As is common for me on the 24th of every December, I celebrated another year of existence.
Only this one was a little bit different.
A milestone as they would say.
This year I hit the big two five. The quarter century mark…
They say the 25th birthday is a special one. One that brings a lot of change. A lot of responsibility.
A lot happens apparently after a man hits his 25th birthday. The body apparently breaks down while the mind (hopefully) becomes more wise and mature. I’ll have to challenge the first one.
Over these past 25 years I’ve definitely experienced a lot. I’ve had my share of accomplishments interspersed with mistakes and setbacks. I’ve had moments that I’ll remember forever and days I wish never happened. I’ve met so many interesting people, crafted beautiful relationships, and lost friends and family members (and pets) along the way.
But I’m thankful for every single one of those moments because they have helped turn me into the man I am today.
They say that with every experience, whether good or bad, there is a lesson to be learned.
And boy have I had my share of lessons.
Today I’d love to share with you 25 lessons I’ve learned over my 25 years of life:
1. Good things take time. I’ve discovered that people have a thirst for impatience. In a growing world where convenience overshadows quality, patience is dwindling but expectations aren’t. People want good things yesterday. I’ve learned that, like a good whisky, good things in life take time to cultivate. You can’t expect to become successful overnight just like you can’t expect your body composition to drastically change in a week. Be patient. Be persistent. And give time for good things to happen.
2. Love hurts. When I was in the fifth grade, I fell madly in love with a girl back home. A big group of us were playing truth or dare when somebody dared her to climb up a tree. Seeing an opportunity to show myself, I quickly jumped up and said “I’ll do it!” Like her knight in shining armour, I made it all the way to the top of that tree. But it was on the way down that I snapped a hollow branch and fell 10ft to the ground, smacking my head against an electrical pole and going unconscious. It never worked out between me and her (lol!), but that moment taught me a lot about the pains associated with love (literally).
3. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. This was probably the most painful lesson I’ve experienced in my 25 years of life. A few years ago I took my body to the brink and suffered a brutal disc herniation. While I thought I was doing my body good, excessive (and ineffective) training was actually slowly destroying my body. No matter how good something is for you, it can turn bad if it’s in extreme abundance. Well, everything except wine (just kidding).
4. Follow your gut. I’ve discovered that life is simply an aggregate of all the decisions, both big and small, you’ve ever made in your life. It is these decisions that will write your life story for you. I’ve learned that the best decisions are the ones you make quickly. The ones you make based on your instincts. Your gut is magical. Somehow, someway it is always able to guide you in the right direction. Listen to it.
5. Hard work trumps all. Every man who has ever achieved greatness will tell you that he worked his ass off to get to where he’s at. I’ve discovered that the only way to achieve any goal in life is to put your heart and soul into it. To grind it out. To do whatever is necessary to make it happen. Hard work, when applied strategically, trumps all.
6. Reading is growing. I never used to like reading, but over the years books have become my most prized possessions. They have become my source of inspiration and creativity. With every book I read, my thirst for knowledge grows. My curiosity craves more. My imagination runs a little wilder. I’ve learned that the more immerse I myself in a topic, the more I allow my mind to blossom.
7. Make sacrifices for what’s important. When I first started this blog back in the end of 2010, I had no clue what I was getting myself into. It was a fun project for me. One that allowed the creative beast inside of me to flourish. But it quickly became something more than a project. It became a passion. And I decided that this was something I wanted to grow and see through. But with any growth comes sacrifice. I missed many social outings, gave up TV (for the most part), spent longer hours in front of the computer, etc. But has it all been worth it? Most definitely.
8. Be kind. It didn’t take me long to discover that kindness is a virtue. A kind soul is a happy soul. I was fortunate to be raised by the most kind and loving parents a person could ever ask for. It’s a contagious quality that spreads like a virus. And let’s be honest, the world can always use a little bit more kindness.
9. Never be frugal with food and education. Throughout my life, I’ve always been kind of frugal. Maybe it’s because of how I’ve been raised. But one thing I’ve learned from my friend Elliott Hulse is that there are two things you should never ever be afraid to spend money on: quality food and quality education. These are two things that will help you become the strongest version of yourself.
10. The grass is greener only the side that you water it on. Some say that the grass is greener on the other side, but I’ve never really found this to be true. The grass is only greener where it’s taken care of. When it’s given attention. When it’s given love. Don’t give up on something until you’ve exhausted every means of making it greener.
11. Money doesn’t buy happiness. If you ask a homeless man under the bridge if money can buy happiness, he’ll tell you it does. If you ask a billionaire if money can buy happiness, he’ll tell you it doesn’t. I’ve learned that money only buys happiness when it provides you with food to eat and roof to sleep under. But once your basic needs are met, it doesn’t matter whether you make a thousand dollars more or a million dollars more, your happiness level will stay the same. Materialistic purchases are only temporary pleasures. True happiness comes from your relationship with people, not currency. (Tweet this)
12. You really are what you eat. One of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned in my lifetime is that health is everything. Without it, nothing else matters. Absolutely nothing. I’ve seen it with family and I’ve seen it with friends. When your health is lost, life isn’t the same. It’s just not enjoyable. I’ve found that, more than anything else, your health is highly correlated to your food choices. The nutrients – the molecular components - of the foods you eat will ultimately be used to rebuild the tissues in your body. And if you eat crap, you will become crap. Optimal health should always be the number one priority.
13. Life is an experiment. I’ve discovered that life is best lived when it’s an experiment. You need to try things. Test things. Explore new grounds. Turn over new leaves. Open new chapters. Break new barriers. Life that is full of experiment is one that is full of joy and excitement.
14. Write your own story. Life is a story. But I’ve learned that more often than not people will try to write the script for you. It’s OK to listen to them, but don’t let them control the pen. Your life is yours and yours only. Do what you want with it. Live your passion. Chase your dreams. The story is yours to be written.
15. Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right. Life has taught me that your mind is the most powerful energy source on the planet. It’s the breeding ground for thoughts and ideas. Your actions are simply manifestations of the ideas and beliefs within your mind. And your abilities are only limited by your beliefs. If you believe with all your heart that you can do something, you will become empowered to do it.
16. A smile can cure the greatest of sorrows. A smile is powerful. This simple act cultivates a myriad of positive emotions that can cure the greatest of sorrows. Smile as much as you can. It can change your life. Or someone else’s.
17. Procrastination kills dreams. They say that the best time to take risks is when you’re young. I’ve found this to be true but also quite pressuring. While you’re young you feel like you have all the time in the world to do everything you’ve wanted. To achieve your dreams. But time flies. And the more you wait to make things happen, the more likely your dreams are to be put aside to die slowly. Stop waiting. Stop procrastinating. Make things happen.
18. Time heals all wounds, no matter how deep. When I was in grade 7, a girl broke my heart. I came home in tears every day for a week and couldn’t tell anyone why (especially my mom!). The pain was so deep I thought it would never go away. But it did. And so has the pain stemming from countless other losses and setbacks. Time heals all. Just give it…time.
19. Fate is not something that happens by chance. People say that those who are successful are the ‘lucky’ ones. While I may agree that luck always plays its part, I have discovered that we make our own luck in this world. Luck is simply the meeting point between hard work and opportunity. If you work your ass off and put yourself in the right situations, luck will be on your side. If you put in the work, you have the power to determine your own fate.
20. Make mistakes often, just don’t repeat them. I used to be afraid of making mistakes. In school, mistakes led to bad marks. In basketball, mistakes led to bench time. In boxing and Muay Thai, mistakes led to bruises and bloody noses. But it took me some time and experimentation to learn that the more mistakes I made, the closer I got to reaching success. To achieving my goals. I still have many more mistakes to make before I get to where I want to be. And embracing failure and learning from my mistakes will allow me to grow.
21. Fear is an illusion. It’s a myth. It’s an emotion that manifests inside the mind and gives life to hesitation and uncertainty. I’ve found that the best way to defeat this manifestation is to face it as often as you can. Do something that scares you every single day. Something small. Something big. Something that forces you to venture outside of your comfort zone.
22. Your word is your bond. I can thank my father for this one. In my 25 years of life, I cannot remember a single time that he has lied to me (or anyone that I know of). He has taught me that a man who can keep his word is one that is worth more than his weight in gold. Bonus lesson: never make promises you can’t keep!
23. Your body is designed to move. At a young age, I was very fortunate to discover a joy for movement. Sports and endless outdoor activities cultivated a passion for moving quickly and efficiently. They inspired my love for the human body. As we continue to create toxic environments that discourage movement, it’s always important to remember that the the body is designed to move. Joints are meant to be taken through their full range of motion. Muscles and connective tissues are designed to be stretched and relaxed. Bones are meant to bear weight. Movement is a primal and biological necessity. Never. Stop. Moving.
24. Appreciate the little things in life. On an extremely chilly day (especially up here in Canada) when you walk home from the bus stop, there is really nothing better than a warm bowl of soup and a hot shower. It is usually during these moments that I take a second to be thankful and appreciative for having these very simple luxuries available to myself and my family because I know there are millions of people out there who don’t. I’ve learned to be grateful for absolutely every person, thing and opportunity that I encounter in my life.
25. Your time is finite. I remember when I was 13 years old wondering what it would be like to be 20. Now I’m 25 and wondering where the time went. Time is the most precious gift we’ve been given. It moves quickly and swiftly and there’s no going back. I’ve learned that it’s important to enjoy every moment no matter how small. After all, it’s the small things in life that we remember forever.
So there you have it! Twenty five lessons learned in 25 years of life.
And of course there were countless others I’ve picked up over the years (like it’s better to take two trips to carry groceries into the house than to try to carry them all at once because that one bag with the wine bottle will be the only one that drops!).
Now that my first twenty five years are up, I’m super excited to see what the next 25 have in store for me. I hope that in the year 2037 I’ll be able to look back at this post and add at least another 25 lessons to it.
If there are any other life lessons you’ve picked up over the years, please feel free to share them in the comments below!
I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and I hope you’re all ready to make great things happen in 2013.
Image source: www.bsattler.com