Learning is a lifelong process. Much of what you learn, you learn from other people. Throughout your life, you will encounter two kinds of teachers: subject area teachers and Big Picture teachers.
Subject Area Teachers
Suppose you are passionate about baking pies. So you seek out a subject area mentor. You find someone who has achieved success in baking pies and you learn everything you can from that person about pies. Sure, you can read about pies, you can watch videos–but there is simply no substitute for spending quality time with a pie expert. You learn by example.
Big Picture Teachers
Why do you want to bake pies in the first place? Because it brings you a feeling of happiness and fulfillment. When you encounter a Big Picture teacher, she may not know the first thing about pies. Instead, she points you straight to the source. She gives off a distinct vibe of being centered, self-sufficient, mindful. Yes, you can read self-help books and attend lectures – and these efforts can be very helpful–but there is no direct substitute for spending time with someone happier than you. You learn by example.
Overcoming Ego and Competition
The ego values winning much more than it does truly being happy. I often ask my clients: Who is the happiest person you know? About 50% of the time, clients tell me no one comes to mind. It can be hard to learn without a concrete role model. Maybe you genuinely don’t know anyone happier than you–but this is where ego and competition tend to get in the way. The happiest person you know may not dress the way you think he’s supposed to. The most content person you encounter may not live the way you think she’s supposed to. Before you can be more fulfilled, you have to admit to yourself that other people around you may have already reached this goal. You level up by recognizing people who have already leveled up. You give up your right to be certain about things. You make yourself vulnerable by opening to change, by deeply re-evaluating your long-held life strategies. If you spend all your time and energy around people who are no more satisfied with life than you are, how will you ever learn to be more satisfied?