I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think. — Socrates
Last week I turned 30. Unlike most people, I do like getting older. 10 years ago, I was a complete idiot.
Now, a decade later, I still know nothing, but I do feel more in control of my life. I attribute that personal growth to an idea I took from Socrates, the person who was once named the ‘Wisest Man on Earth’ by the Oracle of Delphi.
When Socrates heard what the oracle had proclaimed, he believed the statement was wrong. Socrates said:
I know one thing: that I know nothing.
How can the smartest man on Earth know nothing? I heard this paradoxical wisdom for the first time from my school teacher when I was 14 or 15. The humility made such an impact on me that I used Socrates’s quote as my learning strategy.
What you will find below is a list of the most important things I have learned from others. We might learn things quickly, but we often forget things at the same rate — and sometimes we need to remind ourselves of what we’ve learned.
Here are 30 reminders that others taught me:
1. Struggle is Good
Never say “I can’t take it anymore”. Say “Bring it on!”
2. Don’t Complain
Complaining is the biggest waste of time there is. Either do something about it, or if you can’t, shut up about it.
3. Spend Time with People You Love
That’s your family and best friends. If you don’t have a family, create one. Most people in life are only visitors. Family is for life.
4. Don’t Start A Relationship if You’re Not in Love
I’ve done this more than once. You kind of like someone and think: “We might as well give it a shot.” Not a good idea. You’re either in love, or you’re not. Don’t fool yourself. It’s not fair to you or the other person.
5. Exercise Daily
A healthy body is where you have to start everything in life. If you can’t build a healthy and strong body, what can you build in life?
6. Keep a Journal
No, keeping a journal is not for children. It helps you to become a better thinker and writer. “I don’t want to be a writer” you might think. Well, how many emails and texts do you send a day? Everybody is a writer.
7. Be Grateful
Say ‘thank you’ to everyone and everything. “Thank you for this beautiful day.” “Thank you for your email.” “Thank you for being there for me.”
8. Don’t Care About What People Think
We all die in the end, so does it really matter what people think of you?
9. Take More Risks
Don’t be such a wimp. Seriously.
10. Pick an Industry, Not a Job
If you want to become good at something, you need to spend years and years doing that. Pick an industry you love and start at the bottom. You will find the perfect role eventually.
11. Lead the Way
When you find yourself in a situation where everyone looks at each other, it’s time for you to lead. You‘re a leader when you decide to become one. There’s no initiation or a title. Just a decision.
12. Things Are Not What They Seem
If something sounds too good to be true, it is. A little skepticism never hurts.
13. Money isn’t Important
It really isn’t. But you have to train yourself not to care about money. Don’t become too dependent on the stuff you own — otherwise, the stuff will own you. Live below your means.
14. Be Nice
I don’t mean you should be a pushover. You can be someone that doesn’t take shit and be nice about it. Just don’t insult people, think you’re better than them, or act like an idiot.
15. Get Comfortable with being Uncomfortable
Life, work, relationships, challenges. It’s all uncomfortable. So get comfortable with that.
16. Learn Every Day
You’ve got to train your brain to stay alert. You don’t have to read a book a day to learn life lessons. Learn from your mistakes. Learn from the people around you — be open to what they can teach you.
17. Rest Before You Are Drained
Even if you love your job, and every day seems like a holiday, you need to take time to rest. You’re a human, not an android; never forget that.
18. Don’t Judge
Just because people make different choices than you, they are not stupid. Also, you don’t know everything about people, so don’t judge them — help them.
19. Think About Others
Just be mindful, that’s all. We all have families, bills to pay, and our own issues. Don’t always make everything about yourself.
20. Give Without Expecting Something in Return
Don’t keep score. You will become a bitter person if you do that. Give solely for the joy of giving. If you get something in return, great, if you don’t, great.
21. There’s No End Game
We, as a species, just are. Don’t try to figure it all out. Enjoy your journey.
22. Enjoy Small Things
I like clichés because they are true. Especially this one. You know why? Everyone says they know it, but no one lives up to it. They just chase big things.
23. Don’t Take Yourself Seriously
Yeah, yeah, you’re an individual, and people have to take you seriously, I get it. But at the end of the day, we’re all a bunch of ants trying to chase the same things. Lighten up.
24. Don’t Blame People
What’s the point? Do you want to punish them? Don’t do that to people. Also don’t blame yourself — you’re only human.
25. Never Look Back Too Long
Reflecting on the past is only good for one thing: learning.
26. Avoid Negative Situations and People
Don’t underestimate the impact others have on you. Get away from negativity at all cost.
27. Invest in Yourself
Skills are worth more than a good job, career, money, and even a reputation. Why? The world always needs people who can do something well. Be that person.
28. Rely on Yourself
Because it’s the best feeling in the world to know you can figure things out by yourself. But don’t overdo it. Ask for help when you need it.
29. Create Something
Not to leave a legacy, you won’t be here to see it anyway, but to be of use. Make music, write a book, build a table, anything. You’ll feel good about yourself, plus you give something back to people to use or enjoy.
30. Take Action
Don’t just sit there, do something. Without action, there is no outcome.
You might know a lot. But like Socrates, you and I know nothing at all. So we have to keep learning.