I have been on this planet for nearly half a century and a lot has happened during that time. Most of it was good, but I also experienced some difficult and challenging times.
In this article, I would like to share 10 brutal truths about life based on my experience. I hope it will help you make wiser decisions and have a better perspective about your life.
So here are my 10 brutal truths about life:
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1. Life is not fair.
We’re not born equal. When I was at school, I was the skinny, weak, and short kid. I was very poor at sports. The kids who were more athletic were the popular ones. I wasn’t so much.
My interests and passions were around music, so I played the French Horn. But there was a very gifted kid in the orchestra who played French Horn better than me. He was also proficient on 3 instruments while I could only play one. I found that very annoying, especially as he seemed to practice less than me!
Last year a friend of mine died of brain cancer. He was in his early 40s and leading a healthy life. He didn’t smoke or drink excessively. Why was it him that died of brain cancer rather than someone else? Children also die of cancer every day. What’s fair about that?
At work, people get promoted even though they have fewer skills and less experience than you. And you think, “Why them? Why did they get the promotion and not me?”
The reality is – life is not fair. Fairness is a human invention. We created the concept of fairness or the idea that life should be fair.
2. Behavior never lies.
What you say you do and what you actually do is totally different! Or as Gary Ryan Blair says “behavior never lies”.
Let’s say your friend is talking about becoming super fit and healthy and how they will make that happen. But then you see them in McDonald’s eating junk food. That’s going to give you a mixed message because they are saying one thing and doing another. This reduces trust.
Or you’re a manager at work, and you are lazy and relaxed about things. It’s not surprising if you find your employees acting the same because they will follow what you do much more than what you say. This can also work positively. If you’re proactive and you look after your staff, you’ll find that your employees will do the same. It’s what you do that matters, not what you say you will do.
So one of the brutal truths about life is that behavior never lies. Always focus much more on what someone does rather than what they say and make sure that your behavior never lies too.
3. Sometimes you’ll never know the answer.
Two things happened in January 2016 that I’ve been trying to grasp and make sense of ever since. The first was the friend I mentioned earlier. He was diagnosed with brain cancer in his early 40s during this month. He died 2 years later.
In the same month, a neighbor suddenly committed suicide. She was retired and living a great life, traveling 3 or 4 months of the year, and had loads of friends. She was bubbly, positive, always a joy to be around.
We have 2 people here – one that desperately wanted to live and died of cancer and the other who seemed to have it all, but must have been suffering excruciating mental pain that she couldn’t go on with life. In both cases, I asked myself “Why”? and I agonized for hours over the answer.
I always felt that there was an underlying reason that causes cancer to happen. It can be poor diet, lack of exercise or unresolved emotional issues and stress. But I began questioning that. I thought, maybe that’s not the case. Maybe it just happens and there is little you can do to prevent it.
Sometimes you’ll never know the answers to some things that happen in life. This is one of the brutal truths about life that you just got to be okay with it and learn to let some things go without finding a reason.
4. You never know exactly what someone else is thinking and feeling.
When our neighbor committed suicide, it came as a complete shock to me, my wife, other neighbors, and everyone else who knew her. From the outside, she was bubbly, fun, energetic, friendly, and was living the lifestyle that I would dream about. But none of us, except perhaps her partner, knew exactly what was going on inside her head.
And here is a less extreme example. When someone passes you in a corridor at work and doesn’t smile, what does that mean? You may think they are ignoring you, but you don’t really know what they’re thinking or feeling. Perhaps they’ve got an important deadline, and they’re concerned. Perhaps there had an argument with their partner in the morning and they’re ruminating about that. Perhaps they’ve had a lack of sleep, so they just feel tired.
You just don’t know what someone is thinking or feeling. Instead, we create our own meaning regarding other people’s behavior or actions, and it’s often negative.
5. Happiness is an inside job.
Think about the things that make you happy. Going on a vacation makes me happy – the enjoyment of visiting new places and exploring different parts of the world. In the past, getting a new job made me happy because it felt great to meet new people and do different things and have that added variety.
Coming to live in Sydney, 10 years ago, made me thrilled. We felt like we were on a vacation as we explored the city and the surrounding areas each weekend. The weather is wonderful, and our lifestyle is more relaxed than in the UK.
All these things are great and they give you happiness, but it is a short-term pleasure, joy, and gratification. Why? Because The Law of Familiarity kicks in when you’ve been around anything new and different for long enough. You take it for granted. It becomes familiar and the new normal. This wonderful weather and all the other things we experience in Sydney become familiar and the new normal.
Achieving things in life won’t make you happy long term. Many people feel they go through life never achieving happiness. They think, “When I leave school I’ll be happy”. Then they go to college or university and they find that that’s not it. So they think, “Well, when I leave university and I have some money and a job, then I’ll be happy”. When they find a job, they realize that that’s not it either.
So they think, “When I get into a relationship and when I get married, I’ll be happy”. They do that, but again, it becomes familiar and the new normal after a while. Then, maybe they think, “When I buy a house I’ll be happy, or when I have kids”. And then logically it goes to “When I retire, I’ll be happy”.
Everything in life will eventually become the new normal. One of the brutal truths about life is that happiness is an inside job and you can choose to be happy whenever you want.
Happiness is not something you chase from achieving things on the outside.
You can choose to be happy right now by:
- being grateful for what is working in your life and all the things you have.
- developing a happy posture (for example, by lifting your head up) and smiling.
- listening to some uplifting music that will change your mental state.
- doing something you enjoy right now.
- having quality time with your partner and close friends.
- going out in nature.
- escaping the Law of Familiarity by having variety in life.
6. Time is more valuable than money.
One of the 10 brutal truths about life is that you can replace money, but you cannot replace time. Time depreciates. Once that minute or day or month is gone, you can never get it back. So it’s important to use time wisely.
Research has shown that you need a certain amount of money to live a reasonably good life so that all your basics are covered. And that is around $60,000 to $70,000 a year. Anything above that is great because it allows you to afford the luxuries or to have other people do things for you, like cleaning, to save you some time.
However, if you’re working crazy hours to fund a lavish house or a posh car, or to have your kids at private school, then perhaps it’s time to think about the value of your time. Most people don’t value time and do things they hate just to have the money. They end up wasting their life away and then regretting it later. Make sure you use your time to do what matters to you, what gives you meaning and makes you happy. Use time wisely because you can never replace it.
7. You will die one day and so will all your friends, family, and loved ones.
This is one of the most brutal truths about life. We don’t know when this will happen. It could be today, tomorrow, next week, or next year. Hopefully, it will be a long time from now, but we often forget that this day will come.
You’ve maybe heard this saying, “Live every day as if it was your last because one day it will be”. I don’t completely buy into that. If I did, I would be on vacation 365 days a year, traveling the world, exploring and having adventures. However, I would also run out of money very quickly! For most of us, we need to work, so it’s important to be realistic here.
However, there are things that you can do. If there is something you’ve been putting off that can be easily dealt with, definitely have a sense of urgency to do that. Maybe it’s changing a job or career you’ve been putting off for a while. I like Gary Ryan Blair’s quote “We are all playing a high stakes game of one and done” We’re not on this planet for long”.
It’s important to have a sense of urgency about the things we do in life and we don’t put off for too long the things important to us. Often, it’s fear that stops us from doing what really matters. If you knew you would die next week, there would certainly be some things that you would do right away without hesitation.
Death can be a reminder to enjoy life and make the most of it and to have a sense of urgency around that. Remember that your friends, family, and loved ones will also die at some point. So it’s important to spend quality time with them right now while you still can.
8. Some people won’t like you.
They will judge and criticize you. It’s impossible to please everyone. Whatever you do in life, whatever you say, you’re likely to upset some people. Don’t go out of your way to get everyone to like you. It’s just not worth it.
Some people are naturally negative and difficult to please. Some will always focus on what’s wrong and will not be grateful. There’s nothing you can do to change that. When you’re walking on the street, people will notice and judge you based on what you’re wearing and how you’re holding yourself.
People naturally judge other people. It’s part of the human condition. And when you step out of the crowd, when you do something that other people won’t do, they may feel a little afraid. They see that you’re taking responsibility and doing things to change your life, and they may feel that you’re a threat to them so they will criticize you.
The more you do different things and strive to become your own person, the more that certain people, even loved ones in your life, will criticize you. And they’re not doing that to help you. They’re doing it because they’re afraid you will become something or someone different from what they’re familiar with. Also, people judge, criticize and put you down to help them feel better. It’s a way of temporarily enhancing their self-esteem.
9. It won’t just happen now like it used to.
When I look back at my parents’ life, it seemed easy and predictable. They went to school, then to university, where they met their partners. They got jobs in their early 20s, often staying in the same job or career for many years. They would get married in their 20s, have kids young and they’d be able to buy their own house because houses were cheap then. Now they’re living a very happy retirement because pension schemes were a lot better as well.
Things have changed now. Most people in their 20s and 30s haven’t met their partners. Many people are renting into their 30s and 40s, even with kids. It seems like things were easier in the past, compared to now. Nothing is guaranteed.
People that are earning 6 figures now have to work hard over many years to get to that level. People now require degrees, even multiple degrees to get into careers that didn’t require these qualifications in the past.
People in great relationships put in a lot of effort to make it great, and continually work on keeping it great.
Why is this? Well, I believe that people have much higher expectations now. In the past, people settled for less.
So don’t think important life events are just going to happen. Life doesn’t work like that anymore. Think about what you want to achieve and by when. Then take proactive action today.
Don’t assume that things will happen. And don’t take them for granted when they do. Take the steps to achieve them. One of my favorite inspirational quotes is “You will be rewarded in public for the thousands of hours you practice in private”. You can apply that to so many areas of life, especially studying, gaining qualifications, or starting and developing a business.
10. You are 100% responsible for changing your life.
Whenever you blame the economy, your level of intelligence, your family, where you live, your genetics, your weight, your looks, or anything else, you take away your power to change.
Bad things happen. But you have complete control over the meaning you give to those things. I don’t buy in to the idea that you create all these bad or good things in your life. But I do believe that if something devastating or bad happens, you have a 100% control over the meaning you give to that and the actions you take to get over it. There have been so many stories of people that were almost entirely crippled, and when they continually visualized their bodies moving, they regained their mobility.
In my hypnotherapy practice, I’m always helping people to take responsibility for their life, helping them get back to the cause rather than being at effect. The effect is when you’re blaming other people and other situations for your life. Being at cause is taking 100% responsibility. It’s important to take responsibility for your happiness, unhappiness, successes and failures.
So, these are my 10 brutal truths about life that no one wants to hear based on my experience of life so far. I may have gone on a bit of a rant at times, but I hope you still found this article informative, inspiring and motivating.
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