“Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself, and know that everything in life has purpose. There are no mistakes, no coincidences. All events are blessings given to us to learn from.”
Self study is authentic learning. It’s about self-realization. It’s about becoming more uniquely YOU, as a human being. It’s about continual growth, vitality, and wellness—the kind of wellness characterized by truth, uniqueness, and wholeness, as opposed to the narrowly defined conventional standards of strictly intellectual, material, and financial success.
“Real learning comes about when the competitive spirit has ceased.”
Schooling, or the acquisition of knowledge for social and economic achievement, is a limited kind of learning precisely because it is based on competition, measurement, and comparison. Although intellectual development is obviously very important, it is only one part of becoming a more integrated and whole human person. Broader, more authentic learning is a never ending process; it is steeped in direct personal experience, trial and error, careful reflection, deep introspection, and characterized by humility. There are no grades, no besting others, no winning or losing.
Part V, Learning, of the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide for Wellness is about cultivating the perspective of an authentic learner, an individual who consciously and deliberately chooses to see life and all its experiences as landscapes for learning and for developing one’s unique nature.
Learning is both the impetus and momentum for following the directions that guide you throughout your entire journey to know yourself. You might think of learning as the map of the landscape of you, while attention, self awareness, challenge and choice are directions to follow on that map.
Adopting learning as a lifestyle, as growth-mindset, is integral to the other four directions in the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self-Study Guide because without the attitude of the curious student, the wheel stops moving forward. As you learn, the wheel turns and gains momentum, further inspiring and motivating you to continue moving forward to steadily acquire wisdom and wellness.
“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.”
–Louisa May Alcott
The practices within the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide are designed to help you learn to regulate your body and mind and skillfully develop more focused attention, calm, and self control through deeper self-awareness, so you will be more apt to see the world and everything in it as a classroom—a lot less frightening, much more intriguing, and full of possibilities and opportunities for becoming more of who you are meant to be!
When you adopt the attitude of a curious learner, approaching yourself, people, events, and all your experiences as interesting phenomena to examine in order to learn, you’ll be less likely to react to life out of fear, defensiveness, or perceive yourself as victim.
“The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.”
― Carl R. Rogers
Many people tend to cling tightly to the need for answers and permanence and will fight hard to remain closed within their carefully curated comfort zone that provides the illusion of safety and righteousness. But you don’t grow if you don’t sustain a tolerance for ambiguity, stay open to life’s process, and move mindfully with the flow of change– that is, if you don’t learn. And if you don’t learn, you aren’t fully alive and well.
Humans are conscious animals who are aware that nothing is certain and that much of life is a mystery which causes great anxiety. As a result of such underlying existential fear, we have a tendency to resist change, and so try to control our environment, other people, and master all unpredictables; progress in this pursuit of manipulation, domination, and desire for a lasting legacy gives us a sense of great pride and self-esteem (Becker).
We work hard at this false sense of security and the illusion of permanence in order to make ourselves feel less vulnerable. We frantically search for “the answers” and lasting order, but such drives for ultimate knowledge and immortality distract us from the truth of our own humanity as limited, mortal animals. Our fear-fueled expectation that we must always have solid ground to stand on, answers that are indisputable, and consistent order for total security causes us great suffering.
Man can learn nothing except by going from the known to the unknown. — Claude Bernard
The particular disposition of a learner is one who can courageously enter into the unknown to learn and grow. A heroic learner must sustain a tolerance for ambiguity and be like water; that is—be fluid and flexible, flowing with what is and what unfolds and responding as well as one is able through deliberate self control and mindful choice, all of which can be cultivated through practice. For many, to flow with constant change and to learn from it is scary because of how they have been taught to cling to permanence or have been socially conditioned by distraction from the truth of their own human condition.
“Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.”
We don’t know all there is to be known, even about ourselves, and likely never will, but our ignorance should incentivize us to be humble and ever open to learning and change rather than cause us despair. If you adopt the mindset and attitude that life is for learning, for making yourself vulnerable in order to explore and know more, and for taking risks and incurring lots of trial and error, then “failing forward” with enthusiasm and the attitude of an adventurer will give your life meaning and purpose.
To learn that you are never a stable, unchanging, permanent self is to know your true nature. All is change, including you, so there will always be more to learn, and more meaning to create.
Rather than clinging to socially approved masks, copying others, or dogmatically subscribing to ideology that offers the illusory feeling of safety and security, authentic learners live life with the mindset of an adventurer who is ever-open to discovery. And people who are open, flexible, humble, and view their own life as a landscape for learning with its ups and downs, gains and losses, births and deaths will be more apt to cope successfully with the rapid and ubiquitous change that characterizes modern life.
Learn from experience, hold your beliefs and opinions about what is known, but be open-minded, tolerant of other possibilities, and willing to change because this is the kind of flexible person the modern world needs now more than ever to lessen the political polarity pervading our culture as well as to address the overwhelming disconnection from ourselves and from one another that appears to be causing so much unnecessary suffering.
Love the hand that fate deals you and play it as your own, for what could be more fitting?”
– Marcus Aurelius
Living with the mindset that all experience is meant for learning, growth, and becoming more uniquely you isn’t easy, and it requires courage, but it helps you open up to whatever life gives you (whether positive or negative, pleasant or painful) and trains you to accept your fate with less resistance and unnecessary suffering. Less resistance, letting go of fear, and accepting reality as it is rather than how we would prefer it or like to control it is true wisdom.
And more wisdom means more wellness.
Becker, Ernest. The Denial of Death. The Free Press, 1973.