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3 Lessons Nobody Taught Me

- by Ligia Brubaker, Certified SRA / Dibbles Institute Educator Today I would like to share with you 3 lessons that I wish someone would have taught me. These are pillars for a peaceful heart and joyful spirit. Our society is fighting so much with depression and anxiety now, and I have a suspicion that one of the reasons why we are unhappy is because we don’t know these 3 truths:

1. There is only one truth.

I know, I know… this is a mind-blocker for a post-modern society in which Oprah speaks about “my truth” and “your truth”. We love the idea that we can share our ideas or opinions as absolute truth and the idea that no one can debate with us regarding the value of what we’re saying. And we can talk about multiple truths and bring in philosophers and sociologists to agree with us. But oh, when life hits, there is a lot more “black and white” to it than we’d like to think!

2. Pick your battles! Life taught me that I don’t always have to be right and that I need to pick who I spend time with—even for fighting. There is a healthy way of fighting and a healthy way of confronting, and there are very unhealthy ways of fighting. Name-calling and emotional arguing are not productive. The only healthy way of debating and confronting someone with the truth is by sticking with the facts, even when the other person doesn’t. Pick your battles; pick your competitors. Not everyone is worth your time and not everyone wants to know the truth. Some people prefer to confuse their opinions with an absolute truth and convince you of it. Avoid those kinds of relationships!

3. You can either have instant gratification or long-term wisdom, but you can’t have both.

Our brains are trainable and tricky. We can train our brains to get instant gratification or we can train our brains to be patient and look for depth and meaning in life instead of instant gratification.

Instant (or immediate) gratification is a term that refers to the temptation, and resulting tendency, to forego a future benefit in order to obtain a less rewarding but more immediate benefit. Whether you have a desire for something pleasurable—be it food, entertainment, or sex—instant gratification is easy but lacks depth. The flip side of instant gratification is delayed gratification, or the decision to put off satisfying your desire in order to gain an even better reward or benefit in the future. It’s easy to see how delayed gratification is generally the wiser behavior, but we still struggle on a daily basis with the temptation to give in to our immediate desires. That struggle is normal and natural.However, what does not come naturally is for us to learn the lesson: “Wait and it will be better. Go for it and it will be shallow and meaningless.”

Wisdom, on the other hand, according to the dictionary, is “the soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment.”

Now, the tricky part is if every time we decide to give in to our immediate desires and not think about the consequences, we will never gain experience. And the more we think in terms of immediately satisfying our needs, the less our brains will think in terms of quality. If we train our brains for rapid satisfaction, our brains will ask us (by invading our cells and body with various chemicals) to satisfy its needs. Dopamine is released—among other chemicals—every time the brain is satisfied. If we train our brains to think, wait, make decisions that lead to a better quality of life, our brains will be satisfied when that level of quality of life is maintained. If we train our brain to be satisfied by the speed of having our needs met, our brains will crave instant gratification.

These are three lessons I wish an adult would have taught me. When I was a teen, none of this science was as developed as it is now. You live in a time when all this knowledge is at your fingertips, and I dearly envy you! Make the most out of it!


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