All manners of self-help and “life hacking” sites promote programs and techniques to expand one’s boundaries of self-awareness or otherwise improve one’s compatibility with the real world (as opposed to the fantasy world that most people have built in their head). I think they are all unnecessary; there are already plenty of common life events that would serve that purpose just as well. Here’s a list of examples.
- be bullied and/or beaten up and/or severely discriminated against for what you are, as opposed to what you do. Teaches you the diversity of human profiles better than any amount of cultural exchanges and tourist trips.
- ask for and have consensual sex with someone not crazy in love with you. Teaches you about self-confidence better than high grades at school and prizes at sport events.
- have a good job but live on rice and noodles for months/years, prepared to have to give up your home, while most of your income is redirected to a mandatory family expense (unemployed relative, special needs child, sick elderly, etc). Teaches you about the merits of wealth and the conceptual independence between money and comfort.
- live alone and achieve complete financial independence for two or more years. Teaches you about friendship and the merits of social bonds better than army basic training or team sports.
- say “no” to someone who asked you out and attempt to find the least painful way to explain why it would not work out. Teaches you about responsibility better than philosophical discourse on the merits of participative democracy.
- face a serious disease or accident with a realistic risk of short-term death. Teaches you to enjoy life and keep it healthy better than world news reports and awareness programs with death statistics.
- attend the death of a loved one. Teaches you about empathy and the importance of nurturing and enjoying your relationships with fellow humans better than documentaries about the third world.
- invest two or more years in your life to achieve something nobody else has achieved before, then realize most people don’t care. Teaches you about modesty and return on investment better than exercising a seasoned interest in world economics as a hobby or career.
- ask someone out you care deeply about, receive ”no” as an answer, and recover. Teaches you about courage better than high-adrenaline sport activities and addiction recovery programs.