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58 Life Lessons on my 57th Birthday

April 6, 2023

Free Floating Shiny Balloons Stock Photo

Today is my 57th birthday. Time sure does fly by in life. I’ve always felt that birthdays are a good time to step back and reflect on your life. For me, this often means thinking about lessons learned and conclusions drawn. The following list of 58 items (I added one for good luck) was compiled in a 30-minute window of focused thinking. It is not meant to be an exhaustive list but rather something I did for fun on my birthday. It is in no particular order, importance, or category. You may disagree with some of the items, but that’s okay. I hope to read a similar list from you one day so we can share our experiences.

  1. Effort is irrelevant if you’re focused on the wrong things.
  2. People show their true colors when you ask them to sacrifice something.
  3. Some individuals just need drama in their lives. It really is that simple.
  4. Opposites attract, but similarities keep you together.
  5. When people consistently say they’re not something, they typically are that very thing.
  6. Individuals who have a lot of money tend not to talk about it. People who want to seem like they have a lot of money talk about it all the time.
  7. Watch what a leader does, not what he or she says.
  8. People tend to make excuses for their shortcomings.
  9. All markets correct; sometimes it just takes time.
  10. Lazy thinkers often have loud opinions.
  11. One way you know you’ve done a good job as a parent is that your kids come to you with their problems.
  12. If you want someone to listen to your constructive feedback, you have to provide positive feedback at a ratio of 7:1.
  13. No one likes a critic, but everyone is critical to some degree.
  14. Most people are more concerned with loss than gain.
  15. People do change, and relationships evolve. Sometimes it’s worth giving someone a second or third chance.
  16. If you always vote for one party, you’re an ideologue, not a concerned or educated voter.
  17. The people you surround yourself with personally and professionally have a huge impact on your happiness and success.
  18. Too much time in front of the TV makes your body ache and your brain atrophy.
  19. There are no one-dimensional people.
  20. What someone does for a living doesn’t make him or her a hero; it’s what they do when confronted with danger, adversity or fear.
  21. Younger generations are supposed to challenge and push older generations; it’s called progress.
  22. The last resort of intellectual cowards and secret fascists is to ban books and stop people from speaking their minds.
  23. Never make any big decisions when you’re emotional.
  24. When it comes to the problems of society, most people are looking out their window rather than in the mirror.
  25. It’s easy to be an expert on things you don’t actually have to do yourself.
  26. Our educational system ignores life skills to the detriment of society.
  27. Children who aren’t taught civics end up being adults who are poor stewards of democracy.
  28. Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it buys you time.
  29. Anything in excess is bad, including those things that have been purported to be good.
  30. If you want to learn something, push yourself to teach it to someone else.
  31. Give someone money and power, and you truly do find out who they are.
  32. Individuals who grow up in relative comfort have a minimal appreciation for those who don’t.
  33. Race (and diversity) will always be a problem as long as we see it as one of society’s biggest problems instead of its biggest solutions.
  34. Experts know a lot about a little but are often ignorant about a lot.
  35. A lot of what an organization’s culture is like comes from how its top leaders act.
  36. The loudest person in a room rarely has the best answers.
  37. We are quick to second-guess acknowledged experts when we don’t like their conclusions, regardless of whether we’ve truly studied the topic ourselves.
  38. Bad leaders prey on our weaknesses; good leaders elevate our actions.
  39. Every relationship goes through ups and downs; don’t expect to be happy all the time or accept being unhappy most of the time.
  40. The people who betray you the most are usually not obvious about it.
  41. With rare exception, most relationships have expiration dates. This doesn’t make either party a bad person.
  42. Discipline is a regular topic among undisciplined people.
  43. Leaders should aspire to be respected, not loved.
  44. Immigrants built this country; we would be wise not to forget this.
  45. Many people who spend an inordinate amount of time telling other people how to live usually have big problems at home.
  46. Striving to be popular almost always gets you in trouble in life.
  47. Kindness is infectious, but meanness is cancerous.
  48. True patriots don’t spend much time questioning the patriotism of others in a free and democratic society.
  49. People who’ve actually fought in a war often don’t like to talk about it—probably for good reason.
  50. Cowards hide behind the patriotism of others.
  51. It’s relatively easy for a leader to divide and conquer, but much harder to unify and bring people together.
  52. No one is right about everything, and if they think they are, stop listening to them.
  53. Your parents are flawed human beings, just like everyone else, including you.
  54. Atheists who obsess over the religious beliefs of others may not have the courage of their own convictions. Confident people are comfortable with differences in belief systems.
  55. The journey IS much more important than the destination.
  56. Sound thinkers are usually avid readers.
  57. Everyone needs a mentor.
  58. My life is the sum total of my actions and decisions, coupled with how I navigate adversity. We are supposed to be the heroes of our own lives.