Life Is Hard and Other Non Trivial Truisms

If life is what we make it, I’m going to need more duct tape.


I love a well-written “Top Things I’ve Learned in X Years” article where some brave soul attempts to distill a lifetime of experience into a curated list of lessons.

It’s a daunting task. Even if the author finds a way to synthesize and communicate a lifetime’s worth of experience in a succinct way, it’s usually not enough to make a person stop and think, much less take action.

It’s because single thoughts, no matter how profound, rarely impress us after the first encounter. What started as a deep insight eventually turned into a tired old truism. And truisms trick us into believing we still know things we’ve forgotten. We hear a truism, something we used to know, and brush it off because it doesn’t seem valuable anymore.

But the insight contained within a truism is still there. You just need to think a little deeper and work a little harder to cut away the meaninglessness that’s grown on top of it, revealing the value underneath. Sometimes this extra effort, or reminder, can change everything.

Sift through these truisms I’ve collected below. If you give them enough thought, maybe you’ll be reminded of something you used to know.

I claim no authorship of these truisms. They were truths long before I came along. Like anything worth a damn, I paraphrased, misquoted and outright stole them in my quest for rhyme and reason.

A Few of My Favorite Non-Trivial Truisms

For best results, read each item twice, and pause to add thinking to each.

  1. There are two reasons why people don’t talk about things; either it doesn’t mean anything to them, or it means everything.
  2. The biggest obstacle to the next great thing is the last great thing.
  3. You either get better or you get worse; you never stay the same.
  4. Day by day nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different.
  5. We don’t see the world as it is. We see the world as we are.
  6. If you’re not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold.
  7. So often travel elongates the conversation, not broadens it.
  8. The people who are the hardest to love are the ones who need it the most.
  9. Even disasters that strike those we are closest to only reach us filtered through our own colossal egotism.
  10. Words are just symbols for the things they represent, often making the unreal seem real.
  11. It is not the strongest that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.
  12. Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.
  13. We find our strength deep in the valley of our fears.
  14. Discipline is remembering what you want.
  15. You are not your thoughts.
Categorized as Free Advice