Jon Aquino's Mental Garden

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Sunday, February 06, 2005

A practical way to gain wisdom from miserable experiences

You know how whenever you go through a rough time, someone will often say something like, "Well, it's a learning experience" or "Well, it makes you appreciate blah blah even more"? I've often thought that these words of consolation have always been pretty hollow and useless.

But today I learned a practical way to learn from miserable experiences. Suppose you want to learn about your ideal experiences in a given context, for example, the kinds of board games you like:
  1. Start by writing down your most miserable experiences in that context (a list of board games that you absolutely loathe).
  2. Prioritize those miserable experiences (rank the board games from most hated to least hated -- compare them two at a time if you desire a systematic prioritization scheme).
  3. Finally, determine the opposite experience to each of those miserable experiences (for each board game that you loathe, determine what it is that you love instead e.g. unlike Monopoly, my ideal board games are ones that offer you plenty of decisions to make).
You will end up with a list of positive statements of ideal experiences, already prioritized for you. You will, literally, learn positive things from miserable experiences. Neat!


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