Most of Life’s lessons aren’t learned in school – unless you consider Life itself a kind of school. Some people have learned all they need to know in kindergarten; others from watching Star Trek; still others through military service (especially in boot camp/basic training). The Bible, Aesop’s Fables, Ben Franklin’s Autobiography, and Sun Tzu’s Art of War (among many others) are but a few popular compilations of lessons learned by others.
Life’s most important lessons often depend upon the situation. Sometimes they give perspective: The “secret of life is the enjoyment of the passage of time”, the “purpose of life is to learn to love (yourself and others)”, and “anything worth doing is worth doing – even poorly (at first)”…. Other times Life’s “important lessons” are more specific/task related: “always follow through”.
There certainly is no shortage of valuable lessons (or aphorisms) from which to choose (in just about any situation). Often there are even seemingly contradictory “lessons”. So, it’s a matter of what each individual needs to learn (at that particular moment).
Some of Life’s more important lessons for me, right now, have to do with contrast. Things often seem different when compared to other things. “Success is what you make it” — by (your own) definition. To “win” or “lose” at anything, often has more to do with what and how you “play” (and what you walk away with) than the “score”. Athletes on the same team, court/field are often not even playing the same game, let alone getting the same “results”.
Nothing is life is “free”. Everything has a price. Different people make different decisions about whether the cost is worth it – and whether they are willing (and able) to pay it. Less is often more. The best things in life aren’t (things at all). I’ve learned that is wise not to underestimate people (or to even judge them at all without knowing more). What others can or can’t and will or won’t do is less important than what I do (or don’t). Timing is everything.
People tend to “reap what they sow” and get out of a thing what they put into it. The only thing you probably can’t get out of Life (itself) is … alive. People tend to (eventually) get what they “deserve”. “What goes around comes around.” Sometimes the Golden Rule seems to be “He who has the gold makes the rules”, so I try to abide by the Platinum Rule: “Do unto others as they would do unto themselves” – if they were me…. Although I often wish it were not so, I’ve “learned” that “we are all connected” and that “relationships” are what “matters” most. This is just as true for time, actions, and “things” as it is for people.
And in relation to people and their actions, I think people usually are doing the best that they can (at any particular moment) – no matter how lame it may seem (even to them). By “accepting” others and myself as we are doesn’t necessarily mean there can’t/won’t be a change or “improvement” – at any time. I try to never threaten or promise and to keep in mind that “actions speak louder than words.” Doing nothing is sometimes as important or effective as doing something. Either way, if an action (or lack thereof) is not producing a desired result/outcome, it’s probably a good idea to do something else…. “It’s always the right time to do the right thing.” I just “do the best I can, with what I can, where I am”.
Perhaps what is most needed in the world these days is kindness. So please be “kind” while leaving comments.
© 2009 – 2011, Oren Pardes. All rights reserved.