If You Haven’t Gotten Lost, You Don’t Know Where You Are

Rod Pickett
2 min readJun 3, 2024

We don’t really learn anything properly until there is a problem, until we are in pain, until something fails to go as we had hoped. We suffer, therefore we think.

Alain de Botton, How Proust Can Change Your Life

You don’t really know a city until you get lost in it.

I’ve found that to be true both in Europe and closer to home.

If I follow a list of directions (go to this street, turn right, go to that street, turn left) I know the city about as well as a computer program knows the brand of computer it is running on.

We are both just processing the next operation in the sequence.

If I get lost, I have to determine where I am and how to get where I want to go.

Along the way, I keep comparing the map to the unfamiliar location, and the area slowly becomes more and more familiar.

This struggle eventually gives me a mental map of the city.

Studying the map in advance can only get me so far.

The struggle creates neuroplasticity in my brain, which allows me to process the information more effectively.

Yet I’m inclined to avoid physical and mental struggle.

We are designed to thrive on just the right amount of suffering.

Too much, and we become overwhelmed.

Too little, and we become sluggish.

My experience is that just the right amount is much more than I would have guessed.

And the more difficulty I overcome, the more equipped I become to contend with future challenges.

While struggle creates a friendly environment for learning and growth, panic and anxiety do the opposite.

With intentional practice, I can increase my confidence and my ability to overcome the challenges I cannot avoid.

It helps if I reframe these challenges as puzzles to be solved.

Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed, especially when the problems pile up.

The worst thing I can do is tell myself that I shouldn’t have to deal with so much.

My instinct is to look for someone else to blame.

For example: the non-native English speakers who wrote the vague instructions for assembling the obstinate furniture I just bought.

As guilty as those people may be, anger and blame don’t enhance my problem-solving skills.

If I want to use my new furniture, I need to accept the responsibility for solving this brain teaser.

Today, you will have the privilege of facing several puzzles of your own.

Use your considerable resources to successfully move on to the next level.

— Rod Pickett

Now available at Amazon: The Courageous Heart: Wisdom for Difficult Times in paperback and eBook, an Eric Hoffer Award Finalist, a must-read for anyone seeking inspiration and guidance. Get your copy today.



Rod Pickett

Rod Pickett is a writer, pastor, teacher, photographer, real estate broker, personal trainer, consultant, trained hypnotist, woodworker and life-long learner.