When it comes to others, you are so inclined to judge; you think you know what is best for them and your word is the final say. When it comes to yourself, you tend to believe one of two things, or both: one being all is well and two being your insecurities will fix themselves. Wrong both times! Never has there been a time, and never will there be a time when all is well. Never will your insecurities resolve themselves. You must identify your problems, come up with solutions, and implement those solutions. Words on paper are only the catalysts for your resolutions. Read this, knowing that unless you actually choose to implement the words into your life, you might as well not read it at all. Do not say you wish to change if you are not willing to make change happen.  

And so, I present this question to you: what harsh truths do you prefer to ignore? I will try to fuel your mind to get things going. By the end, you will know what needs to be done. If not, so be it.    

One: You are unhealthy. You repeatedly eat junk food. You think you are eating healthy when really you are not. You are a glutton at all times of the day. You aim to eat better than you did yesterday, and yet you fall to the same cycle of poor eating habits. You overindulge your plate without any care of what it does to your body, or if you do care, you do not care enough to put an end to it.    

There is a solution. Of course there is. All problems have solutions. Food is fuel, not pleasure. Food is nothing more than energy. A car needs gas. If it reaches empty, it shuts off and cannot go on. You are left on the side of the road. If a human body reaches empty, the body shuts off and that person die. If a car is filled with excess gas, it leaks out and fuel is wasted. If a human exceeds the energy—food—required, the body releases it by way of gas, and nutrients are expunged from the body. If, however, the car is filled to full capacity—not below and not above—it will perform for as long as it can before needing more fuel. If a human takes in the optimum levels of nutrients, the body will perform at optimal levels and look its best. Even if the car is not filled to full capacity, it still functions properly and without flaw. It is only when it is empty that problems arise. That being said, this is not a means to starve yourself. But it means that you should practice fasting on a regular basis. There is no need to fuel the body, over and over again, if you are trying to lose weight. Feed it with what it absolutely needs, but that is all. So, I task you with this: determine your daily energy expenditure. Determine your macronutrients and micronutrients needed to look and feel how you wish. Determine whether you need to lose weight or gain weight, and subtract or add, respectively, 500 calories. If you expend 2,000 calories per day, just by breathing, then by eating 2,000 calories, you will stay the same weight. If you desire to lose weight at a healthy rate, eating below the 2,000-calorie threshold will allow for that. Keep in mind not to drop below 1,500. If you desire to gain weight—hopefully, muscle—at a healthy rate, eating above the 2,000-calorie threshold will allow for that. Keep in mind not to go above 2,500, or you will risk gaining excess fat and your body will become more pudgy than muscular.   

Two: You hold grudges and seek vengeance. You cling to past misdoings of others unto you. You turn down good advice from those who wish to make amends on their wrongs against you. Even though they come forward to make good on their past actions, you cannot seem to let up your hatred. You wish to see them fail. You hope that you will have a chance at revenge. You want to spite them as they have spited you. But that is not all; you want to do worse things to them than they did to you.   

What does this amount to? You throw your life away in order to see your peers fall. You waste all your time trying to bring down another person when your life should be your main priority. Wrath is invasive. Heal with peace. Rise up, with them, not without them. Shake their hand, tie their shoes, and move on. It will only benefit both of you.    

Three: You delay your ambitions. You think that by putting off what you yearn to do, for another day, is okay, and that you will do it “for real” when that new day comes. Only the thing is you do not. You fall to the same cycle of lies, guilt, and pressure put onto yourself by none other than you. You think you will eventually get around to doing the things you love doing. Well, when is this “eventually” you speak of? If not today, you assuredly will not tomorrow. If you think that by waiting till you retire to do the things you love, you will have forgotten how to do those things as good as you can today, and you will have other ambitions by then. You will fall to the same cycle, then, as you do today. You think that it is okay to wait around until one day, you finally author that book, finally start that business, or finally hike that mountain. You think you are the master of your emotions.   

You can be the master of your emotions, but the way you are going, you are not. They control you and are what, currently, determine your every move and decision. You buy food because you think you are hungry. You take to drink because you think you want to forget your problems. You do not exercise because you are lazy. What if you stopped believing you were hungry? The body can last over 40 days without food, granted water intake is upped. What if you stopped believing your problems can be forgotten? You would be more inclined to face them down. What if you were not lazy? You would then chase after the body you eagerly desire. So, I say to you, do not delay your ambitions. Do not believe in tomorrow. Believe in today. Tomorrow does not exist. You do not know whether it will come. You think it will, but you cannot know it will. Do today that which you wish to do tomorrow, and you will be far ahead of everyone else who continues to plague their existence with wishful thinking 

Four: You are not loved by your neighbors. You know you are a good person and yet to them, you are nothing more than an acquaintance. You want to be loved, but the way you are is not good enough for them. You try to impress them with your achievements. They care not. You try to show them who you really are. They care not. You try to fit in. They spit on your face.   

Look, if you are not good enough for them, and you are being yourself, then perhaps those people are not right for you to hang around. If you are exercising your good virtues and your excellence, and they see that you do not fit in, then forget them and move on. People will disappoint you even if you try your hardest. They will turn you away for reasons unknown to you. You know what? They are no good for you. Do not waste your time. They are only in it for themselves. You may never be good enough for them, and that is quite alright. Nothing is forcing you to keep trying but yourself. When situations arise in which you are defeated, and to try and bounce back would only continue to hinder your thoughts, feelings, and emotions, forget about it. Do not tell yourself you are giving up. Tell yourself, instead, that you are moving on to greater things. Stop trying to fit in. You are beautiful because you do not fit in with everyone else. You are your own person, and no matter how much you think that being in the same room as someone else who despises you will bring you happiness, you are wrong. Cast them aside.   

Five: You are a prisoner of society. Society is bullying you to the point that your first reaction is to conform to everything everyone else is doing, regardless of whether they hinder your ambitions. You are in school because society tells you that in order to find a well-paying job and be successful, you need to go to college. Today’s society would tell you that you must go beyond that and acquire a master’s degree. Society wants you to be a servant of others. Society plagues you with falsity upon falsity, never letting up.   

The way to free yourself from the clutches of society is by being different. Society would have it that men should have short hair and women should have long hair. Gents, do as you please with your hair. Ladies, do as you please with your hair. Society would have it that you are to become just another W2 worker. You, yes you, start your own company; be your own boss; do not sell yourself to another company. Society would have it that you are to conform to the accepted “norms” of wherever you are in the world. Why for? Stop conforming. Stop doing things that do not line up with your code.   

Six: Your wealth amounts to nothing. You earn a living and spend it on a house and a car, first and foremost. These things are not happiness. They are simply a means necessary to hoard more wealth. You buy, buy, and buy some more, not ever realizing why material possessions are not bringing about your happiness when you thought they would.   

Fortune is not happiness. If you think it is, then go earn it, and see for yourself. It is not a number next to your net worth that matters. You see billionaires as people to aspire to be like. Why for? They face all these harsh truths you do and can never be happier than you are unless they make good on their problems. Even then, what is there to a life that everything is so simple to obtain? It is only by what you love doing that you find happiness. If, in your twenties, you love to read books. For one, that is a wondrous thing. For two, you will be happy when you are in your thirties, forties, fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties, and hundreds by reading books. The same holds true for exercising, walking around town, or searching for knowledge—which is also in books. The list goes on. Anything you love doing, now, will surely bring you happiness in life, not some paycheck. Your paycheck will be used so that you can continue living, in order to do what you love doing. That is the goal, but too many of you will continue to spend it on luxuries you falsely believe will equate happiness. And so I say to you the following: continue to do what you look forward to doing upon the opening of your eyes every morning and until the closing of your eyes every night. Then, and only then, will you amount to something. Your life will have meaning, to you, and that is all that matters.   

Seven: Your apologies are meaningless. Saying, “I am sorry,” is despicable. You are not sorry. You are merely trying to escape the angst of him or her who reacts to your foolishness. “Sorry,” is petty. “Sorry,” is meaningless. “Sorry,” is the same as “let us get this over with”. If you spite your neighbor, they will remember it. Saying, “I am sorry,” is not going to magically absolve you of your mistreatment of others. Trust is lost. Relationships are tarnished.  

There is a simple solution to this. Instead of saying, “I am sorry,” you must ask, “Can you forgive me?” You must seek forgiveness. If the answer is yes, then well done. If the answer is no, try asking next time you encounter each other. You must mean it. You must actually feel the pain they are feeling and realize what your actions or words have done to them. Then, and only then, will forgiveness last and have meaning. If there is no forgiveness to be found, then they will arrive at the harsh truth that they are grudging people. That is on them to decide whether to overcome it or not. If they still cannot forgive you, life goes on. Things will go on. No matter how much you mess up, life goes on. You must find peace with that and them.  

Eight: You think people care about you, but they simply notice you. Nobody really cares what you do or where you are or how you think. Everyone is in this life for themselves. Everyone is caught up in their own world and cares only for their personal gain. Nobody really knows what your life is like. Without any doubt, though, people will judge you. Go anywhere on campus, in the city, or out of state, and people will stare at you like they have the power of God to judge you in every possible way. People will make you uncomfortable, just by staring at you.   

If you care so much about what strangers think, stop. The feelings are not mutual. You are wasting your time. And, as you surely know by now, time is of the essence. If no one cares what you do, then do not care what they do. If you notice someone staring at you, strike up a conversation. If the person is unwilling, go about your day and forget about it. Do not play a game where every time you see each other, you both stare and things get incredibly awkward. Look ahead, look above, but do not look down. Looking down shows a weakness to others that they may find nourishing to the false power they think they hold on you. Do not feed their petty foolishness. Live your life as you see fit. You are the summation of all your prior dealings and happenings, and you may have struggled every day just to get to where you are now. Do not let others add on to your worries. Focus on what actually matters. It is certainly not the judgment of others.  

Nine: You are an addict. It could be to drugs, to cigarettes, to procrastination, to lustful desires, to unwonted practices. Whatever the case, you either know what your addictions are, or you continue to admit their presence in your life. You fall to temptation. You resolve back to old habits. You lounge around and avoid even the slightest attempt to quit your addictions. It is so easy to continue such a “desirable” life, for addiction is simply that—a craving. A simple discovery of some new practice turns to habit and then a need. You come to rely on your addiction to forget about your miseries. You come to need the addiction to get away from the troubles that come of your life.     

Addiction. This is, again, a mindful issue. Trick your mind into believing it is not addicted to whatever it currently is, and you will find closure. You cannot give your addiction the upper hand. You cannot keep feeding it your time, effort, energy, and temptation. Addiction is nothing more than temptation. See it this way, and you just may conquer it for good. You do not need the addiction as you so willfully believe. You do not actually crave it, but rather believe you do. Believe in this: you will not be living if you continue to fall to bad addictions. Yes, you will be alive, but your life will be wasted away. You must replace bad addiction for good. Addiction is simply a drug. Alcohol is a drug. Smoking is a drug. Replace smoking with exercise, for exercise, too, is a drug, but a good one. You will get the same high. You will come to depend on exercise to calm your nerves. Drinking will now be a focus because it is the most prevalent in society today. Replace alcohol with water. You will live healthier and think clearer, so that you can face your daily fears and smile down on them once you vanquish them. You turn to alcohol because something in life is troubling you and you do not want to face it, so you seek to forget about it. But you will never forget. You cannot avoid the inescapable. Once you are sober, you will be in an even worse state of mind because time has ticked away to the point you are at now, and that deadline you need to meet is all the closer. While you could have completed what you needed to, in the time you wasted away, you instead are left to deal with exponential, negative emotion. You think it is fun because everyone else is doing it. You are again conforming to societal pressure. Make amends. Temperance, temperance, temperance! What is meant by this? If you really wish to end your drinking addiction, find that out for yourself!  

Ten: You are 1 of 7,530,000,000 humans on Earth. Everything, for the most part, that you desire to achieve is desired by billions. Everything you are thinking at this very moment is thought of by millions, if not billions. Everything you have done, someone has done better. Everything you set out to do, billions are one step ahead of you. While you sleep and delay your ambitions, billions are awake and are achieving your potential successes. When you finally decide to set out on a pathway that you believe will bring about your happiness, billions already have taken part in that happiness. While you procrastinate your next assignment, billions are already done with theirs. While you dream, billions are living.   

The population will continue to grow, granted there is not another epidemic like The Black Death or another World War. You will continue to grow until the day you die. The quest for knowledge will always fill a human’s mind. That being said, it is because you can seek knowledge and question the way things are that you are unique. All of you—each one of you—have the obligation to become the best versions of yourselves you can possibly be, before your time comes to an end. If it takes all your life to do that, then so be it. No one can be the best version of you but you. Remember that! Only you can improve your mind, body, and soul to the point where you are fully enlightened. You must achieve that enlightenment and interconnection of life. It does not matter that others have achieved what you want to achieve. You must believe your life has a purpose. You might not believe it does, but it does. There is no one more important than you.   

Eleven: Your future is unknown to you. If you are unsure what you want to do for a living, you will go to extreme lengths to “discover” your passions. If you are a senior in college, and you are still lacking a job, you will feel hopeless. If you are in between jobs, you will want expeditious resolve. If you have just gone bankrupt, you will feel the weight of the world come crashing down on your shoulders, too heavy to hold up and carry on.   

Look, if your future is unknown, think about this: the reason you cannot fathom the future is because it does not yet exist. The reason you forget about your past is because it is over and done. Unless you are living, right now, today, this very instant in time, relishing every second of every moment in time, you will, undoubtedly, lose your mind to mere conjecture of what could be or what might be. There is no “discovering” your passions anymore. You know exactly what it is you love doing. Apply it! Practice it! Tell the world what it is you aspire for, and you will feel more obligated to see it to fruition, knowing that people are counting on you. Life is all about tricking the mind. Sway your mind into believing you can do whatever feat you believe to be impossible, and your mind will take you to that ultimate end. The key is to see it done, beforehand; picture your desires as if they have already happened and you are making merry in all your glory. Imagine yourself as already having made a fortune, if that is your goal—though I hope it is not your main goal. If you do this, your mind will feel obligated to achieving what you foresee.   

Twelve: Your loved ones will, one day, die. You will watch as their bodies enfeeble themselves and as the light leave their eyes. You will attend their funerals and wakes and visit them at cemeteries throughout the years. You will wish you had done things with them that you had not. You will wish you could say “I love you” just one more time so that they know it is so. You will cry in the arms of your other loved ones still around, but they will die, too.    

Loved ones never truly leave you. Their last breaths are the barriers to everlasting Love. Love, in this case, requires a capital ‘L’ because it is Love that is real and meaningful. The love we know in this life is temporary and of our own making. Death leads to everlastingness and immortality. You will meet them again, in the next life, with real Love. If you do not believe that, know this: by believing it, things are made easier. If you truly do not believe it, whatsoever, or want to, you will have to live out your days, knowing you are never going to see them again. Perhaps that will make you stronger, or perhaps weaker. Love makes you grow and allows you to see the world in a new light. The teachings of your loved ones will live on. Their legacies will live on.   

Thirteen: You will be all alone in the world until your time comes, at which point you will die, too. You will, one day, die. I repeat this because this is perhaps the harshest truth of them all. You cannot outrun Death. You cannot hide from Death. 

Because you are mortal, life is all the better. Knowing you will not be around forever, at least in this life—in your present consciousness—is what makes life so beautiful. Life is beautiful, if you make it so. Life is encouraging, if you make it so. Life does not need to end with your last breath. You may be tired of hearing me say it, but so long as your name lives on and people remember you, you will never truly be dead. Death will have been just another acquaintance to meet in this world of over seven billion people. Here is something to ponder: treat Death like any other person. By doing so, you will be wanting to meet it when you can no longer talk, move, or function on your own, in your ripe old age.   

Fourteen: The universe will one day return to void. The sun will die. Earth will perish. Everything that once was will truly be lost. Everything that is will fade into nothingness. Everything that will be will turn to ash. Whether by the universe’s own unavoidable age or by humanity’s own hand, everything will die.   

The universe will end, yes. But you will feel life once more after the next “big bang” occurs. Make no mistake; it will. From a religious perspective, the Son of Man will come again in the direst hour and he will raise you from the dead. From a philosophical perspective, everything came out of nothing into being, at some specific point in “time”. What is to say there was not a universe before the “big bang” that started this one? What is to say there will not be another age of life after this universe meets its end and another “big bang” sets things into motion yet again?  

These are the harsh truths you forever are willing to ignore, and only hope will disappear. Again, I pose the question of why? They do not disappear until you bring them to resolve. Do not take the easy route in life. Do not continue while your problems plague your existence. You cannot evade them, just as you cannot evade Death. Eventually, they will sting you when you really cannot afford them to. The list could continue for thousands and thousands of more words, but for the purposes of this reading, I present to you only these fourteen. Perhaps you will discover more for yourself, and in turn, become one step closer to your enlightenment. Everyone wishes to take comfort. Those who struggle and face, head on, their problems, will come out on top and harken back to the days when they only dream of being problem free.