather with curiosity and evenness.

132. Don't judge.

When you judge others, you reveal a smallness in yourself — a sense of self-righteousness that lacks compassion.

Being less judgmental involves practicing empathy. You seek to understand the other person and view the situation or decision through his or her perspective.

133. Be dependable.

You know how it feels when someone let's you down and fails to follow through on a promise.

Be someone that others can count on. Do what you say you'll do. Show up on time. Live up to your commitments.

134. Have a generous spirit.

Generosity doesn't always mean giving away money or possessions. Being generous with others involves giving your time, your emotional energy, and your kind words without expecting anything in return.

A generous person is able to celebrate the successes of others and give credit when credit is due. Generosity of spirit is a quality that draws others to you.

135. Practice patience.

You've seen impatient people who get angry and complain when they don't get what they want right away. It's an unattractive and off-putting quality that reflects selfishness and immaturity.

It is hard to be patient, especially in this age of instant gratification. When you feel impatience boiling over, practice deep breathing and bring yourself back to the present moment.

136. Prioritize your family.

In a hectic world, it’s easy to neglect your family members and assume they will always be there for you.

But you need to be there for them and continue to cultivate your relationship with them. Unless your family is toxic, they should be the most important people in your life.

Maintain your close connection with your parents, siblings, and extended family members. They give you a sense of belonging, pass on traditions, and provide a invaluable support system.

137. Honor the dignity of all people.

All people, no matter their race, religion, income, background, or age, should be treated with respect and dignity.

You are no better than others, and no one is better than you. People may be different in many ways, but everyone deserves courtesy and kindness.

138. Support social justice and human rights.

You may not be an activist, but you can support fairness in wealth, opportunities, and basic needs. You can speak out about equality, gender discrimination, racism, and educational opportunities. 

Begin by educating yourself on these matters, examining your own opinions and beliefs and using social media to educate others. If you want to take action, volunteer your time for a cause you support, or join a protest or demonstration.

As humans, it is our obligation to look out for one another and correct injustices in society.

139. Develop self-discipline.

Self-discipline or willpower is a learned practice that builds your inner strength and character.

It helps you overcome temptations that stand in the way of your goals or undermine your relationships. With self-discipline, you learn to tolerate emotional discomfort for a greater good. 

140. Practice discretion.

Discretion is the practice of keeping private or sensitive information to yourself. If someone shares a secret with you, you don’t talk about it with others.

If you are privy to information at work, you don’t show it to others or leave it where people can see.

Discretion is a way of showing respect for other people — weighing whether or not sharing would cause harm to them.

141. Be a role model. 

Set an example as a positive role model of good character, and you can help shape a future generation of young people.

When you demonstrate integrity, leadership, respect, positivity, and humility, you make others want to be better people. The added benefit is that you become a better person yourself.

142. Keep your composure. 

Are you able to remain calm and in control of yourself during stressful or upsetting situations?

Maintaining composure and keeping your emotions in check is one of the most difficult acts of self-discipline.

But practicing composure allows you to make thoughtful and clear decisions and prevents you from doing or saying something you’ll later regret. 

143. Return favors. 

If someone has gone out of their way for you or extended a kindness, find a way to do the same for them.

Don’t allow favors from others to pile up without extending yourself and showing your appreciation. 

More Related Articles:

101 Breakthrough Questions To Accelerate Massive Action

The Ultimate List of Core Values

46 Of The Best Motivation Monday Quotes


What life lesson resonated most with you?

Was there a life lesson — or maybe several — that spoke to you?

Reading about these lessons is one thing, but it's hard to adopt these new ideas if you've developed different behaviors and habits over the years.

If you take the time now to work on new mindsets and behaviors, you won't experience regret years down the road when you realize how important these lessons are.

Choose one or two to work on over the next few months. Write down a list of behaviors you need to change or mindsets you want to adjust, as well as action steps to help you make these changes.

Create a reminder and accountability system to help you stay on track with your goals. And be sure to celebrate your accomplishments as you adopt these life lessons as a permanent part of your character.

Do you ever look back on your life and think, "Gosh, I wish I'd learned that lesson a long time ago?" You think you have a handle on how life works only to discover after a few failed relationships, difficult challenges, and misguided assumptions that you've been missing something valuable. #passion #selflove #mindfulness #personalgrowth #personaldevelopment

32 thoughts on “The Ultimate List Of 143 Life Lessons You Must Learn”

  1. Barrie,
    It’s so easy these days to see a list like this and feel a bit sceptical about the quality if the information it will contain.
    I read your list and it is spot on. It’s fantastic and not only am I going to take it and ponder it deeply for myself I also can tink of a number of people imediately that I want to send it to as I know it will get them thinking.

    Thnak you for a real respurce with this post.

    Monique Rhodes
    Founder

    Reply
  2. Hi dear,

    this is a wonderful list and guidelines to successful life. I appreciate all your words and wisdom.

    BRAVO!

    Reply
  3. Barrie,
    I haven’t even read this yet and I’m already ecstatic! I asked awhile ago if you’d do a post like this and was going to write you again, so thank you!!! You rock 🙂

    Reply
  4. 51. Surround Yourself with People who lift you
    52. Smile Everyday.
    53. Don’t expect to change others until you have changed yourself.
    54. There is a reason you putting off that difficult conversation. Have it now.
    55. Haven’t found your passion? Keep looking (Passion changes and evolves).

    Reply
  5. You’ve learned a lot in your life, Barrie! I like the fact that thoughts aren’t real! I fully believe and support that. Best to let them float by than attach to them.

    Reply
  6. I love what Davis Nguyen had to add – excellent and helpful. My own: Time is precious – it is the stuff life is made of – use it wisely and well.

    Reply
  7. What is said is very true..what ever your age might be…you yourself will be experiencing the essence of all these 50 statements. For me at the age of 27, I have experienced more than half of these…everybody knows them..but what is difficult is how to put them into PRACTICE…experiencing is totally different from learning from your experiences..The latter is the one that will help you rather than just piling up all your experiences growing old…ONE THING I FELT MISSING IS…..one of the EASIEST AND BEST WAYS of PUTTING INTO PRACTICE ALL THESE 50 ….IS by SURRENDERANCE TO GOD ALMIGHTY….practice SPIRITUALITY, in any form it might be…which will help u achieve all these and generate POSITIVE ENERGY…51.TO include….MAKE PRAYER a part of your DAILY ROUTINE…just like exercise heals ur body…PRAYER heals you from inside…and results in PEACE…SURRENDER all your worries to god and ask him for STRENGTH..to handle your LIFE….properly by keeping in MIND all the above 50 statements..GOD BLESS US ALL

    Reply
    • TEGA
      what a range of intuition youve got by adding/including the last MOST important rule which is by SURRENDERANCE TO GOD ..by that which you’ve insured and sure of a lifetime progress and by then makes it easier to put into practise the remaining motivational rules mentioned above in life ..nice tega! may God continue to broaden our understanding to life

  8. For some of us debt is unavoidable. I have crushing student debt and then in my last years of school became disabled and unable to work but still have all this debt expected to be paid back. I definetly live humbly because of it but I don’t think I did anything wrong to be ashamed of.

    Reply
  9. Excellent….here is one of the best novel by Turkish Writer Elif Shafak about 40 rules of love…..will impress and life changing for everyone…must read and thank you.

    Reply
  10. This is great!. Life comes with natural laws which affect our decisions and actions. All I can Say is; indeed failure is good and fear is not real. You can be who you want to be. Life is simple so don’t complicate yourself.

    Reply
  11. I must say you bring up every part I learned so I guess I have become “Wiser than I give myself credit for”? I think as humans we all can be hard on ourselves and this was a great read. Recently, myself furthermore a bit of my experience leading me to your page. I did some major reevaluating after my father had become ill. I was never close to him I come to realize and accept not his fault, not judging because I understand but deep down I believe was not good for me, of influence and there are people out there that truly love and care about me. I had to learn from my mistakes to gain wisdom that I truly wasn’t not happy at the time (therefore figuring out how) but ended up being a care-taker. I didn’t realize it had stressed me out where I had become very judgemental and not trusting of people. But then figured out how to deal with autoimmune disease that affects my stress level through diet. So of dramatic irony, he had taught me to take care of myself.

    I took the time off to take care of myself and reevaluate and then I didn’t realize until afterwards acquiring wisdom throughout an entire section of my library and taking some time for myself watching my favorite old shows as a child with hidden wisdom that not only made me realize wisdom but inspired me.

    I realize, i am actually pretty lucky because not only with that wisdom I had learned how to drive but with that wisdom of dramatic irony again, not meaning to judge put me on the road for a better life and through the wisdom I found gave me a new hobby. I believe he brought the worst out in me but it was because I willing to learn from the wisdom I was greatful for the past experience even if at the time it “Felt” hard because like it says anything going through a hard time is temporary/past and I realize will get better and now I am safe, secure and can be truly happy.

    Also, realized I have gotten better, not only learned how to drive but have acquired skills essential for a job. Basically, I like to think of it as Mrs Doubtfire role: Through optimism and creativity I didn’t realize I already had a job at the same time, find the joy in everyday-without leaving the house lol. I reevaluated further through wisdom really was a blessing in disguise because brought me closer to my mother.

    Then, the air broke down so I had to sleep closer to her from then on but we actually had bought each other fans around the same time the air broke down Basically, seems through caring and compassion we give each other air which turns out we both have the same sign air lol

    Also, realizing old subconcious negative habits I have had for about 5 past years.
    I started with my autoimmune disease and then being able to eat again the way I liked. Then, I read about “Grief” finding out I was in the acceptance part the same time I was caretaking so was going through alot, don’t like to put a label on it. But if it wasn’t for this, wouldnt’ve given me wisdom to be a happier better person. Then, I realized about the little things being greatful for what i truly love and love to do everyday. I would start going for bike rides and write down ideas that came to me when I came back. I also log my dreams too both as well as reading pretty theraputic. I started some bibliothrapy with what I discovered…

    Also, including basically what I like to call negative expectations which includes and this is human nature I realize, had not been honest with, too hard on myself, learned about Optimism which I didn’t realize had in me all along but when I stopped believing in myself had given into pessimissm, I read about being too hard on self I call self-judgement or you may have heard the term resentment and then also what is refered to but I don’t being an Optimist lol as Self-Sabatoge including Negative Perfectionism which I realized what it comes down to is Optimism, Excellence and positive expectations, don’t stress don’t judge and don’t repress.

    But basically I realize how much I learned and now it’s just a matter of letting go, thinking of remembering things that I believe in, truly remember and being happy. Personally I think 3/4 of the day I’m happy half of the week is not such a bad thing. It’s basically taking a little more time to learn more and have some fun. I also discovered a new hobby I enjoyed doing including shadowworkplay and I must say thinking about it there’s a lot of positive reinforcement wisdom compassion there that has helped me and realize not only will I feel better but will help me drive on with what i want and who I love in my life and look back and laugh in good humor with life lessons/morals and I came across your page doing so must say this is one of the most greatful parts of my day today. Thank you for the experience. May you help others as you have helped me!

    Reply
  12. Very wise thoughts. Here is one that I told many years ago by a very wise mentor. “Always make sure that you understand what you already have before you wish for more”. This applies to all things emotional and physical.

    Reply

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