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.