10 Life Skills Never Taught, But Totally Essential

Here are 10 success skills you probably weren't taught, but are completely essential to happy living:
Portrait of a woman in a garden holding a green balloon in front of her face, with a happy face painted on it.
Portrait of a woman in a garden holding a green balloon in front of her face, with a happy face painted on it.

When it comes to creating a successful life, most of us were introduced to a variety of traditional skills designed to get us there. Habits like time management, creative thinking, and self-discipline are commonly celebrated as key to success.

We learn it's important to be accountable, and to communicate effectively. And everyone knows how crucial it is to be persistent, and to manage money properly.

Certainly these and other commonly esteemed habits are helpful in navigating our way to the good life. But there are a handful of other competencies that are even more important to living happily ever after.

Here are 10 success skills you probably weren't taught, but are completely essential to happy living:

1. How to say no.

Most of us were trained to accommodate the desires of others rather than to honor our personal preferences. Even when we do manage to wriggle out of something we don't want to do, it's not unusual to feel guilty in declining the request. But make no mistake; learning to say no (and feel fine about it) is an essential skill for successful living.

2. How to accept rejection.

From the very beginning as young children who were dependent on others for survival, we learned to value acceptance and approval from others. It can trigger strong feelings of fear when we don't receive that approval. Yet fear of rejection keeps many of us from following our biggest dreams. Learning that it's okay even when others don't agree is key to happiness.

3. How to know what you want.

In learning to navigate the world many of us become experts at discerning what others want and prioritizing their desires in an attempt to win affection and approval. This is not a habit that leads to personal fulfillment. Learning to identify what you truly desire - and having the courage to honor it - isn't something most of us were taught but is absolutely essential for success.

4. How to hear inner guidance.

As a common parenting technique we were trained to listen to our parents, and then our teachers, without any attention given to hearing our own inner wisdom. Learning to tune into that guidance is a skill that contributes greatly to a happy life. You'll go far learning to recognize and follow the wisdom within.

5. How to prioritize joy.

Many cultures teach that work comes first and the reward is later - if we're lucky. We pay our dues up front and hope to earn our desserts. But stress and misery are too often the result of this life approach. Being willing to front-load life with happiness and joy is the wiser path to true success.

6. How to put yourself first.

Selfishness is often criticized and selflessness revered in our society. Yet we are useless to the world when we haven't taken care of ourselves first. Learning to practice effective self-care allows us to be of highest service to the passions that fill our heart, which makes for better world citizens.

7. How to give up.

Most of us are taught to persevere no matter the pain or cost because anything we want is worth working hard for. And yet struggle and sacrifice often just lead to unrewarding results where we're worn out and miserable. Those in the know understand that unhappy journeys don't have happy endings, which makes knowing when to give up an essential life skill.

8. How to appreciate what is.

More, bigger, better, and faster is the focus many folks engage in their pursuit of happiness. But if we don't learn how to appreciate the present moment and enjoy what life offers right now, it's hopeless that we ever will. One of the most worthwhile practices we can master is becoming thankful for what is.

9. How to ask for help.

Our fear of rejection and unwillingness to impose upon others (and also perhaps our desire for independence) often keep us from requesting the help we need to achieve what we most want. Jack Canfield suggests we become "world class askers" in pursuit of our greatest dreams because nothing great is ever created in isolation. Learning to ask for support is undoubtedly a key success skill.

10. How to receive.

Typically we learn to be good givers and are actually uncomfortable on the receiving end, even when it's something as simple as a compliment or a favor. Because our culture exalts acts of giving, it's easy for us to lack the skills of receiving. This is a success habit worth mastering, however, since our dreams remain out of reach until we know how to let the good stuff in.

Embracing even just one of these lesser-taught skills can transform your experience of life and enhance personal joy and satisfaction. Even though most of us weren't encouraged to practice these, it's never too late to embrace a new way of being. Your true happiness depends on it.

Jeannette Maw is a Master Certified Coach and author of The Art of Self-Love and Slacker Manifesting. Find her online at Good Vibe Blog.