There are many things that people must learn to accept about life in order to be truly happy, and lead a better life.
While it is difficult for most of us to admit many uncomfortable truths, once we do, we are able to lead a much more fulfilling life.
Accepting many of these things takes time, and often doesn’t happen until we feel unsatisfied in our current situation.
Take, for example, my own experience with learning to accept a few particular things about life.
My personal confusion and life wanderings
After finishing my undergrad, I landed a decent job as an assistant project manager at a university office for sustainability. In terms of entry-level positions it was a good one, and of course, it would look great on my resume.
I was where I was supposed to be. In a relevant job position, gaining valuable career experience, working to save money for those looming student loans, in a relationship, meeting up with friends after work, buying various consumer products, visiting my family at least once a month, and generally meeting most of society’s other expectations.
The problem was I would sit at my desk from 8am until 5:30pm staring at my computer screen. While I knew the projects I was working on were important for improving sustainability on campus, I found it difficult to connect with what I was doing.
Most of my friends seemed to be focusing on buying the latest fashion trends, and drinking away most of their income. While I also participated in these entertaining behaviors, I continued to feel disconnected from the people surrounding me.
My relationship was only average. At first I thought it was true love, and then over time, I realized it was a safe situation for both of us. We were just sitting on the truth that neither of us was getting what we needed or wanted.
Nevertheless, I was an example of a successfully functioning individual. Yet I felt unsatisfied with my life, even though according to most people it was exactly where I was supposed to be.
While my experience might start to sound cliché, what happened next led to an important learning curve in my life, and to something completely different and absolutely satisfying.
I left my assistant project manager position and headed off to travel Southeast Asia. Over three months I visited amazing places, met very interesting people, ate partially developed duck eggs, drank local alcohol, volunteered with rescued elephants, and did some other typical travelers things.
Insightful life lessons that can lead you to a better life
Where I went and whom I met wasn’t all that different to what many people experience while traveling. But what was really vital was the time away from my “supposed to”life.
I had some serious time to reflect on where exactly I was in my life, and where I was headed. I noticed that many things I was doing didn’t actually make me happy.
This learning curve, and time for reflection led me to 12 absolutely crucial things to learn and accept about life, that can lead you to a much more satisfying and happier life.
#1 You will never be able to please everyone
It is absolutely impossible to satisfy everyone else’s expectations and demands. You will drive yourself mental if you don’t accept the fact that you cannot live your life tailoring every move to please other people.
This goes for family, friends, and even bosses. Of course, you need to perform certain tasks and fulfill expectations of your role in an organization, or even relationship.
But, for example, that does not mean living up to your manager’s belief that you should be available seven days a week to answer various emails, or your mother’s perspective that you will only be happy once you own a white picket fence on your well-manicured lawn.
You must let go of the idea that you can please everyone around you. You will ultimately end up sacrificing something that is essential to your own happiness.
#2 There are many definitions of success, find your own
Each of us is responsible for defining what represents success for ourselves. To some people success is a six-figure paycheck, mortgage on a two-story home, and new car, while to others it can be something completely different.
You need to map out and understand what you personally need to achieve in your life to be considered successful by your own standards. If that is a nonprofit job that doesn’t rake in the big bucks, but allows you to follow your passion and purpose, then so be it.
#3 You friends will most definitely change over time
Not many of us keep the exact same friends into adulthood. Of course, you may find a soul mate in one or two of your friends. But you are also bound to lose friends, and gain new ones.
We change friendships over time because we are constantly changing and growing. Interests evolve, and people transform into very different individuals. Changing friends usually isn’t a negative thing, and instead, is a reflection of your personal growth.
#4 Despite what you’ve always been told, you can choose your family
I often read that you cannot change you family so you should figure out how to deal with them now, or you’ll lose your mind trying later in life. Yet, I don’t fully believe this. You are absolutely stuck with some people who you are related to by blood. But that doesn’t mean you have to consider them important people in your life.
There are some family members that we absolutely can choose. What about our life partners? We are fully able to choose the person we want to spend the rest of our life with. We get to hand select that person, and assure that they hold most of the qualities we desire, and meet our fundamental needs and wants.
So, in fact we can choose our family. While some relations might be set in blood, others are up to us.
#5 Relationships take a lot of hard work
Building off on #4, relationships take a lot of work in order to be happy and healthy. Whether this is a relationship with a friend, family member, professional, or life partner, you are going to need to work at it.
Working at a relationship means taking the time to understand the other person and their goals, finding out how to be a positive presence in their lives, and visa versa, and how to compromise.
Human relationships are absolutely necessary to feel connected to your world, and to feel happiness. But you need to make the effort in these relationships in order to reap the benefits.
#6 If you want to see change, you need to make it happen
Don’t sit around waiting for great things to happen in your life. If you want and need something to change, you need to be actively involved in pursuing results.
This can be in terms of relationships, jobs, personal well-being, and a lot of other things. You must be proactive in doing. Simply thinking about change is not enough. You need to take the steps involved with altering your current situation.
#7 You need to get healthy
Your body is your own personal sanctuary. If you treat it like it’s not important and fill it with toxins and chemicals, it will start to resist you. You need to find a balance that works for you and your lifestyle. Not all of us want to be at the gym five days a week, but that doesn’t mean you should never lift a finger.
Whether it is a walk down your street, or a full on cross-fit workout. You need to move, and after you move, you need to fill yourself with fresh food meant for human consumption. Not the boxes of human manipulated ingredients. Feel good about your body. It will change over time, but it’s what you’ve got.
#8 You should care about things happening around you
There are buckets of social, political, economic and environmental problems facing our generation, and many future generations to come. You need to stop living in your comfortable bubble and start becoming educated on important matters around you. War and conflict continues to plague countries around the world, resource exploitation and climate change are real issues happening now.
You cannot avoid these things any longer, and you need to take some form of responsibility in making our world a better place. That doesn’t mean starting a multi-million dollar charity, or donating 40 hours of your time a week. But it does mean you need to take small steps towards becoming a knowledgeable and more sustainable human being.
#9 If you want something, take it
If there is something that you want, you know you deserve, and you will take full responsibility for, then you need to take it. Stop worrying if you are going to offend someone, and go for it.
If this is a promotion you know you deserve, or a relationship you know is bound for greatness, take the risk and make it happen.
#10 You need to find a purpose
Having a passion is half the battle, but what allows your passion to translate into effective action is purpose. You must define your purpose in order to pursue meaningful life goals. That can be career related, or just in general what you strive to achieve in your lifetime.
#11 You define your own happiness
Well, I am not a huge Kanye West fan but he makes a valid point, “I refuse to accept other people’s ideas of happiness for me. As if there’s a ‘one size fits all’ standard for happiness.”
If you can clearly outline what allows you to be happy, then you’ve accomplished what some people strive towards, for their entire lives. Know what makes you happy, because if you try to live someone else’s life, you are bound to be unsatisfied.
#12 Take the more difficult route and be yourself
Defining purpose, finding passion, knowing what makes you happy and defining your personal vision of success are extremely difficult to comprehend and achieve.
But if you can organize just exactly how you want to live your own life, and truly be yourself, regardless of other’s expectations and judgments, you are going to find fulfillment and happiness. It’s your life, and we really only do have one chance, so it’s better to be yourself.
So after having time away from my “supposed to”life I came home thinking about what changes I needed to make, and what exactly I needed to accept.
I ended up saving money working at a retail job, that for two months was actually quite rewarding, and moving back to Southeast Asia to find my own success and happiness.
It wasn’t exactly what people in my life were anticipating from me, although my ex-boyfriend wasn’t all that surprised. I did lose quite a few friendships because of their unwillingness to make the effort over such physical distance. My family however, has been extremely supportive for the most part.
Overall, I am extremely happy and successful. I feel like I am growing into an individual that I can be proud of. Although I am in my late twenties and I still don’t have a mortgage or a car, and rent a small studio and ride a bicycle, I feel liberated from what I was supposed to do, because now I am doing what makes me happy.