There are some things we just… don’t want to know.
These are the kind of things we usually are already aware of, but we’d rather live out our lives pretending that they’re not true.
They’re not any more fun for me to talk about than for you to think about, however, the truth is that we have to talk about them. At least, if you’re serious about doing what it takes to find peace and happiness. If that’s you, read on…
You recognize the truth because sometimes it’s hard to swallow, but if you hold it in your mouth, refusing to eat it, you are going to choke.
– Monica Johnson
For example, people really don’t like when things change. But the truth is: they do. And there’s nothing we can do to stop it. However, by ignoring this fundamental fact we actually cause ourselves a lot of suffering in an attempt to maintain this facade that we have a stable, secure life.
But there’s so much more that we try to ignore in an attempt to stay comfortable than just this. And so much that we give up by ignoring those things in an attempt to try and stay comfortable.
One of those things we give up trying to stay comfortable is, ironically, our own happiness.
1. You’re going to die
This is the first and most prolific of the hard truths. The truth is you, I, and everyone we know is going to die someday. That’s just how it is. But there most certainly is something we can do about it: face it and realize the beauty of impermanence.
As tough as this is to admit, the only way we can ever be happy is by admitting these hard truths. However, by facing the truth of our own impermanence, and the impermanence of everything around us, something interesting happens: we realize a deep sense of appreciation and even joy in everything, even the small things we never noticed before.
But don’t take my word for it. Try meditating on death for yourself and see how it changes the way you think about life for the better.
2. Most people are in it for themselves
This is one of those hard truths we all learn eventually– the hard way.
I know a few people who have been hit pretty hard by this. Sometimes, it happens to us with people we’ve known for decades. I know how it feels.
However, just like the first point, this one also has its own silver lining: good friends are hard to come by, but when you find one, do whatever it takes to hang on to them because they’re more precious than gold.
It’s by virtue of going through this that we’re able to realize just how incredibly valuable it is to have good people in our life. In the same way that we learn to appreciate everything around us when we reflect on impermanence, we learn to appreciate the truly good people we meet when we find them because we know how rare they are.
That’s not to say we don’t all have goodness in us. We do, but most of us are just burried too deep in our problems to be in touch with this goodness, so we consistently act out in ways that hurt others. All the more reason to appreciate goodness when we do find it.
3. Your biggest regret will be that you didn’t do what you love (unless it’s not)
A study originally done by hospice nurse Bronnie Ware, born from little more than curiosity in her patients, the “top 5 regrets of the dying” was a blog post that eventually blossomed into one of the most viral stories in the history of the internet. If you’ve so much as blinked at the Internet in the past five years, you probably heard about it at some point.
So, what was the top regret? The one mentioned more than any other among the patients she surveyed? It was this:
I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
Most of us spend our life caring way too much what others think of us, so much so that we end up dying having not pursued what we really loved and wanted to do with our life.
So, let the words of the dying be a reminder of this hard truth: most of us die regretting that we didn’t live the life we wanted, so get out there and make sure you’re not one of them.
4. Most of us aren’t ever giving our 100% (and it will haunt you if you don’t start)
A while ago, I was thinking back on my life and what I had done (and not done). And do you know what was the one thing I realized I regretted?
Not giving my one-hundred percent, full effort to anything.
I thought back to when I played basketball, drew my own manga comics and created stories, and wrote songs in a band in high school. All of these things and more, I couldn’t think of a single time when I truly felt I had given my all.
But I’m not alone. And the likelihood is, you’re just like me. There are things you love, but you’re just not giving your full effort to for one reason or another. The reasons differ, but one thing is certain no matter what the reason: you will regret it unless you act now to change it.
The most common problem I’ve found that keeps us from giving our full effort? Not being clear about what we want and why we want it.
5. The One doesn’t exist (we complete ourselves)
If you’re waiting around for Mr. or Ms. right, I hate to break it to you: they’re not coming (and you don’t need them to).
To be clear, love is real. An incredible love that is unbreakable and worth the wait. However, it’s important not to hinge your happiness upon finding this person and it’s even more important not to think that there is some part of you missing which someone else will help you complete.
You are a complete, worthy, and incredible human being. You don’t need someone else to tell you that nor do you need someone else to do or be something for you to become that incredible person.
This is much easier read than realized, but if I could give you one piece of advice it’s this: trust yourself without hesitation and see where things go. It won’t always work out, but when it does, you’ll acquire a deep-seated confidence that validates your very existence. The worth of this is limitless.
Hard truths are hard for a reason: they’re things which can and will cause us pain. However, another common theme exists within these truths: when we face them, we become happier and more at peace because of it. It might not be easy facing these hard truths, but in doing so, we can realize a better and more fulfilling life because of it.