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Is learning the hard way good or bad in 2024?

Is learning the hard way good or bad?

Is learning the hard way good or bad? 

Learning the hard way is generally portrayed as a bad thing. Is it so? Learning the hard way makes the lesson permeate more into my consciousness.

By the “hard way,” do you mean trial and error?

We are wired to learn from trying things to see what happens, which people call trial and error. Describing it as trial and error is not helpful. When results don’t turn out as expected, the results aren’t errors. It’s feedback that what had been a reasonable hypothesis based on what had been known needs to be reworked.

It’s the scientific method. Observe. Conclude. Create a hypothesis. Test the hypothesis. Observe what happens. Revise hypothesis. Test and repeat.

It’s “hard” because it doesn’t go in a straight line. It doesn’t have a set input that can be tested. By nature, it jumps all over the place, creating a network of connections. It’s superior because it involves questioning and seeking answers to questions. It leads to a working understanding of the subject.

“Trial and error” is how children learn their primary language. They play. They have no agenda other than getting better at what they want to say. They don’t want to “learn a language.” They want enough competence to say what they want to say. Fortunately, as they grow, what they need to communicate grows, and so does their need to improve.

Americans can see how effective that is compared to the foreign language class that’s (semi) mandatory for college admittance. In most cases, the linear, traditional school approach to learning a foreign language fails. (And why most non-Americans believe Americans don’t learn a foreign language.) But let a kid be immersed in a language that works like a charm.

Adding research and reading something that interests you can speed up the process. However, the traditional approach of working through someone else’s understanding is hard and less efficient. It seems easier because it leads to short-term memorization. When the goal is a working understanding, it could work better.

What life lesson did you learn the hard way?

Hold yourself to higher standards and live accordingly.

  • On Friendship: I used to be very introverted and had a closed group of friends. They were very popular, and I felt privileged to hang out with them. But I was also picked on the most. When meeting strangers, my “friends” would make lame comments about me so that it would seem that they were very cool and doing me a favor for hanging out with me. Every time I started working on myself, on my goals, on expressing my dreams, and the hard work I put in every day, they would feel threatened and made sure to do something about it to put me down again. My life changed immensely once I ditched them and started again from zero. Be around people who care about you and where you can provide two-way growth.
  • On Love: Ignoring the little things that bother you will add up. When the bubble bursts, you realize you hate each other so much and don’t even realize why anymore. But you are also so invested that it breaks you in half not having that person in your life again. Sex is great. Communication and vulnerability are better. Trust is key. If that is not present, you are just making each other miserable. Move on. Learn to love yourself again. And start over wiser.
  • On Confidence: I used to be very shy. I can’t tell you how many opportunities I missed because I feared “asking” or “upsetting.” I always thought if I showed up, it would be enough. Opportunity will find me. That is not true. Stop waiting for stuff to happen and make it happen. Ask that girl out, ask for that raise, apply for that job, create that project you always wanted, go on that trip you always wanted, speak when you believe you have something to say, and make that phone call. You will get slammed back down more than you could handle sometimes, but it will also help you reach places you never thought possible.
  • On Being Alone: I have so many regrets about people no longer in my life that I can’t call them. I suck at following up with people. I lived in 5 countries but always ended up alone because I was too busy to see what the people I left behind were doing occasionally. Grab your phone, look up that person you haven’t talked to in a while, and send a Whats App message: “Hey, I’ve been thinking about you lately. How is your life?”. Your life will be enhanced immensely.
  • On Life (or Death): My parents were out of town one day. I was alone at home. My aunt and uncle were visiting, and in the evening, she called me to say that my uncle was puking blood. He had liver cancer. I wanted to call the ambulance, but it was kind of in the air that this was it. Earlier that week, the doctor told him he had three months left. My uncle was still conscious, so he asked me this incredible task: “Drive me to my hometown, back to the house were I grew up; I want to die there”. I was 19. I complied. I can’t tell you how many thoughts were rushing through my mind while driving on the highway with my uncle in the back seat with a bucket, puking and growling. Forty miles later, we get to his house, and I help my aunt lay him in bed. While she rushes to get some clean clothes, my uncle calls me and whispers in my ear something. He told me his regrets and asked me not to do the same. I had to return home to get the car to my parents, who rushed back to town with the train. On the way back, I stopped on the side of the road and cried for a good 15 minutes. Later that night, he passed away. Take what you want from this story. I learned that time catches up with us too fast to have regrets and doubts and be stuck inside our heads. It changed me.
  • On Health: On working out. Walk, run, lift, do something, not for the rock-hard abs and the beach body but for your peace of mind. It teaches you to discipline, releases endorphins and enhances your brain activity. I’m catching up after skipping physical education classes most of my life, drinking and smoking heavily. You can also change your eating. Make sure you put the right fuel in your body. I’m not saying to go full paleo, but start small; one Coke can less per day and more greens on your plate. My proportions are 35% protein, 40% healthy carbs, 25% healthy fats.

“Mens sana in corpore sano”

  • On Being Liked: I used to be everyone’s pet. Trying to be liked by as many people as possible. Girls, teachers, bosses, readers, colleagues, employees. I was a prisoner of everyone’s opinion about me. Some people will hate your work either way; some will judge you either way, and some will expect you to solve all their problems and hate if you can’t. The moment you start giving in to everyone’s opinion is the moment you stop being authentic. And people sense when you are fake. And then they like you even less. Feel free to shake the apple tree a bit to see what fruits remain after.
  • On Parents: Your parents will give you outdated advice. Advice that is bad for you. They do it because they love you and want you to be safe. Don’t fight them. Don’t judge them. Nod your head, and then do what your heart says. Call them and tell them how much you love them. One day, you will be in their shoes doing the same thing. But they might not be around anymore.
  • On Being Vulnerable: I wish I did it more. Nobody likes that perfect, no problems, amazing Facebook life; I am a better person. It’s fake. Everyone has their ups and downs. Everyone is trying to get by. Everyone has something to offer to the world.

For me, today, it’s this post.

What did you learn “the hard way”?

The value of money!

That was early 1970. We had been to Tirupati with our toddler daughter.

Those were the days when there were no ATMs or online railway reservations.

So we had to carry all the cash for expenditure during our tour and for return railway fare.

Return reservations depended on the luck of the people.

At Tirupati, we spent money shopping after darshan (view of holy idol). They were mostly toys for our daughter, which were unavailable in Nagpur.

They needed more time to count the cash or estimate the next expenditure.

Everything was done in haste.

Luckily, we could get a return reservation.

We only found time to count cash in hand after we sat on the train.

As we counted the cash, our hearts started thumping fast. There needed to be more cash in the husband’s wallet!

There needed to be more than the cash for having one breakfast and two meals on the train.

“We will eat Tirupati laddu(A sweet offered to God) as breakfast and skip night meals. The cash is enough for our lunch,” we decided.

Luckily for the toddler, we had tinned baby food.

In the evening, when everybody was having dinner, our stomachs started making weird sounds.

“I think you have some coins in your handbag. Let us count them. We may at least have a small snack,” their husband said.

I started to remove coins(change) from my handbag.

The handbag had at least five to six pockets.

I removed whatever coins were lying there in those pockets.

There were coins of five paise(it had some value those days) to one rupee.

After removing them all, a small heap of coins was on the seat.

We counted them patiently.

To our surprise, the money was more than enough for two meals!

“God! This is the power of spare change(chiller mahatyam in Telugu),” I said happily.

And before this counting, I constantly complained about the bag’s weight!

Not only meals, we had some ice cream too!

That day, we learned two lessons. While in a new place, we should constantly watch our expenditure.

The second lesson was, though very low in denomination, chump change, when kept carefully, will be your life saver sometime!

So don’t look down upon small coins. Respect money.

Should I choose the easy way or the hard way?

The decision between choosing the easy way and the hard way depends on various factors, including your goals, values, and the specific situation. Here are some considerations to help you make a decision:

Choosing the Easy Way:

  1. Efficiency: The easy way may be more efficient and require less effort or resources to achieve a specific outcome.
  2. Time Management: If time is a critical factor, the easy way might help you achieve your goal more quickly.
  3. Stress Reduction: Opting for the easier path may lead to less stress and a more straightforward experience.
  4. Practicality: In some situations, the easy way may be the most practical and sensible choice.

Choosing the Hard Way:

  1. Personal Growth: Facing challenges and overcoming difficulties can lead to personal growth and development.
  2. Learning Experience: The hard way often involves more learning opportunities and a deeper understanding of the task or goal.
  3. Long-Term Benefits: Although it may be more challenging initially, the hard way might yield more significant long-term benefits.
  4. Sense of Accomplishment: Overcoming obstacles can provide a strong sense of accomplishment and self-confidence.


  1. Goal Alignment: Consider whether your choice aligns with your overall goals and values.
  2. Risk vs. Reward: Evaluate the potential risks and rewards associated with each option.
  3. Context: The nature of the task or goal may influence whether the easy or hard way is more suitable.
  4. Flexibility: Be open to adapting your approach based on changing circumstances.

Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Sometimes, the easy way is the most practical choice, while other situations may call for the challenge of the hard way. It’s essential to assess each situation individually, considering your objectives and the potential outcomes of each choice.

What did you learn “the hard way”?

I was studious, which resulted in me getting a scholarship in college. One of my friends asked me for some money (2500/-). He was my good friend, not the best, and I was completely aware of his gambling and drinking habits.

I wanted to say “No” because I knew the importance of money at that moment in my life. I knew he would never return it, but I still lent him the money, which was never returned.

It was my first breakup, and I was leading a miserable life. This girl was my junior, and she started taking interest in me.

I was uncomfortable, but she was pretty. I wasn’t ready for a relationship, and she kept pushing me. Again, I wanted to say “No,” but it could have hurt her feelings.

Unwillingly, I said Yes. And that relationship survived for a month only.

Don’t judge me; I was an immature teenager back then.

There were many incidents in my life where I desperately wanted to say “No” but ended up saying otherwise. And in return, I paid a huge price, not monetarily, but emotionally and mentally.

But today, things have changed. I have changed for my good. And I have learned the art of saying “No.” People call me rude and arrogant., but who cares about their opinion?

This is my life; these are my struggles. They will only give their absurd opinion, which is never required. Sometimes, people think that saying “NO” is hard because your image will get tarnished or hurt others.

My question is, what will you do with your false pride? Maybe momentarily, you will hurt people by saying “No,” but it will save you from huge disappointment in the long term.

This is what I learned the hard way: To say “No” to the face when/where I am hesitant/uncomfortable.

It comes with multiple benefits:

  • You don’t have to lie.
  • You don’t have to make excuses.
  • You don’t have to justify anything.

Do people learn the hard way?

Yes, many people learn the “hard way,” which often involves experiencing challenges, facing obstacles, and overcoming difficulties. Learning through adversity or challenging situations can be a powerful and impactful way to gain knowledge and personal growth. Here are a few reasons why people often know the hard way:

  1. Personal Growth: Facing challenges requires individuals to stretch beyond their comfort zones, fostering personal development and growth.
  2. Resilience: Overcoming difficulties builds resilience and the ability to bounce back from setbacks.
  3. Experiential Learning: Experiencing challenges firsthand provides practical, real-world lessons that go beyond theoretical knowledge.
  4. Problem-Solving Skills: Tackling difficult situations enhances problem-solving skills and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances.
  5. Self-discovery: The hard way often involves self-discovery, helping individuals understand their strengths, weaknesses, and values.
  6. Long-Term Retention: Lessons learned through overcoming challenges tend to be more deeply ingrained in one’s memory, leading to long-term retention of knowledge.
  7. Character Building: Adversity can shape character, instilling qualities such as perseverance, determination, and patience.

It’s important to note that while learning through challenges can be valuable, it’s not the only or always the best way to learn. In certain situations, taking a more strategic or informed approach can prevent unnecessary difficulties. Additionally, individuals may benefit from a combination of both challenging experiences and intentional learning efforts.

Whether someone learns the hard way or not often depends on their individual experiences, mindset, and approach to life. Some people seek out challenges, while others may learn through unexpected or unavoidable circumstances. The key is to be open to learning from various experiences and to adapt one’s approach based on the situation at hand.

What life lesson did you learn the hard way?

I wanted to pursue Engineering at the highest level.

Dad, Mum, and I left for Kota.

I got an admission into one of the best coaching institutes in India for IIT JEE. Dad booked a room for me. I lived as a paying guest.

A new place, new people, new life. Everything happened for the first time. I met new people at my place. Twelve of us lived as PG in the house. We had a landlord residing on the ground floor. The rest of us lived on the 1st and 2nd floors. We all became good friends. One of them became my best friend. He called me brother. Everything was great. I started trusting people around me. We played cricket together. We solved questions together. We went for lunch together. We went for dinner together. Have a good time!

One fine day, one of my friends at my place asked me to cancel a ticket, and as the railway station was not too far from my classes, I agreed. I was not aware much about the procedure. He filled out the form and gave me the ticket. After my class, I went to the railway station.

I was in the Queue. There were four people before me. Soon, my turn arrived. I gave the ticket and form through the small window. The Person on the counter asked me to come inside through the back gate. I wondered why he had called me. Without giving it a second thought, I decided to go. I went inside. He asked me to have a sit. Then he called somebody and said, Zara aana kisise Milana hai. (Come here, I want you to meet someone.). Soon, an RPF officer arrived. He took him aside and showed him a letter, the ticket, and the form. RPF came straight to me and slapped me.

I was stunned. What the hell just happened? I was raging and frightened; I had no idea what was happening. Somehow, I gathered some courage and asked, “What happened, sir?”. The officer replied, “Tum jaise bacchon ki wajahse desh barbaad hota hai. Tumlog humara future ho. Chor saale!” (Children like you are responsible for the waste of our country. You people are our future. Robber! ). I was horrified. I asked him again, Kya Hua, Sir? (What happened, sir?). He slapped me again, called me a robber, and showed me the letter. He added that they were given the letter the same morning.

I read the letter, it was written by the one who gave me that ticket to cancel, the subject was Issue for a duplicate ticket. As I read further, the letter suggested that the ticket had been lost.

Is learning the hard way good or bad? 

I was broken. I was shattered. I was horrified. I was not in my senses when I read this. I realized he had betrayed me.

I tried explaining the situation to the officer; he didn’t want to listen. He asked me for my father’s number and insulted him. He asked him to take me back. I felt worse. I wanted to be my dad’s pride, and what was happening was unbearable. My dad pleaded with him to leave me. Somehow, they left me after taking it in writing. I am a Robber, and I won’t repeat it.

I switched off my phone and went back to my place this evening. Finally, I gathered some courage to go back. I wanted to tell everyone what happened. As I reached my place, everyone had already gathered and were trying to convince the landlord to make me leave. I stood there and heard all of it. I realized why that guy did this. In the past few months, there were robberies at my place from the rooms; money was robbed, books were robbed, and a cycle was robbed. After this incident, everyone blamed me for all the robberies. I did not utter a word, went straight into my room, and cried.

The next morning, I went to every room and asked them to listen to me at least once. Everybody slammed doors. I went to the landlord and told him everything, but he didn’t believe me.

I was left with no choice but to leave that place with blame for the crime, which I did not perform even a bit.

I changed my PG.

Trust people Cautiously; this was the lesson I learned.

In your worst time, not even your best mates will stand with you; the ones who stand with you are your parents.

Please Trust people cautiously.

I was given only the ticket and form.

He had already submitted the letter in the morning. I arrived after my classes in the afternoon.

The letter stated that his ticket was lost and he needed a duplicate ticket. So, the RPF thought I’d stolen the ticket.

There were many robberies at our place. Since the landlord was getting a little suspicious, he did this so that everybody could blame me for the robberies. He played it so safely that everybody thought he was the victim and I was the culprit; only I knew the real culprit.

Is learning the hard way good or bad? 

Thanks for the Support and sympathy. I’ve moved on.

The motive of this post is about the lesson to be learned.

What life lesson did you learn the hard way?

PTM – Parent-teacher meetings.

I never thought much of it. Usually, if my daughter told me to come to her school for that, I’d say yes but wouldn’t go. Or pass this to my wife.

So… once Fatima came to me and showed her school diary, it was written in bold that the Principal would like to speak with me.

It could be because I missed today’s PTM.

I went to the Principal’s office the next day and introduced myself. She offered me a seat. Her personality was screaming that she was an iron lady.

You have missed the last two meetings. Why is that?

Ma’am, I apologize for that. My job routine is hectic, and usually, it can take a lot of work for me to make time. I am a cop.

I hoped this introduction and my soothing posture would melt her heart like a hot knife through butter.

But it didn’t, of course.

So… that’s your excuse? You made time today because I sent out a warning. But yesterday you couldn’t. Are you telling me you cannot attend a 10-minute session with your child’s teacher once a month?

You’re right. I will be more attentive from here on.

Sure, you should. Your parent is responsible for learning about your daughter’s academic activities and progress from her teacher. Such negligence won’t go unnoticed here, Mister.

Couldn’t agree more. And I thank you for this much-needed briefing.

I left her office and noticed a few other “culprits” waiting for their turn inside. Good luck, folks!

I know she is right. I cannot be that negligent. From then onwards, I am the first to arrive on such calls, and it’s fun, too. Brings back the memories of my days at school. Fatima couldn’t be happier.

Credit goes to the Iron Lady.

One enthusiastic father right here.

What tough lesson did you almost learn the hard way?

It was 12 years ago.

I was in a markedly different phase of my life.

I was 27, married, and happily so. Life was consistent, stable, and mostly hangover-free. Like many 20-somethings, I was still struggling to figure out my career.

I began taking classes at a local community college at my wife’s behest.

Is learning the hard way good or bad? 

The bustling campus was in Tampa’s historic Y-bor district — a former holding ground for many Cuban cigar factories.

Between the noisy roosters roaming the cracked cobblestone streets and the area’s bustling LGBT community, it was a colorful place to study, and welcomingly so.

But it was soon the place of a very personal predicament.

An innocent beginnings

I had a twice-a-week math class with a too-strict professor who thought Math 4028 was more important than oxygen.

We met in a fairly large, rectangular classroom.

It was filled with rows of large, shared desks. The class had a wide mix of people from all walks of life.

One memorable day, the class broke into groups for a team project.

I was paired with a classmate, Nicole. She was short with long, flowing, light brown hair and piercing blue eyes.

The contrast between the two was quite striking. She was young, maybe 21, and beautiful by any measure. She had a vibrant and youthful energy that seemed to pulse outward from her.

(She looked a good bit like this lady.)

We immediately hit it off.

I’m a bit of a clown, always looking for the next laugh, and I think she liked my sense of humor.

She certainly appeared to with her cackling. Which is why I assumed she sat by me every day after that.

As this continued, I sensed a bond growing between us and grew concerned. I even changed seats several times, but she’d still laser in on me, totally unaffected by my relocation.

She had this endearing way of entering my life each day.

She’d get to my desk and abruptly drop her bag to the ground with no abandon, then plop into an adjacent seat in one swoop and say, “Hey!” with her magnetic smile.

She always seemed so happy to see me and eager to be in my immediate proximity.

My wedding ring, which was always on, seemed invisible to her, as though she had no idea what it meant.

I sometimes groaned with pleasure, pain, and anticipation when I saw her coming in. It felt like God had sent this beautiful archangel to tempt my faith in marriage. Was I true? Was I the man I’d pledged to be?

Temptation brings you up close to your priorities.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy her company and our joking, goofy, whispered conversations in the back of the class.

She was light-hearted, friendly, and smart. It was charming.

Getting married hadn’t morphed me into an invincible faith bot. I was still a human that drank water and walked on land.

The unwavering attention of a beautiful young woman, who hangs on your every word and laughs at all your jokes, is quite intoxicating — and dangerous.

I even had that voice inside me, the one you hate to listen to because it’s usually right, “Get away from her my man. Run. C’mon Sean. You’re starting to enjoy this too much. You’re in too deep.”

The voice was right.

Is learning the hard way good or bad? 

Two months down the line, things came to a climax.

The class had just ended. Nicole and I stood up to leave, getting our bags.

We filed out of the classroom and were the last to part ways, and I’ll never forget what happened.

We were standing just outside the doorway, on the quasi-busy student walkway on the second floor.

We drift-walked for a few minutes, chatting. Then, she turned and looked at me; suddenly, the energy had unmistakably changed. It was anticipatory. There was a nervousness in her voice that I now know the meaning of.

Nicole touched her hair, looked down, then looked up and said, “Hey, so… do you think you could give me a ride to my place?” She ended the question with a smile and a wink that punched a crackling hole in my chest.

Immediately, I felt my heart thud a few times in my neck, revving up to a fast beat. There’s this primal feeling when you know what is happening between you and another person.

There was no mistaking what her question meant.

Every part of my DNA was shouting an answer at me.

I contemplated, swallowed, and said, “I —I… probably shouldn’t.” With a bit of a stutter, I added, “I have somewhere in, like, 15 minutes. So, you know, I shouldn’t be late.”

I’m telling you — it was painful to get those words out. And I don’t say painful with any sense of pride. That’s just me being honest.

I was always, and without exception, faithful to my wife throughout our marriage. But to say there weren’t occasional moments like this would be disingenuous.

In the moment of Nicole’s thinly veiled invitation, I’d seen a door in my mind and could see myself stepping through it.

I saw a rush of lusty imagery, unrivaled evil, and the feeling of a beautiful young woman’s skin on my own.

I’m sure I’d have reveled in every moment of it.

But — it could have only continued for so long. I have known men who stepped through that door. I have seen what happens next, and it’s never pretty.

I know that once that door is opened, there’s no going back. You will keep going. And it will take you to a place where you’ll do things that can’t be undone.

Then, one day, everything will break, and all the good things in your life will disappear.

I saw other men drag themselves through this punishingly long, ugly tail with infidelity. Even if you are OK with cheating, the fallout never seems worth it.

I eventually lost touch with Nicole. Before that, we did briefly talk about the incident. At one point, she smiled and said, “You could have had it.” (It being….you know.)

Is learning the hard way good or bad? 

In the years after, my marriage did eventually end for other reasons.

There’s this funny thing with guys when I tell them this story.

Because I’m now divorced, they’ll say, “Don’t you regret not doing it?”

Or “Dude! Reach out to Nicole! You have to!”

It’s funny and logical to ask, but I don’t have regrets (nor do I have Nicole’s contact information).

I’ve made enough terrible mistakes to know the value of doing right by those around me.

There’s solace in knowing you took a commitment seriously when many others wouldn’t have. It fortifies your character.

Also, being unfaithful seems like way too much work and mental baggage.

It’s as Mark Twain said, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”

So I stick to that. The men I’ve known who cheated generally understood they might hurt people.

But they greatly underestimated how much they’d hurt themselves.

It could be better always to learn things the hard way.

Growing up, we always heard the saying, “Experience is the best teacher.” Well, I have grown up and realized that Experience is not always the best teacher. Sometimes, we need to learn from the experience of others as this would save us a lot of time learning from those mistakes, which in some cases are scars we never heal from.

There is a saying in our place:

What an elder sees sitting down, a child can never see climbing an iroko tree.

Our parents have made mistakes that they don’t want us to make, hence the need to be overprotective, if not overbearing times, but by the time you have made your own seriously and if not grievous mistakes, you start to do what they did to you too your children.

The life lesson a friend learned was death because one of us made a mistake. One of us is dead, but the one who caused the mistake lives, and you can see his regret every day of his life.

It should only lead to that after you learn.

How can I become a good learner?

You and I are sitting for our breakfast.

I am serving you a cup of tea.

I start pouring tea into your cup. It’s full, and I am still pouring.

You cannot restrain yourself. You say it’s overfull, nothing can go in more!

I realized that to fill in more, the cup should be emptied.

A lesson learned,

To fill in more qualities inside you, to learn more, and empty yourself of your assumptions, opinions, and speculations. Make some space for new things to come in. A sign of a good learner.

Become an empty cup!

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