Imagine how it would be if you’d had to learn the important things in life by trial and error.
Your job, your hobbies driving a car… Results would be a bit hit and miss, to say the least.
But that’s how it is, when it comes to how we learn about ourselves, our relationships, and even how we think!
When we are growing up we learn many vital things in school and college, and in our jobs we continue to learn. For some of us it doesn’t stop there, we accept the notion of life-long learning. It keeps us young, and makes us more interesting, study broadens our horizons, they say.
But the most important things of all – aspects that affect our happiness and wellbeing – are left completely to chance. Nobody actually teaches us how to manage conflict, how to deal with change, what to do about pressure and stress, the way to tackle difficult conversations, about affairs of the heart, or how to deal with our minds.
The list of what we are not taught includes all the things that we’ll almost certainly have to face in our lives, at some point.
Ignoring what’s in front of us
Yet there is no manual for living to train us to do it well, and no diploma to say that we are ready for what life could throw at us. We are in the dark about what to do about the common pitfalls and the emotional turmoil that can overshadow our attempts to be the person we want to be. We talk about the cost of living in economic terms, but there is a cost of life that has a more immediate emotional impact.
Humankind has been around long enough to have developed adequate responses to life’s inevitable trials. The history of our development shows that we are incredibly resourceful and innovative. We know about living in harmony with ourselves, the inner life, spiritual wellbeing and how to achieve personal fulfilment.
Still, we mostly continue to live life as though we don’t know these things. Despite the fact that we are richer and happier (as nations) then we have ever been, there is an inexorable rise in personal unhappiness and strife with anxiety and depression running at epidemic levels.
The remedy lies with ourselves. We may not be able to fix the things that get in the way of our happiness and fulfilment, but that needn’t stop us being happier and more fulfilled. We can learn about managing our inner life better so that the trials of the outer one don’t drag us down.
Tomorrow might be a good time to start.