Optimism By Education

It is difficult to face every situation with a smile. I’ve discovered one trick that helps make even the toughest moments in life acceptable: approach every situation – good or bad – as an opportunity to learn. It may not turn coal into cheesecake, but at least you can walk away with the most important spoil of war: a life lesson. Few people will help you navigate life this way. It’s up to you to step back from the situation, take notes and review. The more you reflect on life’s lessons, the more prepared you will be to tackle any problem. With the poise and experience to tackle any problem, you may yet find yourself less unhappy and more excited by all that life has to offer.

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Take Notes

What’s the value of stumbling through life and making mistakes if you do not make an active effort to record and study lessons learned? I keep a small Moleskine, Evernote or Google Docs notebook at my fingertips at all times. I take note of bad days, obstacles, discoveries, conversations, ideas and victories (for the record, Android dictation thought I said “a pekingese”). Ninety percent of this blog comes from notes I take day-to-day.

That said, notes are not enough. If you do not organize, consolidate or review your notes, what’s the point of having them at all? In practice, I tend to reduce pages-upon-pages into single fortune cookie-sized takeaways. I put them on sticky notes in discrete places that perpetually inform my decisions and the quality of my day.

Chronicle, recycle and learn from the past. It can sugar-coat your life journey as a personal parable.

Admit You’re Wrong

The strongest and wisest people I know are not afraid to call themselves out on mistakes. Not only is it honest to admit when you’re wrong, it’s the key to learning from your mistakes. Until you acknowledge that there’s a lesson to be learned, you can’t learn it. It’s human nature to defend yourself when accused or disarmed – your first reaction is to put up a fight. But don’t. If you’re in the wrong, you’re wrong. You’ll be the better man or woman to admit it. And while your failure may be noted, your honesty and lessons learned will go a very long way. Don’t let failure go to waste.

Learn to Lose Well

You’ve done everything you can do. The cons outweigh the pros. The risk is too high and the reward too low. You lose. I’m sorry.

Take it with pride. Every loss is a win in disguise. In every failure lies a lesson, a lesson you could never learn through victory. That which does not kill you makes you stronger. Do not waste time in sorrow. Embrace the lesson, apply it next time, and win.

Champions learn from their losses.