Tis The Season…To Learn Life Lessons

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Self-reflection helps you prioritize, reenergize, and focus on your core values.

Every year at this time I ask myself – How did we get to the holiday season so fast? Summer is now just a memory; the autumnal foliage is giving way to the upcoming winter, and now the streets are being lit by beautiful holiday decorations with festive music playing in stores and homes.

It does seem like to me that it gets here faster and faster. Now I’m not complaining mind you, as I love this time of year. I love spending time with family and friends, the incredible tasting meals and desserts, the holiday music that is brought out once a year and the beautiful decorations and lights that are displayed though-out the towns and neighborhoods
of where we live.

In our house, it’s a family tradition on the Friday after Thanksgiving to pull out all of the holiday decorations (for the both the inside and outside of the home), pick out the holiday music, bake holiday cookies and stand-up and decorate the tree! Oh, I almost forgot…and switch on the Hallmark channel for the holiday movies.

In all of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s a time to reflect and give thanks for all of the many blessings in our lives. It’s also a time to review and reconsider what you’ve accomplished in past years. It can also be an emotional time as we think of those who are no longer with us as we move and plan ahead.

As you reflect, you will find that there are many things to be thankful for. One is the fact that you are alive today to read this. Life is a precious gift, and there are no assurances or guarantees that we’ll even be around tomorrow. Thus, we need to make the most of our lives today.

Life is not lost by dying! Life is lost minute by minute, day by dragging day, in all the thousand, small, uncaring ways.”
– Stephen Vincent Benet

Many people, myself included, make their plans and goals during the holiday season. My reflection points typically begin with what I accomplished during the past year and what I missed and why. This particular upcoming year, I will anchor my plans for the coming year with the following important lessons of life. 

What are these lessons in life? You see, when doctors tell patients that their time here on earth is nearing an end, the thought of deep regret, sadly, starts to fill their minds. The old adage still rings true: it’s not the things you do in life that you regret, it’s the things you don’t do. A study by Tom Gilovich, the Irene Blecker Rosenfeld Professor of Psychology at Cornell, show that in the short term, people regret their actions more than inactions. But in the long term, the inaction regrets stick around longer.

Time passes swiftly and is the one resource we can never recover. For this coming year, my plan is to keep the following lessons in mind and apply them to my life today.

Life Lesson #1 – Live in The Moment – Live Today

Throughout our lives, we’ve experienced the tug of war between living in the past and living in the future. Another way of looking at it are the emotions of guilt and worry. As the late Dr. Wayne Dyer stated: “Guilt means that you use up your present moments being immobilized as a result of past behavior, while worry is the contrivance that keeps you immobilized in the now about something in the future – frequently something over which you have no control.”

Thus, the past is gone, and the future hasn’t arrived, and there is no guarantee that it will come. Enjoy life today starting now.

Life Lesson #2 – Live for Yourself

People spend far too many present moments in efforts to seek and win the approval of others. Approval becomes too much of a need in their lives. Sure, we all enjoy a little praise and compliments every so often. However, approval-seeking to fill a need rather than a want is unhealthy. If you carry this need around, you will only invite misery and frustration into your life.

Why live this life for someone else rather than yourself? The need for approval must be eliminated from your life if you want to gain personal fulfillment.

Life Lesson #3 – Failing Is Part of Growing

There has been a lot written about the subject of failing. How to cope when we fail. How to pick ourselves up when we fail. How to learn from our mistakes when we fail. But failure is not a single catastrophic event. As Jim Rohn would put it: “Failure is the inevitable result of an accumulation of poor thinking and poor choices.”


Learn to embrace these mistakes and use them to learn more about yourself. Make the future an important part of your daily philosophy. As you change the errors into specific disciplines, you’ll start to realize positive results in a short amount of time which will drive you to continue and further your small successes into more and more of them. 

Life Lesson #4 – Have a Healthy Work-Life Balance

Over the years, the inevitable ebbs and flows of time spent in your career and family life have become imbalanced. One of the biggest regrets of patients nearing their death is that they didn’t spend enough time with those who meant the most to them.

Start by making yourself accountable for where you are spending your time and ask yourself what the most important thing you should be doing right now is.

Also, remember what’s important and prioritize your workload against family events. Recognize that there will be times of imbalance in your life and reassess where to spend your time most effectively. As Jeff Bezos puts it: Aim for “work-life harmony.” 

Life Lesson #5 – Believe in Yourself

There are many times in life, it can feel like a “me against the world” battle. As human beings, our DNA comes with a desire to fit in and to be supported by our peers, co-workers and even family members. We tell ourselves that we are going do certain things…i.e., exercise more, read more, travel more, etc. 

The words we speak provide temporary comfort, but it’s taking action that matters. 

It’s your life so decide and prove it to yourself. When you say, you will do something, start by taking micro-steps that will enable you to have small successes. The key is to jump in and start your endeavor no matter what it is and be true to yourself. This will help to minimize and eliminate any feelings of inadequacy when reflecting back on your life.

Life Lesson #6– Procrastination

I recently read an anonymous saying: “It takes not one drop of sweat to put off doing anything.” Most people are procrastinators in one form or another. People are generally open to admit that they procrastinate more often than they care to admit. 

For most people, procrastination is really an escape from living in the present and dealing with decisions, actions, and consequences both good and bad. This leads toward thinking and hoping that things will get better in the future if you can just wait a little longer.

The good news is that there are plenty of steps to take to resist the temptation to procrastination and eliminate this self-destructive habit: 

1.      Make a decision to live in the present moment starting every 5-10 minutes.

2.      Begin to work on something that you have been putting off. The simple act of starting will alleviate stress immediately.

3.       Schedule a designated time slot to work on and complete the very task(s) you’ve been putting off.

4.      Eliminate weak non-committed words like “hope” and “wish” from your thought process and replace them with current strong action words.

5.      Look hard at your life and remember that given the eternity of time, we are only here on Earth for a very brief period.

Life Lesson #7– The Importance of Kindness

Practicing kindness can sometimes be a forgotten act. We all have our personal priorities and needs to fulfill on a daily basis so we can be self-absorbed from time to time.

Kindness, by definition, is the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate. Kindness also often requires courage and strength. Furthermore, current research has now shown that devoting and sharing resources to others brings a state of long-lasting happiness to yourself. Kindness has also been found by researchers that if you desire to have a stable, healthy and happy marriage, exercise kindness as early and often as you can.

Life Lesson #8– The Importance of Gratitude

As Robert Emmons, professor of psychology at the University of California stated: “Left to their own devices, our minds tend to hijack every opportunity for happiness.” He further mentions: “Negativity, entitlement, resentfulness, forgetfulness, and ungratefulness all clamor for our attention.” 

Practicing gratitude is our best weapon against these threats that constantly bombard us both internally and externally. Studies show that gratitude can improve our health by lowering blood pressure and reducing anxiety. In addition, the research points out that expressing gratefulness can improve interpersonal connections by helping a coworker in some way or by a simple “thank you” to a colleague that helped you.

Establishing the gratitude mindset makes it easier for you to cherish the people you come in contact with and remind you of the amazing gifts you’ve been blessed with in this life. I think most would agree; there is no better time in the history of the world than to be alive today. 

If you are not in the habit of showing appreciation, now is the best time to start. It’s one of the true keys to happiness as those much later in their lives have the experience to know.

Our time here on Earth is too precious and short to allow the feeling of regret to overtake it as witnessed and told from people as they are dying. We are better served to embrace and learn from their lessons of life as they would want us to do.

So, take a moment to reflect on all of the wonderful and incredible things you have to be thankful for. Hug, hold and tell the people in your life how much they mean to you. 

Tell them today…Tis, the season, isn’t it?

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Greg Dermond

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