Life is a classroom. Here’s how to master *YOUR* curriculum

This article is best when listening to this song. Perhaps open a separate window and let it play on low volume as you read?

“Life’s a game, play it.” — Mother Teresa

What if life was a classroom, but you didn’t know it?

Follow Ladders on Flipboard!

Follow Ladders’ magazines on Flipboard covering Happiness, Productivity, Job Satisfaction, Neuroscience, and more!

Look around you.

Are you paying attention? Have you been daydreaming or skipping class altogether? Or worse, knowingly ignoring the signals?

According to Ellen Langer, a Harvard psychologist, “Mindfulness involves two key strategies: attention to context and attention to variability.”

If you pay attention, “the most subtle ripples of human experience” will inform you — intuitive knowing. But most people are “beyond feeling”—ego being their native frame of reference. Thus, their finer senses have become suppressed and dulled.

Said Steven Kotler in his book, The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance, “Intuition is a permanent feature of standard brain function. Meaning, the ‘voice’ is always communicating with us. Yet, we can rarely hear it. The data is diluted and distorted by everything else the mind is considering. But in ‘flow’ the signal is stronger, the message clearer.”

The purpose of this article is to help you connect with that “voice” within you. To help you reach a state of being much deeper and clearer than common experience.

Once you become adept at discerning and responding to your intuitive voice, you’ll begin truly living. You’ll be fully connected with who you are. And you’ll be able to do the most important work you can for humanity.

Unlearning Your Way out of Ego

You’ve spent your entire life over-learning fear, making it your automatic and unconscious reality. In order to conquer this dilemma, you’ll need to spend a large portion of time “unlearning,” as opposed to learning. Rather than seeking truth, seek for and unwind that which is false.

Josh Waitzkin, the author of The Art of Learning, describes your internal barriers as “obstructions” to living your life free from “blocks.” The goal is to live entirely obstruction-free. No blocks to pure self-expression. Living beyond fear. Complete connection to self and Source.

Essential to pealing-away the layers of your dominating ego-oriented perception is unplugging. You’ll need sufficient time outside the matrix you’ve created to reconnect with your intuitive voice.

As explained by American sculptor, Walter Russell, “The only way you can find it is through being alone with your thoughts at sufficiently long intervals to give that inner voice within you a chance to cry out in distinguishable language to you, ‘Here I am within you.’”

Rather quickly, you’ll begin to notice the signals all around you. Everything in your life is trying to teach you something.

Lessons are Repeated Until Learned

“What we call chaos is just patterns we haven’t recognized. What we call random is just patterns we can’t decipher.” — Chuck Palahniuk

One of the primary rules of life is that lessons are repeated until learned. We see this individually, generationally, and even globally.

History seems to continuously be repeating itself. Seems we’re still trying to learn the same lessons as a species.

On an individual level, most people get caught in the unhealthy cycles of their family. For instance, research by Pew’s Economic Mobility Project shows that 70 percent of people born in poverty never know anything different.

The “unlearning” process can be enormous and tedious.

According to cognitive neuroscience, pattern recognition is your brain’s ability to lump like with like — helping you make sense of the world. According to Herbert Simon, Nobel Prize laureate, pattern recognition is potentially the most powerful mechanism of successful problem-solving.

Interestingly, a primary way to develop the ability to lucid dream — or becoming conscious while in the dream-state — is pattern recognition. Many people use “dream journals” to recognize patterns in their dreams.

The moment you wake up, you record the things from your dreams. Overtime, you’ll notice patterns — whether people, activities, places, or experiences. Once you become aware of these patterns, you can train yourself to notice them while dreaming. This recognition can pull you from your unconscious-state into one of consciousness, yet you remain in the dream.

Life is no different. In large part, we are all unconsciously dreaming our way through life. Essential to “waking up” is recognizing the patterns all around us.

What are the patterns in your life?

Lessons are repeated until learned.

In A Course in Miracles, your individualized lessons are referred to as “special relationships.” These special relationships are your personal blocks to love and truth. You have special relationships with things you’re addicted to, your work, and with other people.

Your primary special relationship is with your own body. Your body is a tool, it is not you. Yet, your relationship with your body in large measure determines how “blocked” or “unblocked” you are. To quote Ellen Langer again, “The more mindful we are, the less we compartmentalize our lives.” Thus, your body and mind are intimately twined. What you do with one directly influences the development of the other.

Consequently, your body is continually signaling lessons being “repeated” in your life. Essential to evolving to the next and higher lessons is listening and responding to the signals your body is telling you.

Going from one lesson to the next is like passing a test. Except in the classroom of life, you can’t cheat your way through the test. You’ll have to truly internalize the lesson to be presented with the next.

Don’t believe me?

Just look at your life. How many times have you deceived yourself into believing you were “past this,” only to find you really weren’t.

Fittingly, life will become most difficult and confusing just before you complete a lesson. Everything in your life will be forcefully pulling you back to the comfortable life you’ve been living.

The clarity you had about the future will become foggy. You’ll begin to question why you were trying to change things in the first place. You’ll begin to rationalize and justify the life you’ve been living. “There’s nothing wrong with me,” you’ll say.

You’ll probably experiment with thoughts, feelings, and behaviors you’ve felt signaled to change. In the moment, things will feel great. “Why was I making such a big deal out of this?” you’ll laughingly say to yourself.

Days, weeks, months, or years may go by. Yet, eventually you’ll begin to notice the signal again.

The Opportunity Behind the “Opportunity.”

“Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they’ve got a second. Give your dreams all you’ve got and you’ll be amazed at the energy that comes out of you.” — William James

Sometimes, you’ll be presented a great “opportunity.” An easy-escape from the lesson you’re learning. This opportunity will seem to solve all of your current problems.

Unfortunately, those problems are not actually outside of you. No matter where you go, your problems come with you. A cycle will repeat itself in a somewhat different form. Eventually, you’ll be required to look back in the mirror.

Runners describe a second wind as a feeling of increased confidence, improved performance and less-strenuous breathing. This second wind often kicks-in just as they were starting to succumb to fatigue.

Similarly, if you keep going — and not take some easy-out — you’ll eventually experience a second wind regarding your “lesson.” Only beyond this second wind will be the evidence you’re about to pass to the next lesson.

It is the opportunity behind the “opportunity,” that you are really looking for. But you won’t actually be presented this real opportunity if you continuously take the wrong ones. No matter how appealing some things or relationships appear, they are likely repeating patterns and obstructions. Special relationships. Lessons.

Will you pass this time?

Repeat the pattern?

Or stay the course?

Interestingly, when it comes to personal insights, the first wave of ideas is where most people stop. Yet, it is only in prodding deeper and asking, “Is there more?” that you’ll get the most exquisite inspiration available. This may take several attempts, prodding deeper and deeper until you’re presented a pearl beyond price.

If you can make it through the noise and external pressure, you’ll receive a clear and indistinguishable message that you’re close.

This recently happened for me. Over the past few months, my life has felt like it’s all crashing down upon me. Everything seems to be falling-apart. Presently, we are in the midst of some very difficult family challenges.

Admittedly, I regressed somewhat during this challenging time. Yet, in the past month, I’ve really tried listening to the signals and detecting the patterns. After passing the final “test” of this particular lesson I’m learning, a messenger entered my life and spoke more directly to my soul than anyone has in years.

I can’t describe how humbling and enlivening it was. When someone enters your life who clearly is meant to be there. Indeed, when the student is ready their teacher appears.

Immediately, it all clicked into place. The fog dissipated. Everything made sense again. The connection was clear and palpable.

The Dip at the Next Stage

Every next level of your life will demand a different you.” — Leonardo Dicaprio

This world-crashing-down-upon you experience is actually evidence you’ve advanced to the next level. The real question is: will you stay at this level?

Are you truly ready for the next lesson, or will you return “home”?

Huge growth is always followed by a period of regression. The next lesson is intended to be just beyond your current capability. Naturally, you’ll be out of your element. You’ll be required to adapt and rebuild momentum.

It is often those moments you feel least connected that you are actually making your greatest progress. The chaos around you is an invitation to pause, reflect, and grow. You are more than equipped to deal with this. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be here.

Time Dilation and Wormholes

“The faster you move, the slower time passes, the longer you live.” — Peter H. Diamandis

Certain situations will present you with the opportunity to learn multiple lessons very quickly — sometimes instantaneously.

The lesson you are presently on reflects the system you are in. Every system moves at a different pace. The velocity of each system determines how fast or slow time moves within that system.

According to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, the faster an object moves through space, the slower time goes.

Thus, if it takes someone a single day to learn a “lesson” which takes another person a year to learn, the former person’s time will move 365 times slower than the latter’s. In other words, the former person will have traveled the same distance in a day that the latter person traveled in a year.

Distance traveled is the most accurate way to measure your time, and your life. 24 hours means nothing. Distance traveled — mostly internally — is what matters. Yet, what occurs internally is always mirrored back externally.

How far have you moved in the past year, as a person?

Are you still in the same place?

Or have you evolved and expanded?

The faster you learn your lessons, the more life you will live. The more you will learn and experience. The better world you will attract to yourself and those around you.

Indeed, some people remain stuck on certain lessons for decades, while others pass through that same lesson in mere moments.

Of course, I’m not talking about literal time here. We are all on planet Earth. However, I’m talking about perceived time — as we all live in perceived realities.

We are all our own planets within the universe of Earth. We are all moving different speeds — some enormously faster than others. Those moving faster may be experiencing decades worth of life and meaning while a single day passes for you. Indeed, the faster you move, the slower time goes.


“Infinite patience produces immediate results” — A Course in Miracles

Life is a classroom.

Have you become a student to your life?

The perfect place to start is, conveniently, right where you are standing. Look around you. Everything in your life is trying to teach you something.

If you pay attention, you’ll begin to see the patterns.

Only when you decide to listen and respond will your life begin to change. It will not be easy. It will often feel like chaos and destruction. However, after the trial of your lesson, there will always be peace and indistinguishable evidence you are moving in the right direction.

Without question, your life will become deeper, richer, and better for you and the world at large.

How I Turned $25,000 Into $374,592 In Less Than 6 Months

I’ve created a free training that will teach you how to become world-class and successful at anything you choose.

Access the free training here now!

This article first appeared on Medium