Everyday Opportunities

In Essays, Philosophy, Productivity, Self Improvement

Everything is an opportunity. Your biggest failure, your greatest loss, that boring Sunday afternoon where you have no idea what you should do. That holiday, that stupid meeting that’s a waste of time, that tedious book, that broken glass, that crying lover, your forgiving mother.

When we are born, we don’t know much, except whatever learning and information that is already embedded in us in the form of human nature, and so we have to do a lot of learning to do to become well-adjusted, functional adults.

Some people never reach that stage.

So, to live a good life, we should actively pursuit knowledge on how to do so. 

This can be achieved in a variety of ways, from experimentation, to reading and studying about it, to simply sitting quietly and thinking about it.

One fantastic way to enhance the way we learn is to turn everything into a learning experience, and adopt a scientific mindset. I’ve discussed before that we should be able to never fail, and this takes that concept and runs a step further – we should always succeed!

An over-stated but worth re-stating quote from Edison is required here:

I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.

Acting with this same mindset is not the worst idea anyone has ever had.

I’ll give a quick personal example of how I took what could have been conventionally labelled a negative experience and turned things around.

I recently found myself living at home with my mum in Italy for six weeks. I hadn’t been back in over two years. While obviously it was hugely enjoyable, I didn’t actually have much to do on a day by day basis, which could have led to boredom.

Instead, I filled my days with writing, reading, walking, eating fantastic Sicilian food, and also coming up with small projects to keep me busy during this time.

I ended up re-designing and launching this website, as well as having an idea for a new mobile app regarding discussions. (Shameless plug: www.rhetorical.ly)

This is because I was able to recognise a great opportunity with the spare time I had, instead of doing what I would have done a few years ago, and bemoaning the fact that I was away from my friends, etc.

A less trivial example would be how I made the decision not go to university, and yet I managed to do something with my life – in contrast to what was told to me by my teachers who said I was going to stack shelves for the rest of my life.

Finding opportunities is not just reserved for the type of people you might read about in the news, it’s available to everyone, and it can be in the most subtle of ways. Missed the train, or have a long queue at the bank?

Use it as an opportunity to stop and think.

This is exactly why I now love flying, because it gives hours of time where you know that there will simply be no distractions, except having to choose your in-flight meal, and so that presents a wonderful opportunity for us to focus on something during that time.

So that’s one of the little secrets I have discovered to lead what can be considered a good life: find opportunities everywhere.

Have a great day, full of opportunities!

Emanuele.