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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

True

Making new friends as an adult is challenging. While people crave meaningful IRL connections, it can be hard to know where to find them. But thanks to one Facebook Group, meeting your new best friends is easier than ever.

Founded in 2018, NYC Brunch Squad brings together hundreds of people who come as strangers and leave as friends through its in-person events.

“Witnessing the transformative impact our community has on the lives of our members is truly remarkable. We provide the essential support and connections needed to thrive amid the city's chaos,” shares Liza Rubin, the group’s founder.

Despite its name, the group doesn’t just do brunch. They also have book clubs, seasonal parties, and picnics, among other activities.

NYC Brunch Squad curates up to 10 monthly events tailored to the specific interests of its members. Liza handles all the details, taking into account different budgets and event sizes – all people have to do is show up.

“We have members who met at our events and became friends and went on to embark on international journeys to celebrate birthdays together. We have had members get married with bridesmaids by their sides who were women they first connected with at our events. We’ve had members decide to live together and become roommates,” Liza says.

Members also bond over their passion for giving back to their community. The group has hosted many impact-driven events, including a “Picnic with Purpose” to create self-care packages for homeless shelters and recently participated in the #SquadSpreadsJoy challenge. Each day, the 100 members participating receive random acts of kindness to complete. They can also share their stories on the group page to earn extra points. The member with the most points at the end wins a free seat at the group's Friendsgiving event.

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Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Van Gogh’s Starry Night.



Van Gough never got to enjoy his own historic success as an artist (even though we've been able to imagine what that moment might have looked like). But it turns out that those of us who have appreciated his work have been missing out on some critical details for more than 100 years.

I'm not easily impressed, OK?

I know Van Gogh was a genius. If the point of this were "Van Gogh was a mad genius," I would not be sharing this with you.
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Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash

Women do better when they have female friends.

Madeleine Albright once said, "There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women." It turns out that might actually be a hell on Earth, because women just do better when they have other women to rely on, and there's research that backs it up.

A study published in the Harvard Business Review found that women who have a strong circle of friends are more likely to get executive positions with higher pay. "Women who were in the top quartile of centrality and had a female-dominated inner circle of 1-3 women landed leadership positions that were 2.5 times higher in authority and pay than those of their female peers lacking this combination," Brian Uzzi writes in the Harvard Business Review.

Part of the reason why women with strong women backing them up are more successful is because they can turn to their tribe for advice. Women have to face different challenges than men, such as unconscious bias, and being able to turn to other women who have had similar experiences can help you navigate a difficult situation. It's like having a road map for your goals.

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Education

3,700-year-old Babylonian stone tablet gets translated, changes history

They were doing trigonometry 1500 years before the Greeks.

via UNSW

Dr. Daniel Mansfield and his team at the University of New South Wales in Australia have just made an incredible discovery. While studying a 3,700-year-old tablet from the ancient civilization of Babylon, they found evidence that the Babylonians were doing something astounding: trigonometry!

Most historians have credited the Greeks with creating the study of triangles' sides and angles, but this tablet presents indisputable evidence that the Babylonians were using the technique 1,500 years before the Greeks ever were.

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via Pexels

Millennials are now old enough to seriously reflect on life.

It seems like only yesterday a millennial was a college kid that baby boomers chided for being entitled and Gen Xers thought were way too sincere and needed to learn how to take a joke. Today, the oldest millennials, those born around 1980, have hit their 40s and have lived long enough to have some serious regrets.

They also have enough experience to take some pride in decisions that, in hindsight, were the right moves.

The good news is that at 40 there is still plenty of time to learn from our successes and failures to set ourselves up for a great second half of life. These lessons are also valuable to the Gen Zers coming up who can avoid the pitfalls of the older generation.

A Reddit user who has since deleted their profile asked millennials nearing 40 “what were your biggest mistakes at this point in life?” and they received more than 2,200 responses. The biggest regrets these millennials have are being flippant about their health and not saving enough money when they were younger.

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A woman giving a stern warning.

Over the past few years, women named Karen have taken a lot of heat in the media. The term "Karen" has been used to describe a specific type of entitled, privileged and often middle-aged white woman. Typically, "Karen” is depicted as demanding, self-important and constantly seeking to escalate minor inconveniences to authority figures, like demanding to "speak to the manager."

Identifying the folks who create unnecessary drama in our world is important. But calling them a “Karen” isn’t the best way to solve the problem. There are many reasons to have an issue with the “Karen” stereotype. First, it’s terrible for people named Karen, and it’s also a connotation that many feel is racist, sexist and ageist.

Further, according to a new study by Trustpilot, the stereotype isn’t accurate. A recent survey by the online media site found that the people who leave the most one-star reviews aren’t female, and the women who do it the most aren’t named Karen.

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Canva, @emilykmay/X

Lying in bed and looking out the window with no one asking for anything? Yes, please.

It's hard to explain the relentless intensity of having young children if you haven't done it. It's wonderful, beautiful, magical and all of that—it truly is—but it's a lot. Like, a lot. It's a bit like running an ultramarathon through the most beautiful landscape you can imagine. There's no question that it's amazing, but it's really, really hard. And sometimes there are storms or big hills or obstacles or twisted ankles or some other thing that makes it even more challenging for a while.

Unfortunately, a lot of moms feel like they're running that marathon alone. Some actually are. Some have partners who don't pull their weight. But even with an equal partner, the early years tend to be mom-heavy, and it takes a toll.

In fact, that toll is so great that it's not unusual for moms to fantasize about being hospitalized—not with anything serious, just something that requires a short stay—simply to get a genuine break.

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