I’m going to make an educated guess…
Are you ready?
Here it is…
In the past 365 days, you have probably devoted exactly 0 seconds thinking about the harsh realities of life and objectively examining the difficult truths that the universe has to share.
Why would I say this?
Because it’s human nature.
We like to avoid the uncomfortable and move towards what is easy.
We prefer to live in our magical fairytale lands where nothing bad ever happens and everybody and everything works perfectly.
But things don’t work like this…
Life is hard, even brutal at times.
But life becomes a lot easier when you are willing to look at life through the lens of pragmatic realism.
And if you are willing to take a short journey with me and look at life through this lens, you will come out on the other side with 7 powerful but very hard to swallow lessons that can (literally) save and shape your life.
1. The Universe Doesn’t Owe You a Damn Thing
Growing up, we are constantly told that we are special, unique little snowflakes.
Now personally, I find this sentiment laughable at best, and downright demeaning at worst.
Sure, there is a positive connotation behind this idea – knowing that we each have unique personalities, passions, and skills that we need to discover and pursue in order to lead a fulfilling life.
But there is a very negative aspect that comes with it as well.
It gives people an undeserved sense of entitlement.
We believe that we are special in this way, we also think that we somehow deserve to have success happen to us.
Some people think they’re so special and so much better than everyone else that they deserve to be treated like royalty for no good reason.
On the other side of the spectrum, some people think that their problems are so unique and individual that they feel alone in the world, and in turn feel like the universe gave them the short end of the stick, so everyone should feel bad for them.
They’re both wrong – and both of their mindsets create roadblocks to the individual’s growth and success.
The truth is you aren’t that special, and the world doesn’t owe you a thing.
Those problems that you’re dealing with? There are millions of people dealing with the same thing. And there are millions of more people going through even worse things than you are.
Quit feeling sorry for yourself.
Appreciate everything that you’ve been given.
Be grateful for the gifts that you have in your life.
If you don’t you’ll never be able to progress. All you’ll do is sit around feeling bad for yourself for something that isn’t even that unique of a problem.
You aren’t alone.
When you finally fully realize that you aren’t entitled to anything, you’ll actually feel a sense of liberation.
No more excuses. You’ll realize there’s no point to complaining, there’s no point about being resentful about things that are out of your control.
2. Money Will Make You Happy…But It Won’t Necessarily Fulfill You
You’ve heard it before… “Money can’t buy you happiness.”
Honestly…. that’s a load of crap.
The “load of crap” comes in thinking that something as complicated as the concept of happiness can be simplified into an easy to understand, standardized box.
Truth is, it’s a complex subject, filled with different situations, variables, and reasoning for every person.
Without exception, everyone that I know believes (deep down) that money would bring them more happiness if they used it to take care of the people that they love and bring more love and joy into the lives of others.
Money is a neutral object that can be easily tainted and turn into something “bad” (think greedy assholes that make their whole life about money) or it can be a complete blessing (think JJ Watt raising $37 million for those affected by Hurricane Harvey).
Just like anything else in life – it’s all about balance.
If your whole life is about chasing money, you’ll never find the fulfillment that can only be found in other aspects of life. And on the other side of the spectrum, it’s pretty apparent that making money is necessary to create a sustainable life for yourself and the ones you love – and to villify the pursuit of money altogether would be downright irresponsible.
If you don’t devote some of your time to making money and creating a sustainable livelihood, then you will miss out on some of the greatest opportunities that this life has and you will selfishly deprive the people that you love of the resources and peace that come with responsible financial planning.
Work towards finding that balance – the balance of finding how to get paid for something that you’re passionate about. The balance between the pursuit of wealth and the time spent with loved ones.
3. Never Become Reliant On Other People or Things For Peace and Happiness
In today’s world we are constantly bombarded with beautiful people and things on the news and media, and it’s easy to think “if only I had a girlfriend, or if only I had all these things, or all this money, then I would finally be happy.
I mean we live in a capitalistic society. Money, fame, and beauty is the whole purpose of life right?
The truth is that the quest for things is a thirst that will never be quenched.
Once you have one thing, it’ll be another thing. And another thing. And another thing.
Enough will never be enough.
I used to deal with some pretty heavy depression.
And through this journey, I came to the realization that my happiness was entirely dependent on external sources.
My happiness was derived from how popular I was at the time, how many likes I was getting on social media, how much money I was making and if it was enough to impress people.
And of course, how often I was able to get drunk or high and how good looking the girl on my arm was that night.
If you think about it, none of those things are really under your control.
They’re all outside factors that you don’t really have much say about.
When it comes down to it, it’s almost as ridiculous as letting your mood be dependent on the weather.
No matter how much you love your friends and they love you – everyone eventually gets let down. And it’s not necessarily their fault – they’re just human.
A none of those things are inherently bad things.
But just like we were talking about how money is a neutral object that turns into what we make it – they’re all super easy to get sucked into when you don’t have a solid foundation of happiness beforehand.
Again there’s a balance that comes with everything. Without balance – anything can turn into something that’s not good for you.
So what can we control?
Our own personal growth.
Our own personal passions.
Our own pursuit of finding what really defines us.
Once you’re able to prioritize what matters in your life – all of those outside factors will only make you happier, but won’t affect you as much when they let you down.
There’s nothing like knowing your happiness is based on yourself. Keep growing, keep learning, keep following your dreams and passions, and no outside factors will ever be able to take that happiness away from you.
4. Higher Education Does NOT Equal Success
This should be common sense – but when we get lost in the chaos of life and the anxiety of trying to find our paths, we tend to forget…
Everyone is different.
Some people are going to get a lot more out of going to college than other people. Some people will learn a lot from lectures and classes, while other people will need to find a different approach.
One isn’t necessarily better than the other.
It is kind of messed up how kids growing up today that aren’t as successful on belittle themselves because of the f*cked up belief that the lack of an $80,000 degree makes them stupid.
Do I really need to go through the list of successful dropouts? Bill Gates and Paul Allen of Microsoft. Oprah. Michael Dell of Dell. John Mackey of Whole Foods. Steve Jobs. Mark Zuckerberg and the list goes on.
It gets really hard to not compare ourselves to other people when we’re in the school system.
That’s literally what school is.
Standardized testing where everyone compares themselves to their peers on a simple scale of 1 to 100.
I’m not going to dig too deep into how messed up our school’s education system is, but suffice it to say that it isn’t the most beneficial environment for people to figure out what their life’s purpose and unique attributes are that will contribute to finding where one’s true passions lie.
I’m not saying that higher education is bad. But the people who will benefit the most from it are those who already know the path that they want to follow that goes along their own personal “life map.”
For the rest of us who have no idea what we’re doing or how we’re going to get there, betting everything on a Bachelor’s degree or an MBA won’t guarantee you success.
If you’re doing it just to “fill the time,” hoping that somehow the answer to your life will fall out of the sky into your lap just because you paid to have someone print your name on a piece of paper, you’ll be disappointed in the fact that it won’t just answer all of your problems.
Take it from someone who studied five years to earn a degree that is completely incongruent with his passions and purpose.
Again, everyone is different.
Finding your own path is a tough journey that every single person needs to embark on, and you’re no different. Some people don’t figure out what they were put on this planet for until they’re older, and other people know what they want to do out the womb. So don’t bother comparing yourself to everyone else – everyone’s running a completely different race.
Your best bet on finding your purpose is going out of your comfort zone and exploring the millions of opportunities that are available to you in the world. Everyone has a purpose, including you.
Your purpose might be waiting for you in school, but don’t box yourself into thinking that’s the only path that leads to success. Find something that works for you. Find your environment.
Find your own growth process (and be sure to check out this amazing interview with Ted Ryce that discusses how to find your passions and live a truly fulfilling life)
5. It Doesn’t Matter How Hard You Work If You’re Working on the Wrong Thing
Ever hear that quote, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard?”
Here we have yet another popular quote that I’ve always hated (sense a theme here?).
I mean it definitely has some truth to it. The point is, having natural talent really doesn’t add up to shit in this world if you don’t combine it with hard work.
But the reason why I hate that quote (and most other simple “Instagram” motivational quotes) is because life isn’t that simple.
Hard work is an important ingredient to success.
But if you think busting your ass harder than anyone else you know without careful, intelligent planning as to what goal that hard work is progressing you towards, it’ll all be for nothing.
Consider working out at the gym.
You can go to the gym and put in 3 hours every single day until you can barely walk, but if you don’t have a detailed workout plan, a specific diet, the knowledge of good form on exercises, and an attainable goal that you’re working towards – you’re not going to go anywhere.
In fact you’ll probably just end up injuring yourself in the process.
Research what you need to be doing to progress your learning to an attainable goal that you want to reach. Then work your ass off to get there.
Hard work alone isn’t going to get you to your goals.
6. Failure is a Prerequisite to Success
As humans, we’re all pretty terrified of failing.
We all want to succeed at every single thing we do, no matter how big or small it is. We feel like if we fail, the only thing we get is shame, embarrassment, and we slink back into our hole.
As hard and uncomfortable as it is – it is absolutely vital to be able to rewire your brain into recognizing that failure is not only a valuable source of information – it is completely necessary to be successful in life.
There has literally never been a successful person that hasn’t failed at a million things in their life.
The only real failure in life is giving up. Every other ‘failure’ that happens to us is just another data point on our road to success.
Again, it’s going to sound crazy – but once you hammer it into your head that failure will positively benefit you, you’ll feel a lot more liberated. You’ll take more chances. You won’t be so scared to exit your comfort zone. If you fuck up, all it means is that you’re ready for that same situation even more next time.
You need to fail and learn and get back up on the path to success. There is no other choice.
7. You’re Going to Die
Gotta end the article on a positive note, right?
As the smartest creatures on Earth, we are cursed with the knowledge of our own mortality, yet sometimes it’s hard for us to comprehend how quickly time passes us by – so sometimes we shut our brain off and go through the motions of life like we’re going to live forever.
We wake up in the morning.
Same coffee shop.
“Get” through the work day.
Go home and turn our brains off with the same mind-numbing TV shows.
Finally get to the weekend.
Go to the same bars.
Get to Sunday night, dreading yet another week of the same thing, over and over again.
Then just like that, 10 years of your life fly by and you have “no idea where the time went.”
Routine and comfort are the enemies of time. It turns our brains off. It allows us to become complacent.
On the other hand, when we become aware of how fleeting time is, we come to the realization of how in control we actually are.
Exiting your comfort zone somehow has the effect of slowing time down – not in the sense that you’re gaining more time – but in the sense that you are actually living – you’re more aware of yourself and your surroundings. You’re more aware of the consequences and power of every action that you make. You’re more aware of every second you waste on something that isn’t benefiting you.
Don’t waste another goddamn second on things that aren’t pushing you. On things that aren’t progressing you. On things that don’t make you see the world with child-like wonder. Your days are numbered, and that number isn’t going up.
So what are you waiting for? You have more control of your life than you could ever imagine.
Go chase everything you’ve ever wanted.
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