Life Lessons We Learn The Hard Way

Written by on November 15, 2015 in Self-Awareness

Lessons We Learn The Hard WaySome of the most important lessons in life are those we learn the hard way. It’s not that there isn’t plenty of advice around, but somehow we always feel that there will be time ‘later’ or that we will be the exception.

There’s a great quotation that goes  … “The difference between school and life is that school teaches you a lesson and then gives you a test. Life gives you a test and then you learn the lesson.”

Following is a collection of a few of life’s hard earned lessons. See if you agree, and feel free to share if you have others you’d like to add.

Life Lessons 101

  • Sometimes things happen that make no sense at all, you ask yourself how can one person willfully hurt another? It is more of a statement of disbelief than a question. All we could hope for is that our collective voice against the inhumanity of the few and our universal desire to live in a compassionate filled world extinguish the fire of hatred others have spawned. Let us not forsake our humanity. ~Dodinsky
  • There are things in life we don’t want to happen but have to accept; things we don’t want to know but have to learn, and people we can’t live without, but have to let go. ~Author Unknown
  • The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These people have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen. ~Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
  • As you get older you find out that true happiness is not in how much you make, how many degrees you have, how big your house is or how fancy your car is. It’s finding peace, joy and calmness in your life that comes from genuine self-acceptance and relationships that will soon become the most important thing to you. ~Author Unknown
  • No matter who tries to teach you lessons about life, you won’t understand it until you go through it on your own. ~Author Unknown
  • One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon – instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today. ~Dale Carnegie
  • Not making a choice is a choice. Letting things happen by default is a choice. If we choose to give up our right to make a choice – we have made a choice. We always have choices, even if we do not like the ones available. ~Rachelle Disbennette-Lee
  • Clutter isn’t just the stuff in your closet. It’s anything that gets between you and the life that you want to be living, whether it is in your home, in your head, in your heart or on your hips. ~Peter Walsh
  • You can be the most beautiful person in the world and everybody sees light and rainbows when they look at you, but if you yourself don’t know it, all of that doesn’t even matter. Every second that you spend doubting your worth, every moment that you use to criticize yourself; is a second of your life wasted, is a moment of your life thrown away. It’s not like you have forever, so don’t waste any of your seconds, don’t throw even one of your moments away. ~C. JoyBell C.
  • The greatest challenge in life is discovering who you are … the second greatest is being happy with what you find. ~Author Unknown
  • You cannot always count on others to respect your feelings, even if you respect theirs. Being a good person doesn’t guarantee that others will be good people too. You only have control over yourself and how you choose to be as a person. As for others, you can only choose to accept them or walk away. ~Author Unknown
  • The world is full of abundance and opportunity, but far too many people come to the fountain of life with a sieve instead of a tank car, a teaspoon instead of a steam shovel. They expect little and, as a result, they get little. ~Ben Sweetland
  • In the absence of clearly defined intentions, we become strangely loyal to performing daily acts of trivia. ~Author Unknown
  • One of the greatest challenges in creating a joyful, peaceful and abundant life is taking responsibility for what you do and how you do it. As long as you can blame someone else for your choices, be angry with someone else, point the finger at someone else, you are not taking responsibility for your life. ~Iyanla Vanzant
  • Pursuing happiness is not the same as being happy. Happy times are great and often fun-filled, but happy times pass because time passes. The lifelong pursuit of happiness, on the other hand, is more elusive; it’s not based on a particular outcome. What you are really pursuing is meaning. ~Author Unknown
  • Looking for love can feel like searching for a missing piece of your heart. You will keep looking for that one special person who will complete you until you finally realize that person is … you. ~Doe Zantamata
  • When people walk away from you, let them go. Your destiny is never tied to anyone who leaves you, and it doesn’t mean they are bad people. It just means that their part in your story is over. ~Author Unknown
  • Some people think resilience means you never feel FEAR. In reality, the strongest people feel, understand and take responsibility for it; they just refuse to be DEFINED by it. ~Marquita Herald
  • It’s NOT your fault if someone you care about chooses to be unhappy. You can be kind, thoughtful and loving, but you can’t FIX someone else or control whether they choose happiness or unhappiness. The best thing you can do is to pray for that person’s well-being and embrace your own happiness. ~Author Unknown
  • When you try to run away, you end up running in place. Move TOWARDS something instead of AWAY. Rather than trying to eliminate the negative, focus on creating something positive that just happens to replace the negative. ~Marc Chernoff
  • Anyone can hold a grudge, but it takes a person with character to forgive. When you forgive, you release yourself from a painful burden. Forgiveness doesn’t mean what happened was okay, and it doesn’t even mean that person should be welcome in your life. It just means you have made peace with the pain and are ready to let it go. ~Author Unknown
  • The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life. Family members can be your best friends and best friends, whether or not they are related to you, can be your family. ~Author Unknown
  • Somebody should tell us, right from the start of our lives that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows. ~Pope Paul VI
  • Sometimes the things we complain most about are the things we care most about. Unfortunately, we don’t always realize that until it’s too late. ~Author Unknown
  • Life shouldn’t be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a well-preserved body, but rather to skid sideways, chocolate in one hand, latte in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming WOOHOO what a ride!!!

It’s said that the most common end of life regret is not having had the courage to live a life true to oneself, rather than the life others expected of them. While interpretations of this statement will surely vary from person to person, I believe the underlying theme has to do with the quality of life. Specifically, mustering the courage to risk living a little larger than we’re comfortable with so that we might truly savor more of what life has to offer.

Be honest with yourself about what you want, don’t leave the china and crystal to gather dust, use it! Fulfill more dreams, love more, kiss more, take more chances, be a beginner more, make more mistakes and above all, let yourself be happy more.

P.S. If you enjoyed these mini life lessons you may be interested to know they are from “The Final Chapter” in my 5* rated book Reflections on Resilient Living

Your turn. What’s you most valuable life lesson from this year?

Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become.
About Marquita Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living  click here.

Thank you for sharing!

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  1. Excellent post! Most valuable life lesson for the year would be to do what I love and what I enjoy as opposed to doing what I’m good at (it’d be great if those two things always intersected!).
    Lisa Ballinger recently posted…What’s your time gap?My Profile

  2. Sera
    Twitter:
    says:

    Thank you for sharing these thoughts, I personally loved the “Not making a choice is a choice”. Tiny words, deep meaning.
    Sera recently posted…Vision board: the fun way to achieve your goalsMy Profile

  3. Millen
    Twitter:
    says:

    Such a great collection of wisdom and optimism – love all the quotes, thank you! One of my favorite is “The greatest challenge in life is discovering who you are … the second greatest is being happy with what you find. ~Author Unknown”

  4. Suzie Cheel
    Twitter:
    says:

    Love the quotes , this one C. JoyBell C. and love the last one that I think is yours:) this is wonderful but rather to skid sideways, chocolate in one hand, latte in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally word out and screaming WOOHOO what a ride!!!
    There are so many lessons I have learned on my adventure of life too. thank for your inspiration xxoo
    Suzie Cheel recently posted…Does Gratitude Help Your Business Grow?My Profile

    • That’s a favorite of mine as well Suzie, in fact I keep it as a note on my goals worksheet to remind myself to take “me” time and have some fun once in awhile! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

  5. William Rusho
    Twitter:
    says:

    What a great motivating post. I agree with so many of these. I think there are so many bad people who do so much harm, you have to stay vigilant of your own beliefs or you can get swallowed up by the negativity.
    William Rusho recently posted…Guy Fawkes and a Passing of a LegendMy Profile

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed the collection William and you are SO right about the importance of avoiding getting caught up in negativity – heaven knows there’s enough of it around us these days!

  6. Sharon Horne Ellstrom
    Twitter:
    says:

    Excellent collection of life lesson quotes. The one I have embraced most this year, that will impact my 2016 is “Be Loving. Love Being. Be YOU!”
    So much has happened this past year (lost my father to brain cancer, divorced, first granddaughter, son in bad car accident, daughter getting married, assets need to be divested…businesses changed…to name a few) that the only way to gracefully accept and handle it all it to know that everything always works out (for me). My purpose is to experience all of this life, as only I can experience it…
    Sharon Horne Ellstrom recently posted…My Mindset Thrive Challenge 45: Lessons Learned From Einar!My Profile

    • Wow Sharon you have had a challenging year but it sounds like you are resilient and embracing your experiences with the right attitude! Thank you so much for taking the time to share and contribute to the conversation. 🙂

  7. Mariska
    Twitter:
    says:

    I love these quotes.

    The day you truly can say you don’t give a darn about what others will say or think, the day they you will decide to no longer be an approval junkie, that is the day you will start following your bliss and will move closer to finding fulfilment and happiness from within.

    The world outside is a reflection of the world within, so start shaping that world in your mind and it will start to reflect around you. Universal laws never fail.
    Mariska recently posted…You’ve promoted a scam, now what?My Profile

    • Glad you found value in the post Mariska, and speaking of quotes I really like yours – “The world outside is a reflection of the world within.” Definitely will add that to the collection! 🙂

  8. Marquita, the quote you posted says it all. “The difference between school and life is that school teaches you a lesson and then gives you a test. Life gives you a test and then you learn the lesson.” Life is a series of hard lessons because the fun ones are too easy to forget. The lessons we remember may save our life during one of life’s tests. This article was full of great points that can make a difference in someone’s life. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  9. Marty, I love all these. I went back to re-read twice. Each time yet another resonated with me. Your question was a good opportunity to reflect back on the year – long before my obligatory new years’ reflection. This year was more learning to accept family dynamics. My mom was going through chemo this year and all 4 sisters traveled to FL on and off to support her. But when she became critically ill (she’s since recovered) we all descended at once. Wow. Each sister has a different relationship with each other and with our mom. And they don’t all fit together. Insecurities and personal needs came to the surface. My learning – accept everyone as they are – warts and all. And stay true to myself.
    Diane Howell Topkis recently posted…A girl’s gotta have fun!My Profile

    • That’s a powerful lesson Diane and one many people never learn so good for you! Yeah the whole family dynamic can be trying – went through similar challenges when my mother and father passed away. Family – bless’um. 🙂

  10. Love the post and the comments. I had to really think about which struck me the most. Yours, of course, Marquita. You always cut to the core–such a great trait.
    But I also love these two. The first is new to me, the second I first heard when a beloved cousin was killed in a motorcycle accident in 2004. I thought: yep, let’s approach life with zest and enjoyment because it is so, so fleeting.

    Somebody should tell us, right from the start of our lives that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows. ~Pope Paul VI

    Life shouldn’t be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid sideways, chocolate in one hand, latte in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally word out and screaming WOOHOO what a ride!!!

    • So glad you enjoyed the collection Rose! Obviously I am passionate about collecting these little gems. It never ceases to amaze me how a string of a few words can create such insight and inspiration. 🙂

  11. Oh my God! Love these quotes. Too many to choose from LOL! One of my favourite has to be ““The difference between school and life is that school teaches you a lesson and then gives you a test. Life gives you a test and then you learn the lesson.”
    Thank you so much for this post.

  12. Dave
    Twitter:
    says:

    Great insights, as I have come to expect, Marty 🙂 I think, however, that you should have put your quote at the top of the list 😉

    One of my biggest life lessons, you can achieve the most monumental and significant things in your life. But, it’s often not about what you accomplish, but who you accomplish it with that matters the most 😉

    Thanks, as always, Marty for your continuing words that keep us moving towards who we are meant to be!
    Dave recently posted…CassiopeiaMy Profile

  13. Marquita — so many inspiring quotes, hard to pick one that stands out. But if I had to it would be the quote with this phrase, “… It’s finding peace, joy and calmness in your life that comes from genuine self-acceptance and relationships that will soon become the most important thing to you.”

    That’s the place I am now. As you know, I moved from my beloved NYC to Florida over the summer. The lesson I learned this year is that I had to secure my financial future. Once I had that clarity of purpose, all the steps fell into place. I’m quite at peace with my decision. I’m loving it here and have a circle of genuine friends. I had my first dinner party last Friday evening and I honestly felt myself brimming with joy that they were there — still some dear friends in NY but we talk at least a couple of times a week so they are still a vital part of my life. My relationships are my sustenance.
    Jeannette Paladino recently posted…Why Tying Your Shoes Wrong MattersMy Profile

    • That’s a favorite of mine as well Jeannette! Living in the Islands I have come to especially value long distance friendships and I am blessed to have many that I keep in touch with – not only those from my home state of California, but friendships from all over the world made during my days as a road warrior for the local tourism industry. As you pointed out, nice to have that feeling that there are so many people you have connections with – near and far. 🙂

  14. Hi Marty. Like everyone, I really enjoyed your collection of quotes and the sentiments they instill. My favourite is the one about how good friends can and should be considered as family. Unfortunately, not everyone thinks that way, but I sure do.
    Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…5 reasons to visit the Vallarta Botanical GardensMy Profile

    • Glad you enjoyed the post Doreen, and I understand your point about family. I believe it’s harder to appreciate that perspective if you’re one of those people who come from a close family. For better or worse many of us do not, and others lose their families for various reasons. It’s sad to think there are people so eager to harshly judge others, but it’s life and we see examples of it every day. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Stella Chiu
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hi, Marquita

    I love the quotes in your post. One quote particularly stood out is: the school teaches you the lessons,then gives you a test; the life gives you a test, then you learn your lesson. We can’t learn anything until we walk through the institute called “life”

    Many life lessons we learn the hard way because of our pride. Sometimes, we may want to prove we are right.

    Hope, as we grow older, we become smarter by getting knowledge from the experience of others who had walked through the same path.

    Thanks for the post,

    -Stella Chiu
    Stella Chiu recently posted…How to Get Effective Prayer for HealingMy Profile

    • So glad you enjoyed the article Stella, and you are right that our egos do occasionally get in the way. All part of growing up I suppose, and sometimes we really need these lessons to give us perspective on our lives. Thanks for contributing to the conversation. 🙂

  16. Jeri
    Twitter:
    says:

    I could (and probably will someday) write a book on all the lessons I learned in 2015. It’s all too fresh now and will take a while to gain the necessary perspective. The most valuable lesson I learned is that I can’t be broken, and that yes, sometimes things happen that make no sense at all. I know I have to find closure on my own, which hurts, but I know it can be done.
    Jeri recently posted…#AuthorInterview: DV BerkomMy Profile

  17. Lea Bullen
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hi Marquita,

    I love the lesson you listed about find out about true happiness. I find that to be very true. As you get older you come to realize that the non-materalistic things are way more important.

    I have this theory that there are just some lessons that you have to learn the hard way. Not any in particular just the ones where previous advice doesn’t stick, like you said when you think you’ll be the exception.

    ~Lea
    Lea Bullen recently posted…Stop Being Lazy! Simple Ways to Get In the GrooveMy Profile

    • Well you are so right Lea about repeating lessons. I think we’ve all known people who suffer the same problems again and again and never seem to learn or grow beyond their experiences. It’s hard to watch, especially when it’s someone you care about. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and contributing to the conversation!

  18. Ken Dowell
    Twitter:
    says:

    Some of these, especially the one from Dodinsky, seem especially appropriate in light of what happened in France this past weekend. The one that I struggle with most on a personal level is not holding a grudge.
    Ken Dowell recently posted…A Place to Celebrate ImmigrantsMy Profile

    • You surely are not alone with that stumbling block Ken, I had a very difficult time with that issue in my early 20’s but – for better or worse – medical issues that came about as a result of stuffing a good deal of anger forced me to deal with it. These days I just can’t be bothered holding a grudge because I’d rather use my energy elsewhere. Thanks for stopping by and especially for taking the time to share your thoughts.

  19. Patricia Weber
    Twitter:
    says:

    Some inspiring quotes Marquita. Yours too! Loved many including those by “Author Unknown.”

    Will take a look at that link to share what lessons I’ve learned.
    Patricia Weber recently posted…Formula for How to Be Abundantly Happy #IntrovertsMy Profile

    • The truth is that some of the most inspiring and wise quotes in my massive collection have come from “author unknown” … they are surely a prolific group. Glad you enjoyed the post Patricia!

  20. Phoenicia
    Twitter:
    says:

    Absolutely love this! Too many great quotes to choose from, some I am reading for the first time.

    The three that stuck out to me;

    1. Things in life that make no sense. When people commit evil acts I just cannot fathom it. I try to convince myself that perhaps they had a horrendous upbringing or terrible relationships. I do not want to accept that a person is evil just because.

    2. The most beautiful people have suffered and therfore they show empathy. Yes!

    3. Anyone can hold a grudge. It takes a true person to forgive. In my experience, forgiveness brings release and lack of it brings a hardened heart and bitterness.
    Phoenicia recently posted…Is your glass half full or half empty?My Profile

  21. Mark
    Twitter:
    says:

    Boy M! While I’ll readily admit, I’m usually overly impressed, whenever I read one of your so eloquently written post!

    And this one was certainly no exception, but this you really simply crushed it and then some!

    These are definitely some of the most powerful and inspirational quotes, gathered in one collection, ever!

    And like Donna said, your very first one absolutely knocked my socks off and then some!LOL!

    I literally bookmarked this post and I will refer to it often!Thanks!LOL!I really enjoyed it!
    Mark recently posted…Why Extremely Savvy Entrepreneurs Don’t Just Market Their Businesses They Leverage Their Efforts!My Profile

  22. Donna Merrill
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hi Marquita,

    You pulled me in with the first quote “The difference between school and life is that school teaches you a lesson and then gives you a test. Life gives you a test and then you learn the lesson.”

    It always seems to me that life is always testing us, and then we either learn the lesson quickly or we keep on repeating the same thing over and over again until we “get it” lol.

    As I read the quotes shared, they were all so inspiring, but I have to say I like to go out with that Woo Hoo kind of feeling.

    -Donna
    Donna Merrill recently posted…Less Is MoreMy Profile

    • Well said Donna and you are so right that we are very often treated to the same lessons again and again – especially when it comes to relationships – until it finally sinks in. The Woo Hoo quote is a favorite of mine as well. 🙂

  23. Sabrina Quairoli
    Twitter:
    says:

    Marquita, as usual you are always making me think. Thank you. My most valuable life lesson this year is to be brave and take risks, reach beyond my comfort zone, and allow myself to be vulnerable. Know that I am not alone and allow others in to assist in the journey. It has been a good year for. How about you?
    Sabrina Quairoli recently posted…Places To Donate JewelryMy Profile

    • Great lesson Sabrina, and it’s definitely been a good year for me as well. I plan to share a bit more in the November 30th article I mentioned at the post. Thanks for stopping by and contributing to the conversation!

  24. Erica says:

    The absolute last quote you cited is one of my favorites. And every time I see it, I find it a great reminder to challenge myself to live life to the fullest. We all need reminders from time to time that life is temporary and it is up to get what we really want in the short time we are here. I’m sure everyone can find some form of inspiration within the array of wise sayings that you provided!
    Erica recently posted…Holiday Meals Without the Dreaded Holiday Weight GainMy Profile

  25. Catarina says:

    We definitely learn and develop the hard way. The most important lesson I ever learnt was when I was between 18 and 23 years old. Suddenly people close to me, including my beloved father, started dying. It took me approximately 5 years and then I suddenly understood that dying is one of the most natural things in life and stopped being afraid of passing away. And, not to forget, learnt that it’s us who are left behind that suffer. They are fine.
    Catarina recently posted…How do you make your strategy succeed?My Profile

  26. Donna Janke
    Twitter:
    says:

    Great quotes. I especially like the one by Ben Sweetland. It does seem that a lot of important lessons are learned the hard way. As a parent, it’s hard to see your children have to do that. This year I am learning some lessons about living a life true to yourself from my adult daughter, who is blazing her own path.
    Donna Janke recently posted…The Roman Baths at BathMy Profile

    • Living true to yourself is a tough one for many people Donna so good for you and your daughter. Unfortunately a lot of people avoid taking the time to find out who they really are because they may not like what they learn. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and contributing to the conversation!

  27. Dana
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hi Marquita,

    I loved this –
    “The difference between school and life is that school teaches you a lesson and then gives you a test. Life gives you a test and then you learn the lesson.”

    How true is that statement?

    I have spent so much time learning things the hard way, but because I did, it made it easier to learn the easy (easier) way later on because the pain of the former made it important enough to decide to start paying attention to my thoughts, feelings and subsequent behaviors.

    Great quotes. I liked yours as well. Resilience is the result of feeling and then responding (consciously) to fear in a way that empowers us.
    Dana recently posted…How I Overcame My Eating DisordersMy Profile

    • So glad you enjoyed the post Dana! I appreciate your point about learning things the hard way, heaven knows I’ve been there more than a few times myself! Always appreciate your thoughtful insights and so glad you found your way here. 🙂

  28. Lenie
    Twitter:
    says:

    Marquita, all through this post I kept thinking this is the one for me but I kept changing my mind as I read further. Then at the very end I decided I love the “Woohoo, what a ride” the best – I hope that’s me.
    Lenie recently posted…Black Friday – The Saving Strategy.My Profile

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