An education is an esteemed commodity in our society. Rightfully so, school will teach you the history of humankind, make you a master of your field, and qualify you for work in the real world. Without a proper education, one often finds their success impeded and opportunities lacking.
But the education that school can offer fails in comparison with the knowledge that lifeforces upon us. Purposefully, life ushers us into battles that nearly destroy us… merely to fortify our strength. It knocks us down more times than we can count, if only to demonstrate our resilience to stand back up. It bends us to our breaking point to foster inner endurance and flexibility. My father used to say, “The star that fights the most shines the most.” Reminiscent of his words is the ageless truth that we must face our challenges to shine with the bold light of our authentic being. We will struggle, yes, but it is through our struggles that we will radiate ever more brilliantly.
Indeed, we will meet inevitable roadblocks as we stride along our journey. Like the multiple subjects taught in a classroom, life will instill in us seven central keys of knowledge. To pass these seven tests is to evolve from one phase of being to the next, to be promoted to a higher proverbial grade. Reflect on my seven lessons and understand how they uniquely apply to your life to conquer your challenges:
1. The lesson of give and take.
Nothing is taken from you without compensation. This means that your losses will always be atoned in one form or another. Appreciation follows loss. After all, we don’t know what we have until it’s gone, right? But also subsequent to loss is gain through different means. All you have to do is search for the window that is open once a door has closed.
2. The lesson of time and patience.
Time can be our best friend or our biggest enemy. In periods of pain, time seems to trickle by. But when we are content, hours fly by like seconds. Timing is everything, and everything in time. The interconnectedness of time and patience becomes evident when we are suffering: we want something to happen right now. Yet time drives us to develop patience, a virtue that can shift our mindset and truly bring time on our side.
3. The lesson of pain and fear.
These two emotions do not exempt anyone from their harsh lesson. They also don’t play favorites. It may be under different guises and at different intervals, but we all experience fear and pain. Pain is not to be avoided. We must work with our pain — study it, comprehend it and embrace it. Yet fear is to be avoided by all means. What we fear we draw to life, and in this way we unknowingly choose to manifest our fears instead of our possibilities. Do not be afraid to experience pain. Embrace its purpose and meaning as necessary to cultivating self-awareness. But do abandon the accompanying fear with no remorse.
4. The lesson of life purpose.
We all have a life purpose but many of us either haven’t discovered it or haven’t enacted our true calling. When we act on our talents, inherent abilities and natural likings, we notice that success comes more easily. In this way we also attach love to what we do. Then, we no longer regard work as a job but as a calling. This lesson reminds us that we have a real reason to be here that must satisfy both our life purpose and provide financial security. Integrate your vocation into what you do, whether it’s as a full-time or part-time job, volunteer work or even as a hobby you practice each day.
5. The lesson of relationships.
Relationships are our link to the outside world. More complexly, they are a reflection of our innermost issues, desires and shortcomings. In a most ironic way, relationships both play on and supplement what we lack. Your partner is meant to be the missing piece to you, but he or she will also force you to work on the pieces missing inside. By meeting the challenge of relationships, we can enjoy healthy, loving connections with those around us and, most importantly, with ourselves. We can transform ourselves by resolving the personal problems we see playing out in our relationships. Begin by acknowledging the recurring issues you experience with others, then work within.
6. The lesson of stability and change.
Stability and change must fluctuate in a fair balance. We cannot constantly endure periods of change yet stability emerges from these unpleasant shifts. Never an easy task, we are nudged out of our comfort zone by unexpected change. The key to coping with change is understanding that your comfort zone is not a set of outside circumstances but a golden place within you. Know also that change in itself is transitory, temporary, and only leads to new solid ground.
7. The lesson of progress.
The sum of all lessons, the lesson of progress teaches us that — simply put — life goes on. We may emerge hurt from our trials, but our scars act as tough, resistant guards against future damage. Progress is made when we learn from prior mistakes and exercise new actions that yield different results. If we act differently than we have in the past, genuine progress can be made. And the direction in which we progress is based solely on our decisions.
Far superior to a formal education, life is our greatest teacher, sending us down winding paths to help us gain a profound awareness of our potential. We may be tested, but by recognizing the truth of our tests and applying necessary wisdom, we can triumph over every one of life’s challenges.
By: Dr. Carmen Harra