You’re looking for some guidance — not from a specific religion or philosophy of life but from time-tested collective wisdom.
What better than a collection of life truths shared by humans of all times, places, and cultures?
These are not bound to a particular worldview. But they’ll undoubtedly influence yours.
Welcome to our list of truths for every human, whatever your situation and needs.
To gain the most benefit from this list of 21, let’s start by explaining what a universal truth is.
What Are Universal Truths?
Universal truths of life apply to every human being — wherever they live and whatever their circumstances.
Some will be more meaningful to you than others, but all these human truths apply to your life and anyone else’s.
You can probably think of at least one universal truth related to specific concerns in your life:
- Your childhood or upbringing
- Stress and anxiety
- Equality and identity
- Struggles and adversity
- Love and acceptance
- True happiness
If you’re having difficulty thinking of any, the following list of universal truths examples includes various useful insights. Some of them will no doubt sound familiar.
- What Are Universal Truths?
- List of 21 Universal Truths to Live By
- 1. Fear is your servant — not your master.
- 2. To overcome pain and learn from it, you have to go through it.
- 3. Struggles can lead you closer to success.
- 4. “This, too, shall pass.”
- 5. Your outlook determines whether something is “good” or “bad.”
- 6. Some things you can change; others you must learn to accept.
- 7. If you aren’t kind to yourself, don’t expect others to be.
- 8. Life is an adventure.
- 9. Humility is essential to your growth.
- 10. Intuition can guide you in a way reason cannot.
- 11. A life well-lived is about thriving — not just surviving.
- 12. Everything you want to achieve begins with a single thought.
- 13. To be happy, find your gifts, and put them to use.
- 14. Leap and the net will appear.
- 15. Your fulfillment lies in thinking beyond yourself.
- 16. Don’t be guided by other people’s opinions.
- 17. You are more than your body.
- 18. Your body is more than it seems.
- 19. “No fate but what you make.”
- 20. Failure is a gift.
- 21. There is no “perfect time” to do anything. Don’t wait for it.
- How will you use these universal truths in your life?
List of 21 Universal Truths to Live By
1. Fear is your servant — not your master.
Fear can save your life. That fight or flight instinct of yours is there for a reason.
But fear can also hold you back from taking risks in pursuit of the life you want. In that case, your fear becomes your master.
It may not be a life or death issue, but your conditioned brain perceives change and new risks as threats. It takes conscious thought and inner wisdom to sort out the deadly threats from the ones we can overcome.
2. To overcome pain and learn from it, you have to go through it.
You’ve heard the saying, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” But maybe you’ve been through something that makes you think, “Not always.”
Whether or not you feel stronger, it’s a universal truth that you need to go through pain to overcome it and learn from the experience, however difficult that might be. And it is.
There’s no shortcut to growing resilient as a person. Trying to avoid pain or downplay it doesn’t make you stronger. It only prevents healing.
3. Struggles can lead you closer to success.
Everyone is struggling with something. Even those who seem to have everything “together” have struggles you don’t know about.
What you struggle with yourself, you might keep secret from others. Or you might share your daily challenges to let others with the same struggle know they’re not alone.
When you face those struggles and learn what you can from them, those same challenges can accelerate your growth and get you closer to your most meaningful goals.
4. “This, too, shall pass.”
Whatever you’re going through right now — or whatever you might be enjoying — it’s a universal truth that nothing lasts forever.
Pain from an injury lessens as it heals. And the elation you feel when you’re falling in love changes to something more sustainable as you get to know each other.
Learn to appreciate the good moments more. Try to recall them to mind when painful moments come. Photos can be a great help with this.
5. Your outlook determines whether something is “good” or “bad.”
Your outlook affects how you see everything. When you’re falling for someone, your view of them changes — for the better.
When someone you trust hurts you deeply, the same thing happens (for the worse).
The more you try to see the good, the more you’ll see it. And when you focus only on the negative, that’s what will jump out at you. You won’t see the sun for the shadows.
While we can’t always be 100% positive, seeing the fuller picture helps us decide which aspects to focus on. And our chosen focus can change everything.
6. Some things you can change; others you must learn to accept.
Think of things you honestly can’t change, even if you want to:
- Your past
- Mental health challenges
- A disability
- Personal losses
Some things you can change. Some things you can’t. When you’re frustrated about the latter, it only darkens your outlook on life and makes it impossible to enjoy the good in it.
Learn to accept the things you can’t change, so you can learn from them. Only then can you bring something good out of each.
7. If you aren’t kind to yourself, don’t expect others to be.
No matter how bleak your life may seem right now, you must take care of yourself. Daily self-care is rooted in both self-compassion and self-respect. It’s self-love in action.
And you have as much right to that as anyone else.
If you don’t prioritize your needs — for sleep, for personal hygiene, for downtime — and stand up for yourself, don’t expect anyone else to. Be your own best advocate.
8. Life is an adventure.
Life is one choice after another, and some of those choices lead to adventures you wouldn’t have had otherwise. But life as a whole is an adventure. And yours will look different from anyone else’s.
The only way you make the most of this adventure is to live through it, embracing the pain as well as the joy. Adventures, by definition, are not safe.
9. Humility is essential to your growth.
Humility is a natural consequence of self-knowledge. The better you know yourself, the less likely you are to either exalt or debase yourself. You see with a clearer lens.
Without humility, you don’t grow as a person. You make no progress toward becoming the person you want to be or making good use of your gifts.
Without humility, you remain stuck with a false idea of yourself that you cling to, whether it erases all your faults or magnifies them.
Humility sets you free.
10. Intuition can guide you in a way reason cannot.
Your intuition processes information much more quickly than your conscious mind can. So when it sends you a warning signal, you might not even understand why. But when you obey your intuition, you often find out you were right to.
Your intuition can also guide you in your creative work, suggesting ideas and connections that seem to come out of nowhere.
11. A life well-lived is about thriving — not just surviving.
“Failure to thrive” is a diagnosis that strikes fear in the parent of a young child. Doctors will order tests to explore the reason for that failure. And parents will blame themselves for having missed something crucial to their child’s development.
Failure to thrive as an adult is every bit as serious. Survival mode makes it difficult to make the changes you need to succeed. But doing so is essential to your growth and happiness.
When you give up on thriving, you give up on living.
12. Everything you want to achieve begins with a single thought.
While it’s also universally true that thoughts aren’t enough, everything you want to do in your life begins with a thought.
Say you brainstorm a list of things to do on the weekend. Then you pick one of those ideas and expand on it. Maybe you do some research to help you plan it out, from beginning to end. Then, when the weekend comes, you take action to make the thing happen.
It all started as a thought. But it happened because you took action.
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13. To be happy, find your gifts, and put them to use.
Everyone has gifts. At some point, most of us will focus on one gift (either because we favor it or someone else does) to the exclusion of others.
Think of something you do well. Make a list of the times and ways you’ve put it to work for someone’s benefit.
Chances are, the more positive feedback you’ve received, the more you put that gift to work. But even if you haven’t been encouraged to develop a particular talent, it’s there for a reason. And if it matters to you, you won’t be content until you put it to use.
14. Leap and the net will appear.
This isn’t about stepping off a literal cliff and hoping a net will appear. It’s about risking something you value to gain something even better. The thing you’re leaping for is what you really want, more than what you stand to lose.
Too often, we hold ourselves back with thoughts like, “If I make the leap, I’ll find out too late that it was a mistake, and I’ll lose everything.”
But if what you genuinely want requires a leap of faith, you won’t be happy until you make it.
15. Your fulfillment lies in thinking beyond yourself.
Your fulfillment depends on putting your unique set of gifts to good use. And whether your use of them does real and lasting good depends on how it affects people other than yourself. You are responsible for the way your actions affect other people.
And even if your self-centered actions somehow benefit others, if you care only about how it helps you, nothing you gain from it will ever be enough. You will never feel full.
Fulfillment depends on whether you seek to benefit others with your gifts. It requires you to “give them away.”
16. Don’t be guided by other people’s opinions.
The stakes aren’t as high for those eager to share their opinions. They lose less (if they lose anything at all) if you make the wrong decision. Other people’s views are less reliable than your conscious mind when you’re facing a difficult choice.
Better to learn the facts you need to see your options as clearly as possible. Or listen to your intuition, which doesn’t need a comprehensive knowledge of facts to guide you away from danger.
Let it guide you away from unhelpful opinions, too.
17. You are more than your body.
What do you see when you look in the mirror? Be honest about which words come to mind:
- “My body”
- “My reflection”
If you answered “my body,” you’re being super-literal or revealing what you’re primarily focused on when you see your reflection.
How you feel about your body affects every part of you. But you are more than what you see or what the mirror can reflect. The real you is infinitely more expansive than flesh and bones — or your outward appearance to others.
18. Your body is more than it seems.
It’s easier to see imperfections in your own body, but whatever you’d like to change about it, your body deserves more credit than you give it.
Your physical body will never be perfect, nor will anyone else’s. But whatever challenges you have with your body are helping you become the person you are on the inside.
Your body also reflects what you think of it. The more you see the beauty, the more you bring it out. And even if everyone doesn’t see that beauty, what matters more to your happiness is that you do.
Learn to accept and even love your body, and all it does for you. It is the home of your very being.
19. “No fate but what you make.”
This will sound familiar to anyone who’s watched The Terminator movies. It’s what Sarah Connor etched into the wooden surface of a picnic table after barely surviving the first cyborg sent from the future to kill her.
In writing that message, she reasserts her belief that she is the one who decides the course of her life. And she wants to pass that conviction on to her son.
There’s freedom in knowing you have control over your own life. If you have free will, you make your own choices. And those choices are what determine your fate.
20. Failure is a gift.
The leader of an army that wins a battle is less likely to look at what they did wrong and revise their strategy, but the army leader that lost definitely will (if they survive).
The next time the two armies meet, the leader who lost the first time will have learned what they did wrong, explored the weaknesses of their opponent’s strategy, and revised their own.
In the winner’s case, success has dulled the blade while the other leader’s failure has sharpened it.
21. There is no “perfect time” to do anything. Don’t wait for it.
If you’re waiting for the perfect time to do something that will change your life for the better, you’ll never get started. Because while some conditions may be more favorable to what you want to do, there will never be “ideal conditions.”
There will always be something that makes you think, “Maybe not just yet.”
How will you use these universal truths in your life?
Now that you’ve looked through this list of ultimate truths, which ones stood out for you. Which ones, in particular, have challenged you today?
Maybe you already live by some of them. Or maybe a friend or mentor used that wisdom to get you out of a dark place. Perhaps you’ve done the same for someone else.
Universal truths don’t rely on a specific religion. Humans as a whole have proven them time and time again over the centuries. They’re part of our shared experience.
May your experience grow richer as you embrace these truths and live by them.