20 life lessons from a 20 year-old.

Last week I turned 20. I still feel the same way. I still look the same. I still am the same. But nevertheless, I would like to share with you the little lessons I learned up to this point in my life.

Most of the lessons are linked to stories I experienced or lessons I picked up through interesting books and reflect my personal view on the world so far.

Lesson #1: Always stand up straight with your shoulders back.

This is a lesson I’ve learned from the book “12 rules for life” by Jordan B. Peterson. Having a good posture not only makes you appear more confident but also has a significant effect on your subconscious mind. Go try it.

Lesson #2: Break up with your phone. Partially.

We all are blessed to live in this new era of technology with more opportunity and wealth than ever. But this blessing is also one of the biggest threats to mental health and clarity in my opinion. Distractions are everywhere. And your phone is perhaps the biggest. So do yourself a favor and use your phone less. Break up.

Lesson #3: Stop worrying about everything.

I am still very young and have a lot to learn but so far I’ve experienced that worrying about the past, present or future does not help you in any way. Some things are in your control and other things simply aren’t. Accept that fact. The philosophy of Stoicism has a great answer to this: “He suffers more than necessary, who suffers before it is necessary” — Seneca. Just stop worrying so much.

Lesson #4: Comparison is the thief of joy.

This is a famous quote by Theodore Roosevelt which really stuck in my mind. Comparing yourself to others, influencers and idols won’t do you any good. Remember, you only see what they let you see. Don’t compare yourself to others but rather to who you were yesterday.

Lesson #5: Everything is relative.

I think in our society today it’s truer than ever that we constantly compare (even if we shouldn’t) to some extent and therefore everything we experience becomes relative to others. So start appreciating what you have now in a much more intentional way and put it into context.

Lesson #6: Get organized. For real.

One of the biggest changes for me was to really think about how I organize my life. This means using a calendar, planning tasks daily and capturing thoughts, ideas and interesting articles somewhere. There are great tools out there so go use them. Get yourself organized!

Lesson #7: Build routines that work for you.

If you want to make the best out of your days you need a routine. Whether it is just 15 minutes of exercise, reading every morning or a nightly meditation. Routines help you make every day count. There must be a reason why most successful people swear by their routines.

Lesson #8: Use a Journal to gather your thoughts.

Our brains are not meant to constantly store information. It is better at thinking and solving problems. A Journal can help you gain mental clarity by letting your thoughts flow as well as solve problems more efficiently. No matter what you need it for, go get a journal and write stuff down.

Lesson #9: Meditation, if done right, is a superpower.

When I first tried meditation, it didn’t really work for me. I was getting distracted and bored and did not really know why anyone would consider this “life-changing”. After almost two years of inconsistent experiences with mediation, I finally figured my way out with it. Meditation helps me to gain mental clarity when I need it. It helps me to become a calmer person. Things get more meaning in my life by consciously setting things into perspective.

Lesson #10: Be grateful for your family.

I think gratitude can be one of the biggest sources of the thing people chase called happiness. Today, I realize how thankful I am for my family and the support they have given me throughout the years. That’s why I try to think about my family every day and let them know.

Lesson #11: Keep smiling.

Life is way to short to be in a bad mood. Of course, sometimes shit happens but try to remind yourself that if you compare what you’re upset about to the perspective of life, things perhaps don’t matter as much. So go walk around with a smile on your face. Spread the positivity.

Lesson #12: The future depends on what you do today.

To follow the wise words of no one less than Mahatma Gandhi, the future depends on the actions you take today. Life is not made up of tomorrows but of todays. Your future is up to you! So make changes and start living today.

Lesson #13: Be honest. Always.

Remember when your parents told you not to lie? Actually, I believe this is one of the biggest truths everyone of us should value at all times. Honesty is the only way to have a clear mind. Face what is uncomfortable right now and be honest with people. In the end, it’s gonna be your best bet.

Lesson #14: Motivation comes from action.

This one I picked up from Benjamin Hardy, PhD. When you don’t feel motivated to do a task or just can’t stop procrastinating, remember that true motivation comes from action. So the quickest fix to procrastination is: Just start working on your task for 2 minutes and you most likely naturally will finish what you started.

Lesson #15: Contribute to something bigger than you.

“Happiness is only real when shared” — Christopher McCandless. From my experience, it makes me much happier if I am part of something bigger than me and contribute towards a greater cause. This can be helping in your community or volunteering to help people in need. This one has been a life-changer for me.

Lesson #16: Watch your social environment.

People say that you are the average of the five people you spend most of your time with. And I have to agree. I believe the people you spend your time with have an enormous impact on your life and how you develop as a person. So choose your friends wisely.

Lesson #17: Start loving books.

Nowadays, we have access to more information than ever in humankind's history. Books enable us to take a look inside the minds of the world’s greatest thinkers and doers. This is a unique opportunity we should make use of. So go start reading and learn new stuff.

Lesson #18: Less but better. Always.

This one I got from the book Essentialism by Greg McKeown. He shares the story about a product designer who lived by the philosophy of “less but better”. I think this life philosophy is powerful in many ways. Just think about it. If you could eliminate most of your obligations and just focus on one or two things, wouldn’t the results significantly increase if you focus your energy? I try to always remind myself when opportunities come up: It’s either hell yeah or no.

Lesson #19: Don’t forget about sleep.

Sleep is a controversial matter with many myths floating around the internet. I think this one really comes down to personal preference but for me, sleep is essential to think straight, be energized and recover from my days. I try to protect it at all costs. For 8h 30m is the perfect duration and I can definitely survive on less but I notice that I don’t perform as well and my life quality goes down.

Lesson #19: Time is the most valuable resource you have, use it wisely.

It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it.” — Seneca. I learned this one from Ryan Holiday.When you’re young, it feels like you have so much time in front of you. But if you are not careful, life passes way too quickly. Time is the only resource you can’t buy. What do you think people who are dying are willing to give up just to get one more day with their loved ones?

Lesson #20: No one cares.

Did you notice there were two #19 lessons? Right. Most people don’t really care that much about what you do or who you are because they have their own problems to take care of. Therefore try not to stress as much about what other people think and don’t live your life based on other people’s judgment.

And there you have it. My little brain dump of all the lessons that came to my mind when I reflected on my little journey up to this day. I’m sure many people don’t agree with all the lessons and perhaps I will change my opinion on them throughout the years but I have to say that those lessons did a good job guiding me through life up to this point.

Thanks for reading & thanks for your time!

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