Take the time to learn…

March 15, 2022

This quote from the Jack’s Winning Words blog got me to thinking about how we learn from the past.

“How we handle what’s ahead of us will be determined by what we learned from everything that’s behind us.”  (Craig Lounsbrough)

The key word in that quote is “learned”. All of us have some time behind us, some of us more than others; but, did we learn from the things that are in our past. Some are destined to repeat the mistake of their past simply because they did not take the time to try to learn from those mistakes.

Learning is not necessarily an automatic process. There are some things that our brains process without us giving it a lot of thought, like not touching a hot stove because it will burn us. Most things that we should be learning from do require that we stop ad think about what just happened and what we can learn from it.

Some things that we learn from also require that we admit that we were wrong in our decision making process and require us to examine the “knowledge” that we had at the time upon which we based those decisions. That can be an ugly process because t often brings us face-to-face with our prejudices and baseless fears. Learn from that.

If you stop and think about a situation and the answer to your questioning about why you reacted as you did is ”I did not trust that person or I feared that person because their skin is a different color than mine”, then you have come face-to-face with your own prejudices. Learn from that.

Maybe, when you think about something that just happened that went wrong, you will find that you made some bad assumptions or based your decision on inaccurate or untrustworthy data. Learn from that.

The key to learning is always to stop and think about it. Often you will find that your knee-jerk reaction to a situation is not what you would do once you have had time to consider your response. Maybe just learning to take the time to think is the real learning in that.

Maybe it would help if you actually made time each morning to think about the things that happened yesterday or the day before and ask yourself, “What can I learn from that?” Perhaps you should just add to your morning prayers, “God, please help me learn from the past, so that I might be a better person in the future.”

Never stop learning and never stop trying to learn from your own past. That way you will be better prepared for what is ahead today.

Look forward to making new memories…

December 29, 2015

“The nice thing about memories is that even if we forget some…We can always make new ones.”  (Ziggy) – as seen some time ago on the Jack’s Winning Words blog. This is the time of the year that we reflect back onZiggy the events of 2015 and look ahead to 2016. Hopefully we also use our memories of events in 2015 as teaching moments and learn from them. Then we can move on and make new and more rewarding memories in 2016.

More recently Jack posted about Jimmy Carter and his ability to use the things that happen to him in life as teaching moments in his Sunday school class – “Everything that happens in life, good or bad, he uses as a teaching experience.”  (Marina Fang) Carter recently used the announcement of the death of his grandson as the basis for a Sunday school class about turning to God for comfort in times of loss. Hopefully you find new knowledge and wisdom in reflecting upon the things that have happened to you. And, hopefully, you also know that God is there when you need him to help you get through some of the darkest moments.

For those who fail to learn from their own mistakes and misfortunes, dinosaurthere is another saying that Jack posted recently by poet Robert Frost – “How many things have to happen to you before something occurs to you?”  Hopefully, you are not so oblivious that Frost’s quote applies to you. I have known people who couldn’t figure out why bad things seemed to happen to them all the time and they tend to be people who put themselves in bad situations due to poor decision making. There is a difference between just having bad luck and making bad decisions that put you in harm’s way. Try to see the differences and understand how to make better decisions.

So, here we are approaching a new year – one that is full of new memories for us. Take the time to reflect on 2015; the decisions that you made personally and the outcomes that resulted. For the things that happened to you that turned out badly, try to see where you might have made different decisions that could have resulted in different outcomes. decisionsSometimes there were no alternatives available, because some things just happen and you just happened to be there when they occurred. But many times, there were different paths that you could have taken that day to arrive at a different place and not be in the position to have those bad things happen to you. Most people can see where they went wrong when they reflect back on the events and decision leading up to an event. Learn from that hindsight.

Probably the most important advice for going successfully into the New Year is to be open to change. Too many people try to live in the past; they can’t let go of how things used to be. Politicians in particular seem to use references to how things used to be as if going back to the “good ole days, when America was great” is either possible or even preferable. They allude to simpler times – the good ole days when there were fewer of “them” and when people just looked the other way and  racism, sexism, and prejudices were the accepted way of life. All of their simplistic sloganeering accomplishes nothing, but it evokes nostalgia in a portion of the electorate. The “change” that they espouse is to march backward in time, which is impossible and why most of them fail when elected. They had no real plan for the future.

Rather than look back (other than to learn from our mistakes), it’s betterwomen dreaming to look forward to the new things that have yet to happen. Yes, the old songs of 2015 and before were great, but think of all the new songs that you have yet to hear. Your old friends will still be there (most anyway) and there are new friends to be made. The adventures that you had in 2015 may have been wonderful, but there are still unexplored places and new things to try in 2016. There are memories out there just waiting for you to have them.  The future is a wondrous place and you are about to step into it.

Prepare to have a great 2016.