- Well-written memoirs often share universal truths that connect with readers on a deeper level.
- Universal truths are many, and each of us can have our own unique set.
- Learning about others’ universal truths can help you find our own way.
In my memoir writing workshops, I always emphasize the importance of each story having a universal truth. While many are well aware what this means, oftentimes, the definition needs to be explained.
A universal truth is something that resonates throughout humanity. It’s something that others can relate to and can be a lesson that we’ve learned. Most often we recognize a universal truth, but we are not always able to understand it.
Universal truths are most often connected to something about the human condition or key events in people’s lives, which include birth, emotion, aspirations, conflicts, and decision-making. They can help us understand it, and also help us deal with emotional and psychological challenges.
In his 2020 article, 4 Universal Truths to Counter Your Emotional Problems, Michael R. Edelstein says that “[e]ach truth comports with reality,” and that they express the way of the world and characteristics of being human. Universal truths inspire us to contemplate and reflect.
Although there are so many more, Edelstein identifies four important emotional truths:
- as humans we are all fallible and we need to develop unconditional self-acceptance
- no life is 100 percent bad, and thus it’s a good idea to adhere to unconditional life acceptance
- humans are all flawed, at times flawed and sometimes unflawed, and it’s important to develop unconditional other-acceptance
- it’s important to believe that you can “stand what you’re standing,” or being where you are
When reading or hearing about the universal or emotional truths of others, we are given tips on navigating our own life journey. These truths can help us figure out our lives and as a result, put us on the path to happiness.
Marja de Vries says that the universal truth is nothing less than an insight into nature, which offers the meaning and operation of the universe. In other words, it’s the nature of reality which goes way beyond the physical realm in which we live. A universal truth can also answer questions about who we are and where are we going.
Of course, everyone has their own set of universal truths and the further on you move in life, the more you gather. Here are some truths I’ve accumulated during my own journey:
- Be honest.
- Happiness is often a choice.
- Knowledge is power.
- Choose your battles.
- Optimism is better than pessimism.
- Lowering your expectations can lead to happiness.
- Having gratitude can contribute to happiness.
- Very little in life is black and white.
- You don’t have two chances to make a first impression.
- Money cannot buy happiness.
- Tell others what you want them to do, not how you want them to be.
- If you want something in a relationship, you need to also give it.
- Actions speak louder than words.
- Expect the unexpected.
- We are all going to die.
And because we are all gong to die, it’s important to live life to its fullest because none of us have any idea of how long we are destined to be on this planet. In a similar vein, you might want to consider making a list of your own universal truths.
Marja de Vries. (2012). The Whole Elephant Revealed. John Hunt Publishing.
Edelstein, PhD, M. R. (2020, April 6). 4 Universal Truths to Counter Your Emotional Problems. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-three-minute-therapist/2020…
Originally published on Psychology Today.