life lessons

6 Life lessons from an 86 year old woman for a fulfilled life

I looked at her sitting there, in all her might like a queen, a queen who knew her kingdom well.

She was old and wrinkly. Her skin was loose and now hanged like a crushed fabric from a hanger. Her body was old but her eyes were fierce. They had dreams in them.

She could command and love at the same time. She was not scared of what was coming.

I approached her with caution. Honestly, I was intimidated by her personality and her charisma. Yet there was something that attracted me to her.

I could not resist and went to her straight. She greeted me with the tightest hug I ever had.

Gradually we started talking about her life, her youth, her family. Minutes became hours and time just flew.

This was the most heartfelt conversation I was having. Every word she said resonated with me.

Then in a moment, I saw tears rolling down her face. She tried to hide it under her veil but it was a futile attempt.

I asked her what made her cry.  She said, “ there are so many things I could have done for myself and my community, but I was scared. I wanted to study and see the world beyond this village. I could have been so much more, if only…”.

What came later were 6 powerful life lessons she asked me to follow to have a life she couldn’t have.

In that moment something struck. I panicked at the thought of dying with a heart full of dreams.

I kept those life lessons close to my heart and I decided to change this, I decided to be all that I wanted to do. Experiment and fail at everything I want to.

I have met people, I have been to places, I have had conversations with them and I have heard stories from the old and from the young.

Some stories were happy, some painful. Some had drama, others had the truth. But one thing that was common among most of these stories was regret.

Regret, a simple word yet a powerful one for the people who have lived most of their lives. What stands between them and a fulfilled life is regrets.

Regret of not having the strength to follow their dreams, of having the fear of not being good enough,  of not having lived their lives the way they wanted to.

Today I am sharing those 6 powerful life lessons and I m sure many people can benefit from them.

1. Follow your dreams

Your dreams are your unique window to the world. We all have different perceptions, talents, struggles and upbringing.

Our life experiences define our dreams. Dreams can be one or many, it doesn’t matter.

We all want to figure out everything so quickly. What is it that I want, what is it that I love, what is my purpose? But wait, why do you want to hurry. Take your time. Live a little, learn even more.

It is never too late to start following your dreams. KFC was started by Colonel Sanders at the age of 62 and Vera Wang became a designer at the age of 40.

What matters the most is that they followed their dreams.

Dreams can be as simple as travelling to a foreign place to as complex as doing something for world peace.

And it is okay if you haven’t figured it out yet. Most of us haven’t and even people who look like they have, change paths eventually.

Keep a list of all the things that you want to do as of now and find the courage to do them.

It doesn’t matter if you fail at first. These failures make a good story.

2. We are all stupid. Do it anyway.

Never be afraid to get out in the world and show your creation. No one became something without making a fool of themselves.

This life lesson is so true. For most of us, the fear of being judged is paralysing.

But think about it, if Trevor Noah had worried about making a fool out of himself, he wouldn’t be hosting the Daily Live show.

Or if Elizabeth Gilbert had not had the courage to travel alone for a year, her bestselling book Eat Pray Love wouldn’t be there.

The point is, people will call you stupid, will question your dreams but you have to do it for yourself anyway.

Even if it is something radical, you will gain experience out of it and maybe write a book about it someday.

We are all stupid and so is trying to prove to people we know more or we have more.

Be a little more stupid because nobody cares.

You are on your own in this world. Nobody will ever give you a medal for your success or failure.

3. Do something for the people around

How often do you go into the world and do something good for your community? Have you ever helped someone in need? Did someone smile today because of you?

There is always someone you can be kinder to. There is always someone you can help.

A good deed is never wasted.

It boosts your morale and gives your life meaning. We can be running after money, power or success but no amount of these can compare with the satisfaction of making someone happy.

Do it for your own good. Do it for their good. We are a community after all and we all grow when we support each other.

Victor Frankl could write and rewrite his work on Logotherapy during his 12 years of suffering in Auschwitz and changed the face of psychology as they knew it. Nelson Mandela’s leadership changed the fate of his community.

Dr Terrarai Trent could go out and change the lives of the people in her community after getting her PhD from the United States despite having 4 children and nothing to eat.

Doing something for your community will change their lives and yours forever.

4. Love what you do or do what you love

I have rarely found people who light up when they talk about their work. We all need to be like that. Be it your job or your business or your hobby.

Don’t just do it to pay the bills. Do it for the joy of doing it.

Either you find a passion to work on or be passionate about what you do already.

You spend ⅓ of your life working or creating something. You don’t want to look back and see 40 years filled with sorrow and complaints.

If your work gives you panic attacks at night, it is the time to contemplate if you really need this job.

Maybe spend some time contemplating what it is that fires your soul and then find the courage to do it.

5. Love your family and friends

This is one of the biggest regrets and life lessons I have heard from many elders. We get so busy in our lives, we forget about the people who love us the most.

While you have time, love your parents, spend more time with them, give them more hugs and say you love them often.

But there are times when things go awry. We spend so many hours of our lives wondering why other people hurt us.

We hold it for years, unable to forgive and forget. We think we are punishing them but we are punishing ourselves.

For a moment just close your eyes and think of that one moment you wish you had done things differently. We all have those moments.

But it’s all done and now the only thing we can do is forgive and forget.

Remember all the beautiful days we have spent with them, the good things we did for others and the laughter and joy we shared.

In the end, only love can give you warmth and peace.

6. Get rid of toxic relationships sooner

While we should love people around us, sometimes the relationships we share are extremely toxic and negative.

You will hurt yourself, make your self-esteem hit the rock bottom. Identify these relationships and get rid of them as soon as possible.

Whether it is an abusive relationship with a parent or your spouse, sticking with these will do you no good.

It is difficult to realise but when you do. Get out of it, cry and then live the rest of your life in peace.

Learn to let go and your life will become much easy.


During my visit, I had a chance to teach that woman how to use the internet to learn anything using voice search. It was difficult for her to learn but for the first time she found an answer for “How many stars are there in the sky?”.

You can be at any point in your life and still embody these life lessons. These life lessons sum up the wisdom we need to live a happy and fulfilled life.

Nothing feels scarier than the thought of dying with your heart full of dreams and desires.

Whatever it is, find the courage to follow your dreams, to love people, to become the best version of yourself and to finally smile and say ” I had a wonderful life”.


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Shivani Jha
Shivani Jha
4 years ago

On point!