What if you viewed your life as a spiritual journey in which each and every experience of thought and action were learning opportunities?
Of course this may be a practical impossibility and clearly not applicable to "every" thought and experience. But in general it is so.
The metaphor is appropriate and a useful one.
We can view our experiences as "teachable" moments. We can regard the Universe / Spirit as a benevolent educator.
Even our experiences during our formal education has demonstrated that some of our most demanding teachers were interested in our intellectual growth and development. Their insistence that we reach for our highest potential may have seemed excessive and uncomfortable. But the consequences of having done so were worthwhile. We learned. We grew.
I don't believe that viewing life's adversities as punishment is helpful at all. If we are burdenned by a religious perspective that insists we are innately sinners and destined to suffer–then we need to reject that now! It is a human interpretation and clearly harmful to our spiritual journey.
Whether we believe that karma rules or not–the difficult times in our lives can be viewed as opportunities.
Mistakes, poor judgment, angry moments, hurtful interactions with others are all opportunities for growth on both sides of the experience. Those who have "received" can react with anger and feelings of retribution or regard the perpetrator as struggling with their own unevolved issues. Likewise the aggressor can stop justifying their actions, explore the roots of their own reactive behavior and recognize their need for change and growth.
Even joyous occasions, when we experience success in some measure need to be placed in the perspective of an overall life. This is not to diminish the pleasure of this wonderful feeling at all. Be in that moment as fully as possible. Giving thanks and acknowledging the contribution of others to this moment of joy is a valuable lesson in awareness.
Viewing the present moment as a learning experience is not easy. We are habitually reactive to what happens to us. Our emotional selves seem to be like a marionette, jumping from moment to moment and dependent upon what life brings to us.
Meditate on the nature of experience. Allow yourself to view this life's journey as a series of unique moments. Each offers us the gift of its unique nature. We can learn from them if we are aware.