Life Skills are behaviours, skills and habits we learn to help us manage and live our everyday lives. These skills are learned either:
- directly via a parent, teacher or mentor;
- through observing the experiences of others and social influences;
- through our own personal experiences.
What we need to know varies enormously from person to person and culture to culture. Basic life skill needs are also affected hugely by the society in which we live and what expectations that society has of us.
One thing is a given for all though and that is that we all need them. Life skills are basic survival training.
Let’s take a look at some of the basics and how a typical individual might use them in their everyday life.
Learning to have and develop your self-discipline enables you to direct your energies in the right way to achieve the things you want or ought to achieve. It:
- stops you over-eating.
- makes you exercise to keep your body healthy.
- makes you get out of bed and do the Must Do’s every day – regardless of whether you feel like it or not.
- makes you finish a job, get a job, or do your job to the best of your ability.
- …etc., etc.
Without Self-Discipline we would all probably be obese, couch-potatoes, living on welfare with no education or life goals. We’d wander aimlessly around doing only what takes our fancy – not a very proactive approach to life wouldn’t you agree?
Let’s move on to another.
Communication is all about interacting with others through a balance of listening, speaking, reading body language and reacting to subtle cues.
We need to know how to listen appropriately when we’re spoken to, understand what’s expected and act appropriately. We also need to be clear about what we’re saying to, asking of or telling people. If you can’t do these things effectively, you’ll find it difficult to interact properly with others. You’ll upset people, get upset, misunderstand, be misunderstood, come across as too aggressive or passive or uncooperative. All communication would break down whether it’s with a parent, sibling teacher, employer or figure of authority.
Earn a Living
Living life is no mean feat. Okay we don’t all need wood chopping skills, but we need to put a roof over our head somehow, food in our belly, clothes on our back, etc., and this all takes money. We need to know what we want and need in our everyday lives and be able to use life skills such as planning, organisation, patience, goal setting, assessing risks, cooperation and overcoming obstacles and objections to achieve what we need and make achieving it manageable.
Everyone’s out to get their way. If you can’t negotiate you’ll never get yours. Everyone will take advantage and you’ll always end up the loser in a win-lose situation.
Believe it or not, belief in ourselves, our abilities and knowing how to maintain a positive outlook is also a life skill. As is having the courage to trust that we’ll get the support we need if we seek it.
As well as learning the life skills that take care of our minds, we need to learn those skills that help us to take care of our bodies. Healthy life skills enable us to do this. We need to learn to recognise when we’re tired and rest. If we’re hungry or thirsty we need to determine appropriate things to eat or drink and how much if we’re to avoid, illness and disease. We need to learn how to find and provide adequate shelter, warmth, know what to wear in different weather conditions and how to protect ourselves from the elements, how to keep clean. All these things require learned life skills.
I’ve used extremes here but the general idea is that we all have a need for basic life skills. Some people’s skills are better than others. Some were never taught properly and have gaping holes that need emergency filling.
What may surprise you to know is that those with the brightest minds and best college or university qualifications are often not ones with the best life skills. Those with the best life skills are those that accept that it’s down to them to adapt and continue learning and evolving if they are to succeed and get the most out of life.
The good news is, you too could be one of the ones that succeeds because life skills are the sorts of things you can go on learning and perfecting throughout your life. It’s rare for them to be rocket science, they’re usual simple things that can be improved with a little (sometimes surprisingly very little) effort, the odd change in habit or approach or a shift from negative to positive thinking.
Everyone has it in them to learn and live the life they want to live by building better life skills. All you need is a bit of CANDo get up and go-go.
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