8 most important life lessons to learn

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I lived in a dark fog for 13 years as a zombie with a permanent “hangover from hell.” I had constant dizziness, no energy, depression, low blood pressure and a very low quality of life. This continued relentlessly for 13 long years without relief.

But with only lifestyle changes, my brain woke up, I started to laugh again, and life was worth living. Here are my most important life lessons, in a nutshell…

1. Lifestyle causes health outcomes

What made me sick was lifestyle factors and what caused me to feel well again was lifestyle factors. There’s a whole spectrum between the two extreme states — ultimate health vs. ultimate sickness (i.e. death). If you’re not feeling good most of the time, if life seems a constant struggle, then you’re probably at the wrong end.

2. Pain is something you definitely want to avoid

Pain is coming your way if you don’t meet the minimum requirement for your body to maintain balance — also known as homeostasis.

3. Pain caused by poor lifestyle can show up in many different ways

We are all genetically unique in that if you gave exactly the same poor lifestyle to 100 different people, those people could get different symptoms of disease as their body stops working properly.

4. Your body’s resilience is a problem

Your body’s amazing resilience and ability to adapt to a massive range of external conditions is a big problem for you in the modern world. Simply put — we don’t pay for our mistakes straight away but we do pay in the end.

5. Medicine cannot always bail you out

A disease caused by poor lifestyle choices cannot be cured or solved by anything other than better lifestyle choices. Medicine can provide solutions (e.g. a new hip, a triple bypass, a gastric band) but most often these are the wrong solutions and do not get to the root cause of why the problem showed up.

6. Prevention is infinitely better than cure

Although this is totally true, very few people are smart enough to prevent pain without experiencing at least a little pain. And yet we can teach our children that if they put their hand in the fire, they will get burned. So, it’s possible that smart people will learn to avoid pain by prevention.

7. A good lifestyle can give you what you really want

What everybody wants is to feel good, to be happy. Everything you do is an aspect of wanting to feel good. A good lifestyle can give you what you want without having to pay money, without having to chase the next pleasure and without having to own the next “must have” possession.

8. Lifestyle is the result of habits

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It’s the result of checking health boxes day-in-day-out.

And the beauty of habits is that they become automatic so in the end — once the change phase is over, it’s as easy to create health and happiness as it is to create sickness and depression.

These are the most important life lessons to learn because there aren’t any “things” that can make up for not having a feel good biochemistry.

I would love to know your most important life lessons, so please let me know in the comments. Thanks!

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Michael Kinnaird is the author of Happy Guide, the result of a 20 year exploration into what works for health and happiness.

Read Chapter 1 “The Happiness Secret”
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9 thoughts on “8 most important life lessons to learn

  1. Hello Michael Kinnaird. I love your book and really enjoy reading the emails you send. I have been reading a about hygge and wondered what you thought about a hygge lifestyle?


    1. Hi Joanne, I’m James, Mike’s brother and partner on Happy Guide. I thought I’d chip in too :-) Thanks for your kind words about the book and emails!

      Hygge looks good, a big step in the right direction. The word seems to mean “well being” which is what we all want :-) It’s wonderful that people are thinking more and more about well-being and happiness. I’ve only looked into it briefly but “hygge” seems to be quite a loose concept, everyone will probably have a slightly different idea of what it is — a bit like asking people what happiness means to them.

      With Happy Guide, we wanted to avoid any “muddiness” and lay out a very clear lifestyle that creates health and happiness. That means specifics like eating certain things and avoiding others. It’s the specifics that can trip us up without us realizing it (eating grains and dairy being good examples).

      So I think while it’s wonderful to see concepts such as hygge popping up because it means people are prioritizing happiness and well being, it’s really only a half-step (from what I can see). Over the years, we found that what people really need, especially if they are in a “bad” place, is specifics — in terms of both what to change and how to change.

      As I say though, it’s great that happiness is being put first more and more. Awareness is growing! :-)

      Best wishes,


      1. Hi James, thanks for your reply. I am trying out the happy guide diet, and its helped me lose weight and feel more energetic, its great! Now I’m feeling positive and looking into lots of different ways of increasing happiness.


      2. Don’t look too far Joanne! :-) I know how this may sound but the book is all you need. Happiness is about being a certain way, creating the right state. It’s the naturally occurring result of putting the right conditions in place. Health and peace of mind is all you need. Then you feel good for no reason. It sounds like you’re already getting results, very well done! Please feel to keep us posted on your progress! Thanks again for your kind feedback, it’s always lovely to receive, we both appreciate it.

        Best wishes,


  2. Mr.Michael Kinnaird Hello-It is but I am trying to find a solution that if thought is right then emotions and feelings should be of that gravity also right.which i acknowledged due to the negative stimuli may be based on fear should be also of same thought quality or which your brother has rightly said that something i am telling my mind this is important thought making it unknowingly worse.So preferred don’t care attitude, which i was looking for if alternate reaction by which stimuli can be changed on different issues.It is requested let this topic on emotion wellness be also addressed.The English man get me benefited.Thanking You
    Best Wishes,
    Imtiyaz Khan


    1. Yes, you can change your reaction/thoughts around a stimuli or subject, by deciding to do things differently or having a new idea, a new “truth.” This is deeply tied to becoming conscious of your thoughts, and so, dis-identifying from them, because when we say “I think this” or “I think that” often we have made a self out of it. So always just being aware of thoughts that pop into your mind is the grounding from which a great deal of sanity can come into your thinking, and really from that place, it’s quite natural and effortless to SEE things a lot more clearly and so come to new ideas, new truth automatically.

      Our truth depends on what we see, and seeing clearly is about being present, thoughtless, with whatever is happening. Although empty of thoughts, this is a whole-mind state.

      So I wouldn’t worry or stress about how to change stimuli or ideas too much. The critical thing is to be aware, to put the effort into “listening” and “flow” and see what thoughts pop in that state, and just be the awareness of what happens, of your reactions. If you can do this, as well as look after your diet and lifestyle so that the body and brain are functioning really well, everything will start to change on its own. You will just stop being reactive in the end.

      Awareness is the only place of choice, where we can actually respond and not simply react. In the meantime, WATCH your reactions, this is the intermediate state where there isn’t quite enough awareness to stop anger or whatever from happening, but enough not to BECOME it, you are the watcher. In time you will become non-reactive, choiceful. This is my experience. But as I said, all factors pay their part, including nutrition, sleep, being organized etc. Get everything working for you, the synergy of all the lifestyle elements to be in the best place physically and mentally.


  3. Thank you Mike!

    I have done myself a timetable now lets see if I can adhere to it… And if I can, then my habits will become like yours ;-) wish me luck.


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