In one of the previous articles, I introduced the problem of our current education system and how we can actually take control over our own learning journey despite the circumstances.

Today, I want to explore a few crucial things we are never told about or get taught in schools: the essential life skills like human relationships, dealing with rejection, accepting failure, basically all those things that slap us into our faces later on in life with painful experiences.

A few days ago I finished reading ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck’ and honestly, truly it is one of the best things I have read until now. It is one of those books that doesn’t tell you anything new, but is stating ‘that’ obvious that you need to know and accept.

So here are a few crucial things that Mark Manson points out, 5 lessons that get overlooked in our early education about life:

Happiness is a problem

Millennials. Probably you heard this buzz word quite a lot in the last years. Why I am starting with millennials? Because despite being one of the most educated generations, we are probably the only generation that feels the most anxiety, falls too often into depression and is overall really unhappy. We really suck at dealing with pain and negativity.

We often strive to achieve ‘the ultimate happiness’, which frankly does not exist.

There is an infinite amount of things to know, to do, to experience that we don’t know anymore what to give a f*ck about. On top of that, the consumer culture with ‘hey-my-life-is-better-than-yours’ makes the whole thing so dramatic, that we are desperately avoiding and escaping for instance anxiety and pain.

Photo by Greg Rakozy

We fall in love with the result, with the peak of the mountain and tend to overlook the messy and risky paths we need to take to get there. We pretty much want the result and not the process.

So a better question to ask yourself is: What are you willing to struggle for? instead of ‘What do you want to achieve?’

You are not special, and neither am I

Sorry for dropping this bomb. No one is special.

We usually measure self-esteem by how positively people feel about themselves. But a more accurate measurement is how people feel about the negative aspects of themselves. When we start feeling helpless about our problems, we develop a sense of entitlement, that we are uniquely special and privileged.

Realizing that our problems are not that different from what everyone else is experiencing is the first step towards solving them.

You are responsible for everything that is happening to you

The only difference between a problem being painful or being powerful is a sense that we chose it, and that we are responsible for it.

The truth is that everyone gets hurt and sometimes it’s not our fault. We too often associate fault with responsibility. But fault is past tense and responsibility is present tense. Yes, s*it happens and people may hurt you, but it’s your responsibility on how to interpret it and respond.

Failure equals growth

Photo by Marjorie Bertrand

When learning to walk, a child falls and hurts thousands of times.

However no child ever thought ‘Hey, you know what, walking is not for me. I am not good at it.’

So why do we quit every time we fail?

Again, because we avoid the anxiety and sadness that comes with it. However, these emotions are essential for growth. The same way we experience physical pain when we hit ourselves on the corner of the table and learn to be more careful when passing it, the same way we need to experience psychological pain to grow as humans.

Emotions in this sense act as a feedback mechanism that nudges you in the right direction. It’s a call to action: ‘hey this pretty much sucks so I need to do something about it.’

‘When we let go of the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, to ourselves, we free ourselves to actually act, and fail, and grow.’

You can never be certain about anything. Well, maybe only about death

Sounds really dark, I know. But when you actually accept that this is the end goal that awaits us all, it doesn’t sound that bad. The moment we realise and acknowledge that our time on this planet has an expiry date, we can actually filter the things we choose to care about.

‘‘Fear of death follows from the fear of life. a man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”

ps: In the end, all these things come down to the simple fact of knowing who you are and most importantly knowing who you are NOT. What really helped me understand my emotions, my behaviour and the way I respond to what happens in my life is this simple tool of personal reflection developed by @Stefan In ‘t Veld: Sign Up Here!

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