I’ve spent my entire life up to now seeking wisdom and absorbing the lessons life tries to teach me. In this time, I’ve learned that the most transformative truths are never easy. The truths that hit hardest have the power to change everything.
Over the years I’ve gathered a list of powerful truths that change everything from love, relationships, work, emotional maturity, confidence, and more.
If you want to shortcut your way to wisdom, read these truths carefully. Put aside any instant judgment or resistance, and open yourself to what they have to say.
Here are just a few of the lessons that have guided my life up to now:
1. There are no conditions for happiness.
I used to tell myself that I couldn’t be happy until I achieved my goals or solved an issue. But all I was doing in this moment was denying myself happiness.
Happiness doesn’t require conditions. I can choose to be happy now by just changing my thoughts.
2. You are not at the mercy of your circumstances. Your circumstances are at the mercy of your thinking.
Following up on the last truth, you don’t need to change your circumstances to be happy. Circumstances are neutral, meaning they aren’t inherently good or bad. Our thoughts decide whether a circumstance is good or bad.
The reason you’re unhappy is not because of your circumstances. It’s because you’re not challenging how you’re thinking about your circumstances.
This doesn’t mean you can just choose to think happy thoughts about something that’s truly horrific. What it means is, you have more power over a situation than you think. You can be in the worst situation imaginable, but because you choose thoughts of hope, you take back power.
Your circumstances are at the mercy of your thinking.
3. Being kind to yourself is how you can be kind to others.
It’s odd how we expect to have unconditional love for others when we have so many conditions for loving ourselves. The best way to love others unconditionally is to learn how you can love yourself unconditionally.
For example, you can love your body without losing the weight. The more you do this, the less you judge others who have your weight.
Be kind to yourself first, then you’ll naturally learn how to be kind to others.
4. Feeling bad is nothing to fear.
We’ve made a habit of avoiding the pain of negative emotions. Because of this, we avoid situations that could better us.
We don’t ask for the raise because we don’t want to feel embarrassed. We don’t go out with our friends because we don’t want to feel awkward. We don’t ask out the person of our dreams because it’s too scary.
If we look at these situations, the worst that can happen is we feel a negative emotion. That’s it.
Because we’ve made a habit of avoiding pain, we think feeling bad is the worst thing. But it’s not.
Increasing your tolerance of negative emotions is a step toward courage.
5. You are in the present 100% of the time.
Many of us have a weird relationship with time. We either live in the shame of the past or the fear of the future.
And because we are ashamed of the past or fear the future, we escape the present. We’re anxious about tomorrow, so we binge-watch Netflix now until we forget about it. We feel past shame replay itself, so we pour a drink to numb it out.
Our weird relationship with time shouldn’t cause us to escape the present. We are in the present moment for the rest of our lives.
This doesn’t mean we’re careless and don’t think about the future or past. It just means we’re conscious and fully engaged with how we live now.
If you are taking negative actions now because of the past or future, find a way to fully immerse yourself in the present moment, what’s right in front of you. The present is the only moment you have so you have to use it wisely.
6. If you don’t filter what you let in, what you let in will filter your perspective.
This applies to several things: television, content, relationships, negativity, etc. Whatever we consistently expose ourselves to—whether we believe it or not—will seep into our spirit.
If you watch a lot of negative news, you will lean more negative with your thinking. If you surround yourself with complaining people, you will complain more often. If you play a lot of violent video games, you might not take violent actions, but your mind starts normalizing violence.
We can either be passive agents to our environments, letting whatever we surround ourselves with affect who we are and what we do, or we can be active agents, shaping our environment to give us our desired outlook.
Take control of what you let in. Otherwise, what you let in will take control of you.
7. Life is naturally hard.
Somewhere in our history, someone told us life should be easy, and we believed it. Maybe it was our parents, the school system, television, or our employers. Whoever taught us this had our best interest in mind… but they were wrong.
Life is hard. In fact, it should be hard. If it’s not hard, then we won’t enjoy the easy moments. We need this contrast to get the full experience of life.
Don’t convince yourself that your life should be easy. It only stifles your potential and keeps you from doing hard things. If life gets hard, remind yourself: oh yea, this is natural.
Resisting the difficulty of life only make life more difficult than it needs to be.
8. Anything earned is better than anything given.
I lived my entire life watching people wish they would win the lottery or get a large inheritance out of nowhere. Many people want to be given millions of dollars, but hardly anyone wants to earn it.
Earning millions of dollars is much better than being given millions of dollars.
Why? Because when you earn it, you experience the joy and satisfaction of pursuing your potential and achieving through great difficulty. When you’re handed something, you’re deprived of that.
The only exception to this is the grace of God, primarily because there’s nothing we can do to earn it on our own. When we can’t earn it, then the only option is to be given it.
9. Joy is on the other side of all the emotions we’re unwilling to feel.
When I first started studying joy and positive psychology, I learned a crucial lesson that changed everything for me. I discovered that all emotions can lead to something good. I also learned that when we allow all of our emotions, then we increase our capacity for joy.
What does this mean? It means that you can’t resist, ignore, or numb negative emotions. When you do these actions, you don’t delete the emotion. It remains inside you like a poison.
The only way to feel better is to allow yourself to feel negative emotions. Once you do this, you’ll experience the joy that’s on the other side.
You experience more joy when you grow through difficulty. But if you’re never willing to engage difficulty, then you never experience joy.
To truly feel better, stop running from your emotions. Let all of them pass.
10. Confidence is a choice.
Many people wish they were more confident, like it’s something that’s given at birth. But confidence is not something some people have and some people don’t. Confidence is a choice.
The only reason you think someone is more confident than you is because that person chooses confidence more than you do.
When I’m presented with a situation that might make me less confident, I think: who is the person I want to be in this moment? If I want to be the confident person, I simply make the choice for confidence.
The more you believe confidence is something fixed, the less action you take to become more confident.
11. Feeling negative emotions doesn’t justify your response to them.
I’ve had people yell at me, and then say, “I’m just stressed.” But here’s the thing: being stressed doesn’t excuse the action.
It’s normal to feel negative emotions. But it’s not fine to hurt people or take negative actions because you’re feeling negative.
We have the power to choose our response. Unfortunately, far too many people don’t exercise this power of choice. They simply react to their emotions, even if it costs other people.
You can increase your emotional understanding, and thereby, stop using your negative emotions to justify bad actions.
12. Positive intent is more common than negative intent.
I’ve read several scientific studies that prove people are not naturally out to get other people. But so many of us assume a posture that the world is out to get us.
When someone commits an offense against us, we naturally assume it’s because they want to hurt us. This is hardly the case.
This is not to say that there aren’t evil people in the world. It’s saying that you can’t assume everyone is trying to hurt you. More often, they’re just doing what they think is right for themselves. It might hurt you, but it’s most often not because they were going out of their way to hurt you.
Many of us want to think that people are acting evil against us. It makes us the victim, where we’re right and not responsible for anything. But taking this approach only hurts us. We fight the world when there’s no fight.
Assume positive intent in others and it’ll reduce a load of drama in your life.
13. The true test of character comes not from what you say in front of a person’s face, but what you say behind their back.
I don’t trust people who make a habit of judging others behind their back.
They speak nicely in front of a person, but speak bad about them once they turn around. I don’t trust them because I don’t know what they say about me when I’m not in the room.
Being nice to other people doesn’t make you a good person. Being a good person is honoring another person even when the situation doesn’t require it.
Now, I must confess: growing up, I had to intentionally kill this side of me. It disgusted me if I spoke poor of a person behind their back. Just because society normalizes this doesn’t mean it’s right.
I didn’t want to become a person who spoke bad behind a person’s back. Now I know from experience that it’s possible to kill this habit and keep your integrity and trust intact.
14. Life is only a challenge when you don’t challenge your thinking.
Too many people are overly dramatic about their lives, not because they’re in dramatic situations, but because they have dramatic thinking. Their mind tells them stories that make life even more difficult than it needs to be.
If we want to accomplish great things, we need to stay mentally fit.
We can’t blindly accept our thoughts and how our mind weighs situations. We need to challenge our automatic thoughts. We need to direct them and point them to the truth of the matter.
When we can challenge our mind like this, we can take much of the drama out of our lives.
15. You can and should do hard things.
If there’s anything I’ve learned from my study on joy, it’s this: doing hard things have the greatest reward. They reward us with joy if we grow through them.
If you’re avoiding opportunities because they’re hard, take a look at what you’re doing. Just because something is hard isn’t a reason not to do it. Again, life is naturally hard. The more we lean into this and grow anyways, the more joy we have.
Joy is the internal satisfaction we feel when we pursue well-being and success, even through great difficulty. Yes, it’s possible to have joy without something being hard. But it’s impossible to have joy if we avoid everything that’s hard.
Don’t buy the lie that you were meant to do easy things for the rest of your life. You can do hard things. And you should. It’s the only way to experience the joy of life.
Easy truths hardly change anything. The hard truths carry the most transformative power. If these truths rattled you in any sort of way, I hope you find comfort in their difficulty. It’s because they’re difficult to accept or believe that they’re important. May they guide your daily life as much as they have mine.