5 Simple Life Lessons We Heard As Kids That We Should Really Listen To As Adults

4/4/14 11:29AM EST

4 Simple Life Lessons We Heard As Kids That We Should Really Listen To As Adults 5 Simple Life Lessons We Heard As Kids That We Should Really Listen To As Adults

Image via Unsplash/Florian Klauer

Experience is always the best teacher  — didn’t someone once say something like that? It’s unfortunate that human beings stubbornly insist on personally experiencing things in order to learn their lessons. But then again, at least this method is almost guaranteed effective. (Some people are beyond help.) What’s interesting is that people also have a tendency to try to pass on these life lessons to a new generation, hoping that what they’ve learned first-hand will be enough for their kids to believe them when they say, “Trust me, you’ll understand when you’re an adult.”

And here we are. Adulthood. And our parents and teachers and all those other boring adults touting cheesy crap at us were undeniably right. Yet somehow the wisdom they passed on seemed to be more like a forewarning because we still made the mistakes, still toed the line, and still came to realize that there were some things we learned as kids that would never be irrelevant as adults. In the midst of our busy work days and complicated love lives, global tragedies and personal triumphs, here are five incredibly simple childhood lessons that we can still learn from as adults.

1. Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You

I can’t even count how many times I used to read this well-known quote off of some tatty school poster or another growing up. Sometimes I’d actually hear a teacher say it out loud. And often being confused as to why it was necessary to speak such old English and whether “unto” was even a real word, it was a simple lesson that totally made sense. In other words: Treat others as you want to be treated. Our elders so wanted us to understand at an early age that it was really that easy to get along with others because without accepting this important lesson into everyday practice, we’d have a hard time doing anything from making friends to landing a job. Some people will say that life gets more complicated, and keeping the harmony isn’t as easy as “doing unto others as they do unto you,” but it seems like as adults, this lesson is even more important to practice. Perhaps treating your partner or your boss or even that random person in the comments section of a YouTube video you’re throwing your two cents in on with just a little more respect and kindness could come back to you tenfold. Just give it a try, you never know what will happen. (We could definitely use a little less drama in the comments section.) See also: Don’t say anything if you don’t have anything nice to say.

2. Sharing Is Caring

As a kid, sharing was just the absolute worst — but as adults, you’d think we have outgrown this issue. The truth of the matter is that our culture is ego-centric. The millennial generation grew up putting themselves first in order to get ahead. It’s not necessarily because we’re terrible humans, but we’ve known a world of opportunities with people telling us to reach higher, be better, always want more. It’s not exactly easy to do that without being a little cutthroat because you’re putting all your energy in to fulfill your own desires first. And that’s okay, but it’s 2014, and there is still such a wide spectrum between the “Haves” and the “Have Nots” in the world that maybe we need to remember share and care a little more. People are dying from the lack of clean drinking water and basic nourishment; complaining about your less than extraordinary tax refund really isn’t the end of the world.

3. Always Say ‘Please’ And ‘Thank You’

Maya Angelou once said, “There’s nothing greater than a ‘thank you’.” Perhaps our parents were onto something more than trying to maintain a sense of propriety when instilling in us this simple life lesson. Whatever they were trying to do, they had the right idea. There isn’t anyone who doesn’t feels a little stung when their gestures go unnoticed, and more than one daily interaction could play out a bit more smoothly with an added “please” in there somewhere. Such little notions, but they make a world of difference, and it’s not just for the sake of politeness. While we’re at it, saying “I’m sorry” a bit more for good measure can’t hurt. Hell, this world is already at enough war, a bit more respect isn’t what’s going to be killing anyone.

4. Winning Isn’t Everything

Again: Generation Y has a hard time accepting this one. On one hand, it’s great because we’re the overachievers, the relentless and the big dreamers. The goal of winning is what we’re raised to achieve. But always winning wasn’t always possible, and at those times we hated hearing that “winning isn’t everything.” Then why even bother in the first place?! Alas, it’s a good lesson to learn and accept — more as adults than ever — because you just can’t come out on top for everything, and it’s better to accept it now than suffer forever trying to change what will always be true. The problem is that adults are always finding more things to ‘win’: that job, the promotion, that girl/guy, and the list goes on. You’re not always going to win, but assuming that the effort is wasted or that you’ve “lost” isn’t a healthy attitude to maintain either. We can’t always be the best, but the experience doesn’t have to mean any less because of it.

5. You’ll Understand When You’re Older

Ah, the ever famous life lesson every adult is familiar with. I can easily say this is the worst of the life lessons because of its ambiguity yet perfectly uncomplicated truthfulness. Age and experience are the ultimate teachers, and most of what we’re trying to make sense of now probably won’t untangle itself for decade or so because life would be boring if we knew all the answers to begin with. Your teens are for understanding how childish you were; your college years are for understanding how naive you were; and your 20s are for understanding how easy life really was pre-adulthood. The rest? Guess we’ll just understand when we’re older.


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