The fourth and final part of a series of mini-articles under the umbrella of ‘Life Lessons’ in October’s Psychology Today focuses on the idea of being open to life experiences.
Therefore, let us benefit (even if vicariously) from the comments of the contributing authors:
- See beyond the verbal As in the author’s case with attempting to cope while not being familiar with constituent language – be it everyday speech or idiomatic lingo used in sports, business, etc. – learn to adapt through understanding body language; nonverbal communication cuts through what is often linguistic confusion; indeed, not only can a keen awareness of one’s relationship with others be strengthened by keying in to body language, it may assist one in other facets of life, such as careers where people watching skills are important
- Be a student of doing While formal education helps our minds to develop and broaden, actual experience is often the best teacher; lessons can be truly inculcated when based on personal trial and error; this approach can be coupled with deep meaning, as in learning how to bond with family members over time based on actual contact, which in turn may help provide solid footing in dealing with multigenerational perspective or other human relations
- Go past one’s comfort zone Expectation that encounters or experiences will, or should, always come with warning signs is not a reasonable or valuable way to approach life; feeling uncomfortable about impending risks or challenges helps us learn and uncover further opportunities; in fact, according to research, “immediate exposure to a feared experience is the best treatment”; our life’s path is replete with disappointment and degrees of failure – for instance, even a successful writer encounters rejection – and facing such discomfort helps us learn, better preparing us for opportunity to be in the right place at the right time
- Hang rungs which can be reached Many of us are familiar from business training with goal setting based on the acronym of SMART (i.e. Specific / Measurable / Achievable / Realistic / Time-bound); this also can represent an attitude we take into various facets of life: setting career achievement milestones, altering behavioural responses to worrisome physical expectations (such as pre-sleep actions to induce fuller rest), or overcoming social anxiety by expressing or controlling emotions, becoming a better listener, etc.; in short, identify small steps or rungs in the ladder to strive toward the top