How to Find Your Life Lesson?
By wanting to, to begin with.
The points written below come from my own experience, and the experience of people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and understanding. If you’ve been wanting to find your life lesson, and haven’t known where to start, these will help.
Lead an extraordinary life
And by extraordinary I mean a life which compels you to do what you are drawn to, despite the fear that stops you. What this does is, it pushes you a little (or a lot) out of your comfort zone, out of routine, out of what you know like the back of your hand, out of a mechanical state of doing what you do every day.
Travel, join a hobby class you’ve always wanted to, make time for adventure sports, make time for poetry, read books and novels and magazines you’ve never read before, be intentionally cheerful at work, watch live indie bands play, take care of your friends even though it is hard work, spend half a day at a beach, teach at a school for a few months, try meditation, try a new beer, learn a new skill, go for a play, stop thinking all this is cliché talk, and stop thinking this stuff does not lead to anything. Because it does. Sometimes, it leads to some of the best life lessons, simply, by making you see yourself the way you may not have seen before.
More often than not, we discover a life lesson from one area of our life, only to realize that it can be applied to others too. But if you keep living the same routine life, you’ll miss out on exploring so much of what is out there. And in turn, (and more importantly), you’ll miss out on exploring so much of what is within. Who knows where a life lesson is hidden? But I can tell you that some of the more life changing ones, are hidden in doing something extraordinary, something brave, something considerate.
Get your heart broken
In other words: love. The two are the same thing.
C.S. Lewis put it perfectly when he said, “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken.” I’d replace ‘possibly’ with ‘definitely’, in that quote. Your heart will definitely be broken. Sometimes, hurtfully so. Deeply, deeply hurt. The kind of hurt which will leave you grappling, and defeated, and weak, and not interested in anything, and lost, and silent. But that hurt heals, and that healing teaches you so much about yourself, that those lessons sometimes become the lessons that define your life.
At other times though, your heart will not break, but break open from all the love you give and receive. There will be no hurt. Just a sweet, sweet ache. The kind you feel when you miss your best friend on your birthday, the kind you feel when you miss the babies you taught for five months on a school up a mountain top, the kind you feel when you go back to the city you grew up in, after 5 whole years, the kind you feel when someone gives you a long long hug, the kind you feel when his arm casually rests on yours, the kind you feel when she kisses you mid-afternoon.
To love is to be vulnerable. It will break your heart. But that breaking and healing will be so beautiful, it’ll turn into a life lesson for keeps. Don’t be afraid to love, and be loved.
Sit with yourself, and feel whatever you are feeling. Introspecting, in some ways, is the opposite of escaping. Some days, reflect upon some of your most significant experiences, big and small, and try to infer what they taught you. Listen to yourself. Give your inner being undivided attention, whether that takes five minutes of your every day, a 3-hour plane ride looking outside the window, 10 days at a meditation centre, or a solo travel journey.
Some lessons will come to you (hit you rather) when you least expect them, like during a Monday morning meeting. But for most of the rest, you’ll have to spend time introspecting, yourself and how you feel towards things, and why you feel that way. You’ll have to break it all down and reach the very core of things, because that is where the answers lie. There are patters in our lives which, if we notice, can teach us, change us, surprise us, move us, and even be the precious life lessons we discover.
With all the external stimuli around us to make us think, act and react, introspection is what turns it inward. Introspection is an unlearning of the external, and learning of the internal.
Introspection leads to unearthing, within. And what you find is often a life lesson.
Be ready to have more than one life lesson
I found one of my life lessons in 2013, and then I found another in 2015. Quite a lot happened in the span of those two years. I lived, what I would call, an extraordinary life. I tried things I was drawn to, despite the fear that stopped me. I met people who have become significant parts of my life and memories. I travelled, I taught, I learnt new skills, I tried new beers, I tried meditation, and through all that, I grew.
And through all that, I introspected. I reflected back.
There were patterns, and one of them so strong and recurring and significant to my understanding of me, I absolutely had to announce it as my new life lesson.
If it feels important, and feels like a self-discovery that lifts a weight off you, then by all means declare it to be a life lesson. And declare such life lessons whenever they come to you. You are allowed to have a new one every two months, or two years, or 10 years. You’re allowed to have a new one tomorrow. Because we don’t know how and when life will change, and it always does – for better or worse. And when it does, it leaves you with learnings and lessons.
Life is long, and you’ll have many, many life lessons. And you should. Often, it becomes the legacy you leave behind. So don’t stop at one.
If there are other ways and means, which have helped you discover your life lesson(s), please do share with us in the comments below. We’d love to know.