While we all learn from our own direct experiences in life, I truly believe that other human beings are some of the greatest educational tools available to us. And thanks in large part to the social media driven era in which we are currently entrenched, connecting with others has never been easier, and for most of us, is a regular part of our daily life.
Wanting to put that power to good use, I set out on a mission to learn as much as I could by challenging 20 people from 20 completely different walks of life to briefly share the experience that had changed their life more than any other thus far.
With their permission, I am now going to share their stories with you, in hopes of not only giving you 20 new stories to know and connect with, but also inspiring you to persevere through whatever life throws your way.
In addition to their stories, I’ve also summarized my findings and key takeaways in the following video:
1. My life changed when I discovered, at 50 years of age, that I was the product of an affair, my siblings were half-siblings and I had been lied to my entire life. It changed further when my birth father and family embraced me but then completely crippled me financially. The experience taught me about boundaries and to not seek out pleasing others. – Male, 58
2. When I found out my girlfriend was sleeping with another man and I confronted her about it. She fired me from my position and stiffed me on nearly $35,000 worth of commissions and bonuses. At first I was crushed, heartbroken, and depressed, however, when one chapter ends, a new one begins. This situation catapulted me into a new position within two incredible organizations that are BEING the change I wish to see in this world… Thank you universe for your twisted sense of humor. – Male, 34
3. When I dropped out of my Master’s program. I suddenly was no longer crying every night, and felt a huge weight off my shoulders. Over the next year, I found myself, my dream job, and my true purpose, and I am eternally grateful for having the courage to quit. – Female, 23
4. My younger closest cousin passed and my dad was diagnosed with an incurable lung disease in the same year. It was during this time when I realized that life is short and that time with your loved ones is priceless. This prompted me to change careers and I have gone back to my first love of acting. Not only has this allowed me to meet some amazing people share many wonderful stories, but I have gained precious time with my family and have been able to care for my dad. – Female, 43
5. My life changed when I finally listened to my soul and inner child. To work on myself and let a lot of the emotional pain I was feeling from childhood bullying. From that point everything else fell into place and still to this day I am working on myself to improve and help shift the world. – Female, 33
6. As I stared at my toes while laying in a hospital bed with bullets in my chest, I came to the realization that we never truly get a chance to stop and reflect for a sustained period of time. I’m grateful for the moment of clarity that horrific incident gave me. – Male, 36
7. When I ended my relationship with my former partner I felt broken beyond repair, lost in the shadows of trauma, and unfulfilled expectations. In the last year, I’ve come to realize that everything had to break down, so that I could break through, and rebuild a solid foundation, and that darkness can be a great teacher, because it allows you the opportunity to shine even brighter in time. – Female, 32
8. As graduation from college approached I had no idea what to do next; my father took me to dinner and said that his travel agency needed tour directors and in a couple of weeks I could work in Puerto Vallarta if I wanted to. I had never even had a job and the prospect was a bit scary, but I took a shot at it and for the next 7 years I worked in Mexico, Hawaii, Brazil, Europe, and around the Caribbean. I also had a brief stint in Grad School but learning languages and adapting to the ways of other cultures changed my life in ways I cannot even imagine -and it was actually a PhD in life. It taught me that when a door opens with a unique opportunity, take full advantage. – Male, 68
9. When I decided to leave my job and start my own business. It was a scary thing to do and hasn’t been without its challenges, but it has done wonders in filling me with the patience, persistence, trust, and courage I always had within me but suppressed. And the impact this has had on all other aspects of my life is something I will be forever extremely grateful for. – Male, 28
10. I was 14 going on 15 when Saddam Hussein started throwing scud missiles on Tel Aviv, Israel. It was the first time I truly experienced fear for my life and the life of my family. It’s also why I don’t like gas masks. They remind me of that first night, waiting for the missiles to fall and for the chemical warfare to hit us. Luckily, the latter never happened. – Female, 41
11. When my parents divorced it really forced me to speak up. I had to voice my wants and needs and was so thankful to learn that sometimes how we imagine a conversation is far worse than the outcome. I learned I can adapt easily in life and that when I find myself in a place I’m not comfortable with, I have to be honest with myself and speak up. It’s always worth it. – Female, 26
12. When I read the book ‘There’s A Spiritual Solution to Every Problem’ by Wayne Dyer about 5 or 6 years ago. This book was the catalyst in embarking on a spiritual journey that has lead to meeting wonderful people all over, starting a conscious business, experiencing a few close encounters with death, and the unravelling of the illusions that blind us from the truths of life and this physical vessel we call a body. – Male, 29
13. When I took a mindfulness meditation course and began a daily practice of meditation. It took my self-awareness to a higher level and gave me the clarity and courage to make a very difficult decision that shifted my life in a positive way. – Female, 54
14. My guru asked me to join a motorcycle adventure over the highest road in the world in the Himalayas. Filled with fear as I had never ridden a motorcycle before and thought they were stupid and too dangerous, I simply willed my mouth to say “yes”. More love than fear, that is the key, it’s too much to ask to not be afraid. This lesson is etched in my soul for lifetimes. – Male, 41
15. When my body got sick with a chronic illness. It propelled me on a long healing journey that ended up healing so much more than just my body. I learned how to slow down, love myself, care for myself, be gentle and release expectations. I learned not to be so hard on myself, let go of my anxieties and truly value my peace of mind and heart above my productivity. I learned balance. I learned to value the quality of my life and state of being, and became wiser and more loving in everything that I do. – Female, 26
16. In 2009 I came across an amazing group of young people set on creating change by getting us to think outside the box. My life has been forever changed. They inspired me to be my best self. I want to change the world; they showed me that change starts within. I am truly grateful to them. – Female, 54
17. My experience is based on the death of a loved one who represented a father figure role in my life (uncle). When he passed, I became sad, confused, and depressed, but when I learned to appreciate the great memories I had with him, the life lessons he taught me and to remove the emotional fear of approaching daily life without his presence, that has manifested into a new beginning I am at peace to embrace. – Male, 33
18. What changed my life was realizing I could marry my purpose, passion and sacred gifts of coaching and guiding others to design their best life and make it my career. Without any business plan or entrepreneurial experience, I left my cushy 9-5 Fortune 500 job to leap into my own business (praying the net would appear). I am just about 3 years in, and I’m expanding and growing every day, both professionally and personally, doing what I love most while helping others to get what they want in their life. I still have to pinch myself sometimes getting paid to be myself. In my humble opinion, this is how it should be when we are in alignment with our highest self, doing what we love most. – Female, 42
19. The moment I decided to stop and finally look at my life. I was so busy doing “things” and caught up with so many distractions that the moment I decided to finally stop and look around I realized how I hated every aspect of it. I was ignoring and walking blind the entire time. At this point I could either fall into the pit of that overwhelming feeling that just dawned on me or to start taking small steps in each direction to fix each one. So I started taking the steps. – Male, 35
20. Our house burned to the ground on Christmas Day and we lost everything. But it gave our family the freedom to move to another state and live near the ocean, which was always a dream. – Female, 38
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