40 Lessons It Took Me 40 Years to Learn

Birthday for forty years old
Birthday for forty years old

Today is my birthday.

Let me be more specific. Today is my 40th birthday.

To put it frankly, my life hasn't turned out like I imagined when I was 20.

Some things, like parenthood, turned out to be greater than I imagined; other things, like my health, have not been as good. Either way, I learned a lot along this rocky way that it seems only time itself can teach.

I say "seems" because I think these life lessons can and should be taught earlier -- so, hopefully, by my sharing them, you don't have to take 40 years to learn them, too.

I have found that practicing these 40 lessons like tenets has made my life better in many ways. I'm more creative, efficient, and focused. But most importantly, I'm a happier person.

So here are the 40 things it took me 40 years to learn:


The only person you're fooling is yourself. So stop the act and be yourself.


If people don't like you, that's OK. There are plenty of people who do like you, so focus on them instead.


Getting older doesn't automatically equal getting wiser. Sometimes people just repeat the same mistakes over and over again for years and never learn from them. So do your best not to be like these people; learn from a mistake the first time.


You're the one with the most information regarding your situation, so that also makes you the best one to make the best decision that's best suited for you.


Make decisions based on what your heart desires, and you will figure out how to make it happen with your brain step-by-step along the way.


You don't always know what you don't know. Sometimes you can only figure out if there are missing pieces of information by moving forward anyway.


Mistakes are inevitable. It's how you respond that matters most.


Group statistics aren't applicable to an individual person's circumstance. So it doesn't matter how high or low the failure rate is; you truly will never know if you can succeed until you go for it yourself.


Nobody knows the future.


If anybody tells you they know the future, they're full of shit.


Believe in your dreams, even when everyone else thinks you're crazy.


Stop stressing out. A calm approach with a well-rested mind gets you the best solution without harm to your health.


Get at least seven hours of sleep to function optimally throughout your day.


Take care of your body. It's the temple that houses your soul.


Be your word. Say what you mean. Keep your promises.


Confidence is only gained through action.


A moment's temptation fades faster than you think, but the consequences can last a lifetime. And a lifetime is a really long time.


Things may not go according to plan (and oftentimes they won't), but you should always have a plan anyway. It gives you a sense of direction that allows you to keep moving forward.


Be tenacious in following your plan. But change your plan if needed. You haven't failed if you keep working towards a solution.


Work smarter, not harder. Working harder just drives you into the ground eventually.


The truth, no matter how ugly or hard, is always the easiest way in the long run.


Love yourself. It's only when you give yourself unconditional love that you will ever find yourself worthy of your own time and best efforts.


Be kind -- always.


Not every relationship is meant for a lifetime, and that's OK.


It's not your job to teach anybody else a lesson. It's your job to live the lesson.


The best way to parent is by example. Kids pick up on what you do more than what you tell them to do.


Change takes focus, discipline and repetition.


Focus on the present.


Always have a vision for the future to guide your actions in the present.


Let go of the past. You create unneeded drama in the present every time you focus on past hurts.


You can't change people. Either accept them or move on.


Always be open to another point of view. When you stop listening is when you stop learning.


Question everything. It's the only way to make sure you've got it right.


Your beliefs dictate your life. Choose them wisely. (And you do get to choose your beliefs. But #14 is needed if you want to change them.)


There will be big waves in your life. Choose to ride them instead of fighting against them. It's more fun that way.


Your mind is powerful. Invest in learning how to use it. 


Nobody really knows what happens when you die.


Treating others the way you'd like to be treated makes life better for everybody.


Being in your prime is a state of mind.


As long as you don't give up on life, it won't give up on you.