Lessons You Can Learn from Experience, Study and Observation

A lady with a book

by Jayaram V

Here are a few important lessons about life, people and relationships which you can learn from study, observation and soul stirring experiences


It is difficult to say what appeals to you or motivates you. It depends upon your personality, thinking and attitude. Everyone is not inspired by the same ideals. No one can predict how a person's life will eventually take shape, and what forces and circumstances shape his or her progress in life. Life offers many opportunities to learn and progress if you keep your senses active and your mind open. We do not always do it, as we fall into routine and become busy with our daily lives. We become indifferent as we lose interest in our own future, and control over our lives and destinies.

However, occasionally life stirs you out of complacency and offers you a choice and an opportunity to change your life or circumstances. Simple experiences can change your life and give you a new direction which you never thought before. People are motivated by many things in their lives. Some are inspired by a scripture, a particular teaching, a guru, a book, a movie, a conversation they had with their friend, a relation or even a stranger, an incident they witnessed, a dream they had, a memory that surfaced in their consciousness or an experience they felt in meditation.

They may stir your soul, imagination or creativity and inspire you to seize the moment and prove your self-worth. You might have had those experiences yourself or heard about them from others. Knowing them, one fact becomes certain. While you may not be able to explain the rationale behind every such experience, which often seem to be the play of chance or random occurrences, you feel connected to some events and people. You are drawn to certain ideas and beliefs and when you see or meet someone you experience inner elation that you cannot easily shake off.

It may be because you are attuned to them or their thinking. It may be because they fit in the images of idealism you build and store in your mind, or may be even because of your past lives or your belief system. Whatever be the reason you should use such experiences as an opportunity to know more about you, your aspirations and cherished goals.

You might have also met many people who might have influenced you in their own ways and shaped your thinking and attitude. They might not have particularly influenced you, but they might have contributed to your general pool of perceptions and knowledge which went into the making of your personality and outlook. It is not an exaggeration to say that you are a product of your interaction with people. They teach you more knowledge and wisdom than any book or scripture, unless you are too cooped up in your own world and do not pay them attention.

It is certain that our knowledge comes from many sources. Book knowledge is important, but we do not learn everything from books. Before we start reading them or even going to school, we learn a lot from mere observation and from others. The information, knowledge and wisdom we learn from others are perhaps far more important and useful than the book knowledge we gain from studies and reading.

Five important lessons life teaches us

Reading and academic knowledge certainly sharpen our minds and improve our thinking, memory, creativity and analytical ability. However, your experience and interaction with others teach you more important and practical lessons, which can prove to be extremely useful to navigate through difficulties and intricate relationships. The world is a great learning place. We are made by Nature to learn from experience and observation and improve our competitive skills and abilities, knowledge and awareness. Here are a few important lessons, which you can learn from others or from your experiences

1. People value you as long as they perceive some benefit or advantage in the relationship. You should not be surprised or disappointed by this, unless you are looking for ideal relationships in life, which are too rare to find. Most relationships thrive on mutual convenience, shared values and interests. It is also the basis for equality and mutual respect. If only one side is going to benefit from a relationship, it is not going to survive for long. Therefore, if you are looking for healthy relationships in life, see how you can contribute to that relationship and establish some parity, reciprocity and mutual respect and appreciation.

2. People do not like to be controlled or told what they should do. Unless they have been systematically abused and coerced into submission, most people prefer to be free and do what they like to do. The freedom to be and to express oneself is inherent to human nature. It drives us to be unique and bring the best out of us. Everyone’s life is precious, just as you think yours is, and no one has the right to regulate the life of another person. People should be left to themselves unless there are strong reasons such as insanity or mental disability. For your own peace of mind, it is better to avoid control freaks.

3. People respect those who respect them. It is human nature to reciprocate your kindness with kindness, and smile with a smile. If you want to be appreciated by people, you must be generous in your appreciation. Scorn them, and you will be scorned. If you treat them with respect, they will respect you. Relationships thrive when there is mutual respect. Many relationships deteriorate as time goes by because people forget to respect each other and cross the boundaries or propriety. You can show respect in several ways, both verbally and nonverbally. Apart from using right words and showing courtesy and humility, you treat others with consideration, treating them as your equals, without infringing upon their rights or their self-respect. You listen to them, appreciate them, acknowledge them, admire them and accept them, knowing when to let go, say something or stay silent, without any ulterior motive, fear or greed.

4. It is better not to say whatever you feel like. Truth is important, but sometimes truth can hurt and cause more damage to people and relationships. You cannot betray the trust people place in you. You have to speak truth, and be honest with those who matter to you most in life. However, discretion is also important. Some ethical systems suggest that one should practice truthfulness, but should stay silent if truth is going to cause violence or harm. Sometimes it is better not to speak anything, rather than saying and risking a relationship or your vital interests. At times, it is also strategically useful to withhold information and wait for the right time to divulge it. The old saying that you should think before you speak, holds well in every situation. You cannot give in to your emotions and disrupt your relationships by saying whatever that enters your mind. In today’s world, it is even more important what you post on the Internet, because those words can come back and hurt you.

5. People are unpredictable. Do not take them for granted. We change with times. Our opinions, attitudes, beliefs and behavior change as time goes by according to circumstances, needs and compulsions. Friends change and friendships change. Businesses often lose markets when they take their customer’s for granted and fail to notice their changing needs and preferences or their grievances and growing dissatisfaction. Governments fall when they ignore the sentiments of people and take them for granted. Many close relationships fail as people become indifferent to each other, do not listen to each other or consult each other. It is a common problem in many marriages which eventually leads to breakups and bitterness. If you are in a responsible position, you should be even more careful. Do not treat people as files, problems, teams, numbers, ranks and designation. Treat them as human beings who need to be listened to and understood.

There are many such lessons, which you can learn from simple observation and with commonsense. Life teaches us these lessons as we go through experiences, problems and difficulties, daily routine and chance encounters. Some of them can be soul-stirring and life-changing and can bring a radical transformation in you. If you are mindful and observant, you can learn from them and enrich your life.

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