The 10 Most Important Life Skills Nobody Taught Me


The 10 Most Important Life Skills Nobody Taught Me

From happiness to health, these transformed my life.

Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash
Many of the most important life skills are ones I had to learn on my own. Although my parents, teachers, classes, and even friends didn’t teach me, they ultimately weren’t things I could learn through traditional ways—I had to seek the knowledge and then practice them myself.


“The only education worth anything is self-education.”

— Isaac Asimov

Of the many life skills, here are the 10 most important ones I learned (and I’m continuing to learn) that have led to virtually all of my success and growth in life. If you learn them yourself, I’m confident you’ll watch your life soar too.
How to Be Happy

From a young age, we learn it’s important to “be happy.” But no one actually teaches us how to be happy.

Ironically, the chase for happiness actually makes us less happy — seeking joy from external sources like possessions, people, or accomplishments always leaves you falling short because they’ll never bring true contentment.

“Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.”

— Henry David Thoreau
The truth is we have everything we need to be happy right now. As the Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, said, “There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.”

Be grateful for all the blessings you do have. Watch and listen to life and see the beauty in the world right now. Let go of your attachments. And by doing so, it’ll be a lot easier to stumble into happiness.
How to Be Fearless

Despite childhood traumas that left me with severely low self-esteem, I’ve learned to overcome my fears and do things like relocating to different continents, starting businesses, and much more.

Sure, we all know the chichés about conquering your fears. But the only way to truly become fearless is to take action in the moment, even when you’re terrified, again and again. (There’s no other way.)

No one can teach you how to do that — you have to decide to do that. And in my experience, the best way to gain that courage is to become 100% serious about your goals. If you want something badly enough and you design your environment to achieve it, all the excuses, worries, fears, and obstacles disappear. Your courage will skyrocket because you’ll no longer let anything stop you. And that’s when fearlessness becomes who you are.
How to See My Own Programming

There’s a saying that most people grow up to be just like their parents. And it’s often true… unless they can see their programming and change it.

Growing up, I had many beliefs and behaviors ingrained in me that I repeated unconsciously. But it wasn’t until my mid-20s that I started seeing my programming, discovering how it hurt me, and rewriting the story I was living out.

For this, I recommend journaling. Journal about the things that make you upset, anxious, or even happy and ask yourself, “Why?” Reflect on how you behave, think, and respond to different situations or stresses. Then, see if those patterns serve you or not. If not, replace them with healthier ones and start changing your life.
How to Learn

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

No one taught me how to learn or how to love learning. (If anything, school did the opposite.) But gaining new skills quickly can accelerate your growth, and being open to new lessons can unlock more opportunities, paradigms, and ways of life.

In my experience, the best way to learn anything quickly is to put yourself in real-world situations and try it. Even if you read hundreds of books, until you use what you read, you won’t actually learn; once you start using it, however, you’ll get the instant feedback needed to rapidly improve.

Also, avoid judging yourself as “good, bad, smart, dumb,” etc. Being afraid of being wrong will only stunt your learning and growth. Instead, let go of your control or anxieties and simply allow yourself to learn.
How to Connect to Myself

Connecting with yourself and become self-aware is incredibly powerful. You’ll learn to be at peace with yourself. You won’t be as controlled by your emotions, habits, or programming. You won’t need to distract or numb yourself to avoid feeling uncomfortable with your thoughts.

Each day, how often do you watch the emotions, feelings, and thoughts going on inside you? How often do detach yourself from your inner dialogue so you can avoid getting so caught up in it?

No one teaches you that and, frankly, no one can teach you that: You have to discover it yourself. Learn how to be comfortable being alone. Unplug from distractions and busyness and come back home to your thoughts. For this, meditation is an incredible practice, but you have to practice—as you do it more and more, you’ll get better at connecting to yourself.
How to Connect to People

Growing up, I was very shy and introverted, which kept my social circle — as well as my experiences and opportunities — very limited.

But in life, it’s not your IQ; it’s your EQ (emotional quotient) that determines your success. (Soft skills are far more valuable than hard skills.)

Learn how to connect, relate, and empathize with people. Learn how to build rapport and comfort. Learn how to disagree without being disagreeable. My family lacked these skills so I had to learn them myself — and I cannot stress how much it revolutionized my life.

While I recommend reading tips on conversation, body language, etc., the absolute best way to improve your social skills is to literally talk to hundreds of different people. It’ll suck at first, but as you do more, you will rapidly gain skills and change your life for the better.
How to Stop Seeking Approval

From a young age, many of us are taught to seek approval. As a result, it’s common to feel unworthy, feel like you’re not “good enough,” and try extra hard to prove yourself and get validation.

But by doing so, you’ll always be seeking praise or trying to show off to compensate for the lack you feel inside. You’ll always be controlled by other people’s opinions. And you’ll never be free.

Because I previously had low self-esteem, I had to learn how to feel worthy, no matter what people said. And just as importantly, I had to learn, no matter what I accomplish (or don’t), I’ll always be just as worthy as I am right now. To help me remember this, I always ask myself:

“If I could never tell a single person about my achievements, would I still pursue them?”
This helps me stop feeling the need to “prove myself” and start doing things because I actually enjoy them, not because of what people might think of me, good or bad.
How to Say “No”

It’s powerful to say “no.” For example, it can help your mental and emotional health by creating boundaries with people or avoiding situations that bring you down.

Saying “no” also protects your time. Nowadays, we live in a world where it’s a badge of honor to always be “busy.” (How often do you ask someone, “How are you?” and they reply, “Busy! I’ve got so much to do!”) But while some may praise that, it can actually show someone who’s basically running around like a chicken with its head cut off.

The most successful people in the world are extremely protective of their time because they know their time is all they have. Yes, there are moments you should work your ass off, but if you’re always doing that, you’ll burn out. Instead, learn how to say “no” and start defending your life—you’ll find that your quality of life increases in proportion to the boundaries you set.
How to Get In Shape

“Just because you aren’t fat doesn’t mean you’re in shape,” said the legendary hockey sportscaster Mike Emrick. Truer words have never been spoken.

People frequently tell us to “eat healthy and exercise,” but speaking as a fitness expert, that’s an oversimplification. Most people don’t actually know how to do those things. (Hell, most personal trainers don’t either.)

Seek the knowledge, but go beyond traditional books and classes (which can be outdated). Talk to experts and learn how to actually create a healthy diet, build strength, improve your conditioning, and more. Also, build new habits and behaviors so you can stay consistent over time.

You only ever have one body so you better take good care of it.

How to Be Decisive

“The way to develop decisiveness is to start right where you are, with the very next question you face.”

— Napoleon Hill
The longer you take to make a decision, the longer you take to get to where you want to go. That’s why it’s so important to learn how to be decisive.

To do so, you just have to start—it’s that simple. You have to value action instead of endless deliberation. You have to be okay with the opportunity cost or being wrong. But the benefit is you’ll actually move forward in life while everyone else is still wondering what they should do.

“Every choice involves opportunity cost. You can’t have it all. And when you’re committed to something specific, you’re fine with that fact. You actually embrace that reality, because everything of true value comes with sacrifice. And you’re fine with that sacrifice because you get the rare experience of achieving brilliant things, while most people are enjoying a large buffet of shallow decisions and empty commitments.”

— Dr. Benjamin Hardy

Life is a series of big decisions—each one can transform your life and lead you down tremendously different paths.

But if you’re delaying them, you won’t be able to move forward.

Once you start making decisions faster and committing to them, your life will grow at a much faster pace.

And you’ll reap all the benefits that come with it.


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