One way to live our best is to be lifelong learners, which will look different for each of us. Some individuals love to read, some love to listen to talk radio, some love to watch and observe people. There are so many ways to grow and learn in our lives, but there is one way that we all try to avoid; learning the hard way.
This past week I started my new job. The first few weeks of any new job is riddled with awkwardness, confusion, and yes, a lot of mistakes. Thursday was a particularly mistake filled day for me. Not only did I miss a few important things, I down right forgot a very important task that I am responsible for on a daily basis. I was sitting at dinner that night listening to John as he shared his day with me and suddenly it hit me out of the blue, I had completely forgotten to do this important task. I knew that it was going to cause inconvenience with my co-workers in the morning, but there was nothing I could do about it until I got to work the next day. I tried not to beat myself up about it, after all I am always writing about how mistakes are not failures if we learn something from them. It was much harder putting the concept into practice, but I kept reminding myself that this was a learning process and it was ok. I probably told myself that one hundred times that night.
I, like you, would much prefer a different means of learning. We really dislike the pain and discomfort of learning the hard way.
I recently read a blog post from one of my favorite bloggers, Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist. He cited an article from The Washington Post called “Americans Use Far More Opioids Than Anyone Else in the World.” I know, what does that have to do with learning the hard way? He shared the very interesting insight that I think is very important for all of us to learn from.
One significant reason, the author Keith Humphreys, identifies for America’s addiction to pain-relieving medication is
“relative to Europeans, Americans have more faith that life is perfectible (e.g., all pain can be avoided).”
He goes on to say that we think we can avoid pain in our jobs which
“may send us jumping from one career to another constantly looking for that one job with no bad days.”
We want to avoid pain in relationships
“causing us to give up too quickly on other people.”
We want to avoid pain in our homes. We don’t want the pain involved in sore muscles after exercising. We want to avoid the discomfort of having to stop eating certain food to get our blood sugar under control. Like me, we want to avoid the pain of making any mistakes even though it is going to make me more knowledgeable and stronger in the long run.
I still do not like pain and I do not like to make mistakes, but through this process I am trying to retrain my mind to remember that some pain and discomfort is a part of life and is a part of living our best.
I encourage you today to identify the areas that you want to learn, grow and move forward. Then ask yourself “am I holding myself back in this area because I am trying to avoid pain or discomfort?” Remember the Hokey Pokey, it is fine to have one foot in our comfort zone, but let’s not neglect that foot outside of our comfort zone. Both play an important part in the process of moving forward!
Here’s to learning, growing, and moving forward even when it is uncomfortable.