I learn a lot by watching the examples of other people. People that come into my life, I always try to learn something from them. Whether it is a positive characteristic or way of doing things that I admire and hope to imitate; or a negative aspect that I will correct in myself or avoid doing. Sometimes the people closest to us know us the best. Those closest to us can give us great wisdom and insight into the struggles we are facing in our lives, sometimes they do so without saying a single word. How? By observing different people in your life you can take from them lessons,some lessons positive and some as cautionary tales of what not to do.
Think about the people in your life right now or those that have been in your life. Now think of each of these people as some type of teacher and you will begin to see that each person was placed into your life for a reason to teach you some type of lesson.
Here are some of my teachers:
Business: My mom and step dad inadvertently taught me to take a few risks when it comes to business. They bought properties in areas that were sought after and have enjoyed the benefits of equity. When the economy fell in recent times, they have still been able to stay afloat.
Personal Finance: By watching my father I have learned that you should use credit to your advantage. Only use credit when you can afford to pay for it, as opposed to using it when you cannot afford the item. His reasoning is to increase his credit score he uses the card and also uses cards that give rewards, he then immediately pays off the balance. I have also learned from him the difference between “afford” and “not afford”. Something so simple, but I learned this the hard way. I now only buy things in full, even large items like my cars and if I do not have the money to pay cash I do not buy. I also put away all extra money into my savings which has a high interest rate. I shop around for the best price on things I want and need and the money I saved I also put in my savings.
Meeting new people: My husband is an extrovert and he is the type of person that when he walks into a room the party gets started. He is not wild by any means, but he is very entertaining and always has the best ice breakers. His advice to me, since I can be quite shy in social gatherings, is the adjust my mental mood. He told me it was like going to workout- “whether I want to go or not, I know what my fitness goals are so I go.” He says it’s the same when entering a room of people, you must first decide how you want to be perceived. Is this a work gathering, social, or formal event? You may have to force yourself to talk to someone but the more people you talk to the easier it will get. It is a conscious effort. So now I say, “Fake it until you feel it”. It is hard to make friends as an adult, so if I meet someone and we have a good conversation I make sure to invite them to do an activity that we have a common interest in. I have made a few new friends this way.
Eating More Healthy: My best friend Elanor that I have been friends with for over 20 years, has seen me go through many phases of exercising routines and diets. The best advice I ever got on this topic from her was when she told me that I shouldn’t diet because I will crave what I am depriving myself of. She always says, “Everything is good in moderation.” I live by these words today. I am fit but I do not ever diet. I watch my portions and never deprive myself of my cravings.
Being More Assertive: My friend Elissa who I met when I was studying for my BA at art school. She always says what is on her mind and apologizes later. I tend to be wishy-washy as to not hurt people’s feelings. She always gives opinion on any subject at hand but also listens to other’s opinions. If she doesn’t get the service she expects at a restaurant or other paid for services, she will let the person know. She doesn’t take crap from people and makes sure she is treated fairly.She doesn’t let people, even family members, walk all over her. I have learned from her that if someone gets mad at me for expressing my disappointment in their work, or if they don’t like my opinion, it is their problem and not mine. It is empowering to let people know how you feel.
Living in the Moment: Many have taught me this lesson. My friend Amy, who always follows her dreams even if it is not supported by her family. My friend Elanor, who is spontaneous and once got me to jump in my car and just drive with her, letting the road lead us to where we were supposed to be that day. My brother Sylvano,who lives for today. He does think of tomorrow but not at the expense of today. My husband, who never lets a moment go by without taking a mental picture. My sister Nikki, who always make sure people know how she feels about them.All these people and many more helped me learn this lesson. My son taught me to never let a precious moment go by without really enjoying it. I look at how his little 21 months old mind looks at the world, the way he laughs hard and hearty when something is funny and the way he is always in the moment.
Accepting the New You/New Life/New Role: My friend of over 15 years, Adriana, came into my life when she was going through a divorce and I was dealing with my new life as a stay-at-home mom. I learned from her, that we must accept our new positions in life and that it is ok to grieve over the loss of our old life. By watching how she is dealing with her divorce and now single life, I see that it is ok to break down sometimes, just as long as you get back up stronger than before. She has reinvented herself and it gave me strength to do the same for myself. She also taught me that healing and changing takes time. Most importantly that it is ok to lean on other people and ask for help when needed.
People come into our lives on purpose. We have to think of them as teachers and learn from them. I have learned what not to do in life also by watching people, but I wouldn’t want to embarrass anyone. (Or at least I will save that for another post)