The Class I Wish I Had in School

Billy Madison

(My course, Get Busy Living in 30 is now open again. See the end of the post for details.)

When I was in school, I took a lot of classes that I knew I would never use. Calculus? Physics? English literature? For some, it was an important class, but for the majority of us, it was stuff we would never use again.

I wish they would have taught classes that would have been more useful to the majority of students. A class that we didn’t think we needed at the time, but ten years later, we’d think, “I’m so glad they taught that class.”

Maybe like a class titled “Life Lessons: The Honest Truth”.

I would love to be a guest lecturer for a day to high school and college kids and tell them about “real life”. Instead schools don’t teach us this stuff and that’s why there are 30 year olds who refuse to grow up and act like life owes them something.

I was one of those. When I turned 30, I was more lost and confused than when I was 20. My life was going backwards. I knew how much my life sucked, but I didn’t want to deal with the responsibility of putting my life in my own hands.

It’s a lot of power. What if I made the wrong choices? What if I can’t decide? I would have preferred someone else make the tough decisions for me. Despite being an adult, I didn’t act like one. What I was doing was waiting for someone else to come along and point me in the right direction.

Wasn’t gonna happen. I now realize there were plenty of people out there willing to help me, but they weren’t actively looking for me. They were just there.

I had to seek help myself.

I’m not going to blame the school system for not teaching me this. I’m not going to blame my parents. They were just focused on wanting me to make good grades and going to a good college like typical Asian parents.

It would be nice if schools now taught kids real valuable life lessons. Took me till I was 32 to understand the real truth.

My big realization

I’m about to share with you the one piece of advice that made me realize that I better start taking shit seriously. It’s related to the Albert Einstein quote about the definition of insanity. This is something I thought to myself over and over again.

If what you have been doing isn’t working, you need to change. Otherwise your future will be a repeat of the same old shit. <–Click to tweet

I had some moments of happiness, but it just temporarily covered the real pain that was eating away inside. The pain of wanting a better life, doing work I enjoyed, being happy, and having the freedom I craved.

That advice was like a match to gasoline. It made me more determined than I had ever been before to take back control of my life. I already had a preview of my future, and I damn sure didn’t want that.

I started a bunch of lifestyle changes. I followed principles of happiness and success that have been around for generations. Stuff that have stood the test of time. Principles that people a hundred years from now will still be using.

I got rid of the microwave mentality that had brainwashed me. It was so toxic to me, but I never realized it. I embraced change. I didn’t fear it even when it was difficult. It was difficult and painful at times. Change is never easy.

But the discomfort was temporary. And after a while, I didn’t notice it as much because the satisfaction of real change was so much stronger.

When you roll up your sleeves and announce to yourself and the world that you’re fed up with the status quo, and you’re gonna change the direction of your life back towards something you actually want, it is a moment you will never forget. 

You need to learn to enjoy it on your own, however. Some of your friends will resist your efforts to change. They’ll feel threatened. Because when you start taking responsibility for your life, and stop making excuses, then good things start happening for you.

And suddenly you have little in common with your friends who still believe in blaming their lack of progress on everything, but their own laziness. You’re not one of them anymore and they don’t like that.

Screw them. You don’t need them. You will find a whole new world of friends to replace your lazy friends and you will enjoy your new friends even more.

I’m here to tell you that the path gets easier despite the challenges you will face and very soon your old life will feel so distant. I look back now and just chuckle at the type of person I used to be.

When you begin to take responsibility of your life, you start attracting better people, more opportunities, have better relationships, and feel much happier.

And you’re going to like the person you become.

(This is the shortened version of what I’d tell students.)

An Awesome Teacher

I got an email last September from a high school who told me she’s had her student read my ebook in class and they discuss it.

My high school students and I have been studying your book, Getting A Life That Doesn’t Suck.  I help them to adjust the thought patterns for high school students and particularly for those who have grown up in extreme at risk situations.  It has worked well and they are starting to think that your ideas are more than abstract.

That is awesome.

She’s also taken emails that I send out to subscribers and discusses it with her students.  I love hear that.

I believe that’s what more young kids need. So that when they become adults, and enter the real world, they understand they don’t get trophies for just showing up in life.

They know that people who work hard can run circles around those who are just talented. They understand that no matter the environment they grew up in, they can overcome it if they choose.

Get Busy Living in 30

No matter how old we are now it’s never too late to live the life we want. Since we never learned how to achieve real lasting success and happiness, it doesn’t mean you begin right now.

If you’re ready to start, let me help you.

My course, Get Busy Living in 30 is now open again.  

It’s 30 days to get your back on track in life.

If you’re feeling stuck and hopeless, let me help you get the happier, confident, optimistic you back so you can start to create the life you truly want.

Learn more about the course and if it is right for you. 

 

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  • Totally agree!
    I forget which Seth Godin book it was (maybe Linchpin) where he talks about school like an industry and that it’s focus is to produce people who can make good widgets or do x,y,z and not necessarily prepared for ‘life’.
    It’s really up to us to get our own education and like you say, roll up our sleeves, take action and become the people we want to be.

    • It truly is. I think parents play a big role. I know when I have kids one day, I’ll be giving them these life lessons outside of school.

  • Good post Benny,
    I’ve often said that the only value the current schooling system has is the ability to churn out drones of office workers who are unable to think for themselves and base their value on what the examining boards have recommended in order to get good grades.
    It’s sad, but very true.
    I don’t know any school that will teach kids how to think independently and train them to become entrepreneurs. Because it takes a creative and free mind to build something of value.
    In addition to that, there really are no real facts of life. No advice is wrong, as the old taoist saying goes: “Be willing to empty your cup”
    Something, which no examining board will agree with.

    • Hey Onder, I don’t know of any school either. That’s why I think it’s important for kids to get that part at home with the parents. Let kids be creative and use their mind and not just plant them in front of a TV all night long so they will stay quiet. Thanks for your comment!

  • Jessy

    I normally comment on your fanpage or email, so let’s give an actual comment on your blog a try for today 🙂

    I think a good mix of general stuff is a good thing and that is what grade school through high school is for. College, I can see wanting to get more specific. Plus if you’re one of those who thirsts for more outside of that, you can always drop in a cool class you want or study it on your own somehow.

    A couple classes I took in high school stick out in my head – Teen Living and Independent Living. Teen Living was a good class to help in dealing with those high school years; our teacher taught us things about time management, sex/health things we’d be tackling at that time (she even did a segment purely on rape, consent and abusive relationships which I had never encountered before; I think that was very awesome of her), how to write a resume, mock job interviews, how to write a check and keep your accounts balanced, etc. Independent Living expanded this to giving basics about college, upping some things we learned from the prior class, how to set a table and how to properly use utensils in a business or formal meal, learning how to shop for food and basic recipes (how to make an omelet etc), basic things to shop for in an apartment and some staples it should have, basic first aid and how to give the Heimlich to yourself if you’re alone, etc. Very informational classes on a lot of basic and good life skills that would be helpful in college and beyond.

    • Those two classes you too in high school sound great! When I was in school we had nothing like that. That kind of education is really valuable I think. How to handle your money is really important too. I know a lot of kids go to college, sign up for credit cards, and get into debt. They don’t know any better. It’s good to learn all the general stuff, but definitely mix it up like you said.

      Thanks for leaving a comment today. I think you should definitely do it more often. 🙂

  • Thom Bastian

    A great post as usual Benny. I have a feeling that the part that resonated the most with many of your readers is “No matter how old we are now it’s never too late to live the life we want.”

    It’s easy to think that the time to do things has passed, but there is no age restriction on success. My girlfriend’s dad for example, didn’t get accepted into med school until he was close to 40!

    You have the potential to be your own worst enemy, don’t fulfill that potential!

  • Neil Butterfield

    Another great post Benny. It’s all about coming to the realization that you have had enough. Only then will you do something about the situation.

  • Nicolas Puentes

    So your parents treated you like typical Asian parents, hehe, but nevertheless I believe there’s more than meets the eye.. your website and course have really helped me get a broader view of the common errors committed by many people that tend to simply let life pass by… I’m glad so many people have learned from this and that many others have gone through the same thing… more power to you and hopefully you’ll get more ideas for apps, since those you’ve developed have been pretty interesting so far…

  • Love this post! What I do tell younger people: travel the world and do everything you can think of doing!! Muster up the courage to do everything and you’ll learn from it all 🙂 Thanks, Benny. Good luck with your fabulous class!

  • Shu

    Hi Benny, thanks for a great post.

    I also went through 16 years of schooling blindly, studying math and the sciences, just taking for granted that school was preparing me for real life. the truth was that school was teaching me how to follow rules and how to be a good employee, rather than how to be a happy/good human being.

    i always had the mentality that grades were everything, and that getting a job was what school was for. so i ended up going into investment banking after college, which i hated.

    like you, i realized that i needed to drastically change my mindset and habits, otherwise i would keep going along the same path and not realize what i really want out of life. reading your blog has been very inspirational. life demands that each of us answer the question, “what is my purpose in life?” its unfathomable how schools have completely neglected to help us answer that question.

  • A lot of what’s taught in school is very important, such as language and writing skills and basic math and science. However, think of all the useless crap we’ve been taught..and that was quickly forgotten. Kind of a waste of time. And like you said, the whole point seems to be that, well, school is just what you’re supposed to do so you can do like everyone else is supposed to do. Graduate high school, go to college, maybe grad school, so you can get a “good” job and sit in a cubicle for 40-80 hours a week making money, and living for the weekends.

    “How was your weekend?”
    “Too short.”

    “Happy Friday”
    “I know, finally!”

    I hear this stuff all the time at work. There’s definitely more to be had than this kind of life.

    Imagine an education system that taught kids the basics, but encouraged every kid to embrace his creativity and really CREATE things. What a world that would be.

    Anyway, I’m done rambling…nice post 🙂

  • Rios

    As the greatest martial artist of all time (Bruce Lee) stated, “All knowledge is really self-knowledge.”

    I have been travelling internationally for the past ten years and what I have come to realize is that the “real education” is not in formal institutions but the “real education” is outside and away from formal institutions.

    My biggest accomplishments in life have been my real world international travel experiences. And what is more interesting is I grew up in the inner city of Chicago.

    I grew up a poor Hispanic kid among everyday gangs, crime and violence but for some reason, I always had a curious and open mind ever since I was a child. When I finally reached my 20’s I took the initiative to travel because I was fascinated with looking at pictures of the pyramids of Egypt as well as the pagodas in China.

    Once I started to travel internationally, my entire life changed for the better.

    To conclude, I would state that having an open mind and a willingness to experiment in life will open doors and give you new opportunities in life that will change your life forever.

  • sherpa

    As the greatest martial artist of all time (Bruce Lee) stated, “All knowledge is really self-knowledge.”

    I have been travelling internationally for the past ten years and what I have come to realize is that the “real education” is not in formal institutions but the “real education” is outside and away from formal institutions.

    My biggest accomplishments in life have been my real world international travel experiences. And what is more interesting is I grew up in the inner city of Chicago.

    I grew up a poor Hispanic kid among everyday gangs, crime and violence but for some reason, I always had a curious and open mind ever since I was a child. When I finally reached my 20?s I took the initiative to travel because I was fascinated with looking at pictures of the pyramids of Egypt as well as the pagodas in China.

    Once I started to travel internationally, my entire life changed for the better.

    To conclude, I would state that having an open mind and a willingness to experiment in life will open doors and give you new opportunities in life that will change your life forever.