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Why No Experience is Ever a Waste of Time

03 Mar

waste of timeThe past several years spent starting my own business and living the out-of-the-box life of a young entrepreneur have provided me with as many new experiences as the 23 years prior. While “new experiences” may sound fun, exciting and even a little sexy, any business owner will tell you that there is a large range in altitude between the valleys and the peaks.

In my reflection upon these life experiences, the negative and positive, the helpful and hurtful, the uncomfortable and encouraging, I realized that I’ve developed an almost nostalgic sentiment around each one. Even the moments that could be viewed as mistakes or wastes of time have all helped to teach me something and bring me to where I am today. And I think we can all relate this back to our own lives.

Consider this thought for a moment. “If we do not find anything pleasant, at least we shall find something new.” This quote, attributed to Voltaire, challenges us to never see anything as a waste of time, but more as an opportunity to experience something new. Is this a reasonable request? I think so.

Here are four reasons why we should reframe what we’ve been dwelling on as past mistakes and wastes of time and view them simply as a new experience.  

Because something motivated you to make this decision

When you feel like something has become a negative experience or a waste of time, stop and recall what led you down this path to begin with. In many instances, passion, inspiration, hope for a better future or enjoyment guide our choices. While you may never know where the journey will lead you, it’s the best intentions with which you began that really matter.

Because you choose your experience

We are the keepers of our own happiness and only we determine how we feel about any particular situation. There are some people who have really been dealt a tough hand, yet they live a life of contentment and gratitude. Then there are people who appear to have everything going for them, yet they couldn’t be more miserable. What sets each of these types of people apart is simply how they choose to experience life. We must choose happiness in order to be happy. And if we choose to never see a situation as a mistake or waste of time, then we will live with a lot less regret.

Because there’s always a bright side

Any experience – even a negative one – contains at least a pebble of happiness, if only we’re willing to look for it. To apply this to a challenging example, let’s say the experience was that your new business failed and you had to close your doors. As Voltaire would reason, this is not something pleasant, so we must then look for the “something new” to turn this into a positive experience. The bright side would be that now you have the opportunity to restructure your business model and try again, venture into a new line of work or simply spend more time with your family. The bright side will not always cast away all of the dark shadows, but it will at least restore some of your hope and happiness.

Because dwelling is not mandatory

By nature, I dwell. I dwell on the big things, the small things and everything in between. Sometimes I’ll continue to walk around with this weight on my shoulders, unable to remember what was bothering me in the first place. This makes it very easy for setbacks or negative life experiences to take a toll on my emotions. But I’ve gotten better. I now remind myself that worrying accomplishes absolutely nothing, so instead I get active. If it’s a problem I can’t solve personally, I go for a run to clear my head or start working on another project simply to feel in control. We determine how much we allow ourselves to dwell and the sooner we take our mind off of a negative experience, the closer we are to our next positive one.

Share your thoughts! Have you found any life experience to truly be a waste of time? How much does your mindset impact how you experience life?

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10 responses to “Why No Experience is Ever a Waste of Time

  1. newsanchortohomemaker

    March 3, 2014 at 10:41 am

    I agree. Even though you don’t want to hear it when you’re going through a valley…that valley teaches you something and you’re usually better for it! Great post!

     
  2. Stephanie Shirley

    March 3, 2014 at 11:08 am

    Thank you for the comment! I’m glad to know there are others out there who can relate to the ups and downs…and the need to hang in there!

     
  3. ramakrishnan6002

    March 3, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    Reblogged this on Gr8fullsoul.

     
  4. Jessica Hutchins

    March 5, 2014 at 4:56 am

    Hello there,

    My name is Jessica Hutchins and I’m a professional blogger.
    I have over seven years of experience writing for the web and have covered plenty of interesting topics.
    I noticed that you have a blog – https://bennisinc.wordpress.com/
    … and was wondering whether you would be interested to accept some relevant topics as guestpost for your blog.
    Please let me know your interest so that I can send across some topics from where we can get started.
    Hoping to hear from you at the earliest!
    Thanks Much!!
    Kind Regards,
    Jessica Hutchins
    Writer and Blogger

     
    • Stephanie Shirley

      March 5, 2014 at 6:00 am

      Hi Jessica – Yes, I do accept guest blog posts. They must be between 500-800 words in length an on a related topic to my blog (see the main headline topics at the top of my blog). Please email me for more information and to pitch a topic: stephanie(at)bennisinc.com

       
  5. Labann

    March 5, 2014 at 8:34 am

    I disagree with your premise. I can think of many mindnumbing drudgeries that were imposed upon me that wasted huge blocks of time. Most of them involved earning wages. Seldom had a choice between new and pleasant. As I say on my blog, we are never going to just do nothing. A ha, awesome, and life altering moments only occur after enduring the dull buildup. Life is not pole vaulting between peeks.

     
    • Stephanie Shirley

      March 5, 2014 at 8:51 am

      If life altering moments only occur after enduring the “dull buildup” as you say, wouldn’t that make such experiences still worth enduring in the end- as a means to get to those better moments? I suppose it’s all about mindset. Tasks are only a waste of time if we allow them to be a waste of time. The premise of my post is to challenge you to find the purpose and positive aspect of all that you do in life – even if they may appear to be anything but such. We will never avoid the valleys, so we must learn to appreciate them as a way to get to our next peak.

       
  6. Labann

    March 5, 2014 at 9:35 am

    This is why after 6 decades I still ride a bicycle to work. I get your point… count your blessings. I just challenge you to not denigrate or minimize people’s boredom, frustration, pain and sacrifice. We all submit to things we’d rather not so next generation won’t have to.

     

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