Beliefs have a powerful impact on the lives we live. They can limit our potential or expand it.
The more we believe something to be true, the more likely it is to become so. That’s why the stories we tell ourselves are so important as well as the words we speak into others.
There are a number of incorrect life assumptions in this world. But because people say them so often (to themselves and others), they end up becoming true.
No doubt I have fallen for many of them myself. But I can also look back and identify a number of life assumptions that I have never presumed to be true.
10 Common Life Assumptions I’ve Never Presumed to be True
1. Parenting Teenagers is miserable.
I’ll start here because it is a perfect example. I used to work full-time with middle school and high school students and can’t count how many times I was told that parenting teenagers was miserable.
One person even said to me, “Little kids are so cute. But then they become teenagers and you suddenly can’t wait for them to leave.”
I’ve never believed that had to be true. Does parenting teenagers require intentionality and a shift in parenting strategy? Of course, but I’ve never believed it had to be unenjoyable or they would be disrespectful.
2. Spending extended time with extended family is to be bemoaned.
No way! I love seeing my family—including spending extended time with them.
Now, I realize not every family is stable and I still recognize the importance of separation for the purpose of establishing your own identity. But we go home twice/year to spend time with our families (usually close to 2 weeks each time).
Coming home is one of my favorite things in the world. And I always cringe when people crack jokes about how hard it is to be with family.
3. I can’t wait for retirement.
Retirement has been described as the new American Dream. And it seems, in many cases, people live as if the goal of work is retirement. But how can work be enjoyable if the goal is to get out of it?
I probably learned it from my grandfather who worked 40-50 hours/week until the age of 99, but retirement has never been a goal of mine. I prefer meaningful work and will continue to do so as long as my physical body allows.
4. A productive life is a busy life.
When I was early in my first career, I made the mistake of stopping in the office on my first scheduled day off. I don’t remember the exact details, but I was either trying to impress my new boss or had forgot something at my desk (probably the former).
When I walked through the front door, the receptionist said to me, “Make sure you honor your days off—always. You’re going to need them. Because there is a lot to do around here.”
In one sentence, I learned that a productive life doesn’t require me to work every day. And that finding time for rest enables me to accomplish more.
5. We need debt to finance an enjoyable life.
Kim and I have never presumed that having or spending a lot of money was required for happiness or a meaningful life. In fact, we made less than $20,000 combined our first year of marriage—and the next 6 weren’t much more than that.
But we never outspent our means. We did take out a mortgage to buy our first house and I borrowed $7,000 to help offset the cost of graduate school in my late-20’s, but other than that we have added no other debt.
Sure, our life has never been extravagant. But that wasn’t necessary for an enjoyable or meaningful life either.
6. Mothers-in-law are difficult.
Lawyers and mothers-in-law are the punchline to quite a few jokes. And mothers-in-law are almost always portrayed as difficult to get along with on television sit-coms. Just picture how many times the mere presence of a mother-in-law standing at the front door prompted a laugh track.
But my mother-in-law, Kay, is wonderful. She is kind, thoughtful, fun, and a pleasure to spend time with. I don’t dislike being with her at all! I actually enjoy it quite a bit.
7. Money doesn’t change you.
Of course money changes you. Anyone who thinks money only reveals who you are, rather than changing our very hearts, isn’t’ paying attention.
Does this mean everybody with financial means is evil? Of course, not—that would include most of us. But it does mean that we should be aware of its potential negative influence on our lives and stay hyper-focused on our personal ethic in light of it.
It also means that money is not always worth all the work we put into acquiring more of it. There are, after all, better things to be than rich.
8. Religion is boring and weakness.
My faith brings me meaning, joy, peace, stability… In fact, I can’t imagine life without it.
When I was young, I used to think religion was stifling and boring. But not anymore. I appreciate the role it plays in my life and how it has brought me strength through difficult times.
9. Kids are terrible in their 2’s.
Children often rise to the expectations we place on them. (Not always, but often.)
When we were parenting younger children, we never wanted to let “2-years old” or “3-years old” be an excuse for tantrums or bad behavior. And we never presumed that had to be the case. Instead, we sought to understand their developmental phase and worked hard to instruct and help them properly through it.
We should always fight against the presumption that our kids are going to act a certain way just because that’s the assumption we grew up hearing and believing.
Even from the very beginning.
10. People are talking about me behind my back.
Perhaps it is because of my background working at churches or even my current role now, but I hear a good number of comments from people about “being judged by others.” In many circumstances, I wonder if that’s even the case or just projection.
I used to think people were talking behind my back, until I realized they were all too busy talking about themselves.
Reject life assumptions. In so doing, you will regain the power to craft your own life—the one you actually desire.
I had a fun time thinking through this list and what common assumptions about life I have never presumed to be true. Are there any common assumptions you’ve never accepted or intentionally rejected? Comment below because I’d love to read more.