Life’s (unassuming) Lessons





2016 has been without a doubt filed with its ups and downs mixed with some mind-bogglingly awesome moments to date. I spent most of this year traveling, embracing new experiences, and forging a path of emotional, physical, and mental self-discovery. Sounds not overly original, I know… but honestly it’s true. Everyone likes to brag that this year was his or her year… and, in my case, I think it actually was!



So, in the spirit of the season, I decided I would share 16 lessons life taught me in 2016 that’ll I’ll be leading with intention in 2017 with… the good, the bad, and the unexpected. You ready?

1. Sure, accept the things you cannot change. But also… fight hard to get what you want! Stand up for what you believe in and never let anyone infuse your dreams with doubt.

2. Take advantage of the opportunity you have, spend time with loved ones, have real conversations and enjoy authentic moments.

3. Spend your hard-earned cash on experiences. See the world. “Stuff” can get lost, outdated, or destroyed… but memories will last decades. Give in and wanderlust the hell out of your planet.

4. Not everyone will stand with or for you. Brave standing alone and never take it personal.

5. And even more brave saying the hardest three words in the English Language “I don’t know.” So many of us would rather offer a hastily made conclusion than admit we are ignorant of an issue. Be willing to say you don’t know and to reject the protocol handed down to you (the mandate of corporate shame for when a person utters I don’t know). Admittedly not “knowing” anything allows you to “out think everybody.” Thanks for this lesson “Think Like A Freak.”

6. Books are not your enemy. For the longest I’ve had a fear of committing to reading full books beyond the required academic/work readings. Allowing yourself to get swept up in a book by reading or audio — take your pick — affords you the opportunity to discover new places ideas and experiences through a mental and emotional state.

7. Redefine unsolvable problems. When a set of solutions to a problem keeps yielding unsatisfactory results it is necessary to redefine what the problem actually is. The majority of people do something in a particular way and think, ‘Okay, that’s the way it’s done, and you just can’t deviate that much because it must not work,’ so have the courage to ignore limits because who knows you might just break records and exceed expectations.

8. Accept criticism. But don’t let it undervalue your hard work.

9. Drink a lot of water. It sounds silly but it’s something I only started focusing on seriously these past couple of years and it’s quite literally saved my skin and overall health. Aim for at least one 8-ounce glass every 90 minutes!

10. Take 30 minutes for yourself each morning. Visit your favorite coffee shop, read the newspaper, play Angry birds, listen to your favorite podcast… just do something relaxing that’ll start your day on the right foot.

11. Appreciate the upside of quitting. While there are many cases where it pays to be resilient, we can sometimes be happier by letting go of something that we’ve invested a tremendous amount of time and effort into. Instead of looking at just the sunk cost – the amount of time already put into something – focus on the opportunity cost, which is the energy or money spent doing one thing when it could be spent doing something else. If the opportunity cost outweighs the sunk cost, it may be time to quit what you’re doing. Happily embrace arriving to the point of knowing when it’s time to let go.

12. Learn to replace “I’m sorry’s with “thanky you”s, like instead of “sorry I’m late” I’ll say “thanks for waiting for me”, or instead of “sorry for being such a mess” I’ll say “thank you for loving me and caring about me unconditionally” and it’s not only shifted the way I think and feel about myself but also improved my relationships with others who now get to receive my gratitude instead of my negativity.

13. Stock your wardrobe (+ suitcase) with at least two of these 5 classic outfit staples: a slim-cut pair of khakis, fitted black denim, white sneakers, white t-shirts, and brown boots.

14. We won’t always get what we want right away, it teaches us that we still don’t have control over time no matter how good our time management skills are and no matter how good we are at predicting our future. If it’s not our time yet, we can do nothing about it, so find contentment in waiting.

15. Let more empathy in our everyday activities. Being able to move beyond simply feeling pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune, through empathy we allow ourselves the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Empathy helps to build our capacity to help us cope with a changing, unpredictable world, enlarging a personal worldview to embrace those outside our own experiences and ideology. Unless we make a determined effort to get out of a narrow and confined complacency we are doomed for darker, not brighter days ahead. Empathy might not be a solution, but it will at least be a beginning.

16. Spend one weekend each year alone. Go to the mountains, rent a beach bungalow, or spend it solo in your neighborhood. Talk to yourself and give yourself 72 hours of distraction-free “me time”… absolutely nothing else has had a more profound hand in my mental wellness and self-care success than checking out of life for one weekend each year.

Well there it is, folks! Which lessons do you identify with most? What are your own life’s lessons? Let me know in the comments below!

About the Author
Mariel Kanene is Founder and Editor of and lead storyteller with a focus on music, startups and travel. His passion for storytelling was born in Kinshasa, Congo and bred in Washington, DC where he resides. By day, Mariel spends his days slowly trying to change the world—one meaningful interaction at a time. He loves reading factual-fiction, good podcasts, traveling, health and fitness, foreign languages and good conversations over good coffee and even better rum. He hates talking about himself in third person.Thanks for stopping by. Always appreciated. Find me on: Twitter | Instagram | Linkedin | Website.

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s