17 Lessons For My Grandchildren I Learned The Hard Way

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There is no sugarcoating it: life is hard, and we must carry our own crosses. While figuring this out on our own is hard enough, it is also something that we have to watch our children and, eventually, grandchildren navigate. To make it easier on my grandchildren (since their parents have already learned most of these for themselves!), I thought long and hard about the things I wish somebody had told me and made it into this list of 17 life lessons that most of us learned the hard way, including:

Live and let live

Flickr/Quinn Dombrowski

It takes all kinds of people to make this crazy and beautiful world, and it is essential to remember that we are not all cut from the same cloth. That said, know that you will have to tolerate people you don’t care for and that you shouldn’t give them the power to ruin your day.

This, too, shall pass

Flickr/Janne Räkköläinen

There will be good days, and there will be bad days. While the bad times may seem to drag on, they will NOT last forever.

You can’t make everyone happy, so don’t even try

Flickr/Paul Istoan

If you are doing what you know is right, it is essential to stay on that path, even if others don’t approve. We are not all cut from the same cloth, and some people are pre-dispositioned to be angry and critical no matter what. Don’t take it personally, as it is more their problem than yours.

You are never too old to learn something new

Flickr/eren {sea+prairie}

If you thought learning ended after high school or college, think again! Always be open to learning new things – it makes for a more exciting life and a more interesting YOU.

It’s good to be humble


This one is pretty self-explanatory. Be humble and modest – there isn’t enough of that in today’s society, and it shows. 

Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans


Did I just quote the late great John Lennon? Yes (after all, I am from that generation), and for a good reason because too often, we get so caught up with what we think needs to happen that we miss all of the good, important, and beautiful things happening all around us. 

It’s essential to work hard, but you need to take time to enjoy life, too


I know far too many Depression kids and Baby Boomers who recognize the importance of hard work but never took the time actually to enjoy life. Life is short, and while there is nothing wrong with hard work and sound financial decisions, it is also essential to enjoy your time with family and friends.

If an opportunity to travel presents itself, take it

Flickr/sean hobson

I have never met anyone who regretted traveling the world… have you? People who regret not traveling more? I know far too many. 

Do something kind every day for a stranger 

Flickr/Ben Grey

If someone is standing in line behind you at Starbucks, buy their coffee. Did some nincompoop decide to merge lanes at the very last second? Take a deep breath, slow down, and let them in. Do you like a stranger’s shirt or accessory? Tell them! It’s easy to be kind, and it is incredible what it can do for the recipient and you!

Forgiveness is good


Nothing makes you quite as anxious or ages you faster than a good, old-fashioned grudge. Be the bigger person and forgive. Does this mean you must forget? Depending on the situation, no, but forgiveness is one of the best things you can do to heal.

The internet is forever

Flickr/Adam Rose

Technically, this isn’t something I had to worry about in my day, but it is something that you and future generations need to remember. A good rule of thumb: If it isn’t something you’d want me to see, don’t do it (at least, not in public or not where there are cameras!).

You only get one body, so take care of it now


Take supplements. Apply sunscreen. Get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. Eat your fruit and veggies. Sleep 7+ hours every night. You get the drift. 

Not all habits are bad

Flickr/Maggie Valley Club

Smoking is bad, and chewing your nails is not ideal, but not all habits are negative. For instance, making your bed, drinking 75 ounces of water a day, and writing in a journal are all simple things that can change your day and overall well-being. 

Be mindful

Flickr/Tarcio Saraiva

In this day and age of social media and instant information, it is easy not to be present to those around you. Don’t get caught up in this. Life already goes by way too quickly, and you do not want to spend more time away from your loved ones than you have to. 

Life is what you make of it

Flickr/doug ellis

When we are young, we all have ideas of how our future will look, and it almost never pans out the way we envisioned. Does that make it a bad life? Absolutely not (oftentimes, in fact, it is the opposite). However, if you get stuck on things not/being a certain way, you may end up with a negative outlook that can follow you around for years. Even if things are not going your way, you can have a wonderful life – but only if that’s how you make it! 

Don’t take yourself (or life) too serious

Flickr/Matteo Mazziotti

Do you want to know the secret to a long and happy life? It is a good sense of humor! Learn to laugh at yourself and find the humor in the most mundane. If you look hard enough, it is there, and it will get you through even the hardest of times. 

Call your grandma a few times a week

Flickr/Jessica Merz

Need I say more? 🙂

As someone who has been there and done that, I hope these little pearls of wisdom help make everyone’s lives a little easier. Sometimes, we have to just learn these things for ourselves, but it is my hope that, should these issues arise, you will remember these little nuggets of advice from me, your Devoted Grandma.

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