Growing up in a deterministic society where rich, successful people were either criminals or “made from a different cloth”, made me tunnel-vision on my life for 20 years.
Luckily for me, everything changed when I started university and joined a youth-leadership movement called AIESEC. The experience in those couple of years, alongside the people I’ve met, proved me wrong on almost everything in my life. And boy, was I wrong — it was so bad that I couldn’t distinguish between what is true and what is bullshit fed to me by society anymore.
My entire identity fell apart like a brick wall but luckily for me, I had the opportunity to rebuild it now. But this time, the bricks were my bricks and not society’s. And while building my life back again, I learned these 6 life secrets that changed my world.
1. You can be anything as long as you work for it
“Everything is learnable” — Brendon Burchard
This was a really big revelation for me.
In a deterministic society where I grew up, you are not gonna become successful if you are not already successful- unless you are a criminal.
Figuring out that hard and smart work on things that matter can make an enormous difference. And I don’t mean the difference between having a 100 square feet apartment or a 200 square feet apartment. I mean the difference between being able to afford a boat and being able to afford a meal today.
2. Everyone is scared. Some just don’t listen to their feelings
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” — Ambrose Redmoon
Oh, the times I thought that I was the only one feeling Fear or anxiety. But soon enough I realized that everyone is scared and that the more responsibility you have, the scarier life becomes.
People, no matter where they are, feel fear for themselves and their future, anxiety because of the judgments of others or pain because of life problems.
But the difference between a coward and a hero is not in the fact that the hero doesn’t feel fear -he does- but he acts despite it.
3. Freedom lies behind your life’s biggest pain
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage” — Anais Nin
This was a truly difficult one. It’s like you’re in a tunnel and you can see the light at the end of it. But the way toward the light is full of Thorns and no matter what kind of a plan you think of, you will still need to go through the thorns and get hurt. But then again, it’s freedom that waits on the other side.
I needed more than 20 years to understand this concept and then 3 more years to muster the courage to go through the thorns. It hurt like a motherfucker, but it was so worth it.
Because I found freedom behind the thorns, the freedom to live my life authentically and to see the world (and myself) with different eyes. The thorns stung me in all areas of my life like friendships, relationships, business, life goals and visions, money, my purpose, family and my general behavior. But after dealing with it, I finally became a free person.
4. Most people in the world are good people
“In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.” — Anne Frank
“Don’t trust anyone! People will trick you, hurt you, fool you, cheat on you, steal from you!” I was listening to these things for 20 years until I saw the world with my own eyes.
And yes, there are some bad people out there — the world isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. But the majority of people I have met, communicated or worked with are really good people and the world is full of them. They will help you when you are in a need and it doesn’t matter if you’re a friend or a complete stranger. They will do it in Zagreb, Dublin, Vienna, Tokio or Sao Paolo — because people are good and they are willing to help you.
Maybe this doesn’t seem like a big thing in your life but when you look at the consequences of that mindset, you realize how much you miss out. Here are just some examples:
- You don’t travel alone because of bad people
- You start by mistrusting people which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy in the end
- You don’t ask for help from strangers because they would never do it
- You don’t go on blind dates because the other person might take advantage of you
- If you trust anyone, they will trick you- always be on guard
- People always have a win-lose motive and they will step over you
Remember that people are innocent until they are proven guilty, not the other way around.
5. Everything you see is made by people no smarter than you
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” — Howard Thurman
It took me years to internalize this statement and to start living my life questioning norms and social conditioning around me. Just because someone has authority, doesn’t mean that they are always right. Steve Jobs was a mastermind at Apple, but he was wrong about Segway. The people in authority are wrong most of the times, but remember that we are too.
“An expert is someone who can tell you exactly how it can’t be done.” — Peter Diamandis’ Law 21
“We are wrong about almost everything almost all the time,” said Mark Manson and as sooner we figure this out, the sooner we will be free to change the situation around us.
Listening blindly to anyone will only bring you troubles. Listen to what everyone has to say, but decide for yourself what needs to be done and what is implementable in your reality. This is how Ray Dalio built his empire.
Ignore the naysayers and think from the first principles because that’s the path of every good decision.
6.Life is easy when you accept that it’s hard
“The cure for pain is in the pain.” — Rumi
This one was the biggest life lesson for me. Life gives you exactly what you need, not what you want. Even though we curse it from time to time, we know that Life is right and that we need exactly that in exactly that moment. We hate it at the moment, but we are blessed by it in hindsight.
Only by going through the hurdles life throws on us can we grow, achieve happiness and be a better person.
Most of the times, that requires us to do exactly the one thing we avoid doing — we hate it for most of the time. It’s a concept of Kensho or growth through pain.
Life is like an angry girlfriend — It keeps throwing you the same shit over and over until you finally take the shit with both hands and fix it. Then you feel blessed until the next shit comes.
By accepting that life is hard, we make it easy. It’s paradoxical but that is life. Because we know exactly what we need to do and where we need to go. “The obstacle shows us the way” as Ryan Holiday would say.
It’s only on to us to follow it.
Your life will be what you make it be
These were the life secrets I learned that helped me change my world, change myself and understand that life is winnable.
1.You can be anything as long as your work for it
2.Everyone is scared. Some just don’t listen to their feelings
3.Freedom lies behind your life’s biggest pain
4.Most people in the world are good people!
5.Everything you see is made by people no smarter than you
6. Life is easy when you accept that it’s hard
Life is in your control. Go and take it.
6 Life Secrets I learned Before 25 That Changed My World was originally published in The Ascent on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.