The desire to learn also ensures that you as a species will not simply survive, but also evolve, which makes life much more interesting. Learning is rewarding in that way as well and another reason it is fun. Learning makes life interesting because the resulting evolution and change is interesting. When people feel bored with life, it is often because they are not learning and evolving. That feeling of boredom is meant to point one back to learning.
A society that doesn’t encourage learning or has few opportunities for it is a stagnant and unhappy one, while societies that have the freedom to learn and explore ideas naturally thrive. The greater the intellectual freedom, the greater the progress and happiness of the people. When religions discourage free thinking, intellectual thought, and exploration of a variety of ideas, they do a great disservice to their followers.
If you have a negative association with learning or school, it is not because you don’t love to learn, but probably because of your experience with traditional schools and learning. Just notice, please, how much you love to learn, because this joy in learning is innate and also the silver lining in life’s lessons, which are often painful and difficult.
When you hear the word “lesson,” you might cringe, since lessons are often hard. But they are also interesting, and something in you also loves the challenge. Every time you are learning one of life’s lessons, you are also enjoying learning it, whether you are aware of that or not. This enjoyment may be less obvious than the sense of difficulty, but it is there nonetheless.
Your true self is curious and interested in discovering what an experience is like and what can be learned from it. If you can tune in to that curiosity and love of discovery, focus on that, and accept that the rewards will come after the lesson, your lessons will be much easier. As in school, where you have to finish your schoolwork before you can go out to play, in the school of life, you have to learn your lesson before you can reap its benefits.
When things are difficult in the school of life, they are always followed by rewards, as long as the lesson has been learned. Life is fair that way. Although life may not always seem fair, it rewards behavior that is aligned with the Truth and withholds rewards from behavior that is not.
This may not be obvious, because human beings don’t always get what they want, nor is their positive behavior always rewarded by others or their negative behavior discouraged by others. Often the opposite occurs: Bad behavior is reinforced and good behavior goes unnoticed. However, that isn’t life doing that but people through their own free will. This, too, is one of life’s lessons: to reinforce behaviors you wish to continue and not reinforce behaviors you do not wish to continue.
It is unfair to blame life for being unfair when it is people who are. Life is very fair, very wise, in how it shapes your behavior and teaches you. It is a very wise and compassionate teacher. Life is designed to point you to the Truth, and when you wander, it points you back to the Truth again and again if necessary.
Life is very patient and very consistent in its pointing: When you feel love, joy, and peace, you are being rewarded. When you feel the opposite, you are being encouraged to see things differently or choose differently. Even then, life allows you to choose whatever you like and experience the consequences of that. Life gives you the freedom to make good choices or not such good ones, to learn or not learn, to be happy or not.
Life does not use punishment to tell you that you are mistaken. Punishment is something human beings invented. Instead, life uses unpleasant feelings, which are (kindly) fleeting and not fatal, only uncomfortable. Negative feelings don’t harm you, but they do send a message: “Something in your thinking is mistaken. Think again.”
The things people might consider to be a punishment from God, such as floods, droughts, fires, earthquakes, and tidal waves, are natural occurrences and not personal. They are not a sign that you or humanity has done something wrong. God is not so indelicate. God does not behave as an angry, vengeful human might.
God is loving and nudges you gently through an inner guidance system, which includes intuitions, emotions, and more subtle feelings, such as love, joy, peace, inspiration, and excitement. You are perfectly designed to know what the Designer is trying to teach you: When you feel happy and at peace, you are getting it. When you feel the opposite, you aren’t quite getting it.
Life also teaches through consequences: If you hammer your finger instead of a nail, that will hurt. Or if you treat others badly, they are likely to treat you badly, not that this is a good choice on their part. The problem is not that life is not a good teacher, but that people are not always the best teachers, and some teach the opposite of what life is trying to teach: Some parents teach their children they can’t trust themselves, some religions teach their followers that killing nonbelievers is okay, and some schools teach children lies or fail to teach them what will help them become happy. People are flawed and learning. But life is not flawed. It is perfectly designed to teach you to love.
Knowing that life is a school will help you get through challenging times. It is important that you know this so that you don’t fall into the ego’s trap of “This shouldn’t be happening!” How much better you can feel inside if you believe that, in fact, whatever is happening should be happening. Difficulties are your teacher. Whatever is happening should be happening. That is the truth.
Notice the difference in your internal experience of these two beliefs: “This shouldn’t be happening” and “This should be happening.” How you feel inside is your Truth meter: If you feel relaxed and at peace, you are in the presence of the Truth. If you feel disturbed, confused, or upset, you are involved with the ego.
The problem with thinking something shouldn’t be happening is that this perspective and the feelings aroused by it make it especially hard to:
Access your inner strengths and wisdom,
Recognize the positives in the situation,
Recognize available resources,
Think straight and be rational,
Enlist the help of others, and
Learn from the challenge.
The ego’s perspective, “This shouldn’t be happening,” lends itself to self-pity, bitterness, anger, and a sense of victimization, which are extremely unpleasant and unfruitful states. If you feel this way, how can you possibly find the strength and wisdom to navigate your difficulty? Why make your life harder than it needs to be by clinging to a negative perspective?
Choose beliefs—even if at first you don’t believe them—that help you cope and function. Override the irrational voice in your head, which tells you lies and keeps you bound by negativity and discontentment. Say no to negative thoughts, and you will discover another way of being. Moment to moment, life will show you the way to move. Life is your teacher and it is your guide. Be humble enough to let it teach and guide you.
A corollary to the perspective that difficulties are your teacher and whatever is happening should be happening is that it is not your fault that you are experiencing whatever you are experiencing. Although poor choices on your part may be responsible for some of your difficulties, no one escapes making poor choices. This is how people learn and grow. Difficulties are part of the design, including the ones caused by poor choices. Mistakes and difficulties have to be accepted and expected. Believing that difficulties shouldn’t be part of your life makes them harder to deal with than they need to be.
There is no special mantra, visualization, or secret that will eliminate difficulties from your life. No one has found one yet, although the ego is holding out hope for one. The only secret is understanding the truth about life’s challenges: Your difficulties aren’t personal. You are not being personally persecuted by life. Everyone experiences them. Difficulties are not proof that something is wrong with you, that you are bad, or that you are not in control of your life—no one is! As always, accepting the truth about life brings you back Home to peace and love.
Difficulties make you stronger, wiser, more patient, more careful, more responsible, and more compassionate. They change and transform you forevermore. They break your heart open, humble you, show you that you are not in control, and bring your ego to its knees. Difficulties are the primary means of evolving you, steering you in new directions, and delivering your lessons.
There are a number of reasons for these difficulties, but all serve your evolution:
Sometimes you bring difficulties on yourself through unwise choices, in which case you are discovering the consequences of those choices and learning to choose more wisely. “You make your bed and you lie in it.” What better way to learn? Through painful experiences, you learn very quickly.
Other people’s poor choices cause difficulties for you. These difficulties weren’t necessarily intended to be your lesson, but since they landed on your doorstep, they become yours, and you inevitably learn from them. The world will be a much kinder and easier place for everyone when fewer poor choices are made.
Many difficulties are ones that everyone must encounter and no one can escape: the loss of loved ones, illness, aging, and death. These experiences are profound opportunities to deepen spiritually and discover who you really are.
Some difficulties are designed specifically for you by your soul to steer you in a new direction or teach you something before your life can unfold further. These are times when you may be stopped in your tracks and required to reassess your life or your direction.
Some romantic relationships are designed specifically for your growth and not meant to be forever or ultimately fulfilling. The difficulties within these relationships are a means of working out your conditioning and preparing you for greater harmony in your future relationships. However, sometimes the lesson is simply to remove yourself from a difficult relationship. These already difficult relationships are made more challenging if you want them to be something other than they are: a means of growth.
Some difficulties may be karma coming to roost. Mistakes or misunderstandings carried over from previous lifetimes might be the cause of current challenges. These are some of the most important lessons and potentially some of the most difficult. These lessons usually involve others.
One of the most important ways you learn in this school of life is from the lessons that are specifically designed for you. Your soul knows exactly what you need to learn and when and how you can best learn that. There is great wisdom in how your lessons are delivered and how you are guided in learning them, although you are free to take as long as you like or to postpone learning altogether.
If you are experiencing a challenge, it is best to assume that it is related to one of these perfectly designed lessons, although you may never know if it is or what you are learning. The school of life is funny that way: You don’t always know what you are learning, at least not right away. Often, though, much later you realize you have learned a thing or two. You have become wiser, more mature, more compassionate, or more easygoing. Life changes you, sometimes without you even realizing it.
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