Prompt 009: Lessons of the Past
9. What is the most important lesson you've learned from studying your own past experiences? Would you consider teaching that lesson to others? Why or why not?
Habits are difficult to change. It takes varied degrees of courage and thinking to make them happen, depending on the magnitude of the change, and what's at stake. Not everyone has what it takes, and not everyone sees the point behind changing their habits. Furthermore, it takes "small successes" in habit-changing and habit-forming to build yourself up to making massive changes in your life. In other words, making big changes requires that you make more small changes first.
I can look back and see significant changes in my past. I want to list a few.
- becoming a vegetarian
- using my bicycle as my primary mode of transportation, and the car as "Plan B"
- my vasectomy, and choosing to remain child-free
- moving away from my home city of 20 years to another city where I had no family and no social or business networks
- pursuing atheism/agnosticism
- studying overseas
- transitioning to non-profit work
- being in a few bands back in the day
- choosing to completely avoid films and websites related to the pornography industry
- paying money for various non-credit courses
- not celebrating typically-recognized holidays
I didn't necessarily have to consult with anyone else to make these changes, and generally-speaking the person who benefited most in all these cases was me. Some of them represent day-to-day choices, while others represent the culmination of these day-to-day choices directing me in a particular direction over time.
I find myself being the example in a number of stories or case-studies I share at my day job. The dynamic is an effective one: I provide a non-threatening, self-effacing example that both humanizes me as an instructor, and also reinforces my knowledge and wisdom to those I'm teaching and counseling.
Considering the positive changes I've seen in my life as I've become older, I do feel that critically-examining one's habits is a major difference-maker. No matter one's background, no matter "the cards you're dealt," consciously choosing positive habits is a way to not just live your life, but to thrive.