This week, on the podcast, Ed and I had a special guest, it was two year old Will, Ed’s son. It was great to have him with us for the morning so we decided to build the blog around our children in the sense of what is it that they teach us.
When I was a kid there was a lot of bible and I remember the phrase, something like, “you must become as a child to come unto me”. Now, I am not a religious person but the parables and stories from the old and New Testament, and the Koran and Tora, do make lost of psychological sense. The above phrase means to me that we need to develop the openness of a child to see, accept and understand something that is new and maybe wonderful.
Children have a magic capacity, as long as they are not abused, to greet each day and each new experience with wonder. The world in those early years is one of mystery, magic and discovery. Sure, there will be things that we experience that will hurt on some level and from these we learn as much as from those things that fill us with joy and happiness.
The key to being a child, and to being an active, growing, learning adult is openness. As soon as we stop the process of learning new things our brain goes into decline. We only produce new brain cells in response to new learning. No learning no new cells. No new cells and the brain is in decline and wearing out.
We have to remain open of heart and mind at all levels of our experience to remain young.
What new things have you learned this week?
The things that stop us growing are the limiters of experience, they are things that stop us doing things. Top of the list has to be fear and anxiety. However most of this is fed by negative expectation of the future which is a learned habit. Children have not yet formed habit like this.
The other limiters are things like prejudice when we prejudge other people or situations. Often this has an ‘us’ and ‘them’ component. We can make assumptions about people of different race, colour, religion, ethnicity, class, profession, the list is endless. As soon as we make assumptions we write a life script that limits our openness to life and what it has to teach us.
Perhaps the worst prejudice of all is to ourself. We limit ourself by our inner attitudes and feelings about who we are, what we look like, whether we see our self as clever or stupid, beautiful or ugly and so on.
If we are to live in the magic of being a child and allow our self to grow new brain cells that will keep us young and vital we need to STOP, then review who we are and ask why we believe or think and act the way that we do. We might just find that there is no basis for our beliefs and actions and that we might like to change.
The watch list
There are things to watch out for:
Limiting words are things like “ought, should, must, can’t, no…” These words should be avoided but when we hear ourself using them we should stop and question the underlying beliefs that created them and perhaps repeat what we just said but in positive terms.
Limiting behaviours: Stop doing everything the same way. If you create too many behavioural habit you simply become institutionalised into those behaviours. Walk to the shops a different way, change the day or time that you go to the gym, if you always have fish and chips on a Wednesday try having it on a Monday instead.
Listen to your mouth
The things that you say will limit your ability to change because when you hear yourself speaking you reinforce any negative thought patterns. Avoid phrases like “we always do it this way”, “we alway go there on a friday”, ‘It’s a known fact”.
Listen to your mind
Even when we don’t speak we can limit ourselves by what we think. The worst things to think are: “I am right and you are wrong”, “I know best”, “look here sonny when I was your age…” and so on.
Enjoy some newness
Do something new: Every week, or at least every month, do something new and different. Go to new places for your holiday, take up a new hobby, join a night class, learn a new language. Set yourself a challenge, run a marathon, jump out of a plane, learn to meditate, learn to swim.
Life long learning
This is what children teach us. If we keep learning we stay young. If we feel the joy and wonder of new experience we stay young. If we rid ourselves of prejudice and all preconceptions we stay young. If we are open hearted and trusting we stay young.
I’m up for life long learning and I hope that you are
Take care, stay young and be happy,