3 More Lessons You’re Better Off Learning Sooner than Later (365 Days of Spirited Living — DAY 307)
“Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.”
— Andy Rooney
How often have you thought to yourself, I wish I had known this when I was 20 or I wish someone had told me this before I turned 30. There is a deep feeling inside all of us to know and to approach life with a sense of maturity, wisdom, and understanding. We know that our younger life was not as productive as it could have been and so we become aware of the fact that as we age, we must grow and improve — not just grow physically but mentally and emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. With this in mind, no matter what age you are, here are three more lessons we need to learn:
1. Learn to be patient with the process until you make progress.
Life is a process. It is a long, tough, sometimes bruising, sometimes beautiful path from one point to another, from childhood to adulthood, from self-focus to maturity. When we’re young, we tend to set high goals and lofty dreams for ourselves. We want immediate results and for success to come as quickly as possible. ‘Fast money, fast cars, fast life’ is the idea here. Because we are immature and haven’t cultivated patience in our lives, we can easily give up when we don’t see a good outcome immediately. It’s not just that individual people are this way, but our culture has conditioned us to expect to get everything fast which has led us to think we can achieve our goals the same way, and that’s simply not the case.
The truth is, college takes four years on average to complete. It’s a process. If it were not a process and could be completed in one week or one day, more college graduates world exist in the world. Babies take 9 months to come into the world. It’s a process. We grow from infancy to adolescents to teenagers to adults. Human growth is a process. In football, there is a pre-season, a regular season, and the playoffs before there is ever a Super Bowl. It’s a process. You can’t skip anything. The secret to success, if there really were one, is that you have to take consistent small steps before you see big results. Our goals help us to grow and we don’t grow overnight. But you will never know how much you could grow if you don’t go through the process. Have patience. Embrace the process no matter how hard it is and how painful it is to wait. Then you will see real progress.
2. Learn to be all here right now.
It’s funny but our goals always take us somewhere else. Maybe not physically, but mentally and emotionally, and sometimes, spiritually, we are elevated in a way by the goals and dreams we have for ourselves. However, some of us spend too much time either rehashing and regretting the past or planning and worrying about the future that we fail to embrace and enjoy the beauty of the present moment. This is not to say that there is anything wrong with learning from the past or planning for the future. Where the problem comes in, however, is that we live in either one of these two places to the neglect of where we are which is right here in the moment. The present is all you have to learn, to grow, to improve, to do and to be. If you don’t choose to be all in here, then there is no guarantee you’ll be all in up there in the future.
Again, here too, culture plays a major role. Culture tells us that busyness is progress, always moving makes you look important. And it really doesn’t. It points to a much deeper problem of people looking for that one thing to make them happy or fulfilled or successful but not stopping to examine the fact that you create whatever you’re looking for in the moment you’re in, not some place else or some other time. Simply being aware of the life we’ve been given and striving to fulfill the purpose we’ve been endowed with puts a clamp on the rat race, makes us feel time is no longer slipping through our fingers, and puts our head and our heart in the here and now to do all we can. Then when the time comes, we can bravely enter the future which always seems to come faster than we think when we’re not so focused on it and actually be happy that it has arrived because we’ve already lived so much.
3. Learn to challenge your fears in the face of facts.
We all have fears at one time or another in our lives. Some of them are justified and others simply exist in our minds. Fears serve to purposes. They can either cripple you, push you into a corner, and scream in your face until your eardrums pop. Or they can challenge you, push you to the edge of the cliff and dare you to jump off just to see where it takes you. Most people allow themselves to be crippled and to become products of the fear instead of parents over it. You can own your fears by admitting you have them and then taking steps to overcome them and challenge them. Growing, in fact, requires that we lose our fears in order to achieve and get the most out of life.
Most fears exist only in our heads. They don’t really exist. When we consciously choose to remember this, we find that doing the thing we thought we feared becomes much easier. For example, the fear of public speaking is common among the general population. Most people won’t get on a stage before a couple hundred people to say anything because they fear messing up, they fear their brain going blank, they fear not being heard, they fear what other people will think or say. But what if you don’t mess up? What happens if you do remember everything you were supposed to say so well that at the end the audience gives you a standing ovation? None of those fears exist in reality, but the feeling you get when you challenge them by taking the stage anyway will give you courage to do it over and over again until the fear eventually becomes obsolete.
“Often, it’s not about becoming a new person, but becoming the person you were meant to be, and already are, but don’t know how to be.”
— Heath L. Buckmaster