“Lessons are earned, not learned,” (G Shetuni). Let us examine this quote a little bit. I think it is true, that lessons are earned through painful experience. For example when you are a kid, your parents may teach you: “Don’t go near the fire because it is hot.” But you probably won’t listen! And so you wind up going next to the fireplace and stick your hand above it, and you learn for yourself that fire is hot and potentially dangerous. But you earned that knowledge, by almost burning yourself; you didn’t learn it from what mom or dad may have told you.
Another example, let’s say the speed limit reads “35” and you do “55”, and a cop pulls you over and hands you a speeding ticket. The lesson here is: “Don’t speed!” But didn’t your parents, and your friends tell you not to speed before you got that ticket? Of course! It’s common knowledge. But earned knowledge is far more powerful than learned knowledge. Learned knowledge is easily stepped over, earned knowledge stays with you, and makes you wiser and stronger.
Another example, let’s say you believe “the grass is greener on the other side.” For example, let’s say you live in a small town, but believe the grass is greener in New York. So you just have to go there! But then, after living in the big apple a few months, you realize your hometown ain’t so bad, and that life in the big city ain’t all you thought it was. And so you learned that the grass is not greener on the other side. But did you really learn this lesson? No, you didn’t learn it! You earned it! By going to New York and painstakingly seeing for yourself. Lessons are earned not learned.
What makes for a good life? Well, I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that a well rounded life is better than a life “out of balance.” For example, all work and no play is bad. Likewise all play and no work is not the ideal life. So, as I see it, when it comes to living well, it is better to put each of your eggs in different baskets rather than all of your eggs in one basket. Some of each thing is better than all of just one thing. Here is a list I came up of things that I value and I believe should go into making a good life.
You need some fun and excitement in your life.
You need some love in your life.
You need some friendship in your life.
You need some stability and routine in your life.
You need some rest in your life.
You need some work in your life.
You need some hobbies and entertainment in your life.
You need some challenge and growth in your life.
Did I forget anything? I am sure this is not a comprehensive list of the features of a good, well rounded life. But it is a start. I encourage you to come up with some things that are important to you that you want to incorporate in your life. Share them in the comments.
Don’t turn into a cynic.
Daily life is happiness to me.
You can’t enjoy pleasure because it’s always accompanied by pressure.
Don’t allow yourself to be idle.
Stand for something.
Embrace your nature. (Gretchen Rubin)
No guts no glory (folk)
Try really hard.
If you can take the blame people will give you the responsibility. (Gretchen Rubin)
“Happiness is an imagination. Boredom is a reality.” (G Shetuni.) Let us examine this saying a little bit. For example, right now, here where I live, in Columbus, OH: here is the current reality, it is an ugly, cloudy, dreary, cold winter’s day. So that’s what can be literally seen if you look out the window. There is no show out there. It’s a rather dull reality! Reality is dull … isn’t it? But if you are happy you “imagine” a more pleasing reality … one that does not literally exist. Because, as we said, there is no show outside your window. But there may be a show in your eyes; the show that you are imagining when you look at the same dull scene. And this imagination is being produced by happiness. Happiness is when the mind is being creative and is able to see things that aren’t there.
For example, here are two scenarios of the same reality.
The depressed reality: Oh, it’s dinner time. The table is black. The food tastes bad. How can you be happy doing this?
The happy reality: Oh, it’s dinner time, I remember that one time having dinner with so and so … oh my God, that was so funny! (and your eyes see something that the depressed/unhappy person cannot catch because it does not literally exist. Happiness is an imagination.)
“Don’t measure success by how by rich and famous you are. Measure it by how well you are resisting the temptation to seek fame and fortune.” I think creative people, looking to “break into the business” of their dreams, i.e. music, acting, or performing arts in general get caught up in popularity. It is natural to do so. Heck, I do it myself! As an author, it is easy for me to want to be on the NY Times Best Seller List. But there is a downside to this outlook. For how many people can be truly famous? Not very many!
At the same time, its a misconception to believe that fame brings happiness. If you want happiness then do what you love. And you don’t have to do it at “the highest level”. For example, if you love to paint, then start painting already! Remember, you don’t need to be the best to be able to practice your art. For example, in the fall, I wanted to do stand up comedy. And I did it! I went to a late night bar and I told jokes in front of an audience. Did I become rich and famous? No. Did I have to be rich and famous to do that? No. Remember you do not need money and fame to practice your hobby, passion. Do it even if it won’t bring you any recognition. Do it for your own pleasure.
Often times we say “I want to change my life.” And that is a good idea; there is nothing wrong with making small improvements to your life. The problem is when we want to reject the life we have, and start a new one. Starting a new life is very hard to do, or in fact, perhaps not possible at all. Thus, whenever you feel depressed about your life, I think it’s better to say: “I don’t want to change my life. I want to like the life I have!” That is the right attitude.