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The World is my Teacher

Updated on August 3, 2009

Lessons Learnt Travelling Through South-east USA

I am on a quest of self-improvement and I find inspirations in almost every person, place, thing and event that I encounter or part-take in. I feel like I am an open vessel, ready and willing to learn from God, and His creation; the universe, the world, people and places. I know that I have to be discerning and selective as there are good and bad lessons along this path.

I have had several manifestations of teachers who unknowingly are helping me along this journey. Some of them I meet on hubpages. I will mention a few such as msorensson; metaphysician; James A Watkins; SEM Pro and there are countless others whose hub have enlightened and inspired me to search for answers to the questions of life.

This hub was inspired by my recent road trip through south-eastern USA. I will not rehash all the different places of our visit in this hub as I have already done so in my previous hub about Inspiration on the Road. What I will address is the emotions that were inspired by the people and places that we encountered. I will give a general overview rather than the specific details of time and places.

I was pleasantly reminded of the beauty in people, nature, and architecture as seen throughout south-eastern USA. My husband, son and I travelled for eight days, going through fourteen states and clocking about 4, 200 kilometres on our car. The road trip was one of many trips that we have taken together as a family. We enjoy spending time together and especially seeing the world through the eyes of my six year old son. He is so excited about everything; bright eyes and no restraint in his display of joy and excitement. Even hubby was showing some excitement. This was rear as he is usually very restrained. On the other hand, I am usually very excitable and can find fun and pleasure in even mundane events as watching a colony of ants streaming across our backyard deck. This trip was not mundane for sure. It was exciting, fun and provided lessons for life.

This trip serves as reminder of the following advice:

  • Be grateful of all gifts, big and small
  • Be appreciative of the world; there is beauty in everything.
  • Speak well of everyone, even those who are negative.
  • Believe in yourself, be kind to yourself and speak well of yourself.
  • Be patient; it takes effort and dedication to achieve one's dream.
  • Know yourself and seek to understand others
  • Be open minded and the world will open up to you
  • People are kind so be receptive of their kindness
  • There is safety in the world, even if history is harsh

These are some fundamental beliefs that most people were raised with, but over time and life's experience, we forgot some of them. My trip through south-east USA was the catalyst that brought me back to my basic roots. It reminded me of words my parents and grandparents instructed me as a child. Words that were buried deep in my consciousness as I struggled in this rat-race of life.

Now you are wondering how can a fast pace trip across a quarter of America, do so much for anyone. Well what you look for you will find. So as we interacted with people we saw God's kindness and beauty. Point in case, we were about to park in a not so nice part of the city in Atlanta and a women came up to us and told us that if we have packages and bags in the back of the vehicle, we should make sure that they are hidden. She told us that cars are often broken into in that area. Now you could say that is nothing special and anyone could have given that information. Well, if our car was broken into, that would have negatively impacted our trip. Our enjoyment would be diminished somewhat; we would not have maintained our schedule due to the delay to repair the vehicle. I see kindness and concern for others in this person who took the time to advise us about the safety of our vehicle.

Our encounter with two American leaders; one a leader whose philosophy was non-violence and peace in the face of hate and adversaries; the other a sportsman who self-actualized by believing in himself and achieving his dream. These inspirational men stand tall as reminder that we should believe in ourselves, work hard, step outside the line and reach for our desires. Along their journey, their lives inspired many as they contributed to change the human condition for the better.

You may argue that not everyone can not attain the level of success that these public figures achieved, but each of us can achieve success at the level of our dreams and desires. We are only limited by our thoughts and beliefs. Success to one person may be raising children who are well adjusted adults, leading fulfilled lives and contributing to the betterment of the world. Conversely, another person might view success as finding a cure for cancer. Whatever the goal may be, it demands the same level of intensity and determination to achieve your dream in whatever you do.

You may be saying to yourself, I cannot be successful in everything. That is a lie. We are usually our worst critics and perceived limitations are the constructs of our mind. I believe that once we establish goals/desires/dreams and set out to achieve them; focusing on the end result, applying dedication and determination, then we will achieve them. There will be setbacks and obstacles to overcome along the path. If we remain focus on our goal and take action, then as the Bible says, 'we'll reap our just reward'.

Many people fail to achieve the success that they desire because of self criticism. Self criticism is from a place of pain and it can prevent us from achieving our goal. This pain is from our socialization and perceived negativities in our experiences. It's that voice in our head that said 'you can't do it because you are not smart enough or connected enough.' This voice can create self doubt which can lead to excuses for not achieving our goal. Self criticism is from a feeling of unworthiness. Fellow hubber, Melinda teaches that we can write your own life scrip/affirmations.

External criticism can trigger negative reactions within most people and deter them from achieving their goals. The reaction is often as a defence mechanism because we feel vulnerable. What we need to remember here is that criticism is sometimes from a place of love and is meant to make us better. We can experience personal growth from constructive criticism. Conversely, some criticism can be destructive to one's confidence. Usually our reaction to what may be perceived as criticism has to be weighed for validity. If it passes the validity test, meaning that you can experience personal improvement from what you hear, then the criticism is given with good intentions. If on the other hand, you cannot get over the bad feeling from criticism, or it does not serve to enlighten, then it is given mean spiritedly.

How do we counter negativity of criticism? Speaking well of oneself and others, as well as accepting that we are wonderfully made in God's image, can stem the effects of negative criticism. We therefore have everything we need to achieve our goal. If you desire happiness, peace and joy; it is attainable. We have to believe that we are worthy of the boundless gifts from the universe. Our past should not keep us shackled to the hurt and pain of our ancestors. We are here for a purpose and that is to show that love can conquer all manner of evil. This is not to say that we should forget about the past and not learn from the experiences of others who have come before us. It means that we do not have to be slaves to the past. The world is a safe place even if history is harsh.

In 2001, the 911 devastation of the twin towers in New York has been etched on our consciousness, as we watched the terrorist attack replayed on our television screen over and over again. Our world has been changed as a result. On a recent trip to New York City, I felt a sense of safety and calm. It was as if the wound of 911 had healed and there was no scar tissue left to remind of the nasty wound. People were going about their business, having a great time and the city was as vibrant as ever. It never entered my mind that almost eight years ago, we experienced a great tragedy. I only recalled the New York devastation some time after we returned home. This goes to show that those who tried to harm, did not win. Even though many families still bear the pain as they lost loved ones, life goes on and hate has not taken over the heart of those who were so brutally hurt. New York has bounced back and continues to be the most intriguing city in the world.

It is said that today we have more online social network groups than ever; people spend much time e-mailing, texting, and blogging and have lost the art of conversation or basic verbal face-face interaction with another human being. Facebook and Twitter are the fastest growing social network on the internet. A friend who lives in a condo in Toronto, told me that she does not know her neighbour even though they share a wall. They lived in the building for over five years. I told her to go and knock at the neighbours door and introduce herself. She did exactly that and now they are friends, taking turns to watch each other kids play outside.

We live in a world of fast food, drive through, jet-set lifestyle, travelling across half of the world in matter of hours. We have no time to speak to our neighbours. We buy million dollar homes only to sleep in them for a few hours at night because we spend ten to sixteen hours a day away from home six days a week. We actually spend more time in our cars, commuting to work than we spend enjoying our homes. Gone are the days when family sit down to a meal or two per day. Our children are addicted to video games and obesity is on the rise. In 1982 obesity rate was 4% among children, in 2001 it was 33%. ( Wow, the more we achieve materially, the less we enjoy. That's the irony of wealth accumulation. Our children spend more time every day with strangers than they spend with their family. Kids are dropped off at daycare at 7 AM and picked up at 6 PM, that's eleven hours that someone is taking care of our children. Indeed, we all want to make a living, but at what cost?

I would like to challenge us to make a small change. The next time you are about to pass a stranger, say 'hello'. Look them in the eye and ask "How are You?" and mean it. I tried it while we were on our trip through south-eastern USA. Whenever we stopped for gas or stopped in a new city, I would strike up a conversation with someone. I would start with a smile and then say "How do you do?" Everyone responded with a smile and ninety percent of people will start a conversation. After all, we are all connected by the human race, so why not show we care.


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    • DynamicS profile image

      Sandria Green-Stewart 8 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      k@r1, thanks for visiting. I have been doing this challenge and getting to meet some wonderful people in my community. I can't believe I had been keping my head down before. People are so kind and generous. It takes only a smile to start up a conversation. The other day I was in a local department store and the woman 2 persons behind me looked like she was in such hurry. It was about 535pm and she kept looking at her watch. At that time of day, there was only one cashier. I asked her if she had to get her child from daycare and she said yes, shaking her head and looking quite anxious. I told her to take my spot in line and I took hers. She was so grateful. I've been there before, trying to grab something for dinner before getting to the daycare before 6pm.

      I felt so good that I could help to make someone's day go a little better...

      Thanks for dropping by. God bless.

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 8 years ago from Ohio

      This is a wonderful read! I love your advice to look people in the eye and say hello, how are you. It is so important in today's society to connect with others. Thanks for the inspiration! :D

    • DynamicS profile image

      Sandria Green-Stewart 8 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      James, great to have you back as I look forward to your great comments. Thanks for visiting and for you support. Indeed, vacation is a great way to reconnect with our inner self while we rest and rejuvenate to be the best that we can be.

      Blessings to you.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      An outstanding article! I have enjoyed the life lessons brought to the fore via your trip. Vacations are a great to to re-create oneself. Thanks for the fine read that is also needful.

    • DynamicS profile image

      Sandria Green-Stewart 8 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Shalini, indeed, we are all connected by the energy of our devine universe. While we respect each others space, we can acknowledge the greatness in each other by a smile or exchange of a word or two.

      You're so right about the infectious nature of smile; I'm smiling right now.

      Thanks so much for stopping by.

    • DynamicS profile image

      Sandria Green-Stewart 8 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      quicksand, I admire your humor. Thanks for dropping by. Indeed life's experience is the best teacher of us all.

      I wish you only the best results with all you do. The universe gives to us whatever we desire.

      Thanks for your generous compliment.

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 8 years ago from India

      What a wonderful article! Yes, if only each of us reached out just a little bit to someone, what a wonderful world this would be! The law of attraction - smiles are so infectious!

    • quicksand profile image

      quicksand 8 years ago

      You've got yourself a very experienced teacher, although "experienced" is not the exact word I need to use right here. Anyway thanks for the interesting hub. LOL, the next time I see a stranger I shall follow your advise! Keep checking my avatar for a black eye! ... Just kidding!

      Your advise is pretty good!

      Cheers! :)

    • DynamicS profile image

      Sandria Green-Stewart 8 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      K@ri, thanks for your kind comments. I am doing the challenge and getting some very pleasant results. Just on the weekend, I went to a local festival in my community and I met some great people. I can't believe I've lived in this community for almost ten years and didn't meet them before.

      I agree, we all want the same things, but some of us have shorter learning curves.

      Thanks for your compliments. Blessings.

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 8 years ago from Ohio

      I love your challenge! I do this and it works wonders!! People, mostly are people, with the same wants and needs. We come from the same place, no matter where we are from. Beautiful and uplifting hub! I love it!! :D

    • DynamicS profile image

      Sandria Green-Stewart 8 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      AlexK2009, thanks for your comment. You are right, sometimes we need a reality check and what may come off as criticism, maybe because we don't want to hear it at the time, is really feedback to help us. It is for that reason why I say, do the validity test, if you see benefit from the criticism, then it is meaningful.

      You are right though, what one may consider criticism may be valuable feedback.

      Thanks for your insight.

    • DynamicS profile image

      Sandria Green-Stewart 8 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Universal Laws, thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your comment.

    • AlexK2009 profile image

      AlexK2009 8 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      A very inspiring hub and too much to take in at one reading, especially on screen. Remember however that what you call self criticism can be seen as an extreme of being realistic. Getting the right balance is important

    • Universal Laws profile image

      Universal Laws 8 years ago from UNIVERSE

      Very Inspiring, thanks for sharing.


    • DynamicS profile image

      Sandria Green-Stewart 8 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Ladybird33, thanks for your kind comment. As my grandma said, 'life is what you make it.' I'm hoping to make this journey counts, even if it is one small voice among the din of this world.

      Thanks for dropping by. Much blessing to you.

    • DynamicS profile image

      Sandria Green-Stewart 8 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Tom, thanks for stopping by and for your comment. The focus should be on the journey, not the destination, so I am learning as much as I can while enjoying the journey.

    • Ladybird33 profile image

      Ladybird33 8 years ago from Fabulous USA

      This is a wonderful tribute to our world and the journey of life. I enjoyed it so much. Thank you.

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image

      Tom Rubenoff 8 years ago from United States

      A humbling and inspirational article. May your journey bring you what you seek.

    • DynamicS profile image

      Sandria Green-Stewart 8 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      someonewhoknows, thanks for stopping by. I used to talk to people I pass on the street, and then after a while i stopped because everyone seems to be in such a rush and have no time to answer or look at you like you are insane. Technology is great and has enhanced ourlives tremendously, but we need to use it as a tool, not as a mean in itself. I too am caught up in the internet and social network, but I strive for a balance.

      I believe that this venue is worthwhile because it helps to develop one's writing skills, while interacting with some wonderful people, like yourself.

      Thanks for your comment.

    • DynamicS profile image

      Sandria Green-Stewart 8 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Melinda, I thank you for being such inspiration and mentor to me. Thank you for sharing your experience and for your kind comments.

      The last point is very personal to me. It has been something I struggled with for the last 20 years that I live in North America. I have to re-assure/affirm myself that the world is safe, even if I remember the hurt and pain of the past. Many of us are caught up in the pain and we have to let go and begin to believe that there is safety, otherwise we will stay trapped in fear and disappointment.

      Being open is sometimes a challenge, especially when the other person is saying something that challenges our beliefs. We are not perfect, so we have to practice to stay open, even when anger is triggered in us.

      As always, thanks for your input.

      BTW, I'm reading and loving Dream Manifesto. Thanks for the link.

    • someonewhoknows profile image

      someonewhoknows 8 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

      Very true we seldom,if ever talk to people live next to and for some reason people feel more at ease when writing to someone over the internet.Iknow I do.But some people get carried away and write things no one should write for all to see.

    • msorensson profile image

      msorensson 8 years ago

      First, thank you for the mention, DynamicS. That is so kind, second, the list is wonderful and last of lessons is the telling one.

      The other day I was having lunch with a friend. At one point I got so angry at what he said. The universe provided instantaneous feedback/correction. I nearly choked! It was the wrong thing to think and I knew it. My inner voice told me. If we are open, then the universe does open to us. All we have to do is listen.

      Thank you for this generosity of spirit.


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