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Lesson number 1

“I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught.” Winston Churchill

From the moment our eyes open from a night of sleep, it doesn’t take long to find some situation ready to teach us a lesson. Whether it be a trivial change or monumental shift, life at times, unfolds as a string of one learning moment after another.

This isn’t necessarily an indication you’re in any sort of trouble, but rather more of the way one perceives life. If the focus is on what can be done to improve on one’s circumstances then whatever misstep occurred will be identified as a lesson.

An expression receiving lots of attention nowadays is: “there are no mistakes in life only lessons” and while this is a very positive outlook, I don’t always subscribe to the notion that there are no mistakes. They happen all the time.

Each morning, I use a French press to brew my coffee. After the water has boiled, only enough to cover the grounds is added to the glass container. After a minute or two, the grounds swell to their maximum potential and the rest of the water is added. However, there have been plenty of times when I’ve neglected to add the water until the total time has nearly elapsed. This is a mistake. Nothing which if not remedied will cause great havoc, and my typical reaction is to laugh when this occurs. I could set two timers but it’s truly not that important. The day will continue as planned.

When it comes to the important lessons, a much different approach is considered. On a daily basis, my goal is to experience some situation which sheds light on an aspect of personal growth. Sometimes it is insignificant and other occasions, life changers. Interestingly, the little realizations can be as difficult to acknowledge as the huge awakenings.

In order to become greater at anything we do, being cognizant of these learning experiences is something we must be determined to be aware of.

At times, these situations continue for a long period. Perhaps we may have erroneously believed it was conquered, only to discover the real meaning was never fully understood – causing us to repeat the mistake. In these kinds of circumstances, it typically denotes there was some aspect we didn’t entirely understand, or never truly believed we needed to grasp. This is precisely why it’s imperative to do our best to identify and completely scrutinize everything about the situation.

The lessons we cannot see are the ones most difficult to overcome.

How does one overcome something which is not or cannot be seen? One beneficial way is to have a friend, confidant, or partner who cares about you and will point these things out for your own edification. Rightfully so, it also builds and strengthens that relationship.

If there is one expression which at times is misunderstood, it’s that others’ opinions don’t matter. In general, people’s attitudes about you shouldn’t have too great a bearing on how you view yourself. However, viewpoints of friends, close acquaintances, and partners ought to have some influence in your life. Caring companions make a huge difference in our personal growth and in creating stronger relationships.

Having reliable people around us who are willing to point out these faults, errors, or mistakes is beneficial in learning lessons. Depending on the kind of issue, it can be extremely difficult to tell a friend or partner about a problem and if not for their intervention, it may never come to light and be fully addressed.

Acknowledging our own faults or shortcomings is one of the most difficult challenges for many. Perhaps many of us have a friend, co-worker or someone we know who has an obvious flaw which that person (or persons) is not able to see. It could be an obnoxious habit or frequently repeated mannerism which makes you cringe each time it happens. Although it is blatantly obvious, it remains completely unseen to that individual. Now ask yourself, “has anyone ever thought that about me”?

The most difficult part of learning any lesson is admitting there is a problem. Particularly those matters which point out flaws in our personalities or ways of thinking. Looking into the proverbial mirror and acknowledging there is something wrong is daunting. It takes courage. Nevertheless, it’s the first step toward change.

Listening to those you trust or even those with more knowledge, experience, or wisdom is another way of becoming aware a change is in order. It’s impossible to be an expert at everything. People who are at the top in their areas of expertise also have counselors, advisors, or other specialists helping them to improve. It’s not a wise investment to have people around you only to tell you what a remarkably perfect job you’ve been doing. Anyone requiring that kind of a validation most likely is highly deficient in self-esteem.

Although there are lessons we can enjoy, everything doesn’t need to be a learning experience. Sometimes it’s best to simply relax or take our minds off any stress and take in the world around us. Life is worth slowing down and discovering the beauty this world has to offer. From the grandeur of the oceans to the splendor of the mountains, or even simply having our faithful pet at our side, these are wonderful and healing moments in and of themselves. This could be the number one lesson that I myself may need to relearn.

My thanks to Devin Lyster on Unsplash for the beautiful photo and I look forward to your comments.

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