11 Modest Lessons In Living From 2013

Today is the first contribution to the blog from my dear brother Stephen. Steve helped co-write the Get The Guy book (which went on to become a New York Times Bestseller in its very first week!), and is a wealth of knowledge on dating and relationships.

It’s our mission to deliver as much value as we possibly can to you in 2014. I couldn’t be more excited to have him on board writing articles here for you.

Be sure to give him all your love and a big warm welcome. I can’t wait to hear what you think in the comments!

Enter Steve

I wish I had kept more of a diary last year. Just as I wish I had every year before.

These were the first regrets that struck me when I thumbed through the two notebooks that comprised my hand-written output from 2013.

In the absence though of a chronicle of my hilarious life stories, I did manage to record many of my new favourite life lessons as I learnt them throughout the year. At the risk of dispensing half-baked aphorisms and pompous generalisations, I’ve listed the best ones here.

I really enjoyed this exercise and got a lot out of it. I urge you try it now, while you can still chart the events of 2013 clearly in your mind.

Scan your memory of the last year and dig out about 5-10 of the best lessons you learnt. Look at the successes, and more importantly, the mistakes.

You’ll be surprised with what you produce. No doubt the results will be highly subjective and specific to you – but that’s the point. Think of it as a modest exercise in self-understanding rather than the discovery of universal laws.

What’s more, it will be tapped from that ever-abundant source of hard won experience:

“Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.” – C.S. Lewis

Many of my favourite lessons are highly personal, and may seem trivial to those who have ingrained them already. Others may strike you as the brilliant revelations they were to me.

Some lessons I think I knew on an intellectual level, but never internalised them because I hadn’t had the sting of experience to slap the moral deep into my precious face. Some aren’t even gleaned from my own experiences, but the experiences of people close to me.

Whomever the source, I assure you, like the best lessons, they were all learnt the hard way…

1. The measure of progress in life and love isn’t the absence of problems, but the presence of better quality problems

Just because things still feel difficult, doesn’t mean you haven’t come a long way. You might just have better quality problems now, e.g. One problem – I don’t know how to talk to people I’m attracted to. A better quality problem – I get lots of dates but he/she never calls back. An even better problem – I have good relationships but I want an extraordinary one.

If you have problems, ask yourself: Are these better quality problems than last year? If the answer is yes – relax, that’s progress.

2. Praise wears off quickly, so does criticism

Both are false motivators. Excessive seeking after praise leads us to do the wrong things in the hope of gaining approval, and excessive avoidance of criticism makes us play it safe to quell the opinions of those who don’t matter anyway.

3. If in doubt when it comes to old friends, be the one who re-initiates contact

Pride is overrated and life is short. Forget who last called whom and be the person to make contact. A quick catch up with an old friend who’s in town can be all it needs to maintain the relationship.

4. Networking is overrated; providing value is underrated

The oldest cliché about success is “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” – this leads to a belief that networking will cover up for a lack of value. It doesn’t. The best networking you can do is hard work on making yourself an irreplaceable commodity to others.

This also applies to our love lives. Although meeting lots of new people is an absolute must, it’s also not enough. Meeting people and networking will only yield results if we invest just as much time into increasing the value we bring to a relationship.

5. Handing in your homework on time is still the best lesson school ever taught me (or tried to teach me)

People need things done and they need them on time. You can get far in life just by delivering what’s required on schedule.

6. A question to reflect on for any friendship/family/relationship: How hard is it for me to get my needs met with this person?

Is it easy or excessively difficult? If it’s difficult, you can either (a) withdraw from that person, or (b) change your expectations of them. Both solutions are called for at different times.

7. Somebody else’s version of ‘good’ won’t be right for you

Conform to your own standards. Don’t become overly attached to a situation just because everyone tells you it’s a ‘good thing’, or because it’s something you ‘should’ want.

8. Your energy in any given day is finite; guard it like a precious jewel

(Credit to Matt and his many brotherly pep talks for this one).

9. Learning to cut out unnecessary drains on time is easier and more fulfilling than trying to cram more productivity in

Why try to do everything if it just makes you miserable doing it? It’s much more enjoyable to cut out those activities that don’t really fulfill you and spend more time on things that do.

10. Only do things to improve your love life that you would want to do anyway. Otherwise, you’ll resent doing them

This is one I learnt more from watching others. Whether it’s online dating, going to singles events, or even working out – only engage in improvement activities that you enjoy for their own sake, or else the resentment you feel for having to do them will make it impossible to keep up the habit.

11. One source of my procrastination = an excess of pride

Wrapping too much ego in the finished product, or not being humble enough to accept that the result might not be right the first time – both of these things make starting a task difficult. Reduce the ego, reduce the delay in starting.

Bonus lesson: No-one cares about your dreams (and that’s a good thing!)

Doing anything for approval, because you want to be envied, because you want to be noticed, or hoping that someone will constantly cheer on your dreams is a recipe for chronic dissatisfaction. YOU ARE THE ONLY PERSON WHO CARES ABOUT YOUR DREAMS.

That doesn’t mean that people won’t support you, or that anyone can make it alone, it just means that ultimately, people aren’t spending much time thinking about your quest for accomplishment.

Do it because you love it or don’t bother at all – everyone else is too busy thinking about their own lives to notice whether you make it or not. I find this extremely encouraging.

That’s all for today.

Happy January Everyone!

Here’s to the many mistakes others make, so we don’t have to.


Question Of The Day:

What are the three most important lessons you learnt last year? Good, bad and ridiculous, leave your best ones below.

*Photo Credit: Fabrizio Sciami

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65 Replies to “11 Modest Lessons In Living From 2013”

  • I liked the bonus lesson. Same goes for getting approval of yourself. The only opinion that matters is what YOU think of you. Keep up the great work!

  • Nice to meet you Steve!

    About the question here are the three most important lessons I learnt last year:

    1. Fealure depends on your point of view. Sometimes the more valuable things are the ones cover in the the costume of failure.

    2. Sometimes the worse of our enemies is ourselves.

    3. Sometimes you just have to let the life flow, sometimes you have to take control. The difficult thing is to know when to do one thing or another.

    Now let´s talk about a interesting topic: Tell us all the embarrassing stories of Matt when he was little.

    1. Love these suggestions Rumors. Embarassing stories about Matt…I’ll think of a few in case I run dry and need them for a future post! Watch this space…

  • Great article, Steve! I really like 1, 4, & 9. Thanks so much for sharing!

    My top 3 last year were:

    1. Spend less time consuming, and more time creating.

    2. Strike up conversations with strangers. The results are more rewarding than you think.

    3. If someone acts like a joke, treat them as a joke. (This one really stopped a lot of my worries and self-doubt induced by someone else’s ridiculous behaviors.)

    1. Wow, your suggestions are excellent! I love them all! Number 3 might become my new mantra for keeping composure in some situations. Thanks for the comment.

  • Most important lessons? Wow, I must admit that 2013 was pretty enlightening for me. I learnt so much about myself and what I want from life that it’s hard to pin point the biggest lessons. I feel like revelations and breakthroughs were constantly flowing and integrating too! But I think realising that I myself am the most important person (to me) and the only person I should be focusing on pleasing was a big one. I learnt that I should never compromise/settle for less and be people pleasing because they will not respect me and I will certainly not get what I want from them/situation.
    I also learnt to ask others for help, or rather became more relaxed about it. This is something huge for me as I am quite independent naturally. But I slowly become comfortable when asking and accepting help from others and I am enjoying the benefits! I think the turning point was when Matthew (or someone else, can’t remember now sorry!) once mentioned that psychologically people like us more if they can do small favor for us. I thought to myself: that’s interesting, let’s try this out! And it’s true!
    Another good one is that I realised that I am investing (both emotionally and physically) too much too soon with the guys! I am now much more cautious and scrutinizing (and that’s a good thing!)and don’t let myself fall for the ideal. The guys have to prove themselves to me first. I may be waiting a long time for the one that has it all but boy am I enjoying the ride! :)
    The list can go on and on really. Majority of the lessons are small and personal to me. Thanks for the article! You inspired me to do something exciting this year! Every time I will do something different, or challenging, I will have a funny moment, or important or proud moment, any situation that had some significance to me, I will write down on a piece of paper and put in a jar. At the end of 2014 I will open the jar and read all of the notes and have a massive laugh and celebrate my personal growth! Thank you once more!

    1. Do it Kasia! It’s a great feeling to look at all the lessons at the end of the year. Thanks for the encouragement, glad you enjoyed it x

  • Hi there Steve,
    Welcome to this awesome community which Matt has facilitated! Thank you for your contribution :). I certainly resonated with your #10 which I feel is such an important life principal. The best piece of parental advice I received growing up was from my father, in regards to career, he told my siblings and I to pursue a field that we would wake up and do every day of our lives even if we weren’t being payed to do it. Following that advice has brought me great joy in my career life and has been applied to every aspect of my life. Do it for the love and passion of it, and it will always be fulfilling. When obstacles arise, they are easily thwarted when motivated by a genuine passion for what is being pursued.
    As for your question of things learned- this has been a year of extreme growth, and I feel that most of the lessons for me boiled down to a root understanding that I am enough :).
    Wishing you an amazing week!

      1. He IS indeed quite sage ;). He is a terrific mix of personality traits. When I come to town to visit, we begin with some deep life conversation, and then go climb trees together or go to a park and run through sprinklers as if we were 5 yrs old all the while laughing as if our lives depended on it :D.

  • oh, that’s a good one: 3 lessons of the 2013.
    a) there is a great energy in the interaction with people; mainly with friends. It might not be such a groundbreaking discovery but one should not underestimate the power of meeting people.
    b) instead of planing your future, focus on today’s tasks. Silly though it may sound, it held me back and made me realise how precious everyday single is.
    and my favourite one c) similies does not exist; like faries. That’s acctualy what I’ve learn on my writing class and I find it truely groundbreaking.

    Thank you for this brief moment of reflection on the passing year. I am looking forward to the upcoming posts.

    PS- I really like your lesson number 10. I would like to apply it to my own life.

    1. Thank you Emilia – I really like the one about meeting people. I’m also always overwhelmed at how much can happen when you take chances to meet a new person – it’s severely underrated how life-changing that one lesson can be.

  • Hi Steve,

    Number 5 is killing me. I tend to overload myself with tasks and then find myself fighting for air. That’s nuts. I know where I’m wrong and still keep on doing it. Due to this situation I rather make sure I get the things done from last week and this week than make time for other things, enjoyable things that make me happy. This hole story started about 2 or 3 years ago. It’s frustrating.

    I really enjoyed reading your blog. bonus lesson is the icing on the cake!

    1. Sounds like you’re on the right track Irene. If it gets overwhelming, scale it down to just the most important things. Simple is often best when it comes to progress.

  • I wish I would have been reminded of the “BONUS” late last year! But these are all great and I look forward to hearing more! Motivation is what people need!

  • I salute you Stephen!

    What you have just brought to us is so wonderful that I shall have it printed out and put to my notebooks. (right next to Matts’ quotes, it is that good ; )
    “Some lessons I think I knew on an intellectual level, but never internalised them because I hadn’t had the sting of experience to slap the moral deep into my precious face.” Elegant brilliancy right there!

    Regarding the question:
    You are making me scroll wayyy down for my notes… Last year was a big one but I’ll go for… [15 minutes later] these ones, today:

    1) To fail is to miss for greater. (And oh my God have I failed in 2011!)
    2) Fly too low and you will trip. Fly too high and you will dip. (Be realistically imaginative)
    3) Boeing7R13ND5.com BUY your tickets wisely: See it as if Happiness/Success/Love/Respect etc., was a destination. Who would you pay a ticket for to go with you on that trip? And don’t forget to check their luggage.

    Last but not least, referring back to my first point: ‘Sometimes you win. Sometimes you learn’[how to win at last].

  • Hi Steve,

    First, welcome to the light  and thank you for sharing.

    To me, lesson number “7” “Somebody else’s version of ‘good’ won’t be right for you” resonates the most because I have always had a vision of what I wanted to do with my professional life but because “it is not the proper environment for a woman” I steered away from that path. This is something that I am currently working on changing.

    The three most important lessons I learned in 2013 were:

    1. Talking to people (read between the lines: handsome men): Now, I can now go up to anyone and speak to that person without being tongue-tied. Thanks, Matt!!!  AND the second part to that equation is that I just need to relax and be myself. If the person does not like it, then c’est domage – NEXT!!  Thanks for that one, Steve.

    2. Take risks because they are worth it: In order to find love and extraordinary relationships (in all their forms), I must be open to them – ready, willing and able to take a risk and accept people into my life.

    3. 1% shifts: Life is about making many small changes that will ultimately help us reach our goals.

    I look forward to reading more of your blog.

    Take care, Francis (and, yes, I like scotch)

    1. Thanks for the encouragement Francis. Sounds like your 2013 was a valuable year to live through. Totally with you on all of your lessons. I’ve got something I’ve wanted to write about taking small risks for a while so I’ll definitely get on it now you’ve mentioned it. x

  • *Learned that even if you are really certain in something, it may still fall apart
    *Learned not to make my plans after a man and always have a plan B
    *learned how to start conversations from a scratch with anyone in any given moment
    *learned that some things really do take time
    *learned how much i really like being loved and how good it feels
    *learned what i need more out of a relationship and that there are still some good guys left out there
    *to see things differently you sometimes have to go to a different environment
    *and to appreciate a place or a person sometimes you have to be away from it


    1. “learned that some things really do take time” – Yes, me too (that’s a hard one to learn when you’re ambitious and impatient!)

      “learned how much i really like being loved and how good it feels” – Yes!

      “that there are still some good guys left out there” – Yea, you just have to find us, but we’re still around ;)

  • Hi Steve,
    Great to see you on the blog.
    All good points, but one must always keep in mind the “Bonus”. Never let anyone take your dreams.
    I would say my worse sin is procrastination, but pride usually does not apply.

    1. Yea, when I procrastinate it’s also for many different reasons, but that was one that stuck out to me lately. I realised that often, I run from a task when I demand too much of myself on the first go, so I end up putting it off in case what I produce doesn’t live up to what I was hoping for. But you’re right, there are tons of other causes of procrastination.

  • I learned
    1) that my time and energy are very valuable and it is necessary to spend them on only things I absolutely LOVE
    2) there are beautiful people in the world and listening to my heart when it is calling to travel, is very pleasant
    3) meditating and yoga every day helps me to keep balance and energy level high

    One of the best things what happened, was also getting to know your teachings, Matt, it has raised my level of understanding of life soo much! Thank you!

  • I was directed to this blog by a good friend of mine, & your article is the very first one I’ve had the pleasure of reading so far. Loved it! Wrote down your first lesson for future inspiration, as I seem to keep making a variation of the same mistakes in my love life… but looking back on 2013 the mistakes apparently are better quality ones :)

    Lessons learned from mistakes:
    1. Life is too short to stay in a mediocre relationship as comfortable as it may be.
    2. Having a “type” can keep you from meeting truly incredible men.
    3. Have more than one social circle, you are introduced to a whole new world & perspective with every person or group of people you are open to exposing yourself to.

    Just got my ticket, can’t wait to learn more when your brother is in Chicago!! Txs for a great article!

    1. That’s so kind of you Ariana, welcome! Your lessons are so good, I wish we could impart them automatically to every woman (or man) dating at the moment.

  • Hi Steven! Welcome aboard and thanks for helping to write the Get The Guy book.

    NUMBER 10.

    I struggle with this because the stuff I love, absolutely love to do are very female-centered. I want to cook and sew. I do! I love to talk and be introspective. I like yoga. Not many young men at these things! (Really, like 0-1.)

    I decided to take some cooking classes. Screw it. So I won’t meet men. But you are so right, I was starting to resent the singles crap and bars. LOTS of men there, but it’s just starting to make me annoyed.

  • Lessons

    1. It’s really easy to meet people, but those people may be transient in your life.

    2. Low expectations isn’t the key to happiness, per se, but it is freeing.

    3. Don’t chase. Anything. Job, relationship, anything. Work hard, but don’t chase until you drop. You know what I mean. That sort of intensity rarely works and if it does work, not for long.

    I feel like a fortune cookie!


  • Okay Stephen,
    I think it is safe to say that most of us who follow Matt’s blog put a fair amount of faith in him; he says that you have a wealth of relationship and dating knowledge…now, as much as I trust that just by being a Hussey man you have been imparted with a certain amount of profound life wisdom. BUT, that’s not enough…we are going to need your credentials ;)…or at least a couple of amusing anecdotes to demonstrate how this ” wealth” has been gleaned :P. Come on Steve, bring it on :).

  • This is such potent wisdom and exemplifies how the Hussey’s content is unique and special. Whether you are new or old to this site, why I look forward to each post is that under the guise of helping your love life, every aspect of your life will benefit and flourish if you apply the wealth of information here (trust me, I’m a 5 day retreat graduate). Stephen, thanks for investing in this community. And to both you and Matt, keep rocking the awesomeness!

  • Such a thought-provoking and well-written article. The 3 most important lessons I learnt from last year is to not care what others think about you as their opinion doesn’t matter, to have more confidence in myself, and to not waste time feeling unhappy in life as life is just is to short.

  • Hey Stephen!

    I think that all of these lessons mentioned above are absolutely incredible!

    I have a question regarding striking up conversations with strangers. How to do it in a society where people are incredibly reserved, closed and really not friendly.

    I personally am rather talkative, enthusiastic, emotional, passionate, curious of life and I love striking conversations anywhere, but how to actually do it without being shot down immediately ?

    I have tried to start conversations on the bus or in the library…Well the situation can be easily illustrated by that GIF… A moment you start a conversation with a stranger during a daytime when they’re not under the influence of an alcohol: http://imgur.com/7r4Ay0D

    I don’t drink and don’t like going to bars/ clubs. My favorite night out actually contains definitely of seeing a play, a ballet or a musical in a theatre and a late night dinner/cup of tea along with a really elaborate conversations regarding the show seen previously and life in general. I actually absolutely love talking about emotions and love… Unfortunately it seems that most of the people around my age(I am turning 25 in the matter of few months)rather still prefer going to clubs/ bars and getting ridiculously drunk. They actually are able to express their thoughts in that condition and open their souls up a bit, but…

    How to get new connections and get involved in interesting conversations with random people at daytime without getting treated as a weirdo or getting ignored?

    The unwillingness of my co-citizens to have a great communication through elaborate and meaningful or even small-talk conversations is an issue that both I and foreign students are struggling a lot with.
    I used to live in France for a while and I actually absolutely loved the fact that even the regular street market was considered as an awesome place for interesting socialization with strangers.

    Thank you!
    Love and courage,

    PS! Life lesson that I learned in 2013 is that you should always be proud of the real you. :)

    1. The thing is, talking to strangers in this case is “not a thing to do”, however, that does not mean that people may not appreciate a random conversation. (it’s not as bad here in Germany, but a little bit like that)
      I used to never once think that others might think the same, but many do.

      How do you strike up a conversation?
      In such atmosphere, something with less impact would be a good thing to start.
      Start greeting people when you enter a room (any contact makes any further contact MUCH MUCH more easier)
      Greet the cashier, conductor, bus driver and so. (when you like to, of course) That alone makes further conversation easier – that way, you already made contact without being forceful and even if you did not greet the person you want to talk to, they’ve already heard your voice and noticed your presence.

      Can’t recommend much more which you wouldn’t know already I suppose.
      Good luck! And have fun talking to people ;)

      1. Thank you!
        I get that conversations aren’t ‘things to do’, but it is really interesting how the communication works differently in different cultures and countries. The weird thing that I never had problems with having random chats with random people in random places in France or even here within a group of foreign students, but I seriously struggle with other Estonians.
        I actually always greet people in a nice way! I ALWAYS say hello and smile at them. This is just a pure politeness and common sense. A majority of people rarely ever smile or greet back. When I smile at people they just frown at me or look as if I am crazy. This is just really frustrating and discouraging!
        Oh and Barbara, in my opinion German people are great conversationalists. The German guys I know always politely greet me first(or respond to my hello), they always smile or wave. Two of my really good friends are actually from München.
        But thank you!

        1. Oh and even though I feel discouraged at many times, I will NEVER stop greeting people with kind words and smiles. I will never stop giving compliments. That is just who I am. It’s never fake, because I think it’s only right to treat people like that. It is actually the only way in my mind. But it sucks that others don’t appreciate being friendly and the power of smiling. When I read a chapter from Matt’s book about having chats with serving staff and other people around you, I knew instantly that doesn’t work in our society even though I really would like it to work. This is a cultural issue that bothers me a lot. But thank you Barbara! :)

          1. That’s a great attitude to have! :)

            But you’re right, people here DO respond (although they rarely initiate without additional approachability [eye contact and so on] or a greeting) .. I actually had a really nice conversation with a cute guy at the Citizen Registration Office, but I didn’t make more out of it (he wasn’t alone, either) .. well, he does live here.

            The up-side of being friendly and greeting in that way is that you can actually scan people beforehand .. those who don’t want to talk will show it immediately. Their bad if they don’t want to have a great talk. Ever got a conversation out of those who smiled or greeted back?

            And I know the problem with clubs and parties, if all people do is get drunk there’s no point in even bothering.

            Perhaps more comfortable places could help, too.
            Frequenting cafés or little shops, I’ve met many people due to one I’m a regular at

          2. It’s not about how other people react Ruthie – It’s about being the kind of character you want to be. Keep at it! x

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