Alanis Morisette said it best in one of her songs, You Learn, way back in 1995.

This song made me contemplate on the enigma of life and the episodes it brings with it, and so it led me to this concise list of what I believe to be life’s quintessential elements.

These are facets of life which I feel people need to keep in mind while using up their short span of borrowed time on this galactic fragment. If not used wisely, you run the risk of giving people the wrong impression of who you are, and as a consequence, you could quite possibly be considered as a waste of space or worse off, an oxygen thief.

Respect should be practised, but not at the expense of your self-respect. It’s good to give and great to receive. However, we don’t live in a perfect world, and sometimes – actually, many a time – respect is inexistent and people don’t know the definition of the word, even if it slapped them silly in the face!

Remember though, that respect isn’t something that should be demanded either, as though someone should be reverent to you. Let’s be frank: no one owes you anything in life. I believe in common courtesy and respecting others, in the (often wishful) hope of receiving it back.

That being said, not letting people treat you like dirt and being assertive is equally important. There comes a time where our patience and good nature are being tested above and beyond their limits. This is probably the time to let others know they’re crossing the line and pushing the edge. After all, it’s not okay to be other people’s doormat, no matter what rank or position they may have. You must speak up when others are being out of line.



Swallow your pride. I realised that while it’s sometimes better to cut the cord with people who aren’t worth the time and energy, there are moments when you need to mend fences, no matter how difficult it might seem. We all have our pride to look after, and having someone maim it isn’t a nice feeling. Arguments are run of the mill in any healthy relationship, so let’s be realistic here. There’s no type of relationship on the face of this earth that is peaches and cream all of the time.

Sometimes, being the bigger person is necessary, and to do so, you need to swallow your pride. Saying sorry isn’t always the easiest of things. Saying sorry when your gut feeling’s screaming that you’re in the right is even harder. There are also times when even after approaching someone to bury the hatchet, you’re painfully let down. Mentally, you’ve built up a certain amount of hope and expectations, where you think everything’s going to be fine and dandy once you’ll have ‘the talk’, only to have them throw it back at you in your face and give you that sudden punch to the ego. You need to ask yourself whether it’s worth all the invested energy in the long run.



Apologies are not about victory or defeat. It’s also important to understand that saying sorry doesn’t always imply that you’re admitting defeat. People sometimes revert to an apology simply because they value their relationship more than their ego. It also means that you’re choosing to do away with any lingering negative energy and simply willing to move on. So I say, save the energy for more positive and better things in life. Holding grudges and allowing people to live rent-free in your head is certainly not the way to go.



Gratitude goes a long way. It’s important to show appreciation to people who’ve dedicated the thought and time to think about you. Even if it’s a simple gesture that brightens up your day, because after all, it’s the little things in life that count. It’s a pity that, quite often, the only time these sweet moments of appreciation are truly missed is when they are evidently lacking. When these seemingly trivial things are present, many of us tend to take them for granted and not give them a second thought. But just because it might not always be shown by some doesn’t mean we should lose faith in humanity and give up on practising such gestures.