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8 Life Lessons For This Moment

8 Life Lessons For This Moment

Change is an interesting concept. When we view a change as good, we welcome it, even strive to achieve it – but when we view it as bad, we turn around, run away, and do our very best to resist it.

We live in a world that bombards us with change: ‘Change this so you can do this’ or ‘Change this so this will not happen.’ ‘Change this to be happy’ or ‘Change this so you will not be sad.’ It is hard.

These mini life lessons are not major changes to make, they are simple things to be aware of for those of us seeking more connection to right NOW.

1. Give more hugs

This should be an easy one right? But then why isn’t it? We all know that moment. We run into an old friend, but then we wonder how good of friends we really were, but we only have five seconds to decide if we should hug them. It can be awkward.

Well let’s take the awkward out of it. Just be the person who goes in for the hug. We can hug the people we see everyday (okay, maybe not our bosses) and hug the people we haven’t seen in years. Be the hugger.

Take time to hug yourself. Literally. Wrap your arms around yourself and show yourself some love.

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Human beings need five hugs a day- at least! So go out and get started!

2. Don’t label, just love

This is a hard one. Go ahead and reflect on the last time a label has really served anyone, including ourselves. Labels put people in boxes. Nobody wants to live in a box, but, unfortunately, we label others and ourselves all the time.

As a yoga teacher, I find myself often thinking “okay, what would a ‘yogi’ or a ‘spiritual person’ do in this situation?” I am trapping myself inside a box of labels. I ask myself how I should handle the situation based on the label I have given myself rather than my truest self which is rooted in love.

The question to ask is: “What would love do?”

The truth is we are all a lot of things that we think we can describe with words, but we are all also a lot of things that words cannot do justice. Lets promise ourselves to be aware of how we use our words and the boxes we put ourselves and others into with our labels.

3. Surrender

Sometimes I feel sad and I don’t know why. Then I feel sad, because I feel sad. Then I feel anxious because I do not know what I will stop feeling sad. So in the process of all this I have created multiple emotions for myself to deal with rather than just one.

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Here is the promise: promise our hearts that when they feel joy- we will welcome it, but when they feel sorrow- we will also welcome that too. The battle between what our mind wants and what our heart feels is a tough one, but it is also a very important one.

Let’s surrender to our hearts. Give ourselves permission to feel what we do not want to feel. Sometimes we have to sink down a little, in order to rise up even higher. There is suffering in life, and that is okay.

4. Enjoy the space in between

Life is not about waiting for the next relationship after a break up, or a new job after the last one did not work out. Just like yoga is not simply about the postures, but more importantly the space in between the postures.

Rather than waiting for something in the future, enjoy where we are right now.

5. Listen to our bodies

Our bodies are always talking to us, we just have to learn how to listen.

My junior year of college I began to suffer from anxiety. I would wake up Sunday morning, after three nights of binge drinking, and feel like I could not breath. Getting out of bed was not an option, but staying in bed I would spiral down into a hole of self pity. I felt trapped.

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The way I was living my life was clearly unsustainable. My body was begging me to please stop pouring poison into it. It took me about three years to learn to listen.

As I have listened I have become in tune to other things. How does my body feel after spending time with certain people- drained or renewed?

I have not become an expert listener, but the more I listen, the more I find I am happy with the choices I make.

Listening to our bodies does not mean we have to make sacrifices. It just means we are becoming more in tune to our needs and our truest self.

Our bodies are always ease dropping on our minds, and therefore they hold a lot more answers than we may expect.

6. Be our best selves

This one seems pretty simple; try your hardest, be kind, be authentic.

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Not so fast- this one comes with a bit of a challenge: being our best selves means accepting that our best selves may look different everyday.

Sometimes my best self wants to eat a salad for dinner, and other times I really just want a couple slices of pizza. Sometimes my best self makes it to 6 am yoga class, and sometimes I hit the snooze button for half an hour instead. As human beings we show up differently everyday- and that is beautiful.

We make decisions we are proud of and we make decisions that make us want to hide in a corner. Ask yourself- did I do my best? That is really all that matters.

7. Put yourself in time out

As children, being sent to sit in a quiet room for five minutes alone was a punishment.

Now, to many adults, it probably sounds like heaven.

So next time we need a little break (and if we are listening to our bodies, they will tell us)- just put yourself in time out. Go sit in your car for five minutes (No phone!), and breathe. Go hide in the bathroom for five minutes- do what you have to do! Take a time out.

8. Trust

Trust is the magic. Trust is what allows us to enjoy the space in between. Trust is all about the little things in life. Trust.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard.

The Keys to Learning Anything Easily

Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

Curiosity

Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

Patience

Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

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Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

A Feeling for Connectedness

This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

How to Self-Taught Effectively

With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

1. Research

Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

Learning the Basics

Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

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Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

Hitting the Books

Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

Long-Term Reference

While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

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2. Practice

Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

Check out this guide for useful techniques to help you practice efficiently: The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice

3. Network

One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

Here find out How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life.

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4. Schedule

For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

Final Thoughts

In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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