Yes! We have been conditioned. As a child, as an adult, as a society…we have been programmed to think a certain way and to act a certain way. Here, we have uncovered some pre-conditioned lessons that we need to unlearn. Why? Because it stops us from being truly happy and it limits our potential for a better life.

Have a read. We’ve reproduced this amazing article from Martha Beck (written for Oprah’s “O Magazine”), titled 10 Life Lessons You Should Unlearn, for your convenience. Is there anything else you can think of that needs to be unlearned? Do leave a comment.

In the past 10 years, I’ve realized that our culture is rife with ideas that actually inhibit joy. Here are some of the things I’m most grateful to have unlearned:

1. Problems are bad. You spent your school years solving arbitrary problems imposed by boring authority figures. You learned that problems—comment se dit?—suck. But people without real problems go mad and invent things like base jumping and wedding planning. Real problems are wonderful, each carrying the seeds of its own solution. Job burnout? It’s steering you toward your perfect career. An awful relationship? It’s teaching you what love means. Confusing tax forms? They’re suggesting you hire an accountant, so you can focus on more interesting tasks, such as flossing. Finding the solution to each problem is what gives life its gusto.

2. It’s important to stay happy. Solving a knotty problem can help us be happy, but we don’t have to be happy to feel good. If that sounds crazy, try this: Focus on something that makes you miserable. Then think, “I must stay happy!” Stressful, isn’t it? Now say, “It’s okay to be as sad as I need to be.” This kind of permission to feel as we feel—not continuous happiness—is the foundation of well-being.

3. I’m irreparably damaged by my past. Painful events leave scars, true, but it turns out they’re largely erasable. Jill Bolte Taylor, the neuroanatomist who had a stroke that obliterated her memory, described the event as losing “37 years of emotional baggage.” Taylor rebuilt her own brain, minus the drama. Now it appears we can all effect a similar shift, without having to endure a brain hemorrhage. The very thing you’re doing at this moment—questioning habitual thoughts—is enough to begin off-loading old patterns. For example, take an issue that’s been worrying you (“I’ve got to work harder!”) and think of three reasons that belief may be wrong. Your brain will begin to let it go. Taylor found this thought-loss euphoric. You will, too.

4. Working hard leads to success. Baby mammals, including humans, learn by playing, which is why “the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton.” Boys who’d spent years strategizing for fun gained instinctive skills to handle real-world situations. So play as you did in childhood, with all-out absorption. Watch for ways your childhood playing skills can solve a problem (see #1). Play, not work, is the key to success. While we’re on the subject…

5. Success is the opposite of failure. Fact: From quitting smoking to skiing, we succeed to the degree we try, fail, and learn. Studies show that people who worry about mistakes shut down, but those who are relaxed about doing badly soon learn to do well. Success is built on failure.

6. It matters what people think of me. “But if I fail,” you may protest, “people will think badly of me!” This dreaded fate causes despair, suicide, homicide. I realized this when I read blatant lies about myself on the Internet. When I bewailed this to a friend, she said, “Wow, you have some painful fantasies about other people’s fantasies about you.” Yup, my anguish came from my hypothesis that other people’s hypothetical hypotheses about me mattered. Ridiculous! Right now, imagine what you’d do if it absolutely didn’t matter what people thought of you. Got it? Good. Never go back.

7. We should think rationally about our decisions. Your rational capacities are far newer and more error-prone than your deeper, “animal” brain. Often complex problems are best solved by thinking like an animal. Consider a choice you have to make—anything from which movie to see to which house to buy. Instead of weighing pros and cons intellectually, notice your physical response to each option. Pay attention to when your body tenses or relaxes. And speaking of bodies…

8. The pretty girls get all the good stuff. Oh, God. So not true. I unlearned this after years of coaching beautiful clients. Yes, these lovelies get preferential treatment in most life scenarios, but there’s a catch: While everyone’s looking at them, virtually no one sees them. Almost every gorgeous client had a husband who’d married her breasts and jawline without ever noticing her soul.

9. If all my wishes came true right now, life would be perfect. Check it out: People who have what you want are all over rehab clinics, divorce courts, and jails. That’s because good fortune has side effects, just like medications advertised on TV. Basically, any external thing we depend on to make us feel good has the power to make us feel bad. Weirdly, when you’ve stopped depending on tangible rewards, they often materialize. To attract something you want, become as joyful as you think that thing would make you. The joy, not the thing, is the point.

10. Loss is terrible. Ten years ago I still feared loss enough to abandon myself in order to keep things stable. I’d smile when I was sad, pretend to like people who appalled me. What I now know is that losses aren’t cataclysmic if they teach the heart and soul their natural cycle of breaking and healing. A real tragedy? That’s the loss of the heart and soul themselves. If you’ve abandoned yourself in the effort to keep anyone or anything else, unlearn that pattern. Live your truth, losses be damned. Just like that, your heart and soul will return home.

Martha Beck is a life coach, columnist, and the best-selling author of Leaving the Saints.

Guide to Inspired Life
FinerMinds Team

FinerMinds Team

In our quest to boost your personal growth, we hope to inspire and support you through our content! You can also check us out on Facebook.

6 Comments

  • Diane says:

    This is an excellent article, as all of her work is. I have learned most of this list along a long bumpy path. When we are children, we don't usually care what others think. We want the joys we want for ourselves honestly. Then society tries to grind us into conformity to sell us supposed needs and products. We really need to express our emotions and life purpose honestly and be of service to the whole. Martha's words, ". . . Live your truth, losses be damned." is the key. I am blessed to be surrounded by people who do that. Now I just have a polite visit with those who don't. This is balance.

  • Diane says:

    This is an excellent article, as all of her work is. I have learned most of this list along a long bumpy path. When we are children, we don't usually care what others think. We want the joys we want for ourselves honestly. Then society tries to grind us into conformity to sell us supposed needs and products. We really need to express our emotions and life purpose honestly and be of service to the whole. Martha's words, “. . . Live your truth, losses be damned.” is the key. I am blessed to be surrounded by people who do that. Now I just have a polite visit with those who don't. This is balance.

  • bobby s says:

    articels and encouragements to do something creative and have happy fortune of life never work with this type like yours blog or webs,or videos.This type of advertising only work for you and your pocket but never work for those who send money for something what have same empty sens like beginning of your stories or videos,on the video everybody can see happy faces and nice music,but nobody of those people are successful,because succes is inside of the head and body and bank account of those persons,but this 3 negative programs nobody like me can see and experience if your program is worthy sending money really is working.Mr/YOU HAVE TO FIND SOMETHING TO CONVINCE POTENTIAL PERSON OF 21 CENTURY,But showing your crap til today and tommorow nobody get richer or more happy,just make only one more nonsesns of modern dieyning world

  • With sixty five years under my belt I've learned the most difficult experiences, hence lessons, are the very ones that taught me the most. Rumi's poem, "The Guest House", says it best.

    This being human is a guest house.
    Every morning a new arrival.

    A joy, a depression, a meanness,
    some momentary awareness comes
    as an unexpected visitor.

    Welcome and entertain them all!
    Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
    who violently sweep your house
    empty of its furniture,
    still, treat each guest honorably.
    He may be clearing you out
    for some new delight.

    The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
    meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

    Be grateful for whatever comes.
    because each has been sent
    as a guide from beyond.

    — Jelaluddin Rumi,
    translation by Coleman Barks

  • With sixty five years under my belt I've learned the most difficult experiences, hence lessons, are the very ones that taught me the most. Rumi's poem, “The Guest House”, says it best.

    This being human is a guest house.
    Every morning a new arrival.

    A joy, a depression, a meanness,
    some momentary awareness comes
    as an unexpected visitor.

    Welcome and entertain them all!
    Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
    who violently sweep your house
    empty of its furniture,
    still, treat each guest honorably.
    He may be clearing you out
    for some new delight.

    The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
    meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

    Be grateful for whatever comes.
    because each has been sent
    as a guide from beyond.

    — Jelaluddin Rumi,
    translation by Coleman Barks

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