The Top 3 Subjects To Study As An Adult
- The leading people in your field
- The bleeding edge of your field
I don’t know how you were as a kid, but I remember growing up and calculating just how many years I would have left in school. I would lie in bed at night and do the math.
When I was eight years old, it felt like an eternity until it seemed I would be let out of jail to go do whatever it was I thought I wanted to do.
Somehow or the other, you make it through high school and then there’s college. When I was at Brown University, the rigor of study was softened somewhat by the open curriculum. We could study just about anything we wanted – even to the point of making up our own classes – so long as we could convince a professor to sponsor us.
I still managed to study some biology, and even got myself a student tutor when I felt overwhelmed by it all. I surprised myself by the fact that I ended up really liking and being very good at dissection (who knew?). I steered clear of economics, though in later years I ended up being a business journalist, interviewing literally every president of the local Federal Reserve offices, including Alan Greenspan and Paul Volcker at the same time.
Perhaps because of this self-guided approach to my education, I have ended up as a very serious student. Even as an adult at the age of 54, I am always studying something fairly intently, even though some would describe me as already a master at fitness, nutrition and natural healing.
Everybody has a way they do business.
The way most people do business is this: They figure out maybe what they think they could do to make a lot of money, and they go for that. Or they follow what their father or mother did or told them to do, and then they do that.
My boyfriend Ken Holmes calls me “stubborn.” I prefer to think of myself as “tenacious.”
I don’t do business in either of those usual ways – I never have and never will. That’s just not my thought process.
What I do is figure out what I am passionately obsessed with – just ask any of my clients what it’s like to talk with me about the side effects of diet soda or the long-term consequences of back surgery. Even in my own mind, I have to say, “Down, girl!”
I practice what I am absolutely passionate about, and then, when I am no longer spirited about that subject, or I find another subject or subjects that I am even more fervent about, I go for that and I go into it full catastrophe.
It is my observation that all living beings need to continue to evolve.
This is our true soul longing.
When we allow ourselves to continue to evolve, we thrive.
When we try to force ourselves into a certain rut because it makes so much sense, because everybody else is doing it or we think we look good in the uniform, we take on the hardness of our particular life structure and then we fossilize until we either become irrelevant or deeply unhappy to the point of insanity.
My favorite guest when I ran my radio show was Emilie Conrad, the founder of Continuum. Emilie is a genius’s genius. She is so far ahead of everybody else in her thinking even the cutting edge people can barely comprehend what she is actually up to.
Emilie says that there is a continuum between structure and evolution.
When you allow your life to become too structured – you know, your mortgage, the 3.8 children, the minivan, the 50 employees who take up so much of your time that you barely have a free hour to see your shrink, all your obligations, real and perceived – you limit your ability to evolve.
Somehow I intuitively recognized this fact a long time ago. I set up my life and my business very simply so that I could continue to evolve – both as a person and as a practitioner.
Part of what I do to keep evolving is to keep studying. I don’t get grades like I did at Brown, but I study just as hard, maybe even a bit harder because I recognize that every bit of knowledge I am acquiring is for the highest good not only of myself but of all my students and clients, both current and future.
Here are the three top subjects I think every adult should study:
1. Yourself. I am a gardener. Part of what it takes to be a pretty good gardener is to understand what each plant needs in terms of optimal conditions. Are you a shade plant, a part sun/part shade plant, a sunny plant? Do you need lots of water or just occasional sprinkling?
I have Blackeyed Susans in my yard that have naturalized. That means the conditions are so absolutely perfect for them they go crazy, spread their seeds everywhere, and then, in the fall, when the summer flowers are fading, they give me months of cheeriness because their needs are so well met.
The more you understand about yourself, the better able you are to adapt your conditions so that you can actually be the best you can be.
How much sleep do you really need? Do you know what is your best breakfast – the one you can eat and win your race, give a great speech, make love for hours, have plenty of energy all day and avoid afternoon cravings? Be honest – how much exercise does your body require? What makes you feel the best? How much sunlight do you need – you are more like a plant than you acknowledge!
One of the ways you will know you are living in your ideal environment is by your own personal output. If you are a great husband/wife/boss/employee/mother/father/sister/brother/friend and your work is at its peak, then look around and study what you are doing right.
On the other hand, if you are miserable, more than likely you are not meeting your own basic needs. It’s actually nobody else’s fault. If you are unhappy it’s because you don’t know enough about yourself to understand what you actually need to be happy.
What do you need to do, be or have in order to be happy? That is an actual question. If you study yourself, you will find the answer.
2. The leading people in your field. By now, if you are my age (I am 54), you probably know enough about what you do to be a little bit dangerous. Maybe you are already teaching yourself (I am a long-term teacher). Even if you are pretty good at what you do and even if you are a teacher yourself, I encourage you to study the leading people in your field.
I will take myself for an example.
I just completed my sixth 200-hour teacher training, my 500-hour teacher training (why not?) and then started on my yoga therapy training. As one of my clients said to me, “You are already a yoga therapist.” Yes, I know that – in other words, I already do that. I may not have yet another official label to that effect, but yes, I use yoga to heal all sorts of conditions.
If I go to Lillah Schwartz to study a triangle, it’s not because I don’t know what a triangle is or how to teach it.
What I am really studying is how Lillah Schwartz thinks. How Lillah looks at a body and within 30 seconds can locate the exact spot where the connective tissue is jammed up and within another 30 seconds can identify the yoga pose that will fix it and within another 5 minutes, voila, you are out of pain, you have been comprehended, instructed and completed the pose to release your pain.
I have studied so long with Sue Maes I can’t even recall the year I actually began. What is Sue thinking? How is her thinking evolving today? One of the things I admire the most about Sue is that she avoids guru-itis, my pet name for inflammation of the ego. She is there to teach you how to get into your own power, not to take anything away from you.
I want to make a side note here and point out that it was my professor from Brown, Kermit Champa, who encouraged me to find other women as mentors. I spoke to Kermit Champa literally every week for 27 years before he died. When I was writing plays, he recommended that I read women playwrights.
“If you don’t,” he warned me, “you will always come off just sounding like a second-rate man.”
I took Champa’s advice to heart and today I am the mentor to many other women. It seems self evident to me that only another healthy, successful well-balanced woman can teach you how to be a healthy, successful well-balanced woman. Too many women try to act like men and end up with burned out adrenal glands, either no partner or a series of unsuccessful relationships and a career that leaves them with no time for friends or hobbies.
It’s important to study how successful people think, because more than likely successful people are thinking in ways that the merely adequate or the run of the mill folks have not begun to approach.
Maybe these other less developed folks could come to the same conclusions eventually, but it would probably take them a year, several thousand dollars worth of lab tests and a lot of other expensive calculations.
You want to get into the vibration of those who are leaders to see the world through their eyes. Now that is healing!
3. The bleeding edge of your field. Every year, I pick one or two subjects to study and I go at them full on.
Sometimes these are subjects I am fully passionate about – like yoga – and other times I identify my own weak spots.
In recent years, I have spent a lot of time learning about computers, which prepared me to rebuild two websites with the help of my fantastic web guy, Greg Keesey, which prepared me to take over the administration of my own newsletter. I also had to come into the current century about accounting, which I was so deficient in thank God my accountant didn’t laugh in my face. I also learned marketing, which I likened to dentistry. You don’t necessarily like going to the dentist, but your dentist doesn’t give you a survey about how happy you are to be there. It just has to be done.
Tackling the subjects you realize you are weakest in can actually round out your self confidence. You develop the attitude that yes, other college graduates can do accounting and therefore, you can too. Or maybe this social media thing could actually be fun if you look at it like scrap booking or some other fun creative project.
When we do the things we either didn’t think we could do or didn’t want to do, we expand our self definition. So if you look at it that way, even learning to balance your own checkbook could be seen as a step towards your own spiritual growth.
Whether it’s something you can’t wait to find out about or something you recognize you need to be up to date, figure out how to be on the bleeding edge.
This is an important lesson I learned in healing, because healing is all about shifting vibrations from lowest to highest frequency.
The entire energy of the planet is speeding up and what worked five years ago may not work all that well today, if at all. And that’s true not only for personal healing but for every other aspect of your life, including accounting, marketing and the ways we all do business.
Whether I am following my passion or strengthening a personal weakness, I go as deep as I can.
Continuous study is one of the personal keys to happiness, I think. Acquiring new knowledge allows us to expand the boundaries of who we think we are, the degree to which we can empower other people and increases our capacity to handle whatever life throws at us.