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Life Experience

“The Pessimist complains about the wind;

The Optimist expects it to change;

The Realist adjust the sails.”

                                                       ~ William A. Ward

There is just no substitute for Life Experience and the Wisdom our time on the planet brings simply walking through the timeline of our daily lives. Spending time in class lectures and reading is a great way to gain more knowledge, but experiencing life brings Wisdom that just seeps into us as we go along. Even the people at Rosetta Stone will tell you that the best way to learn a new language is to immerse yourself in that culture and live it every day. They may have created a great system for teaching you a new language without that travel luxury, but there really is no substitute for living immersed in the culture to learn the language. By the extension of that simple concept, we can see that there is also just no substitute for the Wisdom we gain by just walking through life every day. Experiencing things teaches us details, depth, and Wisdom we just can’t acquire from sitting in a lecture, listening to a tape, or picking up a book.



Revolutionary War

For example: I learned more about American History and The Revolutionary War for America’s freedom from British rule by growing up in a small town about 30 miles west of Boston Massachusetts right in the heart of where the Revolutionary War was battled over 200 years ago than I ever did while studying history in college as a History Major. Growing up I just figured everybody knew what I knew. But I realized years later that not everybody had that base knowledge of American History. Obviously, the kids I grew up with and the families I knew had basically the same knowledge from simply living in the midst of all that history. It wasn’t until I got to college that I realized that not everybody knows that April 19th is celebrated as Patriot’s Day – the day Captain Isaac Davis led the march of the Acton Militia Minutemen 17 miles from his home in Acton, Massachusetts to the North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts to meet the British troops just hours after the first shots of the war were fired on the Lexington Green in Lexington, Massachusetts to kick of the Revolutionary War for America’s freedom. Obviously, anyone can learn that from a history book, or in today’s world from a Google search on the World Wide Web, but knowing it for me was just part of my childhood and part of my life having grown up in the middle of where it all took place. 



It still took a few more years to realize and understand that the true secret to gaining Wisdom is by just living each day and paying attention to all the experiences it has to offer. When I was in my early twenties I spent a lot of time reading self-help and philosophical books. I listened to and read through countless speakers and writers and took from their tapes and their pages the lessons and the steps I could take to create a better life with more confidence in myself and hopefully greater happiness and success along the way. While practicing the principles I read I kept expecting a great moment of epiphany when it would all come together in one glorious instant. A time when I’d finally “get it” and the pieces of my life would "fit together like a completed jigsaw puzzle" - (wisdom found in "The Station" by Robert J. Hastings). What I didn’t get at the time or understand until years later is that life seldom “revolves” in an instant – it “evolves” over time. We rarely encounter moments of instantaneous Change, but must rather wade through the steps required to learn from the experience life brings us just walking through each event and each encounter. So, now looking back more than of a quarter century later, I’ve realized that I have been living those principles all along and they are the reason I am the person I am today. Now don’t get me wrong! I’m not by any means trying to imply that I “have it all figured out”. In fact the truth is … I’m not even close. I make mistakes and stumble all the time. Some mistakes are pretty simple while some are a bit more sensational than others. But every success and every failure was just another event and another opportunity to learn. Although I do still stumble, as we all do, the basic principles I learned through all that reading, in combination with my parent’s foundational upbringing still guide and govern the values and ideology that I strive to live by. They keep me grounded and always focused on gleaning the Wisdom that every Life Experience has to offer. 

While I was looking and waiting for that grand epiphany when things would Change in an instant, I was actually practicing the fundamental principles that would teach me deeper lessons and ingrain in me a philosophy that would establish patience, understanding, tolerance, confidence and happiness in everything I do. People often ask why I’m always so happy, (I’ve been told that my Mondays are like most people’s Christmas mornings), and the answer has always been simply that I choose to be happy. It’s true that in life every day is not a Holiday and every meal is not a Picnic, but it is all about dealing positively with the events and the issues that each day brings our way. Check out the page on Attitude to learn more.

During our trip down The-River-of Life we learn best by doing and experiencing that sometimes we win and sometimes we lose, sometimes we succeed and sometimes we fail. We also find that our wins and successes actually teach only in small increments; whereas our mistakes, our failures and our losses usually educate us more quickly and with far greater efficiency. When we do something correctly we don’t really learn much because we just proved that we already know how to do it. But failing teaches how not to do it right and what to avoid in future attempts. Mark Twain crystallizes this belief in his famous quote that says:

“Good judgment comes from experience, and experience often comes from bad judgment.”

                                         ~Mark Twain

Life Experience is the ultimate teacher. Along The River we are met with countless lessons on how to do what is right and what is wrong, how to behave and how not to behave, how to treat others and how not to treat others, how to win and how to lose, and how to succeed and how to fail. We can’t always expect others to act or react in any given situation as we would, but the “Golden Rule of Life” – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is a pretty good place from which to begin. Most people will return the favor, but don’t Worry yourself with those who cannot, will not, or do not.


Continue Your Journey to the Page on Attitude

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