We all come into this life as a baby, with zero knowledge about how to live life.
Along the way, there is a ton to figure out.
- How do we make friends?
- How do we interact with our friends?
- How do we get the attention of the opposite sex?
- How do we manage fun and homework?
- How do we get better at school?
- How do we get better at our hobbies?
- What do we value? Why?
- What are our goals?
- How do we manage our demons?
- How do we learn to have confidence?
- Is there a meaning to life? How do we find purpose?
- How do we figure out what to study in university?
- How do you get a date? What do you look for in a date?
- Which of our friends are good friends? How do we become a good friend?
- How do we manage our career? How about work-life balance?
- How do we become a good leader? How do we become a good follower?
- Am I a good husband/wife? Am I a good father/mother?
- How do I let go when my children grow up?
- How do I manage the thought of death?
…this list goes on and on, but I think you get the point.
All of these questions matter. Arguably, this set of questions is the most important set of problems we have in life.
Yet, how do we go about figuring this stuff out? What systems do we have in place to help us figure out these problems?
Parents play a large role. I haven’t been one yet, but I have had parents and IMHO, the best a parent can do is be a good example. The problem is that everyone is flawed, some people more than others. We can be a good example in some respects, but are bad examples in other respects. Our children see these things, and naturally pick them up. If they are smart, they learn what they like and don’t like. If they are smarter, they learn how to manage the parts they don’t like… but this is a tough thing to figure out and do.
We have an entire education system in which many children spend a lot of time in. It teaches us literature, history, math, science, etc. It gives us a place to interact with teachers and peers. But besides that, what does it teach us about life? Nothing. There is an entire system and curriculum, from kindergarten through graduate school, that focuses on teaching knowledge, but not knowledge about managing life.
Those who go to church may be somewhat lucky. Church provides a community that is structured around concepts of life. Sunday sermons give people one time a week to come together and think about life. So do the other events, such as large groups, small groups, etc. The caveat is that church includes its own dogma, and teaches you a specific interpretation of a set of principles. Which ones do you agree with? And which ones do you not? Well, those questions don’t seem to be discussed much (at least from my experience of going to church for a year).
We have our friends to learn from. In the best case, friends will teach you through example, or provide support and food for thought through good discussion and feedback. In the worst case, friends will become bad influences on you or inhibit your growth.
We may have mentors. But times change, and circumstances change. Not all advice is good. In fact, a good set of questions to add to the list above are: how do we find mentors? How do we ask for advice? How do we filter and interpret their advice?
What else is there? My point is that there really isn’t much there.
In the end, the school of life is simply life itself.
Like a baby who continually trips and falls, we continue to make guesses and take missteps until we figure out each part of life.
The sooner we figure things out, the better. When we don’t figure things out, there may be a steep price: our grades, our careers, our friends, our confidence.
How does this sound to you all?
The most interesting thing about life is figuring out how to live life. There is so much out there in the world, yet not much of it solves our real problems.
This doesn’t seem anywhere near optimal to me.
How do we provide ourselves, our children, and future generations a better school of life?
P.S. This is post number #15 in a 100 day blogging challenge. See you tomorrow!
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The actual School of Life, and two awesome videos | Alex Shye