Twenty Five

Reaper Sketch

Today is my 25th birthday. I promise you I won’t bore you with the details of what I’m doing for my birthday, but I did want to spend a few minutes and write about some of the things I’ve learned in my first 25 years of life.

Every person will live life in their own way, so don’t take my experiences as your own – make your own decisions, and do what makes you happy.

Be Understanding

Every single person is different in some way. Each person was born into some circumstances out of their control, and their life experiences shaped them into who they are. This means that no matter how you see the world – what you think is right, what you think is wrong, what you like, what you don’t like – other people will see things differently, and there’s no changing that.

Given that everyone lives in their own little world, you should be understanding and compassionate towards others. If someone does something rude to you, don’t feel offended – just realize that each person is who they are, and try to accept them the way they are.

There’s no point in trying to change people or convince them to act a certain way. If people want to change, they’ll do it of their own accord. So be understanding.

Don’t Waste Your Time On People You Don’t Like

If you don’t like someone, end the relationship quickly. Whether it’s a business partner, a friend, a stranger, an acquaintance, whatever – if you don’t like the person, don’t spend time with them!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve let relationships drag on for far too long, allowing them to suck away my energy and drain my happiness, and for what? To make the other person comfortable? To make them like me? To avoid an uncomfortable situation? It’s just not worth it. Life is way too short.

If you can tell you don’t like someone, make an immediate decision to exit that relationship. This will not only free up your time, but will save you from a lifetime of stress and unhappiness.

Trust Your Instinct

There have been many occasions where I’ll be doing something (working, speaking with someone, etc.) and get a tingling feeling in my stomach. I then start feeling nervous.

I’ve come to realize that this specific feeling is my instinct telling me that whatever is about to happen, it isn’t good. Unfortunately, I’ve only recently learned this.

Don’t make the same mistakes as me. If your instinct is telling you something bad is going to happen, listen. Don’t work on projects you know will fail, don’t work on things you don’t believe in, and don’t allow other people to push you into accepting things you don’t want to accept.

Read Personal Development Books

One of the best ways you can improve yourself is to be conscious of your thoughts and actions. While it may sound cheesy, reading personal development books is a great way to make you think about yourself in different ways, and encourage you to become a better person.

It doesn’t matter what you start with, just that you start. Pick up a book on meditation, a book on happiness, a book on organization, a book on procrastination, and a book talent (to start). Read them through, and think about how you can change yourself to make yourself better in each of those areas.

Don’t Listen to Other People

Instead of listening to someone’s words, observe their actions. Everyone loves to talk about things, but very few people like to do things.

Finding genuinely amazing people can be hard if you only listen to a person – by observing their actions, you can see their greatness.

This is an incredibly hard thing to do, but it pays off substantially. If you befriend great people who do things (as opposed to just talking about them), do whatever it takes to hold onto those relationships – those are the type of people you want to make long term connections with.

If You’re Going to Do Something, Do It All the Way

It’s really easy to half-ass things. Whether it’s working out at the gym, dieting, finishing your project, helping your user, whatever.

There are always a million little voices inside your head saying “You’ve done good so far, you deserve a rest! Stop working on this!” It’s really easy to have pity on yourself and do a lousy job.

There’s always one voice that says to keep going. Listen to that voice.

If you work hard at things, you’ll feel happier with the outcome, and you won’t have any regrets.

Character Isn’t Built From Success

You are never going to become the man you want to be if you constantly succeed at things. Character isn’t built from success, it’s built from failure. Character is made when your back is up against the wall, you’re pressured, and you’ve got to make a decision.

The choices you make directly effect the person you are – make the right choices. And don’t be afraid to take risks.

Accept Reality

Unhappiness is derived from expectations.

If you expect other people to let you merge into the next lane over, you’ll be unhappy when the guy next to you speeds up to prevent you from getting over.

The solution here (of course), is simple: accept things as they are – don’t create an alternate reality and expect things to work exactly the way you want them to. Life is chaotic – things won’t always turn out according to your expectations.

If you want to be happy, then you have to work at it. Let go of your expectations, and embrace things the way they are. The only thing you can really control in this world is yourself. Make good decisions, live your life the way you want, and be accepting of outside influences that you can’t control. This is the key to happiness.

Keep Your Promises

If you make a promise, keep it. Make it a point to always do things you say you’re going to do, and people will (over time) learn to respect you.

This is a lot easier said than done.

Before you say you’ll do something, think very carefully about what you’re committing to. Try to be very picky about what you say you’ll do, and always deliver.

Final Thoughts

I spend a lot of time thinking about how to better myself. Over time, I’ve come to realize that the real fun in living is constantly improving yourself.

When I’m not actively working to improve myself, I just don’t feel happy. To me, the momentum of moving forward each day is what drives me to continue living, working, and enjoying my life.

Over the next 25 years I’d like to keep moving forward: be healthier, happier, more compassionate, smarter, and more open minded.

Life is a crazy journey, but I’m enjoying it so far :)