Learn. Happy father and daughter learning from each other.

The Perpetual Student—Developing a Lifelong Culture of Learning

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.

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Fan. Performer with fans in the crowd.

Finding Inspiration in our Favorites: What it Means to be a Fan

I’m a big fan!

To some, this statement engenders a visceral negative reaction. Many people want to be admired for what they do, and some people, such as authors, musicians, and actors, depend on it for their livelihood. But there are different levels of fandom. Some are healthy and appropriate, and some are extreme, bordering on harassment.

The word “fan” is a shortened version of “fanatic,” meaning marked by excessive enthusiasm and often intense uncritical devotion. It comes from the Latin fanaticus, the definition of which I like even more: insanely but divinely inspired. The spectrum of fandom ranges from admiring and appreciating someone’s work, to being influenced by them, to trying to emulate them, to worshiping them, all the way to trying to become part of their lives.

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Looking to the future.

Future

What does the future hold for you?

What is around the next corner?

Do you feel like your life is predetermined and you’re trapped on a path from which there is no escape, or do you feel as free as a bird to go where life takes you?

Are responsibilities, expectations, and commitments limiting what you do, or is your life your own to do with as you wish?

For most people, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

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Play! A group of friends having fun.

Play

Do you want to go out and play?!

As adults, our time for playing is usually not as spontaneous as that. Our playtime is often highly scheduled, goal-oriented, competitive, or in many cases, non-existent. We may have hobbies, activities we do for relaxation, or things we do to pass the time, but how much of it is fun? How much of it is carefree? How often is it spontaneous?

As adults in Western society, we have many expectations placed on us. We’re expected to go to work, pay our bills, raise our children; more fundamentally, we’re expected to act “responsibly.”

There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, but for many, this sense of responsibility displaces any sense of fun we had. We may occasionally let our hair down in a card game with friends or at the beach on vacation, but is fun and playing an essential part of our lives? Is it part of who we are?

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Surprise. A young man surprised at the wonder of the world.

Surprise

Surprise!!!

Some people love surprises. The rush that comes with something startling or unexpected can be a welcome and sometimes dramatic alternative to our routine existence.

Others hate them. They might dislike deviating from their carefully crafted schedules. They may feel uncomfortable with anything that alters their perspective or opinions. They may not like the feeling of being startled.

Whether we like surprises depends on what we focus on when we think about surprise. There’s the “surprise party” kind of surprise, which involves both being startled and an unexpected event and people. There’s also the kind of surprise that involves an unexpected realization and the impact of knowledge or information that is significantly different from what we previously thought. Which we focus on makes a big difference to our comfort level.

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