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Tiny Wisdom: On Everyday Teachers

“If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.” -Pema Chodron

Many people go through their days collecting moments that annoyed them. How another driver turns without signaling. How your coffee barista moves at a glacial pace—so slow she has to ask twice what you ordered. The way a coworker talks loudly on her cell phone, even though you practically share the same cubicle.

Things like this happen all the time. We live, work, and play on top of each other—people we know, don’t know, want to know, and don’t know we want to know. We’re bound to get in each others way.

What we don’t often realize is that all those different people can enrich our way if we let them.

That careless driver reminds you to stay alert. Your greatest power in an unpredictable world is your ability to respond well to things that happen around you.

The barista teaches you to take a deep breath and slow down. Nothing is so important that a late arrival justifies an ulcer.

Your coworker provides an opportunity to practice effective communication under stress—an invaluable skill both in work and in life.

Today if you encounter someone who presents a challenge to your plan for the day, ask yourself: What can I learn from this experience that will help me in the future?

Photo by The Fayj

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha and Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. Her latest bookTiny Buddha's Gratitude Journal, which includes 15 coloring pages, is now available for purchase. For daily wisdom, follow Tiny Buddha on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram..

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  • Everyday teachers…….reminds me of The Rolling Stones who sang:

    “You can’t always get what you want….but you get what you need”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Rcg8vvFKVY&feature=related

  • Lori, you’re not annoying and you don’t drive me crazy (or anybody, I’m sure). Still, I want to tell you that you’ve become one of my everyday teachers. And you do present me with challenges — the good kind, the “gonna think about THIS today” kind. So although my comment isn’t directly related to the content of this post, it made me want to say this anyway: Thanks for all you do!

  • Thanks so much Kate. I’m touched to read your comment! I’ve learned a lot from the writing you’ve shared, as well, and I look forward to learning even more from you! =)

  • I needed to hear this and so perfect is the timing, it’s uncanny! I will keep these words to my heart when I have to face something difficult later today. I have been practicing what I am to say already – but if I keep these sage words in my head, my intentions will be that much clearer! Thank you!

  • That’s great! I’m glad this helped you. Have a wonderful weekend. =)

  • Derrick

    So true! I get you Lori! So cool to come across your reminders and say….Exactly! It is what it is.

  • Thank Derrick! That’s one of my favorite sayings. (It is what is it). 

  • Skwong

    If you open your heart, everyone can be our teacher. The driver, your coworker, the barrister and all those who got struck in the traffic jam, trying to by-pass, cut Q, jamming their hons and whistlers have only one thing in mind. They want to be happy, they want to avoid suffering.
    The only problem is, they have taken the wrong path, wrong method and being sucked into delusion taken over by the world. Everyone can be our teacher is to realize this! The driver teaches us to be compassion not to hurt others and cherish others before your “I”. The coworker teaches us to be mindful not to judge others with our wrong view, someone who disdain us teaches us not to put oneself on a ego trip. An unwanted argument teaches us that we are living in delusion.  The lesson we learn is “everything is impermanence and life is short” take every minute to realize your true self.

  • LadyTamborine

    Another great life lesson…thanks Lori!
    Indeed, those around us teach us many things, the key is…are our eyes, hearts and souls open enough to receive them?
    So often our own temperament or egos get in the way of seeing these lessons.  It’s crucial to be in the moment and receive.