Saturday, January 19, 2013

Random Mutations Are For the Birds.

You aren’t who you were. Nor who you will be. So why not be intentional about the changes?

In the New York Times on January 3, John Tierney summarized some research about our changing selves. Bottom line? We are well aware that in many respects we aren’t who we were as teenagers and young adults, but we underestimate the changes that will take place in the next years. Changes that impact tastes in foods, friends, music, interests, energy levels, vision….

Usually the changes are subtle, so that we are only aware of them when we look back. Yeah, I’m not so into bell bottom pants anymore, nor hard candy, nor pulling all nighters.

So if I'm going to be different, I’m thinking that future changes could benefit from some planning. Why should my 70’s be nothing more than the accumulation of random mutations in my 60’s? Given my increasing insight into me, why not use that insight to capitalize on me in the best ways possible?

Intentional changes can be in any form:
Physical: Embracing new styles of exercise and stretching, experimenting with new food themes, taking up new sports like bicycling or kayaking or climbing.

Mental: Reading books by authors you don’t agree with, working a new genre of puzzles, joining a book group, taking a class at the local college.

Spiritual: Discussing aspects of your faith with people who aren’t of your faith, reading books about other religions, pushing yourself to do something you claim to believe in but haven’t ever actually done, meditating.

Social: Asking more questions during conversations, inviting new acquaintances out for lunch, greeting more people genuinely in passing, learning the names of familiar strangers around town.

So maybe you pick one small thing that’s uncomfortable and that’s what you focus on for a while. Or maybe you are more ambitious than that and pick one small thing from each category. Whichever, don’t pick too much. Usually, we are the accumulation of  small, incremental,  changes rather than earth shaking ones. 

But if you haven’t recently taken steps toward an intentional change, start today. It’s the only time you can. If you wait, you'll end up looking back and wondering, "How did that happen?"

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