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I turned 24 on Sunday, and before you scoff at a 24-year-old who you think is about to claim that he knows a thing or two about life at some ripe old age, please know that’s not what I’m doing here. Not in the least. What I want to do is provide my perspective on life thus far, what I’ve learned, and what I currently believe, keeping in mind the fact that I have so much more yet to discover about myself and my life. Hopefully this will serve as a sort of time capsule I can look back on later as well.

  1. Nothing worth doing is ever easy, and quite often, doing the right thing can be the most difficult route. It’s sometimes tough to know which road to take, but as long as your moral compass is always pointing north, you’ll be guided to the end point eventually.
  2. People don’t listen to advice because, though they might say they do, they don’t actually want your advice, they want you to tell them what they want to hear–something that’s favorable to the outcome of the situation they’re seeking advice on.
  3. People that make fun of, bully, or belittle others do so to fill a void in their lives, whether that void is their own insecurities, skeletons in their closets, or general unhappiness with their current situations.
  4. Those that are too nice to others often times end up being doormats, whether others intentionally or subconsciously take advantage of their level of kindness and willingness to help that  goes above and beyond what most people are willing to do.
  5. If you like someone, never be afraid to tell them how you feel, whether it ends up coming back to bite you or not. If the feelings aren’t returned, it sucks, but it’s not the end of the world. And besides–things are only awkward when you make them awkward.
  6. Fear doesn’t exist outside of our own minds, but it’s a powerful force that can hold us back from our true potential and should (and can) be controlled. You can either have faith or fear in your heart, but there’s not room for both. Which do you choose?
  7. Surround yourself with people that lift you up, encourage you, and genuinely care for you. Toxic people might make for great “good time” friends, but you’ll quickly discover your true friends in times of personal crisis.
  8. Most people are genuinely good at heart, but so many put on façades to appeal to others, fit in, or other reasons that end up taking them off the straight and narrow path in life and cause them to treat others badly as a result. That being said, those same people usually tend to act totally different in a group of people versus one-on-one. It all goes back to insecurities.
  9. Nothing constructive usually happens on the comment sections of websites, especially news sites. People will do and say some awful things when their faces and identities are hidden from view. Would most of these things be said to anyone in person? Probably not. But behind a computer screen, anything goes, apparently.
  10. Always stand up for what you believe in, no matter how much it goes against the grain. Going back to what I said earlier, what’s right isn’t always popular, but what’s popular isn’t always right. Stick to your values–what makes you, you. In the words of the great Thomas Jefferson, “In matters of style, swim with the current. In matters of principle, stand like a rock.”
  11. There is nothing more important, and in most cases, anyone that will ever love you more, than your family. Hold onto them and cherish them more than anything else if you have close family in your life. Everyone and everything else comes second.
  12. Respect your elders, but don’t ever be afraid to question anyone above you or in an authoritative position in general. Don’t always go along with something just because you feel like you’re supposed to be subordinate to someone else, especially if it just doesn’t feel right.
  13. Don’t gossip about people or tell anyone besides a close friend anything that you don’t want getting around. Because everything gets around and comes right back to you eventually.
  14. Do something every day that challenges you and puts you just outside of your comfort zone. There’s no reward without risk on some level.
  15. There are countless analogies between conducting business and dating. Many of the same principles apply, but in totally different capacities. But on a semi-related note, it’s best to not mix the two.
  16. You’re never going to make everyone happy or every person like you, no matter what you do. You’ll drive yourself crazy trying. Plus, the way I see it is that if you’re going to do anything great with your life, you’re going to make a few enemies along the way. It’s just the way it goes.
  17. Never rely on anyone else to fulfill you or make you happy. Happiness comes from within, from finding (and being) yourself, and just being okay with who you are as a person. You need to be happy with yourself before you try to be with anyone else in any relationship capacity, otherwise you’ll just end up in a hollowed out relationship and when the cards fall, it’ll most likely end badly. Too many people I’ve known over the years have made it seemingly their mission in life to find a significant other to date/marry/be with, and most all of them end up so focused on the destination that they don’t enjoy the ride. And isn’t that was life is really all about?
  18. Some of the most fun things I’ve done in my life have been completely unplanned, unscheduled, and totally spontaneous. I hate making plans for the most part, and most big events that are planned, especially on holidays, such as New Year’s Eve, end up having these big expectations attached to them that end up leaving you disappointed in the end. Sometimes you just have to roll with things and take them as they come.
  19. Life really is 10% about what happens and 90% what you do about it. Your reactions, your ability to learn from negative experiences, and your attitude about everything is what makes all the difference in the world.
  20. You get out of life what you put into it. A simple act of kindness goes a long way and just might brighten someone’s day. Donating your time to a charitable cause or giving back to someone or something that’s added value to your life will make you feel richer in your heart than any amount of money ever could.
  21. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is, no matter what. You get what you pay for. As the old saying goes, “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.”
  22. There are very few problems a long walk, great music, or a hearty laugh can’t at least make better, if not fix altogether.
  23. Life is way too short to hold grudges or not forgive people. There will always be folks who say and do terrible things to you, but carrying that baggage down life’s road with you will only weigh down your spirit and diminish your potential. It’s never easy to forgive someone, and doing so doesn’t justify their behavior. But it’s the right thing to do and necessary to fully heal and/or move on.
  24. Finally, take the time to get to know yourself on the deepest level possible. Discover your passions and what makes you tick–what makes you get up on a Monday morning, full of energy and ready to take on the day. Once you find that, you’ll live a more purposeful and meaningful life, and if you put some energy into it, you can probably make a living doing something you love. And if you can accomplish that, you’ll never truly work another day in your life, but rather make an income doing something that makes you incredibly happy.

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