48 Things I Know for Sure

03/13/2015 01:54 pm ET | Updated May 13, 2015

You can learn something from everyone who crosses your path. Some people will show you what not to do and others pass along a bit of wisdom that improves your life. Not too long ago, I was at the art studio of painter Jonas Gerard who told me you have to silence your inner critic to create. "Too much thought will mess up what you are creating," he said. Back in college, my favorite journalism professor and National Geographic photographer, Yva Momatiuk, taught me never to regret painful experiences because it means you are truly alive.

When Oprah was signing off from her longtime show, she shared many of her greatest life lessons and then put them all in a book called What I Know for Sure.

I decided to put together my list of 48 things I know for sure. Some things I learned from the school of hard knocks, and some I collected from wise souls. Not everything has to be learned by getting beat up in the arena. We can arrive at happiness a little faster when we are open to learning from others.

48 Things I Know for Sure

1. Fix yourself first.
2. Wisely choose who you spend your time with because they will influence you.
3. "When people show you who they are, believe them." - Maya Angelou
4. If the person you are in a relationship with is really into you, it won't be a mystery.
5. There's a difference between feeling better and getting better.
6. Always be reading a book you don't want to put down.
7. Continually work to reduce the things that irritate you. Scale down that irritation list.
8. If you have a job you dread, find another job and quit the one you dread. You should wake up with joy, not a knot in your stomach.
9. Every decision you make, no matter how small, shapes how you feel about yourself.
10. Don't do tension. Create a tension-free home. If your house is full of tension, your kids feel it too.
11. Life only stays the same if you do.
12. Live with the awareness that a single decision can change everything.
13. Your strengths are your guideposts to your purpose.
14. If you were taught that life is difficult and has to be endured, reject the notion. Life is about thriving.
15. Don't date someone you want to fix or rescue.
16. Don't get in a relationship with someone who doesn't show signs of empathy.
17. Ask yourself if you are in denial about anything. Then do what most won't do: Run toward it. Expose it to light. Fix it.
18. Decide what kind of life you want and then construct your life according to that vision.
19. Learn from the success of others so you don't waste time.
20. If you are in the right relationship, life improves. Period.
21. Be more interested in what other people have to say than what you have to say.
22. Marry your best friend.
23. Face the darkness, stare it down and own it.
24. You can learn something from everyone.
25. Don't be a victim.
26. Design your own day and fill it with lots of tiny things that make you happy.
27. Set boundaries with the people in your life.
28. Shatter your external mirrors. Don't let other people determine how you should feel about you.
29. Don't neglect your needs for the sake of other people.
30. Share your imperfections, it connects us to each other on a real level.
31. Don't try and fix your parents for what they did or didn't do. Just claim responsibility for fixing yourself.
32. You teach people how to treat you.
33. Do at least one thing every day you love.
34. Always be honest, it lightens your load.
35. If you are broken, you will choose someone who is broken.
36. Never emotionally react to something right after it happens. Think first.
37. Leave something unsaid every day.
38. What people say and do has a lot more to do with them than it does you.
39. If it has to be a secret, don't do it.
40. You are stronger than you think you are.
41. Smile and say Hello to strangers.
42. Never hold your fork with a fist. Basic manners speak volumes.
43. Learn how to comfort yourself.
44. Lots of problems could be solved if people just talked openly about things.
45. Anticipation is a big part of happiness. Plan things you can look forward to that will make you happy.
46. Living with gratitude is the pathway to joy.
47. "Nothing works until you do." Maya Angelou
48. You already know the answer.

What do you know for sure?