1. Don’t wait until you fail to reflect on your experiences. That’s the equivalent of only practicing after you lose. Not smart. Reflect now; reflect always. Otherwise great lessons escape you. And sure, you don’t learn as much when everything goes great. But you can always examine ways to make it better by asking, ‘Looking back, what would I have done differently?’ Remember: Failure isn’t the only teacher. Reflect until resolution arises within you. Are you reflecting on all your experiences – wins AND losses – with deep democracy?
2. Hear your life speaking to you. How you hear your life is how you experience yourself. How do you experience yourself?
3. It’s not real TO you until it’s noticed BY you. Nothing is truly yours until you generate an awareness of it. That’s where understanding is born. The moment you make the choice to be a first-class noticer. And there’s a very cool, very obscure book called Playful Perception by Herbert Leff that will teach you how to excel at this practice. Most of the book takes you through 43 Awareness Plans that the author defines as ‘procedures or mental recipes for perceiving and thinking about the world around us.’ It’ll blow your mind. Are you ready to change your perception and experience of your world?
4. Learn to take full ownership of your experiences. Additionally, experiences aren’t truly yours until you’ve done these things: Think about them. Analyze them. Examine them. Google them. Question them. Write about them. Share them. Expand them. Understand them. That’s what happens after awareness: Contemplation. And as long as you watch the way you explain the event to yourself, nothing can stop you. Because listening to yourself talk is when the real learning begins. What do you do with what happens to you?
5. Let the best have a real chance at you. I probably should have mentioned this earlier: If you want to be an expert at learning from your experiences, you need to regularly open yourself to a world of new experiences to learn from! That means traveling. That means saying yes more. That means not sitting at home every night. That means practicing intentional discomfort and doing something you wouldn’t normally do. In short: Sticking yourself out there. That’s the only way to increase the probability of experiencing the best. When was the last time you did something for the first time?
6. Own up to YOUR role in the negative circumstances of your life. Honestly confront yourself by asking questions like, ‘What about me makes me do that?’ What was my contribution to the bad event I just experienced? And ‘What did I do, innately, that made me deserve or attract these things into my life?’ By taking responsibility for your experiences, you exponentially increase the learning from those experiences. After all, it’s hard to learn with your arms crossed. REAL learning takes place when we’re open, relaxed and curious. So remember: The sooner you own it; the sooner you can disown it. Are you willing to admit that you had EVERYTHING to do with what just happened to you?
7. Use your life as a practice field. Seek experiences that stimulate your core self. Seek experiences that improve, enlarge, inspire and challenge you. Then, search for meaning constantly and aggressively. And when it hits you, express and render your personal encounter with the world. Ideally, by making a list of lessons you learned. What experiences are vital to your development?