You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Hmm . . . How unfortunate for the dog.This adage implies that as we become older, we become more set in our ways. We become less inclined to learn new things. And we become less likely to put ourselves in the position of being the “student.”Is it because we know more than most people? Is it because we’re afraid of things we might not be able to understand?Or is it because maybe we’re just a little bit arrogant? We think because we’re older that we’re wiser.It is true that as people get older, they pick up life experiences and learn a lot about many things. But it is also true that there will always be things that we can learn, even about those things we know very well.
The image of an ideal, perfect place where our every desire is met and every need fulfilled has long been part of the human psyche.The idea seems simple. We all have desires—experiences we want, things we would like—that we want to feel happy. But part of what makes those things so special is the journey we take in making them a reality. If we were just given everything we want, it would have little meaning, and our “paradise” would be far from a paradise.
Our world is filled with conflict—ideological conflicts, conflicts among countries, and honest disagreements between people.A lot of pain and suffering has resulted from conflicts, but is it the conflict itself that has caused the negative outcomes, or is it how the conflicts are handled?Conflict resolution has been studied and written about extensively, and there is a wide range of information available, but a glance through the news tells us that to many, winning conflicts is more important than resolving conflicts peacefully with lasting results. People will always disagree with each other. It’s one of the things that makes life interesting. If we all agreed all the time, think of how bland and boring life would be.Conflict is not inherently a negative thing, but it is often thought of as something to be avoided or quickly ended. However, conflict, if handled patiently and with an open mind, can help us to learn about each other and can ultimately lead to positive change. Unfortunately, people are often defensive about their opinions, feelings, and beliefs. This defensiveness can stem from associating our stance with a core value. In these instances, an honest disagreement can seem like a personal attack.
How open are you to new ideas, new experiences, or new people?Some people are quite happy with their routine and feel like they don’t need anything new in their lives. But we learn and grow only when we face new things that we haven’t before (see Growth). When we go through periods of routine in our daily lives, it can be too easy to stick with our usual experiences or comfort zones. However, even if we feel like we’re happy with our routine, something new can offer us an element of surprise, excitement, or wonder that can enhance our outlook and mood. This might include meeting someone new or being open to different roles, or it might be a drastic departure from what we normally do, whether personally, professionally, or spiritually.It might also be as simple as increasing our awareness of the details of our current routine—an openness to the nuances that make each day special and new.
What does your inner dialogue sound like?
Are your inner thoughts calm, supportive, and helpful, or do you have a lot of negative self-talk? Is your inner dialogue a never-ending stream, or are you able to control it?
For many people, errant thoughts pop into their heads when they least want them to or when they’re doing something that requires intense focus. Try as we might to concentrate, our minds wander. The nature of our thoughts is also important. Some people have a stream of positive encouragement or affirmations: “You’ve got this!” “Come on, just one more strong hour!” Others have a never-ending flow of negative self-talk: “Idiot! What are you thinking?!” We need to pay attention to both the amount of inner dialogue we have and its nature.