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Middle-aged woman sitting on couch talking

One of the best places on the internet is the SubReddit r/askoldpeople—people who are Gen-X (1980) and older answer today’s youth. Someone asked, “What are some cold hard facts you have learned over the years?” Here are the top-voted cold hard facts of life.

1. You Can’t Fix Other People’s Problems

“You often can’t fix someone else’s problems,” one said. If they seem emotionally invested in changing, you may be able to pull it off, but there are also people who are so deeply ingrained in their dysfunction that they’ll drag you down with them if you get too involved in trying to save them.

2. Compound Interest Builds up Quickly

“Compound Interest builds up quickly. If you live with consumer debt, your life is as much as 20% more expensive than it is for people who don’t live with consumer debt. So, get out of debt and stay out. And then, let that compound interest reveal itself to you,” one person shared.

3. No One Cares for Your Well-Being at Work

“No one cares for your well-being at work. So don’t trust anyone when it comes to your job. Keep your comments to yourself and mind your business. People you think are your ride and die will throw you under the bus to keep their jobs.”

“And you do the same if any information is shared with you. Do you think coworkers will help you with your bills if you get fired over something they did? Or vice versa?”

4. Better To Have a Small Group of Friends

“It’s better to have a small group of close friends than a large group of not-so-close friends. As life goes on, you’ll need people you can depend on and who can depend on you. Stuff happens.”

“Parents die, spouses die, sometimes even kids die. Other family members get sick or injured and don’t recover fully. Couples get divorced. There WILL be times you’ll need to lean on good friends, and times they will need you,” another person replied.

5. The 80/20 Rule Applies Everywhere and to Everything in Life

The 80/20 Rule applies everywhere and to everything in life. For those not in the know, The Pareto principle states that roughly 80% of consequences come from 20% of causes for many outcomes. Few examples:

  • As any small business owner can tell, 20% of the customers cause 80% of the headaches.
  • 20% of the criminals commit 80% of the crime.
  • 80% of a mechanic’s time is spent with only 20% of the problem you brought the car in for.
  • 20% of your workforce generates 80% of your success.

6. Sometimes, You Have To Let it Go

“That just because you are right about something, sometimes you have to suck it up and let it go because the consequences of being right can have a very negative impact. For example, if you get in a fight with your spouse and even though you are right and don’t apologize, it can cause serious marital problems.”

“I have been right in a situation with a boss, and Human Resources told the boss I was right. I was moved out of the area the following day as a result. Sometimes being right isn’t the hill you want to die on,” another admitted.

7. Our Parents Were Just Regular People

“Our parents are just regular people with their own baggage and trauma, doing the best they could with what they were working with, trying to navigate their own lives,” replied one. “Could they have done better? Absolutely. But they were still healing from what their parents did to them. I love this. It’s not said enough.”

8. People Don’t Want Your Opinion – They Want Validation

“When people ask for your opinion, they seek confirmation or validation rather than constructive criticism,” someone volunteered. Another suggested, “The lesson is learning to tell the difference between validation requests and actual feedback requests.”

9. People’s Cores Are Not Intrinsically Good

“All of my life, I kept hearing that people were, at their core, intrinsically good. However, I have learned that, at their core, people are pretty selfish and cold, with the rare good person mixed into the lot,” someone shared.

10. You Can Do it All Right and Not Get Your Desired Outcome

“You can do everything right and still not get the outcome you want,” someone stated. Another confessed, “This is why when people say that failure or struggle is the result of ‘poor choices,’ it frustrates me.”

“People can make the best choice at every turn and still not succeed in life. The necessary magical ingredient in success is luck. It’s not that success is 100% luck, but many people do the same things or do more of them and better than highly successful people and still fail.”

This article was produced and syndicated by Cents + Purpose. This article is inspired by this thread and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Cents + Purpose.

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Elizabeth Ervin

Elizabeth Ervin is the owner of Sober Healing, a website that provides information about addiction, recovery, mental wellness, spirituality, and resources to help people succeed in rebuilding their lives. Elizabeth has education and experience with addiction, healing, and spiritual studies. She is passionate about learning, teaching, and loving her neighbor. 

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