Adopting an Open Approach to Life’s Lessons

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As students of life's classroom, we have many lessons to learn. And although it may be human nature to resist what's hard, life's challenges often manage to give us just what we need in order to grow—if we can see it that way.

It’s easy to be happy when good things come our way, but what about when we encounter inevitable difficulties? Are our challenges merely obstacles to be borne, buried, or otherwise dismissed? Or can we receive them for the lessons they are and mine them for their hidden good fortune?

In opposition to today’s dominant either/or paradigm of win/lose-success/failure, Omega teachers explore holistic approaches to life’s challenges, helping us, as author Gary Zukav says in Seat of the Soul, to grow beyond the limitations of our personalities so we can tend to our essential selves.

Learning to Approach Life With Curiosity & Kindness

American-born Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön teaches that when we accept the reality of change and impermanence, we open ourselves to unlimited possibilities and a dynamic sense of aliveness. 

Life is so fluid,” she says. “It is more like a river than being on solid ground. The fixed sense of “me” is the ego, a sense of pulling back from experience, freezing our experience—our sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and thoughts—into something very definite.”

But when life insists on teaching us lessons we’d rather not learn, how are we to meet them instead of clinging to a fixed, familiar set of expectations?

Career coach Tama Kieves suggests compassion and kindness as a way of moving through discomfort into growth.

“For me, success has come when I’ve boldly faced my own fears with conscious tenderness. I make exquisite deals with myself. I encourage myself to dare. And I show great compassion for myself all along the way,” she says.

The false conviction that life is unchanging has led author Elizabeth Gilbert to despair. But curiosity, and substituting the word “interesting” for “awful” has been her way out.

Curiosity is this key to get you to recognize that not only is tomorrow different from today, but the next moment is different from this moment,” she says. “The word 'interesting' can get you out of all kinds of terrible situations, because if you look at anything with one inch of distance and perspective, it's all really interesting. It's like, 'Wow, that's interesting, my marriage didn't work out.'”

Relationships Are a Master Class

When connections with others stir up old wounds or elicit painful reactions, we can turn away or embrace each interaction as an opportunity to know ourselves more fully.

“Everything that you’re going to learn that has any meaning for you, to you, or about you, you will learn through relationships,” says spiritual leader Iyanla Vanzant. “The better we become being with ourselves, the better we are in relationships.”

Renowned medium James Van Praagh elaborates. “In this three-dimensional world in which we live, there is a sense that we are separate from one another and also that we meet by chance. This is an illusion. The people in our lives are drawn to us and are here for a reason. It is through sharing experiences and having relationships with others that we begin to understand ourselves.”