“Reclaiming my time”

Have you ever spent a long time doing something, or watching something on the TV or at the cinema, and at the end you think: “Boy wasn’t that a grand waste of time!!”

If only we had a way to regain lost time when we have a bad experience

You might have heard how amazing a particular movie or tv program is; you decide to check it out and throughout the program you keep wondering “when will the ‘good part’ start?” Or you hear of this ‘big sale’ going on at your favourite department store and you decide to go, only to find that it was nothing special after all!

This scenario can describe so many different things in our lives where we feel our lives have been a never ending ‘one step forward; 2 steps backward’ affair. In those instances you can be excused for wishing that you could ‘reclaim your time’, (and indeed, your money too) the time wasted in doing something that was, in essence, a waste of time and/or money.

Sometime ago I learned a simple yet profound response to what could be deemed a ‘bad experience.’ Basically it says, simply, that there’s no such thing as a bad experience; every experience, good or bad, is actually an EDUCATION!

I typically find myself using this most when I go to a new restaurant, or try a new dish, or go to see a much-hyped movie, and find them actually underwhelming. Of course sometimes my saying that is actually just a euphemism for what I actually feel is a bad experience! After all, who want to waste time and money on something they did not enjoy!

Life is all about living experientially. You cannot fully grasp or understand someone’s situation or their pain, or even their joy, without experiencing them yourself. But that does not say you cannot be really, genuinely, happy for them when they experience situations that bring them joy, or when they experience sadness and pain through loss!

Of course nobody sets out to in search of bad experiences. However, when those moments or situations come around, they can be correctly seen as something beneficial: lesson learned, or, put another way, an education.

Time lost can never be regained. So while life does not necessarily give you the opportunity to ‘reclaim your time,’ it does offer you the opportunity to take lessons from all your experiences and use them as moments of education. The value of this education, when applied appropriately to future endeavours, will far exceed the pain of a disappointment, whether it be a wasted trip to the movies or to your favourite department store.

While we all endeavour to avoid them, bad experiences, when they come, provide important guidance for future behaviours


Starting by reading the instructions can help you avoid needless heartaches later

“When all else fails, read the instructions.”

Certainly not a safe way to go, but sometimes by our actions that is exactly how we approach it. Sometimes we can get away with it, but other times this can lead to disastrous outcomes.

When you purchase a piece of ready-to-assemble furniture or equipment from IKEA or other places, expect varying degrees of complexity in the way the instructions are presented. When followed closely and accurately, the outcome is generally assured. However, one misinterpretation can lead to a tiny misplaced part, which can then lead to faulty, and perhaps dangerous, outcome.

I have experienced that a few times, and usually the reason is my failure to read the instructions carefully BEFORE doing the assembly, and sometimes not reading them at all!

Trying to assemble something before reading the instructions is like shooting in the dark and hoping you hit the target.

O. N. Rowe

Unfortunately some of life’s biggest decisions do not come with instructions. Yes there might be guidelines that can provide options to try; however, there is no guarantee that following such guidelines will yield the outcome you expect.

As a Parent I know what it is like to be diligent in applying some ‘guidelines’ only to find that you missed the disclaimers that say: ‘Caution: following these guidelines might yield the same outcomes you are hoping to stop or prevent!’ Well that’s because ‘…they’ve never met my Child!’

Point is that life requires that we experience, and learn, a number of important things as we go along. We sometimes take steps to assure desired outcomes, but we will never know the actual outcome we will have, until we get to that point. We then have the opportunity to adjust some things as needed, thereby correcting some of those mistakes we previously made.

DISCLAIMER: As Parents our approach to raising our child(ren) often evolves as we get to ‘understand’ them more. However, we sometimes find that after modifying our own approach, our child(ren) suddenly change their minds about what they actually like, or really want, or what they think, thereby nullifying what we previously thought we had learned.

O. N. Rowe

Nevertheless, life is filled with unexpected outcomes that can serve to help us grow into better human beings. Don’t let your ego prevent you from – carefully – reading the instructions that are available. Yes, LIFE requires LEARNING.

Activities of varying complexities require some amount of instruction.

Life = Mistakes

Are you being too hard on yourself because of mistakes you have made?

If you are going to be defined by your mistakes, let it be to the extent that you have learned the valuable lessons from them, discarded the rest, and are now better off because of them.

O. N. Rowe

At birth we are a blank slate, with our only ‘experience’ being a total reliance on our Mother while in the womb. We learn to rely on our Mom for nourishment, and develop trust.

As we grow older we learn based on our experiences and our observations of the world around us. Some of our experiences teach us what works or doesn’t work, what causes pleasure or pain, what helps us to grow or what keeps us back. Through it all, we make mistakes – sometimes lots. The lessons we learn help to inform how we behave when facing similar situations in future. When we make mistakes, the experience helps us to change our behaviour.

Unfortunately we are sometimes our worst critic, and a mistake is blown up far greater than it deserves. When that happens we become paralyzed by the fear of repeating our mistake. The old adage ‘once bitten, twice shy’ captures the psychological struggle we generally engage in after some of our mistakes. On one hand, experience can help to assure future successes; on the other hand, a mistake can shatter our confidence.

It might be that others around us also compound this by always seeking to ‘rub in’ our mistakes, instead of providing encouragement to get up on the horse again and to continue fighting. Don’t let the nay-sayers thwart your enthusiasm, nor keep you from trying again.

Regardless of how we respond to our mistakes, we are better off when we see them for what they really are: experience. When we do that, the lessons learned can be of such value that we will recognize that a mistake can be a terrible thing to waste.

What’s the biggest mistake you have ever made? What is the biggest lesson that you learned from a past experience? If answered truthfully, you might just find that they are related.

When put into their rightful place, mistakes serve as important sources of learning.
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