1. Realize that people don’t care as much as you think they might.
Most people won’t notice that you bought a new car or got a promotion, and you shouldn’t be basing your happiness on their judgments anyway. On the flip side, if they’re showering you with attention, don’t let it go to your head.
2. The people who truly care about you aren’t interested in your accomplishments and possessions; they’re interested in you.
It’s called love, and you’ll know when someone congratulating you on your new job is jealous or truly happy for you. When you find people who love you, do everything you can to hold onto them, because they’ll be your foundation.
3. Arranging your life around money won’t make you happy.
Focus on your passion, not your paycheck. Freeman says he knew a man who spent his career amassing six figures in savings, but died of cancer before he could even touch it.
4. Debt is not a necessary burden of adulthood.
If you’re making an investment in your career by going to school, then your student debt is something you’ll need to manage. But just because it’s become normative, do not consider debt a rite of passage into adulthood. It can present a dangerous imbalance of your finances.
5. Rhetoric is powerful.
Figure out what elicits certain responses from people, and you’ll be better able to influence others. “When you know how to speak in order to change someone’s mind, to instill confidence in someone, to quiet the fears of a child, then you will know this power first hand,” writes Freeman.
6. You have a responsibility to everyone, and a responsibility for only yourself.
Freeman thinks that by merely existing we have a responsibility to recognize the humanity in everyone and offer help to those in need. Ultimately, however, you have control over only yourself, and it’s on to you to find success and happiness.
7. Prepare for the unexpected.
Do all that you can to understand the way things work, whether it be how your company functions or how your government is operating. But understand that no amount of knowledge can prepare you for chaos that will inevitably hit you throughout your life. Always have a Plan B.
8. You can’t let others define you.
While humans are built to be part of communities, don’t let other people or ideologies tell you who you are.
9. You must always go beyond what is required.
To become successful, outperform the other guy. And when you’re at the top, compete with yourself.
10. Self-awareness is endlessly valuable.
If you can see yourself the way others see you, you will be able to work with and get along with others more easily.
11. Biases affect everything you do.
Your worldview works its way into every decision you make. If you know your biases, you can minimize acting selfishly and do what is right for the situation.
12. Living in the present will keep you focused.
Accept that the past can’t be changed, and make the most of what’s in front of you.
13. People who are very different from you can enrich your life.
Surrounding yourself with like-minded people can limit your creativity, but if you seek out new perspectives, you grow faster and learn more.
14. Travel. Travel more.
Not only will being exposed to other ways of living give you a new perspective on life, it will take your brain off autopilot and allow you to return to work refreshed.
15. It’s important to keep taking risks until you find your passion.
If you haven’t found a job that makes you happy, don’t settle.