Recently Jack Freed posted this quote to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words – “A mind stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” (O.W. Holmes Jr)
Jack went on to write – Dr Robert Cooper, a neuroscientist, says that we only use 10% of our brains. We have programed ourselves not to stretch into new thinking. “We’ve always done it this way!” But, a willingness to explore new ways can open us to limitless ideas. Have you had an “aha!” moment? (Now, I get it it!)
I belong to several local community organizations and serve on the boards of some. One of the things that I hear very often when something new is proposed in board meetings is the phrase. “We’ve always done it that way.” Usually this is in defense of resisting any change or anything that is new and different. In fact it is often used preemptively, before the idea is even discussed to try to shut down new ideas or suggestions of change before they even get a hearing. If can be very frustrating, especially if I believe that the changes or new idea are necessary to keep the group viable in the community.
Many small, volunteer community organizations (and even churches) die out because they resist all efforts to make changes that would keep them relevant to the changes in society within which they exist. Small, traditional churches seem to be having the most trouble staying alive in today’s highly secular environment. Many small local groups have particular trouble making the changes that will keep them relevant within their local community. The trouble is that the “we’ve always done things this way” mentality prevails over most suggestions for change or trying new things. Hopefully that is about to change, due to them having “Aha” moments before it’s too late. If not, those organizations will slowly disappear from our communities, although few may even notice.
At a personal level, we all need to challenge ourselves to expand our thinking and our experiences and to continuing growing as people. One of my dad’s favorite sayings was “Go with what you know.” My wife and I often use that when considering where to go out for dinner on weekends. It is so much easier to choose from our short list of well-known local favorites that to be adventuresome and try a new restaurant. Yet, when we reflect on it, all of the great places that we like to go now were once in the unknown category and it is only through trying something new that we “discovered” them.
In life in general the same thing is true. If you never get out of your comfort zone and venture into new relationships with people, you may never meet the person that becomes your BFF or even your life partner. If you shun those who are not like you, you will never get to understand their point of view on things and miss out on the new colors that they could add to the pallet of colors through which you see and experience life. You will never have that “Aha” moment when you understand why they do or say the things that they do, because of their completely different frame of reference for life. If you just go with what you know and who you know, life can become very boring indeed.
Many people find safety and comfort in the sameness of never venturing into the unknown experience or meeting the unknown person; however, even they must admit to themselves that those carefree risk takers who always seem to be meeting other people and doing new things appear to be having a better time than those pressed back against the walls in fear of trying anything new.
So, take a chance. Say hello to that person with tattoos and a nose ring and purple hair. Engage them in conversation and find out more about them. They are, after all someone’s son or daughter, someone’s boy or girl friend, maybe even someone’s wife or mother. They have opinions and feelings and life experiences that may be different from yours and maybe you’ll expand your mind by trying to understand those things. You may even find that you share a lot of common ground, too.
Instead of turning away from the LBGTQI person that you encounter, engagement them in conversation. They won’t bite you and standing there talking with them is not going to give you some horrible disease. Being open to them doesn’t mean that you are joining or even agreeing with whatever movement or lifestyle they are pursuing; it just means that you accept that there are differences and hopefully that you welcome the opportunity to try to see things from their different perspective.
So stretch your mind and grow. Try something different. Eat somewhere different. Meet someone who is different. Think differently. Grow and you won’t want to go back.
Before you go with what you know; grow with what you don’t know.