One of the habits that has served me well throughout my life is keeping the mind-set of a student. I’ve always had an insatiable curiosity about a wide variety of topics, and I’m usually reading several books during the same time period. I’ve read about some really fascinating things, like quantum physics, and some really cheesy things, like romance novels. Truth be told, I’ve enjoyed them all!
It occurred to me the other day that it doesn’t matter what I’m learning about, as long as I’m consistently learning. I’m like a sponge that gets dry and shriveled if I don’t absorb something on a regular basis. My life then becomes boring and stagnant, and I feel sluggish and uninspired.
If this describes your life right now, you can turn it around pretty easily. Adopt the attitude of a student, and watch how it infuses you with joy, excitement, and motivation.
Being a student of life isn’t just about reading books and learning as much as you can on various subjects. That can certainly be part of it, but it’s more about the way you see the world around you and the way you handle your daily experiences.
Here are five tips to help you become a student of life:
1) Develop Awareness. – Most of us spend our days rushing blindly from one activity to another without ever noticing our surroundings. If we can instead slow down a little bit and just look around us, we’d SEE so much more in life. Take time to notice that beautiful sunset on the drive home. Step outside during the day and feel the sunshine on your face, and indulge in some deep, cleansing breaths. Become aware of your own spiritual self, and your connection to all living things. Give yourself the gift of just being, noticing, and breathing.
2) Keep an Open Mind. – Rather than assuming you know all about something already, approach each situation with an attitude of curiosity. Question everything. Explore new ideas, thoughts, and subjects you’ve always wanted to learn about. This goes for the people around you too. Don’t assume you know what they’re all about based on their appearance or some preconceived notion. Ask questions, get to know them better. Be willing to release any judgments you may have, and instead seek truth.
3) Keep an Open Heart. – Express deep gratitude for your life, and all of the experiences you have – even the not so pleasant ones. Be willing to be vulnerable in your connections with others, and allow yourself to feel. Too often we are afraid of our emotions and try to numb them or run away from them. Instead, let your emotions be your teachers. Listen to them, and honor them. They will teach you a lot about yourself.
4) Look for the Lesson. – In every experience, ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?” Sometimes the lesson is obvious, and sometimes you’ll have to search for it. With every lesson, allow it to become a part of you and make you a better, stronger, happier person. Though we all make mistakes and stumble, the goal is to make new mistakes, rather than repeating the same ones over and over again. As long as we are making progress, we’re doing great! Use your own awareness to overcome challenges and keep moving forward.
5) Enjoy the Journey. – Most of us take life so seriously! Yes, it does have its serious moments. But overall this is supposed to be a pleasant experience, and we can make it that way by simply choosing to. Don’t worry so much about whether you’re making as much progress as you should, and don’t get frustrated when things don’t always work out as planned. Instead take a lighter attitude and understand that it’s all just a journey and the point is to relax and enjoy.
Imagine that you’re a beautiful white sponge, and you come across these brilliant pools of colored liquid. There’s a red pool of passion, a pink pool of love, a yellow pool of knowledge, a green pool of gratitude, and a purple pool of fun. Go ahead and dip your sponge toe into each of these pools, and your color will begin to change. Rather than being a plain white sponge, you are now a beautiful, multi-colored sponge, filled with passion, love, knowledge, gratitude, and fun.
Unfortunately, there are also a few pools of black, brackish stuff like negative self-talk, fear, regrets, etc. If you accidentally absorb some of this and it begins to taint your colors, don’t worry about it too much. Just focus on revisiting the pretty, colorful pools and absorbing more good stuff. It will dilute the negative stuff, and eventually get rid of it all together. 🙂