There are moments in life where you go from test subject to test administer. Where you go from in front of the one-way glass to behind it. Imagine joining a new club versus helping to recruit for that club. Or being a new employee versus onboarding new employees.
They are paradigm shifts.
You are no longer Dorothy. You are the wizard behind the curtain.
As of this writing, I have a toddler plus another on the way. I’ve moved from the realm of child into that of parent. And, being on the other side, I am constantly reminded of lessons long since forgotten. Pieces of wisdom that we are born into yet lose track of with time. Here are seven lessons most people often forget by the time they’ve hit adulthood.
Nine months in the womb
You apply to a job only to not hear anything back. You are frustrated and curse the company for not seeing your value. But what you don’t know is what’s happening on the back-end. You don’t see the discussions taking place, the meetings scheduled, the wheels turning.
You just see your empty inbox.
The reality is though, things take time. Sometimes a lot, sometimes a little.
As a baby, you grow inside your mom for nine months. You don’t question how long you’ll be in there. You’re just there. Warm, embraced, trusting. So remind yourself of this lesson: things take time. Just because you’re not seeing results doesn’t mean they aren’t forthcoming.
Angelica doesn’t play nice
I wasn’t allowed to watch Rugrats as a kid. The character, Angelica, was mean and my parents didn’t want her actions to influence mine.
As adults, we seem to forget this very simple lesson: what you watch affects you. Surround yourself with horror movies, tv shows, and podcasts, and the world will be a horrific place. Surround yourself with the opposite, and you will see the opposite.
Unlike when we were kids, we don’t have someone carefully telling us what shows to watch. We only have ourselves. So remind yourself of this lesson: what’s on the screen impacts your well-being.
Snacktime is over
My daughter wanted a piece of candy. I gave her some. Just a little though. After that, she was cut off. I didn’t want to ruin her appetite for dinner or send her into crazy sugar spikes.
As adults, we tend to forget that, like the shows we watch, the foods we consume also affect our mood.
Speaking for myself, too much sugar makes me cranky and annoying. Too many vegetables hurts my stomach. Too much cream makes me feel sluggish.
Unlike my daughter though, I don’t have someone limiting the amount of carbs I eat at a given time. I must do it myself. And so must you. Therefore, remind yourself of this lesson: what you eat impacts your well-being just like the shows you watch.
Forget the presidents
By the time you graduate from school, you never want to learn anything again. You don’t want to see a pencil or a flashcard, a scantron or a textbook. School drills you with so much useless information that you lose sight of the purpose behind it: to help you navigate through life.
That’s all that school is really there for. But the higher you climb, the easier it is to forget. By the end, you are nothing but a memorization machine.
The reality though is that the more you learn, and continue to learn, the better your life becomes. And by learning, I mean understanding a concept and applying it in the world. Not being able to recite the 23rd US president.
So remind yourself of this lesson: the better educated you are, the better your life will be. Pick up a book – any book that interests you, fiction or non-fiction – and start reading. Feed your curiosity with knowledge.
Are calories good?
By the time we reach adulthood, we have been conditioned to believe that science is fact. That whatever researchers conclude is true is absolutely true. Further, that to question its validity is to be ignorant or anti-science. But the reality is that they are wrong, a lot.
Or if not wrong, not entirely correct.
Nutritional science often claims conflicting information1. Psychological theories get debunked every decade2. And who could forget about the long-held belief about the Earth’s shape? As children, we ask why a lot. That gets beaten out of us with time. Being open to being wrong though, both in your beliefs and the beliefs of society-at-large, will lead to more understanding and progress.
So remind yourself of this lesson: facts are only true today. Be open to them being wrong tomorrow.
1. Nutrition experts argue that calorie-deficits are the only way to lose weight. Yet others claim calorie-deficits only lead to short-term solutions. That the food you eat is much more important.
2. For instance, Freudian psychology was focused on childhood and one’s parents. Frankl’s logotherapy was focused on the future.
Dad, don’t embarrass me
As a kid, you are surrounded by teachers. Parents and grandparents abound, offering you better ways of doing things. Yet as we mature, we lose sight of those teachers. We seek out those our own age. We value the opinions of youth. And we value them more than others.
But the reality is, the older you search out, the more wisdom you’ll find.
So remind yourself of this lesson: for whatever you seek, there is someone further along the path that can help. Often, they’ll be older.
The richest toddler in the world
A toddler doesn’t worry about money. She has no need for it. She has no responsibilities. No bills. She spends her time experimenting, learning, and playing.
As we grow, we inherit the financial woes of adulthood. We become obsessed with money. We envy the cars, the houses, the lives of others. No longer do we experiment or play. Our lives revolve around acronyms like NYSE, IRA, and FDIC.
But to focus only on wealth is to neglect something much larger. It is to rob yourself of personal fulfillment. So remind yourself of this lesson: Money is a necessity, but it is a means, not the end. Focus on building a life of meaning.
As we mature, the wisdom of our youth is replaced with the aggressions of adulthood. But often, those aggressions only lead us astray. For your reference once again, here are seven lessons most people forget by the time they’ve hit adulthood.
- Things take time.
- What’s on the screen impacts your well-being.
- What you eat impacts your well-being as well.
- The better educated you are, the better your life will be.
- Facts are only true today. They may be wrong tomorrow.
- For whatever you seek, there’s likely someone older with the advice you need.
- Money is a necessity, but it is a means, not the end.