Reignite your inner child to grow your mind
Rick is 43, and an engineer. He loves his job, even though he has been there for nearly 10 years. There is always something interesting to learn, especially from the younger employees because they have so much to offer.
When the opportunity to join a team implementing new technology came up, he jumped on the chance. It’s new to him, but he figures he will pick it up. And there’ll be plenty of people to ask if he gets stuck.
Recently, Rick decided to train for a triathlon. He has never learned to swim properly, so the first thing he does is reach out to his online community to find a swim instructor. He knows it will be a major challenge but figures that he has to start somewhere!
He also asks a friend who has successfully completed a couple of triathlons to design a training schedule for him, and joins a group of beginners for support.
Now meet Ernest:
Ernest is 39 years old. He’s also an engineer and has moved up the ladder in the same company since graduating from college.
He’s good at his job, mostly because he has done more or less the same thing for 16 years. Sure, he has more responsibilities now, but essentially the work is the same and that’s a good thing for Ernest. He likes his routine.
Occasionally Ernest is asked to mentor one of the interns. He doesn’t really know what to do with the kids. They seem so smart, much smarter than when he was in school. They make him uncomfortable.
Back when he was in college he considered moving to Utah or Colorado where he could learn how to ski, but now he sees that was foolish. “You never know what kind of crazies live out West,” says to his buddies. “Besides, if man were meant to ski he would have been born with sticks and not feet!”
Ernest has a group of friends who play tennis, and they often ask him to join them. He doesn’t know the first thing about tennis, and he isn’t about to show his friends how uncoordinated he is.
If you are reading this, you are probably more like Rick, than Ernest.
And that’s a good thing, because a recent research report proposes that Rick’s attitude encourages cognitive development across the lifespan.
The lead author of the study Rachel Wu explains how the shift from “big picture” learning to “specialization” is a natural part of becoming an adult and beginning a career.
However, she proposes that practicing “big picture” thinking may discourage some of the cognitive decline that comes with normal aging.
TAKE A LOOK AT HOW CHILDREN VIEW THE WORLD
How do children think? The world is their oyster! They are driven by:
- Open-mindedness. They believe the world is full of things to discover and boundaries that need pushing.
- Seeking out and accepting help along the way.
- Believing that anything is possible, and all will be forgiven.
- Expecting to fall and make mistakes, but they dust themselves off and get on their way (growth mindset).
- Perseverance in learning new things, and keeping at it even when they fail.
- Learning many things at the same time.
This kind of thinking is “whole brain” thinking. It activates different processes like memory, attention, and inhibition.
While children come by this instinctively, the older we get, the more we focus on what we are good at.
MOST ADULTS VIEW THE WORLD DIFFERENTLY
How do adults think? We are specialists. Tendencies include:
- Closed-mindedness. Knowing what we’re good at — avoiding what we aren’t good at — and staying in our comfort zones.
- Not asking for help. Independence is prized.
- Believing that mistakes are unforgivable, and may have dire consequences.
- Fixed mindset, “this is as good as it gets even if I were to try.”
- Noncommittal about learning new things. We may start a hobby but often drop it due to busy-ness and daily life.
- Learning one (or none!) new skill at a time.
Testing the direct effect of these opposing mindsets is probably impossible. But for me it’s easy to figure out if I’d rather hang out with Rick, or be with Ernest.
Story Source: Science Daily.
If you found this interesting or learned anything new, please let me know by giving it 💚💚💚.