What can I learn?

Every situation is an opportunity to learn, and difficult situations are usually the best. Remembering this fact improves our attitude in the face of adversity. Most of us are in the habit of viewing situations and events in terms of how they affect us. If we perceive that they are negative, focusing on how bad things are, then we are always discontent. However, if we ignore how we are personally affected and instead focus on what we can learn, then we cultivate a positive and proactive outlook. We begin to relish the challenges that life throws up, and develop an invincibility to hardship.

We need to be open-minded and creative in looking for ways in which a situation can teach us. There are countless ways to benefit, provided that we genuinely want to learn. Suppose that we have just been insulted. What can we learn from this? We could take the opportunity to practise being at peace – learning to soften that flare of anger or slump of sadness that usually follows an insult. We could also take the chance to feel compassion for the person who insulted us, trying to understand why they are upset and what insecurities they might be feeling that caused them to lash out. If the insult was in the form of criticism, then we could look for the grain of truth in whatever was said, and maybe even be grateful for the insight. There are many constructive ways to benefit from a so-called bad situation. The important thing is to forget our anger, sadness, and impatience, and to focus on improving ourselves rather than just resenting the situation.

A trick that may help with this is to make our goal becoming conscious rather than becoming happy. If our goal is to be happy, then any event that seems to thwart that is viewed as a setback. In contrast, if our goal is to be conscious then nothing can thwart us, because every situation in life provides an opportunity to be conscious, particularly the so-called bad ones. Furthermore, since becoming conscious will result in becoming happy anyway, this strategy really achieves both of the goals.

Hence, we should always try to learn from situations. Not only does this constructive attitude immediately cheer us up, it makes us better equipped to deal with difficult times in the future, and as a result, we become better, happier, more conscious people.

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