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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

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Plenty of famous optical illusions have been created purposefully, from the Ames window that appears to be moving back and forth when it's actually rotating 360 degrees to the spiral image that makes Van Gogh's "Starry Night" look like it's moving.

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Internet

Woman's rare antique turned away from 'Antique Roadshow' for beautiful heart-wrenching reason

"I just love you for bringing it in and thank you so much for making me so sad."

Photos by Murat Rahim Caglak and Antoni Shkraba via Canva

Woman's antique turned away from 'Antique Roadshow'

People come by things in all sorts of ways. Sometimes you find something while at a garage sale and sometimes it's because a family member passed away and it was left to them. After coming into possession of the item, the owner may be tempted to see how much it's worth so it can be documented for insurance purposes or sold.

On a recent episode of BBC One's Antique Roadshow, a woman brought an ivory bracelet to be appraised. Interestingly enough, the expert didn't meet this rare find with excitement, but appeared somber. The antique expert, Ronnie Archer-Morgan carefully explains the purpose of the bracelet in what appears to be a tense emotional exchange.

There would be no appraisal of this antique ivory bracelet adorned with beautiful script around the circumference. Archer-Morgan gives a brief disclaimer that he and the Antique Roadshow disapprove of the trade of ivory, though that was not his reason for refusing the ivory bangle.

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A young woman drinking bottled water outdoors before exercising.



The Story of Bottled Waterwww.youtube.com

Here are six facts from the video above by The Story of Stuff Project that I'll definitely remember next time I'm tempted to buy bottled water.

1. Bottled water is more expensive than tap water (and not just a little).

via The Story of Stuff Project/YouTube


A Business Insider column noted that two-thirds of the bottled water sold in the United States is in individual 16.9-ounce bottles, which comes out to roughly $7.50 per gallon. That's about 2,000 times higher than the cost of a gallon of tap water.

And in an article in 20 Something Finance, G.E. Miller investigated the cost of bottled versus tap water for himself. He found that he could fill 4,787 20-ounce bottles with tap water for only $2.10! So if he paid $1 for a bottled water, he'd be paying 2,279 times the cost of tap.

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Education

The amount of money Americans budgeted for food 100 years ago is mind-boggling

If we think our grocery bills are high now, it's nothing compared to what families spent in the early 1900s.

Even if we shop at the most expensive stores, we still don't spend as much of our income on food as they did in 1901.

As inflation following the COVID-19 pandemic peaked in the summer of 2022, Americans keenly felt it at the grocery check-out. It seemed as if prices had gone up on everything, and our food budgets took a hit. Even though inflation has eased since then, many of us are still lamenting the amount we're spending on groceries and dining out every month.

A New York Post headline ominously pronounced in February 2024 that "Americans have not spent this much of their incomes on food since the Gulf War," citing a federal statistic that U.S.consumers spent 11.3% of their disposable income on food—a higher percentage than we've seen in the past 30 years.

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Matt Damon shared the wildest story about his rescued 'jungle cat' from Costa Rica

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@colbertlateshow/TikTok, Canva

The cat distribution system reaches even the depth of the jungle.

The cat distribution system always works. Even for celebrities. Just ask Matt Damon.

While appearing on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” the “Jason Bourne” actor shared the wildest story about a stray cat he had adopted 10 years ago during a month-long stay at an Airbnb in Costa Rica.

After hearing him describe this next level kitty, you’ll understand why he describes him as “the coolest cat you’ve ever seen.”

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‘Against their beliefs’: Parents won't let daughter go to boy’s Taylor Swift birthday party

“Like what religion is out here saying, ‘Thou shalt not listen to Taylor Swift?’”

via Jolene Dolo (used with permission)

Popular TikTokker Jolene Dolo.

A TikTok video by the mother of a gender non-conforming son is a masterclass in refusing to be baited into a confrontation, no matter how tempting it may be. It all started when TikTokker Jolene Dolo’s 8-year-old son, Sam, sent out invitations to his Taylor Swift-themed birthday party.

Jolene told Upworthy that Sam doesn’t have a favorite Swift song, but his favorite album is “Lovers.”

“My 8-year-old Sam is having a Taylor Swift birthday party, and yesterday I received a text message from a parent of a child who was invited letting us know that their child will not be attending because it is against their beliefs,” Jolene began.

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