ur own life is among the best source of knowledge we’ve been blessed with. And it’s not just the big, spectacular events we can learn from in our lives. If we care to reflect on them, we can learn from even so-called negligible, everyday happenings and experiences.
Take something that happened to me recently for example. I was lazy and hadn’t bothered to clean my bathroom properly for quite some time. I was too lazy to stop unwanted stuff from flowing down the drain. As a result, the drain clogged, and the floor was soon inundated with sewage. It was a gross sight, with little worms swimming around! I figured the water might slowly drain out overnight, but when I looked into the bathroom the next morning, things didn’t seem to change much, if anything. I was very annoyed.
My initial reaction was to think of asking someone else to clear me of the drain. This may have been because I didn’t want to wade through the fetid water and get dirty myself. It may have been due to some diffidence, too: I didn’t think I could handle the situation. I had generally relied on people like home-help for things like this.
However, somehow, the idea came to me that I should try to clean myself up the drain. I took a rod and prodded the drain with it, and in a short time the drain cleared and the accumulated water started to flow, to my great surprise and joy! That ‘little’ event was a great achievement for me! It was also a tremendous relief not having to ask anybody for help.
This seemingly small incident, when I think of it now, contains very valuable lessons for my life, such as:
- I have to make every day an effort to keep my physical environment clean, because otherwise, if I’m lazy and negligent, I’ll have to face things like clogged drains with worms swimming around or worse! Long term laziness never pays. Indeed it always proves expensive.
- I don’t have to get so busy doing other things (including some that aren’t necessary at all) that I’m neglecting basic things like personal hygiene. I have got to have my priorities in order.
- I’m not supposed to give in to the temptation to ask someone else to do things for me if I can do them myself. If I am overly reliant on someone else for these things because of laziness, I will weaken myself and therefore become a burden on others, which they are likely to be resentful of.
- Just because I may not have tried my hand at something before that doesn’t mean I should automatically assume I can’t. I shouldn’t understate my skills. Thinking I am unable to do something can easily turn into a prophecy which fulfills itself.
- Some tasks can be too physically challenging for me. But no job is too ‘dirty’ for me physically to perform. If anyone else can do that, then I can.
- I shouldn’t shy away from the new challenges that life may present to me, mistakenly fearing they ‘re beyond me. If I’m faced with a new situation that needs a answer from me, instead of refusing to participate in it only because it’s foreign, I would take it up with God’s assistance.
- By taking bold steps and decisions in the face of new situations, as I overcome my diffidence, fear and lack of self-confidence, I can grow in confidence. I can believe that, with the grace of God, I can face new circumstances and do not fear or run away from the difficulties that life poses every now and then.
So many valuable life-lessons from a seemingly small event!
As this incident shows, every single life experience, without exception—small or ‘big,’ ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ sad or joyful—contains great living lessons.
We need to take the time off to reflect deeply on them to learn from every experience we go through in life. Emotionally distancing ourselves from an experience and viewing it as a dispassionate observer or witness, we should ask ourselves this question: “What lessons can I draw from it?”
Noting the many lessons that we can discern from even a ‘small’ experience , we can be led to discover that all that happens in our life has meaning and purpose, and is ultimately for our own good.
Try this as an experiment with anything that is happening to you today and you may be very excited about how fun it is to learn valuable lessons in life!
By Roshan Shah