Friday, March 15, 2013

Life: Learning from the negative (Take 2 of infinite)

"Be thankful for the difficult people in your life, for they have shown you exactly who you do not want to be."

I was taught that you could always learn something from anyone. I was constantly reminded in my youth that no matter who I was around, I should learn the good things from good people while learning to avoid bad things from bad people. Of course a little generalized, but the point made it through to me. So stumbling across this quote one day just reminded me the many advises my mother gave me that I did not really take to heart in my more immature days.

I cannot say that I was fortunate or unfortunate. Compared to the friends I have made, I say that that I may have been more unfortunate; but compared to most of the world, I am quite fortunate. Of course, I have jumped between these two things quite often without a satisfactory answer. One day after conversing with a friend about his inability to identify his passion in life, I thought on some of the things I said that helped me enjoy life. I found that there really is no need to identify if my past was fortunate or not. I learned from my past and the only waste is if I didn't take anything positive or negative out of the experience.

There is no reason for me to compare my past life with others. We have all walked different paths. Paths that no other person can fully understand. I look at my friends, each with their own goals or lack of goals. Friends with a harsher life who enjoy life; friends with an easier life who are lost; friends with harsher life living in self pity; friends with a good life still continuing the good life. The only commonality is that the ones doing "well" are those who have embraced their past. Albeit, the last part may be more difficult for some than others. But you cannot change the past, so you cannot just be stuck in self pity.

I digress from a couple points I wanted to make. To the parents, no matter how much I complained about my mother repeating herself and mocking her by repeating the same thing but with a different attitude, I was still listening. Do not give up on keeping your stance. You do not need to answer why or how. The constant nagging, reminder, and repetition are what drove me to understand the full weight of such values when something in myself just clicks with realization that truth behind such values. Someday, I imagine I will also be repeating these same things to an immature version of myself and wonder how my mother ever had the energy to put up with me.

The other point that I constantly wonder about is if I can learn the empathy and kindness that I have without such experiences with "difficult" people. Compared to most people that I am around, I have probably more than average share. I also notice that people in similar situations also tend to have higher empathy. Can someone have the same level of empathy without such "difficult" people? Do these "difficult" people come from the lack of others like themselves? Can I teach them empathy without the use of another difficult person?