I was the kind of person that loved college and loved to learn. I went to a liberal arts university and couldn’t get enough philosophy, psychology, and theology. I loved asking questions like What is the purpose of life? How should we be living? Why do people act the way they do? What is God and what is God’s function in this world and in our lives?
These questions were rumblings in my soul from a very young age. So, when I got to college and I was actually able to explore these questions and take classes on them – for me, this was the dream!
However, after college, I had a long few years of grieving the loss of learning. I wanted to be at college forever. To always be taking classes that would cause me to be learning and growing and changing.
It took me a long time to realize that I was still enrolled in courses that were teaching, growing, and changing me.
Think of your life as a liberal arts college. What courses are you enrolled in right now? What practicums are you taking right now?
What is your life teaching you?
The most wonderful thing about this perspective, is that it transforms the struggles and challenges in our lives, into opportunity for wisdom and growth. If we are able to make this mental shift, it will greatly improve our wellbeing.
I am struggling to maintain focus at my job when I have hours of paperwork to complete.
At times I am anxious about the future and in my daily life.
I can become stressed with the busyness of life.
I still struggle at times with self doubt.
So, I could simply think of these things as frustrations in my life. OR, I could think of them in the perspective of What is my life teaching me? What life courses am I enrolled in right now?
I am enrolled in Mindfulness 101.
This class has a focus on relaxation skills, introduction to meditation, and emphasizes mindfulness practices through a variety of practicums. Practicum #1 will explore the importance of focused attention and how to observe thoughts and re-direct thoughts to increase ability to focus. Practicum #2 will focus on the importance of self talk and how it affects the brain and body. There will also be a strong focus on how Cognitive Behavioral Therapy works and an emphasis on how our thoughts affect the way we feel. Practicum #3 will teach basic relaxation techniques including exercises such as meditation and taking mindful walks. Finally, practicum #4 will build off of practicum #2, and focus on topics of self compassion. There will also be an exercise in which the student must engage in an activity that further brings out their strengths.
Book list/Assignments: Read Mindfully ADD book resources, listen to Attention Talk Radio podcast, utilize Meditones for meditation, participate in Discover Your Inner Voice writing class, participate in Life Works coaching for anxiety and self-doubt, listen to The Mindful Kind podcast, listen to Help Me Be Me podcast, join and participate in Facebook group for League of Extraordinary Introverts
So, maybe you are reading that, and think it’s a little weird.
I have a lot of “weird” ideas. But if there is one thing I have realized in my life, it is often the weird ideas that have helped me the most. Maybe you would be willing to try out this way of thinking, even if it does seem a little unusual?
As I said before, thinking of these challenges as a class to learn and grow from, totally changes the perspective, and therefore totally changes the experience.
But, the same as when you are in a college class – you have to do your homework and really engage in the class – or you are not going to get anything out of it!
Also denial won’t help. Whether you wanted to enroll in this class or not, a life circumstance you didn’t want may have forced you to. Accept this is the case and show up for class.
What are the “assignments” that will help you gain the most from this experience? Do you need to find a book or a podcast on the thing you are struggling with? Do you need to take an online course on the subject or do life coaching or counseling? Do you need to start a practice of meditation or journaling?
I can’t tell you what the answer is for you. I am just telling you, a “life class” is a nuisance if you do not fully engage it. Negative events and emotions will simply be negative things in your life that you will wish would go away. However, if you learn to embrace these events as teachers, you will have a strange mental shift, in which you feel gratitude for the lessons that are being brought to you. We never have to call a negative event “good,” but we can still be thankful for the lessons that it brings us.
- First, identify the struggles that you are currently facing. What is a struggle in your life right now? What is a challenge? What is a frustration? Try to list a few, if you can.
- With these struggles in mind, what life course would you be enrolled in? What would the name of it be?
- Are you showing up for class? Are doing the homework & assignments that would truly help you gain the wisdom and growth from this circumstance?
- What are the homework & assignments you are already utilizing? A book? A podcast? A daily practice? What homework & assignments do you need to add to engage more fully?
- If you are feeling creative – go ahead and write out everything like I did in the post. Your class name, your course description, and your books & assignments. You definitely don’t have to do this if you don’t want to, but it might help to give a full perspective for yourself. (And be kind of fun!)
- How can you imagine this new perspective transforming your struggles? Or if you have used this way of thinking before, how has it helped you in the past?
Wishing you many beautiful lessons.
13 thoughts on “What is Your Life Teaching You?”
I couldn’t agree with you more. I was just telling my husband yesterday how glad I am to that I’m learning how to tune in to my body and mind better as I age. I didn’t really understand myself or my anxiety when I was younger. Self-awareness and analysis is so important important for us to thrive. I like to listen to podcasts on my way to work and will have to try the ones you recommended. Thanks for the insight!
Thank you for sharing your thoughts, I am glad you could relate!
Also, I just discovered your blog and found it to be quite lovely! I will be following. 🙂
I’m excited to share my story with you. Yours inspires me so much. Thanks for the follow!
I love the idea of thinking of your life as a class. One thing I’ve been missing is feeling like I’ve had progression in some parts of my life, and I sometimes even hated the idea of working on things, because I didn’t know if I could ever solve them. Thinking of things like a class, where I am only responsible to learn and to get new skills, is such a good way of thinking! Thanks again!
So glad you found this perspective helpful! I know that once I adopted this perspective for myself, it helped me view my challenges in such a different light.
Thanks so much for reading & giving your feedback!
Great post! I love the “weird” ideas, keep them coming 🙂 I especially like the part about when something you didn’t plan on, and maybe didn’t even want to happen comes up, there’s still something to learn. That’s really good for me to remember – thanks Nicole!
So glad you enjoyed the post & have enjoyed my “weird” ideas! 🙂 Thank you so much for giving your feedback!
What a great post Nicole! I also try to see what I’m learning (and re-learning!) and what patterns I’m finding but this is a whole new level of seeing it, hehe hopefully deepening it like this will mean I don’t have to repeat class as many times 😉
Thank you for your feedback! I think we all have probably had to “repeat class” a few times. haha 🙂
Thanks again for sharing your comments, it is much appreciated!
Love the post and the blog! Since you seem to be good answering questions, I had one! I want to start thinking this way, but I always get this little voice in the back of my head when I try to find good things out of the challenges that says “aren’t you just excusing yourself for not leaving a bad situation?” I just mean, what if the class is “how to leave something behind”, and I’m trying to stick it out. Or, if if makes more sense, how do you know what class you’re in?
The first thing that came to mind with your question was the serenity prayer:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.”
I definitely understand the struggle, and for me, it has been about tapping into my intuition. Usually, deep down, my intuition does know if it is a situation to learn from or change.
And often, it is both. I don’t think we are ever supposed to just stay in a bad situation, but at the same time, it’s not always that easy to just change it and suddenly make it better.
For example, right now I have some frustrations at my job that I don’t know exactly how to fix. I am taking an active role in problem solving and trying to fix these problems. At the same time, I think I would really be missing out if I just saw my situation as frustrating, rather than something I can learn and grow from.
With the question of how do you know what class you are in – it goes back to intuition. I think your intuition probably knows..it’s just a matter of trusting it.
I hope this was at least a little helpful! Thank you so much for reading & giving your feedback!
Hey Nicole! Thanks for the article, and for the list. I’ve listened to most of what you recommended, but I don’t know if I can join the Facebook introverts group – I think I’m too introverted! Do you have any suggestions for how to be confident on your ideas? I can’t even do that online!
I know the feeling of being afraid of sharing ideas with the world. And honestly, I had the desire to blog for many years, but didn’t because I did not have confidence in my ideas.
I finally got to the point in which I realized that something would always feel like it was missing, if I did not share my ideas with others.
So there was a point where I did just have to simply put myself out there and do it. But once I did, I found that there were people that liked my ideas, and my confidence grew.
The problem is, if we don’t put ourselves out there, we never get to hear the affirmations from others. If I never started this blog, I probably would still believe that my ideas aren’t worth hearing.
I am wondering in what ways you would like to share your ideas more? Are you interested in starting a blog? Or just simply interested in connecting with others online?
Thanks for your question – I will continue thinking on this.