Life is an endless stream of data and information. When you break down your daily experiences, everything you learn from what happened serves as information you can use in the future. Often, buried in the information we glean from these experiences are life lessons.
When something happens to you, either good or bad, are you really paying attention to the lessons found in the information from what happened? If not, you may need to start looking closer and analyzing more carefully to take the important lessons away from your daily life.
There are some “universal” life lessons that apply to virtually everyone–by paying attention to the details, you can learn these lessons earlier and quicker, saving yourself from excessive trouble.
Why are life lessons important to learn?
Life lessons serve as important reminders for your future self. Once you take away the information from something you’ve experienced and take time to reflect on it, process it, and determine the important takeaways, you can use that knowledge to protect and prepare yourself in the future.
Life lessons are also related to the negativity bias. Humans have an innate mental function called a negativity bias–this means that human beings remember negative or bad events very well. The information they recall from the negative event is so well-remembered because their minds want them to remember it so they can avoid a similar situation in the future.
For example, as a small child, you may have ignored your parents’ warnings to not touch the hot stove. After touching it and burning your hand, that painful memory stuck with you. Years later, your negativity bias reminds you why touching hot items is a bad idea, causing you to avoid touching the stove (or anything else too hot) directly ever again.
However, life lessons aren’t just for keeping us physically safe–they can keep us safe and well informed in lots of different ways! If you aren’t paying attention to them, you could be missing out on opportunities or leading a life that could be improved with some simple changes.
How can I begin to take note of life’s lessons?
Missing an opportunity to learn a life lesson has one positive side: If you don’t learn the lesson, you’ll likely make the same mistake again. Making the same mistake twice (or even thrice) isn’t ideal, but it gives you another opportunity to analyze the situation and determine what needs to be changed for the future.
One of the best ways to identify a lesson life is trying to teach you is to watch out for any patterns that keep happening in your life.
These patterns could be linked to a variety of things, including:
- ….and many more!
For example, consider the finances option. Let’s pretend that you continue coming up short for rent money at the beginning of each month. This has happened nearly every month since you moved into your new apartment. Because this keeps happening so regularly, it constitutes a pattern.
Now that you’ve established the existence of a pattern, consider why that pattern keeps repeating. Often, these patterns cycle through a similar chain of events. For example:
- You realize you’re going to be short around $100 for rent
- You look back in your bank records
- You notice that you’re spending more money on payday for fun extras like going out with friends or new clothes
….and just like that, you’ve identified your problem! At this point, you can determine which behaviors need to change to fix the problem. Often, these behavior changes highlight an important life lesson you can carry forward. In this case, that life lesson could be interpreted as “take care of responsibilities and obligations before having fun with money.”