What We Should Have Learned in

School: Ten Life Lessons

These are the most influential life lessons I've learned through nearly 40 years of life experience and 10 years of counseling.

#1. You either get it or you don't.

In almost every situation here are people who don't - and it's really easy to tell them apart. Those who get it are enjoying the fruits of their knowledge. Those who don't spend a lot of time looking puzzled, frustrated and doing without. Those who don't get it can often be found beating their heads against the wall and complaining they never get a break. These life lessons will explain what "it" is.

#2.  You create your own experience.

Acknowledge and accept accountability for your life. Understand your role in creating the results that are your life.  Learn how to choose better so you have better. You are now accountable, you have always been accountable and you will always be accountable. That is how it is. That may not be how you want it to be, and this may be one of the tougher life lessons to learn, but that is how it is.

#3.  People do what works.

Identify the payoffs that drive your behavior and that of others. Control the payoffs to control your life. I know there have been hundreds, maybe thousands, of times that you, too, have said or done things only to shake you head in frustration and disbelief. You may have said to yourself, "What is wrong with me? Why do I keep doing that? I hate that, and hate myself when I do it, so why do I do it?" You do those things because, at some level, they work. At some level, you perceive that the apparently unwanted behaviors serve a purpose.

#4.  You can't change what you don't acknowledge.

Get real with yourself about your life and everyone in it. Be truthful about what isn't working in your life. Stop making excuses and start making results. If you refuse to acknowledge your own self-destructive behaviors, not only will they continue; they will actually gain momentum, become more deeply entrenched in the habitual patterns of your life and grow more resistant to change.

#5.  Life rewards action.

Make careful decisions and then act. Learn the world couldn't care less about thoughts without action. When you choose the behavior (action), you choose consequences. The better the choices, the better the results; the better the behavior, the better the results. The life lessons to learn is if you do nothing, you get nothing.

#6.  There is no reality, only perception.

Identify the filters through which you view the world.  Acknowledge you history without being controlled by it. We all view the world through individual filters. Those filters - our personalities, our attitudes, points of view, our styles - powerfully influence the interpretations we give the events in our lives. If you continue to view the world though a filter created by past events, then you are allowing your past to control and dictate both your present and your future.

#7.  Life is managed, not cured.

It will be highly valuable for you, from this point forward, to think of yourself as the manager of your life, in the same way you might think of and evaluate the manager of a store or a supervisor in your workplace. If you think about the state of you life as a function of you well your life manager is doing, you'll have an objective yardstick for measuring your efficiency.

#8.  We teach people how to treat us.

You shape the behavior of those with whom you interact. Because people learn from results, whether or not you reward, validate or accept their behavior impacts their conduct and will influence their subsequent choices. How you interpret and react to their behavior determines whether or not they are likely to repeat it.

#9.  There is power in forgiveness.

Open your eyes to what anger and resentment are doing to you. Take your power back from those who have hurt you. To carry and feel hatred is to pay an unbelievably high price, for the reality is that those feelings change who you are. They change your heart and your mind. One of the greatest life lessons I've learned is that holding on to hurt doesn't effect the person you're angry at o hurt by; it only effects you.

#10.  You have to name it to claim it.

Not knowing what you want is NOT OK. If you cannot name, with great specificity, what it is that you want then you will never be able to step up and claim it. One of the most common mistakes people make in declaring what they want is to be too general or abstract. "All I really want in this life is to be happy." Sounds like a common sense answer, but as a life goal it is doomed for failure. Figure out what it is that will ensure your happiness and get it.

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