"The purpose of learning is growth, and our minds, unlike our bodies, can continue growing as we continue to live” – Mortimer Adler
For decades, I’ve disdained slippers. They seemed like an unnecessary piece of clothing. Either I wore shoes – dress shoes, work boots, running shoes – or I went barefoot. Having something “in between” would just take up more room in my closet.
My outlook changed with my hip surgery last summer. In addition to needing a cane, I would have difficulty bending over for weeks. That would make tying my shoes a challenge. Walking barefoot wasn’t recommended, so I had to find slip-on shoes – slippers.
I found that I got used to the slippers very quickly. Unlike the ones I remember, these didn’t slide off my feet, had good traction on the floor, and looked good. I even used them for my first walks outside as I ventured to the mailbox.
My recovery is much further along, and I’ve stuck by the slippers. As soon as I enter the house, I pull a “Mister Rogers” and change out of my shoes. Why wear something heavy when there’s a lightweight option readily available?
It’s easy to become set in our ways. We fall into routines and follow the same rituals every day. Life is comfortable, so there aren’t any reasons to make a change.
The same holds true for anything that caused a negative experience in the past. It might be the way certain food tasted. A visit to a certain city or destination wasn’t as enjoyable as expected. The first time meeting someone was uncomfortable.
We become reluctant to try the experience again. Or in many cases, we won’t try anything new.
This approach inhibits our growth – no matter our age. Growth comes from development, development comes from progression, and progression comes from modification. In this case, modifying ourselves – changing ourselves – our thoughts, our outlook, our attitude.
When we seek out something new, we stimulate the process of our growth. The change doesn’t have to be anything significant or difficult. We may read a book from an author we haven’t read before, stop at a restaurant we normally pass by, or take a different route home from work. We could even try adding new shoes to our wardrobe.
Instead of relying on chance, we need to make an active choice to grow. Take time each week to consider the last time you had a new experience. If it’s been more than a few days, then it’s time to seek out another risk.
I’m going to continue to try new things, or old things that I haven’t liked in the past. Some of my friends have been talking about something called “salad”. Maybe it’s time to take chance and try one of those next.