“What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.” ~Oscar Wilde

Life itself bestows more opportunities to learn and to grow than the lessons confined in hundred-dollar text books.

When we grow up privileged and comfortable, we often neglect this vitally important perspective.

For Gen-Yers like me, we are thrust into “the real world” in our early 20’s having really only lived to experience the system of regimented education for the duration of our lives. In this advantaged life, we each are born sort of a “Worthy Apprentice.”

The Worthy Apprentice

Schooling begins before we really remember. We learn our lessons because we’re told it’s right; we persist and strive to achieve without understanding any higher reason or purpose; we pursue letter combinations like BA and BS and MFA and ESQ and PHD to follow our names because we are sold that every happiness and success will follow too, just beyond them.

In many cases, feelings of fulfillment and success will indeed come to fruition, for higher education is a rare privilege in our world helps provide us with greater career successes. And yet when we “Worthy Apprentices” lack, out of naivete, the important perspective that life often teaches us the most frequent and most valuable lessons, we are quick to assume the role of victim when confronted with hardship and pain.

As Oscar Wilde suggests, if we shift our perspective to view our hardships and pains less as bitter trials and more as blessings in disguise, our “victim” mentality can be slowly transformed to one of gratitude. Indeed, a true Worthy Apprentice is not an over-privileged, over-educated, over-achiever who has been given the world and knows not what to do with it; but rather, a humbled student of life who recognizes the value of struggle and of hardship and, most of all, of overcoming it all.

In Life, Most Lessons are Free

Is it really any surprise that millions of men and women across the globe who have grown up with so little — barely any material comforts, let alone specific social advantages or political privileges — often appear more wealthy in spirit, soul and happiness than those in the West who have been bestowed riches?

We all know the saying, “Money cannot buy happiness.” And although higher education is a special gift for we who can manage to afford near quarter-million-dollar degrees (and be all the more likely to succeed in our careers), life itself often teaches us more valuable lessons than we care to realize. Living your life fully in this world and among its people is its own “higher education” — one that never ceases and can provide a wealth of inner peace, strength, balance, and gratitude, should we choose to allow it. The result is an abundance of wealth in inner spirit.

In life, most lessons are free. Embody the essence of a Worthy Apprentice: choose to go beyond simply seeing our trials and hardships as unfair “ways of the world” and the unjust “nature of life.” Perspective is everything. Open your mind and shift your perspective to comprehend these hardships as unique blessings and privileges from which we are provided the opportunities to grow and to better ourselves. For, in the end, who is the better boatsman — he who has only manned his skiff over a bay of glass, or he who has cut through whitecaps and winds upon the ocean’s open waters?