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Someone asked strangers online to share life's essential lessons. Here are the 17 best.

There's a bit of advice here for everyone—from financial wisdom to mental health tips.

life lessons, personal development
Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash

Failure is a great teacher.

It’s true that life never gets easier, and we only get continuously better at our lives. Childhood’s lessons are simple—this is how you color in the lines, 2 + 2 = 4, brush your teeth twice a day, etc. As we get older, lessons keep coming, and though they might still remain simple in their message, truly understanding them can be difficult. Often we learn the hard way.

The good news is, the “hard way” is indeed a great teacher. Learning the hard way often involves struggle, mistakes and failure. While these feelings are undeniably uncomfortable, being patient and persistent enough to move through them often leaves us not only wiser in having gained the lesson, but more confident, assured and emotionally resilient. If that’s not growth, I don’t know what is.


Reddit user u/G_man252 asked people to share their own life lessons “learned the hard way,” and the answers, though varied, all touched on something useful that everyone can probably relate to. Especially those of us who have had the blessing of living long enough to gain a lot of hard-won knowledge.

Below are 17 of the best lessons that all of us either have learned, are trying to learn or will learn soon enough. Reading them isn’t necessarily the same as experiencing them, but there is still some comfort in knowing they are all part of what it means to be human.

Read. Be enlightened. Or at the very least, be soothed and entertained.

1.

"Not everyone who loves you is good for you." – @Gulbahar-00

A woman meditating, with hand on heart.

Sometimes boundaries are a form of self love.

Photo by Darius Bashar on Unsplash

2.

"Back up your data." – @SomeoneHad2FuknSayit

3.

"You can't fix other people. Only yourself." – @Bob_N_Frapples

4.

"It’s okay to put yourself first. Don’t expend all your energy on others and leave nothing for yourself. Understand how to give and take in moderation and that it’s a two way street." – @Neffili

5.

"Your fear of failure is worse than the failure itself. Take the chance. Now." – @aerofish_

A person skydiving.

Take the plunge.

Photo by Muzammil Soorma on Unsplash

6.

"Nothing ever stays the same no matter how hard you want it to be … don’t take it for granted." – @CodyGhostBlood

7.

"Not everyone will like you for doing the right thing." – @Kaitriarch

8.

"Never take your health for granted. Appreciate every little thing you have that makes you happy." – @galestrikesback

9.

"Being vulnerable is the hardest thing you can do, but not being vulnerable will make your life much, much harder." – @thiccdiccboi

A wooden heart decoration with the words 'open'.

Open your heart.

Photo by cyrus gomez on Unsplash

10.

“Budget and be financially responsible." – @QuailandDoves

11.

"If your gut is screaming at you that something is wrong, listen to it." – @REDDITprime1212

12.

"Time does not heal all wounds. Most days get better but you'll always have days where you feel it all over again as if it just happened and you can't do anything about it except for ride it out." – @Smokey_S

13.

"It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness. That is life." – @Karnezar

14.

"Mental illness is very real and will get in the way of your life." – @NoUsername817226

15.

"It's okay to be wrong sometimes. Humility really goes a long way in maintaining relationships and being happy." – @Freezeucriminalscum

A young man crouched on the floor by a window, eyes closed, contemplating his mental health.

Seek the help that is out there. You deserve it.

Photo by Fernando @cferdophotography on Unsplash

16.

"You will inevitably, directly or indirectly hurt people in life." – @Sinusoidal0360

17.

"Don’t wait until the right time. For most things there is no right time. Perfectionism stalls you." – @lovelyfallday

Family

Dad takes 7-week paternity leave after his second child is born and is stunned by the results

"These past seven weeks really opened up my eyes on how the household has actually ran, and 110% of that is because of my wife."

@ustheremingtons/TikTok

There's a lot to be gleaned from this.

Participating in paternity leave offers fathers so much more than an opportunity to bond with their new kids. It also allows them to help around the house and take on domestic responsibilities that many new mothers have to face alone…while also tending to a newborn.

All in all, it enables couples to handle the daunting new chapter as a team, making it less stressful on both parties. Or at least equally stressful on both parties. Democracy!

TikTok creator and dad Caleb Remington, from the popular account @ustheremingtons, confesses that for baby number one, he wasn’t able to take a “single day of paternity leave.”

This time around, for baby number two, Remington had the privilege of taking seven weeks off (to be clear—his employer offered four weeks, and he used an additional three weeks of PTO).

The time off changed Remington’s entire outlook on parenting, and his insights are something all parents could probably use.

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Photo by Bambi Corro on Unsplash

Can flying to college twice a week really be cheaper than renting?

Some students choose to live at home while they go to college to save money on living expenses, but that's generally only an option for families who live in college towns or cities with large universities where a student can easily commute.

For University of British Columbia student Tim Chen, that "easy commute" is more than 400 miles each way.

Twice a week, Chen hops on a flight from his home city of Calgary, flies a little more than an hour to Vancouver to attend his classes, then flies back home the same night. And though it's hard to believe, this routine actually saves him approximately $1,000 a month.

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Tony Trapani discovers a letter his wife hid from him since 1959.

Tony Trapani and his wife were married for 50 years despite the heartache of being unable to have children. "She wanted children,” Trapani told Fox 17. "She couldn't have any. She tried and tried." Even though they endured the pain of infertility, Tony's love for his wife never wavered and he cherished every moment they spent together.

After his wife passed away when Tony was 81 years old, he undertook the heartbreaking task of sorting out all of her belongings. That’s when he stumbled upon a carefully concealed letter in a filing cabinet hidden for over half a century.

The letter was addressed to Tony and dated March 1959, but this was the first time he had seen it. His wife must have opened it, read it and hid it from him. The letter came from Shirley Childress, a woman Tony had once been close with before his marriage. She reached out, reminiscing about their past and revealing a secret that would change Tony's world forever.

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Internet

Man goes out of his way to leave tip for a server after realizing he grabbed the wrong receipt

Instead of just brushing it off and moving on, the man wrote out a note explaining what happened with a sincere apology along with a $20 cash tip and delivered it to the restaurant.

Man goes out of his way to leave forgotten tip for server

Being in the service industry can be hard. People have to spend long hours on their feet, deal with repetitive movements that can create pain and sometimes interact with not so nice customers. When you rely on tips for survival on top of everything else, it can feel like a bit of a gut punch when someone decides not to leave you one despite how good your service was.

One customer must've realized the disappointment that can occur after not receiving a tip when serving tables because he went out of his way to give one. In a post shared on Reddit, a customer revealed in a letter that he realized he took the wrong receipt after leaving. Instead of taking the blank one, he took the merchant's copy which holds the tip amount and his signature.

The error was discovered when he was checking his bank account and saw the amount taken off of his card was not the amount he expected. That's when he decided to check the receipt from that day and saw the error.

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Science

Scientists have finally figured out how whales are able to 'sing' underwater

The physical mechanism they use has been a mystery until now.

Baleen whales include blue, humpback, gray, fin, sei, minke whales and more.

We've long known that baleen whales sing underwater and that males sing in tropical waters to attract females for mating. What we haven't known is how they're able to do it.

When humans make sound underwater, we expel air over through our vocal chords and the air we release rises to the surface as bubbles. But baleen whales don't have vocal chords, and they don't create bubbles when they vocalize. Toothed whales, such as sperm whales, beaked whales, dolphins and porpoises, have an organ in their nasal passages that allows them to vocalize, but baleen whales such as humpback, gray and blue whales don't.

Whales are notoriously difficult to study because of their size and the environment they require, which is why the mechanism behind whale song has remained a mystery for so long. It's not like scientists can just pluck a whale out of the ocean and stick it in an x-ray machine while it's singing to see what's happening inside its body to create the sound. Scientists had theories, but no one really knew how baleen whales sing.

Now, thanks to researchers at the University of Denmark, that mystery has been solved.

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You can learn a lot by alayzing faces.

There are countless situations in life where we have to figure out how someone really feels, but they have a good poker face that keeps their feelings well-hidden. According to body language expert Terry Vaughan even the most deceptive people in the world have a tell: the left and right sides of their face don’t usually match.

So, which side do we believe? Vaughan says the left.

“The reason this is a powerful hack is because the left side of the face is more likely to reveal the ‘true emotion’ or the ‘dominant’ emotion if there’s a mix,” Vaughan says. The reason? “The right hemisphere of our brain does more heavy lifting in dealing with processing emotions. The left hemisphere…is a little more analytical or ‘strategic.’”

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