Sometimes you recognize something you learned as a great life lesson. Sometimes what you thought was a great life lesson turns out not to be. How can you tell them apart?
I’ve found that the more meaningful a life lesson, the more trivial it sounds when you explain it to someone else.
For example, I went to North Korea and saw people living under different conditions than anyplace else, yet observed the commonalities we all share. It profoundly affected my perspective on myself, my culture, and being human.
But when people ask why I value my trip so much, saying “I learned that people are people” never conveys that feeling. It sounds trivial. Yet I know I learned something at a deeper level than I had before and that that lesson is sticking with me.
I’ve found this sounding trivial reliably predicts something being meaningful. Instead of trying to make something sound deep and meaningful, I recognize it is deep and meaningful. Sounding silly to others can signal great meaning.
People who get what you learned understand. Others, you can’t convey it to. You’ll just sound simple. But you know you learned something.
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