New Year New Approach

Beginners Mind

At the start of each new year millions of people say they are going to turn over a new leaf, establish a new habit or break an old one. People will sign up for gym memberships, diet programs, decide to learn something new, take a class, recycle more, use less energy, drink more water, learn a foreign language, travel to a foreign country or just visit their kids or grandkids this year. However, just days into the "new" resolution motivation starts to fade and we give way to our old habits, patterns and routines. This month, January, the beginning of a new year I would like to suggest that you practice a new approach, it is called beginners mind.

Beginners mind is approaching things without preconception. Without that thought "I already know this". Beginners mind is like the mind of a child seeing or experiencing something new for the first time. And all the awe and excitement that comes with that. Looking at it as if it where new, your first time and allowing yourself to approach it without thoughts of already knowing but from the perspective of surprise and wonder about what can be learned.

When we tell ourselves "I already know that" our brain automatically shuts down any information that may come to us after that statement is made, even when it is made only to ourselves silently in our head. It sends a message to the brain you no longer need to pay attention there is nothing here for me. When the brain turns off the receptivity to information you miss out on the chance that there is something new or different for you to pick up on. And let's be honest with ourselves. We often make the statement to ourselves "I know that". For example when it comes to diet and weight loss we all know we need to eat fewer calories than what we burn. Healthy food choices and more exercise are part of the process yet we don’t "do that". We may "know that" but if we don't "do that" there is a disconnect. So until we can "do that" let's not shut off our brain from learning something new.

Beginners mind is looking, hearing and perceiving without judgment and preconception. Open yourself up to new possibilities. It is not about feeling stupid if you do not know something. It is okay to ask questions, even good, because you are learning, improving and growing when you do. You don't have to know everything. Consider when you walk out of your house this morning and get in your car to drive to work and you see a blue car on the road think to yourself "wow, I didn't know I was going to see a blue car! How neat." And when you see a person at work, the bank the store, wearing a pink scarf think "wonderful, I had no idea I would see someone wearing a pink scarf!" Be in amazement, curious and excited about life. The next time you find yourself tempted to say "I know that" look honestly at yourself; if you are not doing whatever it is that you know consider there may be one more piece to the puzzle you don't have or know that you have not applied for some reason or another. Be curious and open yourself up to applying something new and allow change and growth to take place in your life. When you shut down before even starting, growth cannot occur. Give yourself the chance to be curious, learn, improve and grow. Have a beginners mind.