Each day I’ve sent my kids to school, I’ve asked them to learn something new. Seems pretty straightforward. They are going to school to learn, right? But how does the average kid answer the question, “So what did you learn at school today?” Nothing.
We all know that the learning in life doesn’t stop with graduation. I’ve learned more about caring for people in the years since getting my M.D. than all of medical school.
Ask the average grown-up, “What did you learn today?”, and in place of an immediate verbal response, you may get a stunned facial expression or one that asks, “Are you crazy?”
Everyone who attended their Social Studies classes has heard that if we don’t learn from history, we are destined to repeat it. Anyone who has had a bit of psychotherapy knows that if we don’t learn from our mistakes in relationships, we are destined to repeat them . . . again and again.
In real life, the tests come before the lessons. We’re supposed to learn from our mistakes. If we do, we eventually become wiser.
If we don’t pay attention, we miss the lesson. We fall or fail then react without reflection.
But don’t worry. If you didn’t pick up on the lesson to be learned, you’ll get to repeat it . . . again and again. If we don’t learn from life we keep getting the same lesson over and over. It’s like Detention Hell.
The tests will keep coming up when you least expect them. They’re like pop quizzes.
So as grown-ups, we too can reflect on what we have learned each day. By starting each day meditating on “What can I learn today?”, you will be more open to new insights into your world, your situation, the people in your life, your relationships and your self.
“If I don’t like how I’m feeling today, what can I do differently to feel better? What is my role and responsibility? Am I repeating a pattern that hasn’t worked a hundred times before?”
Do we ever master our lives? Do the lessons ever end?
I don’t know. I haven’t reached that advanced age or stage of wisdom.
Yet I do know that we continue to grow as long as we are challenging ourselves, making new mistakes, fall in new and novel ways, pick ourselves up and learn from the lessons of life.
And let’s hope that we never get so old or so wise that we can no longer laugh at ourselves.
Next: Help Someone Else. The intention to live beyond our selves.