Powerful Life Lessons Taught by the Great Mr. Mark Twain
Mark Twain is considered by many to be one of the greatest American authors in history. He wasn’t only a writer though, he was also a source of constant inspiration, a fountain of memorable quotes and a man with an incredible intellect. So when we say we have some words of advice for you from the mouth of Mark Twain, there is a very good reason to listen.
1. Age is in your mind more than anywhere else.
“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”
With this clever play on words, Twain is telling us age doesn’t matter as long as you don’t give it significance. It means that a young soul can dwell in an old body and all the limitations we put on age, other than those physical ones, are actually in our head.
This advice isn’t just about age, it’s also about self confidence. When we believe we have a problem, we transmit that to the people around us and so bring it to pass. People can feel the lack of self confidence in others and they will treat you as you treat yourself. So, once you make that mental ‘switch’, the environment will too.
2. Humor is one of the most important things.
“Humor is mankind’s greatest blessing.”
“Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.”
The simple act of laughing and responding to humor is one of the greatest experiences of the human condition. Life is nothing without laughter, just a sad shell, and although there are pleasures in life that have nothing to do with humor, they are always improved upon and made more palatable with a good side dish of laughter. Humor helps almost all situations and using it will draw people to you faster than anything else you may do.
3. Anger will hurt you more than help you.
“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”
Anger is an inescapable human emotion, we all get mad once in a while. But there are ways to control our anger, and not let it control us. Just like laughter is transient in nature, so should anger be. A joke will make you laugh again and again if you think about it over and over, and anger is no exception, the more you think about it, the angrier you’ll become. So, when you are angry at something or someone, it’s important you let it die out naturally; don’t continue to feed it. Think of other things and apply your cognitive resources at things that make you happy.
4. The world doesn’t owe you, you owe yourselves.
“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.”
The feeling of being owed something by the world is common in this generation. We all feel entitled to something, whether it’s a steady job, money, happiness etc. But these feelings usually lead only to frustration, bitterness, anger and resentment. Let go of these expectations from yourselves and from the world, and you’ll see that everything becomes a bit easier. You do deserve the best, but you’ll need to go and get it for yourselves.
5. Having a new idea is not a crime.
“A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.”
When you see things differently than other people, expect mixed reactions. Some will support you, others ignore you, while still others will try to bring you down. Most people tend to hold on to their preconceived notions for dear life, and will even act aggressively or negatively when these are threatened by an opposing opinion. But remember, all great discoveries were once such novel ideas, and many of them carried negative reactions. You should say what you believe and act upon it, don’t let anyone tell you your ideas are ‘too weird’. After all, human flight used to be such a novel and strange idea.
6. Don’t let your thoughts dwell on the negative.
“Drag your thoughts away from your troubles… by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it.”
You must watch your thoughts, because it is so easy to get into a habit of thinking negatively, hashing our worries and troubles over and over in our head, until they seem as big as mountains and as dark as night. Thinking positively is one of the best gifts you can give yourselves, and will ultimately lead to you doing everything a little better, with people reacting much better to your attitude. In the end, life is made up of ‘tasks’ we must accomplish, some small, some big and difficult. Try to look at any ‘difficult’ task as a challenge and as an oppurtunity to learn something about yourselves.
7. Instead of worrying about yourself, worry about others and help yourself.
“The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.”
There is something magical about making someone else smile or getting them out of a tough situation. Helping others not only makes us better people and buys us goodwill from those around us, it also makes our own problems seem smaller because we’re not preoccupied with them 24/7. If you help others without thinking, just jumping in and helping out, you’ll be the one ending up with a smile on your face.
8. Try everything, regret nothing.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did so. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
A beautiful quote my Mark Twain and one that is full of truth. It’s always easier to delay things we want to do. After all, life usually gets in the way and we tell ourselves ‘well, we’ll try it later’. But as we get older, those opportunities become more and more rare, and the things we end up regretting the most are the things we simply never tried to do.
Failure shouldn’t scare us, it’s a part of life. What is scarier is having opportunities and never acting on them. So when you think you want to do something – do it. Failure may happen, but at least you’ll know the answer to the question: “What if?”.