If life is a classroom, what’s the one thing you would say you’ve learned so far?
Whenever I interview people for a job, I love to ask the question, “What do you know for sure, about life, right now?”
I don’t ask this question to challenge anyone or be cocky. I simply ask this question to see if the candidate being interviewed has the ability to internalise the world around them into any form of wisdom. This is important trait when it comes to building a happy, productive and mature team.
It’s also a great cheat sheet for me to learn something new and see things from a different perspective. 😉
“The path isn’t a straight line; it’s a spiral. You continuously come back to things you thought you understood and see deeper truths.” Barry H. Gillespie
It’s fun — different people say different things in different ways, and there is so much to learn, even if you think you may have already learned something about that before their own answer.
I find my own answer to this question often changing. It’s always about what I’ve learned, with where I am in that given moment. A reflection of my own evolution.
This year, a big theme for me has been centered around “non-judgement”.
I realised that most of us are unhappy because of bad thoughts and feelings. It’s either about how we think someone made us feel, or how we’re making ourselves feel. All are some form of judgement.
If you ask someone miserable if they’re happy in their relationships or jobs for example and why not, almost everyone will state the flaws of the other party and how it’s affecting their life and causing them grief. Some form of judgement on someone’s behaviour, which is affecting their happiness levels.
I catch myself doing this too — enough for me to question if bad thoughts make us feel bad, then why do we allow our minds to go there?
I was listening to an Abraham Hicks audio which really started all of us. I can’t remember which one, but there was a person that asked Abraham something along the lines of, “I’ve gotten really good at being in the vortex. I’m happy, I’m free, I’m enjoying life. But then, there are days where I don’t feel so good. Something will happen, and I’ll feel down about myself and wonder ‘Why does it have to be like this? Why can’t everyone else get this so we can all be happy together?’ Why do they have to ruin my vortex?”
And Abraham replied something along the lines of, “So what you’re saying is when you feel bad you start to think about what’s making you feel bad? Does that make you feel any better? Does it change the situation? Who’s really making you feel bad now — the other person or yourself? Why don’t you think about the thing that makes you feel good instead? And see how that makes you feel? See if that changes anything. Just follow the happy.”
There was more to it but the gist was that — if you’re feeling down, go toward the joy. Do the things that make you happy. Think of someone’s good traits instead of the bad. Think about the thing you like about them and not how you think they’re making you feel in that moment. Change the energy in the air.
And well, if there’s nothing you like about them at all, then don’t see them anymore. Go and vibrate toward people whose light you can see and enjoy being with them. (Of course if that person is an abuser in any shape or form — physical, substance, emotional, etc. — then just run!)
And how do you get to happy thoughts so you can go and do that things that make you happy?
You’d have to learn how to be okay about a lot of things. That person is annoying. That’s okay. That person left a dish in the sink again. That’s okay. That guy cut me off on the freeway. That’s okay. My husband didn’t sound as enthusiastic as I hoped when I called. That’s okay. My boss was grumpy today. That’s okay.
You just go forth with everything being okay, and you just focus on being the best person you can be.
But in order to be okay, you have got to let go of what you think about others, how they make you feel, and also, what you think about yourself and how you feel about that.
What do I know for sure this year?
Non-judgement of yourself and others can bring you peace.
Now, that’s not as easy as it looks. How many times do we catch ourselves thinking, “I wish someone did it like this, not like that…”, “Why do they think like that? That’s wrong…”, “That person did what? That’s terrible…” or even “You made me feel like this, you’re a horrible and mean person.”
We can’t help but have opinions over everything, and that includes what we think of ourselves and others.
But one thing that really struck me and hence led to me theme for the year, is that if you can really let go of what you think of yourself and others (good or bad, that’s still some sort of “judgement”), can you find some sort of peace.
When you don’t care about the pressure of an opinion, you feel so light and free. But internal and external judgment both have to be worked on at the same time, because they’re intertwined and they feed off each other.
When you feel nice about yourself, you’re nice to others. When you’re nice to others, you feel nice about yourself.
Now flip that around.
When others are not nice to you, you don’t feel nice about yourself. When you don’t feel nice about yourself, you’re not nice to others.
Gosh there is so much work to do to get to this point, though.
You have to start with self-love, then forgiveness, the you embrace all parts of yourself, good or bad, go into compassion and gratitude. Then you go external, and see how others affect your emotions, and then you have to try and learn to control the reactions to those emotions.
Then, finally, you have to learn to just let go.
When you let go, there is no work to do, then you feel light.
You just flow with where you need to go, and experience what you need to experience, cause everything is universal feedback.
It’s not about anyone else. It’s about you.
It’s always about you.
You just gotta figure out what that is about.
And the same goes for others. What they do towards you and others is about them — what they’re going through and what they need to learn.
It’s not about you. So let it go. Hurt people hurt people.
A wise friend said to me recently as we were discussing the above, “You’re the only one here, really. And everything around you just a manifestation of your own reality. What you want and what you need. I’m not here, it’s just you right now and I’m just universal feedback telling you what you need to hear. But what you really hear is up to you, and your reality then gets shaped to that. And the same goes for me. You’re not here. You’re just a manifestation of an experience that I need to have right now.”
I thought that was so big, and just the catalyst I needed to keep me going on my path of non-judgement.
How true — life is just a mirror. Everything we think and feel is just a reflection of something bigger. We just had to dive deep and get to the root of it, even if it hurts. But when we can be completely honest to ourselves about ourselves, everyone else’s weight on our own shoulders will seemingly fall off.
When two people are not getting along, it’s not about what one person did to the other and what they need to learn in that moment, it’s also about the receiver and what they need to learn in that moment.
How I feel about something in this moment, will be what drives and shapes my next moment.
One thing that was an “A-ha” when it came to finding a way to stop my train of thought anytime I had a bad thought about someone and allowing myself to have any sort of negative emotion, was that knowing that we can only identify something if it already exists in us.
Let me say that again: We can only identify something if it already exists in us.
I mean, think about it.
How do we know if someone is nice if we didn’t identify our own selves with us being “nice people” too?
When we say we think someone is smart, it’s because think we’re smart enough to recognize that someone is as smart as, or smarter, than us.
The same works the other way around.
Now most of us do not want to admit this. We don’t want to think that the thing we dislike about others exist in us too, but it does. That’s why we can see it.
Here’s a quick exercise: If I asked you to think of someone mean, does anyone come to mind? Okay, great. But have we not said something mean to someone at some point as well or had a mean thought about someone before?
We all have.
And that’s a fact.
Here’s another exercise: Think of someone annoying. Again, most of us could have someone come to mind.
Now think about this: So what if they’re annoying? Why does it bother us so much? Did someone tell us we were annoying before? Are all our own traits perfect? Do we think we have annoying traits?
Most likely again, that answer might be yes.
And now this: Notice how people that complain a lot also have a lot of bad qualities?
Now there’s a judgemental thought and opinion.
So it exists in us.
When you get that, then suddenly you also hold your thoughts before you think negatively about someone cause then suddenly you get that there are fingers pointing back at you too. So instead of harping/focussing on the thoughts (judgement) you’re having toward others, and ask yourself which part of that exists in you, and work on that instead.
Release that judgement, be okay with that, and focus on just being your best self at all times.
And if someone is making you feel bad, don’t keep asking yourself why do they do this to you. Be aware enough to eject yourself from a situation that doesn’t feel good, and try to understand what you need to learn in that moment. Is it peace? Is it patience? It’s it forgiveness? Is it tolerance? It’s it non-judgement?
We’re all the same.
And of course we are — because we’re all from the same Creator. I could go really deep here, but I’ll save that for another article and simply quote Rumi:
“You are not a drop of the ocean. You’re the entire ocean in a drop.”
If you take a drop of water out of the ocean, does it take away the fact that the drop came from the ocean and was the ocean before it became just a drop of it?
If we were all from the same place before we got here and now we’re here, are we all not just drops of that source in a new pool?
I love this video of Maya Angelou — titled, “I Am Human”.
She summarizes all the above just perfectly — that we’re all one and the same. And she takes it even deeper. She discusses what we identify as evil, and how that exists in all of us, for us to see it in the first place.
She says: “I pray for humility — to know that there’s something that’s greater than I. Then I have to know that the brute, the bigot and the batterer are all Children of God, whether they know it or not. And I’m supposed to treat them accordingly.
“I am a human being. Nothing human can be alien to me.
“If you can internalise at least a portion of that, you will never be able to say of a criminal act, ‘Oh, I couldn’t do that’. No matter how heinous a crime, if a human being did it, we have to say, ‘I have in me, all the components that are in her or in him, and I intend to use my energies constructively as opposed to destructively’. If you can do that about the negative, just imagine what you can do about the positive.
“If a human being dares to be bigger than the condition into which she or he was born, it means, so can you. And so you can try to stretch… stretch… stretch yourself.”
Watch the full 3-minute video below where she elaborates. It’s so beautiful and poetic, said in all Maya Angelou-ness.
If life were a classroom, what would you say you’ve learned? Share your thoughts below.
Like this article? Also check out Formula To “Fake” Your Way To Happiness.