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Ask HN: What was your biggest life lesson in 2015?
66 points by aforarnold on Dec 25, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 69 comments
Hey All,

I want to know what you have learned in 2015 that you never realised before. I am going to start with my self, I learned one thing: 1. Identifying people who really matters in life is super important. We generally don't think like this but when the person is not around you, you will realise how the person was in your life. And don't forget to show your gratitude you never know when it's the end.

I would really like to know your life lesson. May be some of us learn from other and can use in 2016.

Thanks in advance.

I figured out that people bond with other people better by engaging in 'wasteful activities'. I figured out the importance of "fitting in". It is funny but I couldn't realize it in the first 24 years of my life. I had never needed to make others happy. At work, I would go about my stuff and didn't have to bother about what others thought (as long as my work was being done). In College, I could simply ace exams and didn't have to worry about what other people thought about me. People around me have always engaged in things that seemed excessively wasteful to me (going to movies, partying, drinking). And I was happy in my own little world.

Things changed when we started a company...a B2B company. We started selling at the beginning of this year and I found myself in a salesman's role (lucky me). I couldn't say no to meeting people, I couldn't say no to events, I couldn't say no to going to bars after events, I couldn't say no to partying, I had to engage in everything that I thought was wasteful. I was awkward and dumb at times but it helped me bond with people. I kept away from it for far too long, but now I try to force myself to meet people.

I know this is nothing new to most of you. But it was revelation for me. In startups, sometimes you have to force yourself to go against your very nature.

>People around me have always engaged in things that seemed excessively wasteful to me (going to movies, partying, drinking)

How are these activities wasteful? Please elaborate. What activities would you not consider to be wasteful?

I'd define it as not personally fun or entertaining.

I don't go to the movies. I'd rather read a book. I don't go to parties. I'd rather work on my calligraphy. I don't drink - not even lightly - but I see heavy drinking as a complete waste of time (literally blacking out or not having memory of most of the previous night).

If I ever have the feeling of "I'd rather be doing something else" then chances are what I'm doing is a waste of my time. I should be doing that something else.

As someone who is also learning this, I can relate that it must be hard jumping to a sales role right away.

2015 was, for me, mostly just an extension of 2014 in this regard, as I had a big "life altering" experience late in 2014. I had a heart-attack in November 2014 and could well have died. Luckily I live close to a good ER and what-not and got prompt treatment and I'm mostly fine now. I'm on a bunch of new medicines, but otherwise things are mostly back to normal. I did some mountain bike racing this summer, before I tore my rotator cuff in a fall and switched to mostly road cycling until I get my shoulder fixed up.

Soo... to answer the question... and hopefully without sound to glib, I'd say "take your health seriously. Stuff creeps up on you". That is, all the warnings you hear about "eat right, exercise, keep your cholesterol down", etc... yeah, that stuff does matter. And yes, it can happen to you. I know, because I was one more person walking around thinking "that stuff only happens to other people" until I was on the back of an ambulance wondering if I was going to die.

I really don't like being the preachy type, but if I have any useful advice to share, I'd say it's this... invest in taking care of your body. And by "invest" I mean, time, knowledge, money, exercise, food, whatever elements you need to leverage to maximize your health. Read a book like Cholesterol Clarity and understand how this cholesterol stuff really works. If you're a little overweight (or a lot) find a way to start getting more exercise. Buy a bicycle, or a skateboard, or a surfboard, or just some comfortable walking shoes, whatever. Throw out the Doritos and sugary sodas and shit. Learn to eat healthy. Quit smoking if you smoke. That sort of thing.

Sorry to hear you went through those time. I am exactly the same guy as you told "that stuff only happens to other people". I am skinny fat, in 2015 I cut a lot of sugar from my food. But struggling with a proper exercise routine, I like running. But, I can not manage time for that. I am in late 20s so I know this is the time to start. Lets see whether I can change it in 2016 or not. But thanks a lot for sharing it!

Check out reddit.com/r/bodyweightfitness - the FAQ has a great routine you can do at home.

Another great resource for bodyweight and "bodyweight+" workouts is Scrapper's page at


Check out the "Sandbag Death" and "Swings and Sprints" workouts.

I love fitnessblender.com They have plenty of wonderful routines, bodyweight only or not, of low difficulty going up to 90 minutes high difficulty sweat fests.

Fantastic resource! Thanks a lot for sharing :)

When you feel emotional, wait at least five minutes before acting, especially if you are upset. It is tough to do but waiting to cool off and think before acting has really saved my bacon a couple of times.

not only is it important to have "emotional intelligence" with others but will save you a lot of headaches with family relations

I learned several things the hard way this year:

- stay away from people who have shown bad character traits in the past (e.g. cheating, violence, drug abuse...) even if they downplay/justify it and behave reasonably towards you for a long time

- Severe health issues can creep up on you even if you have no symptoms and live a reasonably healthy life (no smoking/drinking/weight/obvious environmental issues). I apparently lost either the genetic or Chernobyl lottery and had a rare tumor removed that nearly left me quadriplegic. My typing speed is now approx. 1/5th of what it was before and my hands ache all day, but fortunately I can still walk and do most things like before.

How is drug use a character trait? More than half of Americans drink alcohol. Nobody gets addicted to anything on purpose...

> How is drug use a character trait?

Some people will observe the effect of drugs on themselves and avoid them or limit the consumption because of it.

Some people will actively seek drugs despite the risks and downsides because they want an easy solution for life's problems and that's the character trait I mean.

I learned that money is not everything, and a lot more from this article: http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-harsh-truths-that-will-make-yo... (Basically how people work). My life turned upside down after reading it.

I had a custody case for my daughter this year. To many bad things happening in moms side for me to allow my daughter to stay with her. I was $120,000 in debt because of it. I am now only $67,000 in debt.

Hard work and dedication pay off. Don't stop fighting for what's right.

Great, thanks for sharing :)

Be happy. Don't go looking for happiness, you won't find it anywhere other than in yourself.

I decided to stop being a miserable S.O.B. halfway through this year, and it's made a difference to everything from work to home to health.

Also, don't go seeking stress and strife out. They'll come to you often enough, you don't need more.

There's a saying that I heard recently that seems applicable here:

Happiness is an emotion; joy is an attitude.

Writing down an affirmation of fulfilling a goal on a daily basis and doing concrete work on it every day, no matter how small. I embarked on this after reading Scott Adams and found it remarkable in sustaining the mindset necessary to tackle a difficult project.

Which books of Scott Adams you are referring to? Any specific book you read?

Had a son. I learned that the whole "they grow up so fast! blink and they're not even babies anymore" thing is not a cliche at all. Time has flown and it is blowing my mind.

Just had my son four weeks ago. What a crazy ride it has been already. I went from 'this is wonderful' to 'maybe this was a mistake' to 'I don't want him to grow up anymore' all in that short time span. It's amazing. Would love to swap notes :D

Nothing in the league of biggest life lesson, but somethings which I am happy about (or trying work-in-progress):

-- Cut down all sugar. I started to take my tea/coffee without sugar. And no sweets. Try to take a fruit when have the urge. Which resulted in a drop of 2.5 kgs of weight (better BMI)

-- Realizing that yelling at family members (e.g. kids) make you unhappy later on for a long time, with guilt/etc. Better at it, but its obviously a perennial work-in-progress

-- Off Facebook, for some months. Always had the power to quit and had quit intermittently couple times before. But the last stretch I was fooling myself that I need to be on it, to share interesting stuff with some friends I like. (Now when I really have an urge to share, just bcc select friends in email. But this mode and thought process may change again.)

-- Realizing that yelling at family members (e.g. kids) make you unhappy later on for a long time, with guilt/etc

Can you share more on this?

If you live with other people, there is friction, irrespective how much you love them. And often no easy way to resolve. Example: Just today morning, I had to drop my teenage son to an exam center. I woke up before my normal time (and it being a Sunday) so that he is not late because of me. But he was 15 minutes late (he always is, whenever we need to do an errand together), and there is no easy way to handle. The question is: you try and explain why being late is not good (he also knows, obvious stuff) or just yell?! Today, I didn't so I feel better about it.

Develop your character by listening to your conscience in the face of ethical dilemmas. Develop your intuition by making mistakes and doing personal post-mortems to ensure you are learning rather than just floating through life. Put yourself out there and don't worry about what others think since this is the only way you'll know yourself. Vulnerability demonstrates courage more than staying in your comfort zone. Use the T-shaped approach to make an impact while still allowing others to respect you. Don't forget to be happy today since it is the journey to your dreams that makes the dreams satisfying and motivating enough to create new ones.

It's been a crazy year.

- even smart people will react very differently to same events, mostly because of their context/interest/values.. but most of all, emotions.

- until the money is in the bank. many people will bs you, but you never really know everything until someone actually takes action or commits.

- scalability of an organization depends on its people. the leadership, the hubs(influentials), and the values/culture. the structure comes after.

- never give up. we got accepted to YC on our 2nd try.

If you get bad vibes from somebody you're working with, be cautious. If that person's title is CEO, run.

My Dad died this year. He was an engineer and a good man, but not very emotional. At the end of his life, the most important thing of all was relationship, and most important was family relationships.

His final advice was to include more people in everything I do (family, friends, coworkers, etc), and to "go have joy". That last bit is meaningful because I am overly concerned about the future.

I learned that freelancing is only 10% coding and 90% people skills

Would that mean that a freelancer with subpar coding skills and good people skills would be more successful than a freelancer with good coding skills but subpar people skills?

If so, is it because of what you said or not? If not, then why not and how come your 10% coding and 90% people skills still holds true according to you?

Just a curious question :)

In my experience, yes.

As to why, people like working with people who are like them.

Assuming that the development part is good enough, having people skills blows that person away.

I learned my skills from various sources, but I found a coach that took me to the next level. His name is Marcus Oakey. I'm sure he is still teaching.

Yes. In my freelancing life, I met plenty of people where we both agreed I was the better coder by far, but the other charged a higher rate. My people skills are pretty good, for engineer standards. But theirs were better :-)

Good software development is about people skills. No matter how good a coder you are, you can't possibly deliver what the client wants if you don't understand the problem.

Suggestion: pay somebody to do the people-part for you.

And boom, it suddenly became a web development agency.

mind reader, you

Or, work on getting better with people?? I'm serious, being 'good with people' is a skill just like writing code.

I alwasy knew this but 2015 really confirmed it for me. My dad passed away this year. Life is short. Don't sweat the small stuff that wouldn't matter in the long run. Try to be happy with whatever you can. Yes, plan for things and work hard. But don't forget to party harder. Life is short. Did I say that already ?

Do what you love. If you realize you're not doing that on a regular basis, change what you're doing.

(clearly this doesn't work at too fine a level of granularity, as there are always important tasks which if not done lead to bigger problems, but at least be able to connect those tasks to a bigger good outcome.)

Roller coasters it is.

Very few people are evil. Most evil is good people operating under incorrect beliefs.

People skills matter more than I previously thought & determines professional success to a large extent.

Not a wild insight I know but still new to me.

That being a software developer at a technology company trumps being a developer at a company that has technology.

Things can go far better by sheer luck than you had hoped they might go by deliberate planning.

I realized that I have to make my own happiness. I shouldn't wait for something to change by itself or for opportunities to show up, because it won't happen.

I worked a lot on myself this year and I have achieved far more than I would ever hope for. I am now transitioning. I also found a job that I love, that is well paid, have growth opportunities and where everyone knows and accepts that I am transgender. All those 2 things required a lot of work (and really a lot of work) but damn was it worth it.

I am now happier than I have ever been and looking forward to 2016!

I learned how to incorporate life lessons unconsciously. A vastly useful tool.

Can you tell more about this.

Babies make you tired

yes, and they seem to poop more than they eat somehow

I started the year with knee injuries that made basic activity, let alone sports, prohibitively painful. After months of PT and exercise, they're better now. I am pretty young, so this problem was very unexpected.

The lesson is that any day I can make marginal gains is a good one. Focusing on achieving on a day-to-day basis has made working on my startup -- a big long term project -- much easier.

I can relate. I broke my ankle in December 2011. It was also painful, even after recovery. My ankle was perpetually injured. I've had 3 surgeries, the latest in February 2015. Since then I've been making small gains, but no set-backs, and can finally run and jump without pain--about 90% of what I was before the brake.

As my ankle improves, so does my life along with it. Small gains and small steps forward.

It's better to stay quiet than say anything.

1. Never underestimate people. 2. Never compare persons, it is unfair to everyone and makes the comparer look bad.

Comparison leads to violence. Just my two cents.

Always look seconds ahead when driving

Get mobileye?

In general, the older you get, the more "boxed in" you become by your history.

At this point, it's either I start at the very bottom, competing with people fresh off school who are willing to work for next to nothing, or make some loans and take up a new college degree.

You must have heard this before but I was totally stoked when I found.

If you write down a goal on a piece of paper and think of a plan to achieve it, you will definitely achieve it NO MATTER HOW BIG OR IMPOSSIBLE IT MAY SEEM.

True story.

2015 was the most boring year for me. I didn't even venture out of my own city the whole year. So I guess my life lesson is to travel more, try new things, don't be afraid to take risks etc.

How many online courses are available and how it's possible to learn all the things I missed learning earlier in my life, practically for free.

I learned that no matter how hard I try, the world only rewards winners, and I am not one.

I learned that reality is not so far from movies (depends heavily on where you live though).

Don't blame yourself

Hard work and happiness are directly correlated.

slaves would object on that

We are all stardust anyways! . . . . . . . . . plz reply if you get this.

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