Learning life's lessons the hard way

I often wonder whether there is an easier way to learn life’s lessons apart from the hard way. As children, we learn how to have fun and get along with others. We also learn that life is not always fair and we do not always get what we want. As we grow into teenagers we learn the importance of belonging and making friends, and how to balance our needs and wants with those of others. We discover that there are consequences to our actions and how to make better choices over time.

As adults, we learn that we do not have to be rich or attractive to be loved by others. In fact, the older and uglier we get, the more real and beautiful we become. We learn that true friends accept us as we are, with all our faults, and stick by us when life gets tough. We discover our sense of who we really are and find a way of keeping our interests and passions without losing ourselves in a love relationship. However, we realise that although our achievements are important, nothing is more important than our relationships.

As we mature, we learn that bad things do happen to good people. That just is the way that life is. We find ways to cope with adversity, recover after setbacks, and keep things in perspective. We learn that none of us are made to suffer alone. Through our own suffering, we learn how to be understanding and supportive of others. We learn that it is not worth holding onto grudges or past hurts as this really only hurts ourselves.

Our relationships are where we really learn about ourselves. We discover what we find satisfying as well as what drives us crazy. We become more aware of our strengths, our vulnerabilities and the needs that are important to us. We learn how to love and be loved. We discover that although it takes two to make a relationship work, we can only ever control our part. If we try to control the other person, we only become more frustrated. We learn what works and doesn’t work in resolving differences. Sometimes, we have to unlearn some lessons we may have picked up along the way. We realise that there are no perfect relationships, but one of the best things we can do is to make ourselves better people, partners and parents.

We discover the joys and worries of children and grandchildren. We learn that the older children become, the more their choices are out of our control. But we are in a position to influence. We discover that they, too, learn through their experiences. We search for meaning in our living and find it through our relationships, our sense of purpose, by helping others, and through our spirituality.

Some people believe our challenging experiences are about learning life’s lessons or providing opportunity for others to learn through our experience. In any case, the learning is life-long. Just when we think we have learned something important, life tests us as to whether we have really learned it or presents us with the next lesson. What is life wanting you to learn at the moment?

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