Ever since the dawn of man, people have struggled to find the secret to living a great and fulfilling life. And while we certainly don’t have an answer for you just yet, thankfully, our decades of shared experiences, pondering, and introspection have brought us all a few steps closer on our journey to discovering the meaning of life. That is, by better understanding what makes life worth living and overcoming all the things that hold us back.
With that said, here are 10 mistakes you should never make if you want to avoid lifelong regret:
1. Taking loved ones for granted
In one of the longest and most famous studies done on the psychology of happiness, the Harvard Study of Adult Development by Waldinger (2015) found that happiness was the most strongly correlated not with success, status, wealth, or achievement, but with the quality of close personal relationships. That’s why when you’re lucky enough to have people in your life who truly love and care about you, you shouldn’t make the mistake of taking them for granted or waiting until it’s too late to spend time with them.
2. Not following your dreams
When we’re young, it’s easy for us to have a lot of hopes and dreams in life because we feel like the sky’s the limit. But as we grow older, it gets harder and harder to follow those dreams because of our responsibilities, financial struggles, limited opportunities, and so on. But if you truly have a calling or a passion in life that gives your soul purpose, giving up on it in favor of following someone else’s or choosing the path of least resistance is one of the biggest mistakes you could ever make in life.
3. Not exploring enough
As the famous movie quote goes, “Life is short, the world is wide, and I want to make some memories!” Whether it’s travelling the world, moving to a new city, taking a risk, or simply trying new things and meeting new people, you should allow yourself to discover all the great things and experiences life has to offer. Because if you don’t, you’ll spend the rest of your life wondering “What if?”
4. Wasting your time on things that don’t matter
Gossip, fake friends, popularity, social media, pretending to be someone you’re not, and always worrying about whether other people like you — none of these things really matter in the end, and yet, we can’t help but waste our time on them anyway. The sooner we realize there’s so many other, much better ways we could be spending our time and energy, the better off we’ll be.
5. Settling in your relationships
Even if you don’t believe in romance, destiny, soulmates, and true love, that’s no excuse for you to simply settle for a relationship you’re not even happy in or fulfilled by just because you’re tired of waiting for the right person or afraid you’ll end up alone. Both you and your partner deserve someone who accepts you for who you really are, love you in spite of all your flaws, and make you happier than you ever thought you could be. So don’t settle for anything less.
6. Compromising your health
Do you smoke or drink a lot? Do you not exercise regularly or eat a lot of junk food? It’s easy to neglect your health when you’re still young, but don’t make the mistake of waiting until it’s too late to start taking care of your body! No matter how busy your schedule, always find the time to eat well, exercise, and get enough rest. Avoid unhealthy habits like smoking, overeating, and binge drinking and your older self will certainly be grateful for it.
7. Going into too much debt
You know the saying, “Never bite off more than you can chew?” Nowhere does that apply better than our attitude towards money and spending. Sure, saving can seem like it’s not that big of a priority now, especially when splurging on impulse buys and luxury goods (like lavish vacations or expensive phones) gives us such a high, but you’re going to regret going into more debt than you can repay when the time comes.
8. Being emotionally dependent on others
Of course, it’s only natural for us to feel lonely from time to time, and when we do, we tend to gravitate towards other people for comfort and reassurance. But it’s another thing entirely when we do it so much that it makes us dependent on them for our happiness, self-esteem, and sense of identity. Remember, people who are emotionally dependent on others often become clingy, needy, moody, unsuccessful and unhappy (Naeemi & Tamam, 2017).
9. Having a bad relationship with yourself
One of the worst ways you can destroy your own chances at happiness and success is by having a negative relationship with yourself, and yet, so many of us are still guilty of doing it! We think that being self-critical helps us become better versions of ourselves, when in reality, it’s the opposite that’s true! When we are kind, empathetic, encouraging, and supportive of ourselves, we flourish so much more as people. So know your worth, let go of those limiting beliefs, and start practicing self-love to live a better life today.
10. Forgetting to live in the moment
Last but certainly not the least, let’s never forget that life is fleeting and every moment is precious. Sometimes we get so carried away by all the everyday hustle and bustle that we start to take all the simple pleasures and worthwhile moments in life for granted. We’re so caught up in our future and our past that we fail to see all the good we have with us right now, here, in the present moment.
So, do you agree with all of the things we’ve mentioned here? Do you sometimes find yourself making some of these mistakes? Even if you answered yes, that’s okay — remember that it’s never too late to change! That’s the beauty of life and of human nature. In the words of Anne Frank, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before beginning to improve the world.” And the same applies to your life, too!
- Waldinger, R. (2015). What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness. The Harvard Study of Adult Development. Retrieved, 28(8), 2017.
- Naeemi, S., & Tamam, E. (2017). The relationship between emotional dependence on facebook and psychological well-being in adolescents aged 13–16. Child Indicators Research, 10(4), 1095-1106.