Burglars shouldn’t keep diaries, and other life lessons

Source: Thumbpress.com

Source: Thumbpress.com

A small toddler has recently learned to crawl. She is crawling on a couch when she veers over to the edge of the couch. Not knowing any better, she continues crawling and falls off. On the way down, she hits her head on the coffee table. What lesson could she learn from this experience? She could learn that “couches equal pain”. That would be totally understandable, and of course completely wrong. It would also negatively impact her life & decision-making going forward. Imagine her awkwardness at parties…

I tell this story to people when the time has come to learn a lesson.  The point is that learning is of course important, but learning the WRONG lesson can be worse than learning nothing at all. So, how do you make sure you are learning the right lessons from your experiences in life?

This sounds daunting, and I don’t know the answer.  That would be a good way to end this post, huh?  :)

All right, all right, I’ll keep typing.  I really don’t know how to make sure I am always learning the right lesson, but then I remember that I don’t have to.  My brain is a comparison (contrast) engine, not an absolute engine, and so all I have to do is learn any lesson that I didn’t know before, and not worry about the RIGHT lesson.

So, to go back to the toddler story, she could learn that couches equal pain.  She could also learn that the edge of couches equal pain.  She could learn that coffee tables equal pain, or maybe that gravity equals pain.  She could even expand it into life equals pain!  While you may be thinking that lesson would be the truly accurate one, it might not be the most useful…  So, which is the better lesson for her to learn?  I would say it depends on the situation, and so she should try to hold as many possible lessons from the experience as she can (I picture this like tasting wine without swallowing it, so you can taste more & more varieties without getting drunk, like a sommelier).  Anthony Robbins talks about how important it is to make distinctions in life, and that is incredibly relevant here.  The finer the distinctions you can make and hold in your head, the more likely you are to learn something that will be useful to you later in life.

I have had one experience teach me many different lessons at various times in my life.  In fact, I’ve even had a single experience that someone *else* has had teach me more than one lesson, so it didn’t even have to be my own experience.  The better you can be at building up these (possible) lessons, the better you will be at learning your principles.  Then, keeping these principles in mind while you go forward in life will give you the “future vision” I talk about in other posts.

So try to think about things that are happening to you as if you were a wine sommelier–the experience is just something that happened, and nothing more.  No matter how distasteful the experience was, it doesn’t have to become a part of you.  As a sommelier, you simply file away as many distinctions as you can about it & then spit it out!

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