Later, on the way home, I complained to my mother that, actually, my feelings were hurt because nobody seemed to care about my report card. "Really, she's not as good as I am in school," I said. At that point my mother became upset with me and said, "Well, so what? Your cousin may not be as good in school as you are, but everybody appreciates her for her knowledge, both academic and nonacademic." I took that the wrong way and asked if they didn't appreciate me. My mother said that of course they loved me but that talking about what I learned and what I knew all the time could get boring to some people. "It's like you're not interested in anybody else but only in telling people what you know." She told me that I shouldn't be as ignorant as I had been about commonsense things.
This was a bolt out of the blue, and I was at first upset to hear what I was being told, especially by my mother. But privately, I began to realize that I was often showing off my knowledge and could be a bore. Thus I made a resolution to change my learning behavior and tried to be more attentive to other people than before. I realized that I could learn many more things than I ever thought possible if I paid more attention to my surroundings than if I cared nothing about them.
According to the psychological theorist Frederick S. Perls, major changes in life come about because a person changes the way he or she looks at the surrounding environment. "[We] simply consider the organism as a system that is in balance and that has to function properly. . . . And I believe that this is the great thing to understand: that awareness per se--by and of itself--can be curative" (Perls 17; emphasis in original). Another theorist who deals with significant life changes is Carl Rogers. He writes that the goals of psychotherapy involve "increase in insightful statements, in maturity of reported behavior, in positive attitudes, as therapy progresses; the changes in perce