Johnny Sirpilla is an author, entrepreneur, educator, speaker, and most importantly, a Miami alumnus! His international bestseller book titled “Life is Hard, but I’ll be OK” offers phenomenal insight and advice about self-development and mental health. 

Last week, Johnny spent a day and a half talking to and connecting with Miami students about his experiences at Miami and with mental health.

I attended his lecture last Tuesday night (April 2). Here are five key life lessons from Johnny that I think college students will find extremely helpful.

Dream Big and Act Bold

Don’t just dream it; do it! It’s one thing to have ambition and set goals. It’s another to set goals and chase them down like your favorite food truck when you are starving. You are fully capable of doing amazing things when you really set your mind to it. 

Don’t Believe Everything You Think

This one is for the overthinkers. Sometimes, thoughts are just thoughts. Just because a thought enters your mind (e.g., “everyone thinks I’m a joke,” or “what if I can’t do it?”), doesn’t mean it’s true. You don’t have to dissect and analyze it – that can be a waste of your precious time. Sometimes it’s best just to recognize that your thoughts aren’t in charge and to dismiss the ones that aren’t serving you. Remember: Your happiness is often dependent on the quality of your thoughts.

Mindset Matters

Your attitude can make or break you (and your life), so why not choose the one that lifts you? Instead of seeing challenges as roadblocks, view them as opportunities to grow! Even though it might feel like it at the time, failure isn’t the end of the world. It’s a stepping stone to success. Learn to embrace your failures, learn from them, and bounce back stronger than ever.

Self-Care is Non-Negotiable

Life moves fast. There will be times when you feel like you hardly have control over anything taking up your time. But slowing down and practicing self-care can recharge your energy to boost your productivity and will help you stay grounded and mindful. Whether it is a simple two-step skincare routine or an elaborate yoga session or taking a long walk, make time for yourself!

Practice Gratitude

Throughout his darkest times, Johnny found his way out by being grateful for the gifts that he had. As students, we can do that too! Being grateful for even the smallest things allows us to see the good in everything and cultivate a positive attitude that will motivate us to do better. 

There you have it, the most valuable lessons from Johnny. Should you want to know more, check out his book! Also, Miami offers numerous mental health resources for you! Check out our Health and Wellness blog posts for more.

Chi Truong | Class of 2026