I recently came back from a trip from India. On my adventure, I was astounded by the sense of spirituality and calm I found. While I have seen areas of great poverty in our country, I was struck by the simplicity of life that seemed directly opposed to the great materialism of the United States. Children played, women were together doing chores, and men bonded in the center of small villages. There is so much history and beauty. The depth of it all was overwhelming as I realized how in the United States we equate happiness with materialism. In our culture, we tend to look outside of ourselves rather than within. Now home I attempt to hold tight to the simple but profound life lessons learned.
Life Lesson #1 – Resist the cultural trend of fear. We are told to be scared of a terrorist attack, hurricanes, avian bird flu pandemic, drought, calories in restaurant food, pedophiles on every street corner, and melting ice caps. Sometimes it feels like we are living on the brink of destruction. On a deeper level I know life will continue to challenge us in all the ways that we are meant to be challenged, no more or less than any generation. As Franklin D Roosevelt once said, “There is nothing to fear but fear itself.”
Life Lesson #2 – There is a broader purpose to life than achievements. As we get caught up in all of our daily tasks, we forget that we are on this earth for purposes other than to earn a certain amount of money, or winning recognition. Our purposes lie in how we accomplish what we do, finding lessons from adversity, and how we interact in our world as people. It’s important that we lift our heads from watching every step we take, and look at bigger meaning that surrounds us.
Life Lesson #3 – Slow down and take care of ourselves. We can never connect with our purpose, or learn life lessons if we don’t slow down. Getting lost in tasks, errands and media distractions is an easy way to lose ourselves. We all need to find time every day to just be. We need to make it a priority to have a half hour daily to turn away from distractions and sit with a cup of coffee, take a quiet walk, or sit in the bathtub. To hear the important things in life, we must find silence.
Life Lesson #4 – Life is elastic and forgivable. When faced with life’s greatest challenges, it’s hard not to fear our life isn’t on it’s way to ruin. Yet we all know people who herocially survive, then thrive, through adversity and illness. If we face these times with courage then we grow stronger and wiser. Life is not a china plate, but rather silly puddy. We can’t break life, and it can only break us if we allow it.
Life Lesson #5 – There is a lesson in everything that happens to us. Even that nasty coworker who gets on our very last nerve has something to show us about ourselves. The only failure in life is passing by an opportunity to grow from a challenging situation. While it can sometimes take years to figure out why something happened in our life, the insight is always there if we are looking for it.
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