A new day, early morning, the sun rising, the dew glistening on the unfolding petals of the flowers which were just buds yesterday…..
Ellen Langer, the mindfulness researcher, says there are two ways to live your life – mindfully, or mindlessly. Her research shows that the simple way to live mindfully is to search for, and to be aware of, the new.
Neuroscience has revealed that we use our two cerebral hemispheres for different purposes. One of the key differences is that the left seeks out the familiar, whilst the right prefers what’s new.
Our preference for what’s familiar, or what’s new, is inextricably linked to our attitude towards difference. If you are averse to difference, you’ll prefer the familiar. What’s different, or unfamiliar, is then experienced as something to be afraid of, or anxious about.
“You ain’t from round here, are you, stranger?”
It seems the driver underpinning the preference for the familiar is often fear.
Whereas, the driver underpinning the preference for the new is more likely to be curiosity.
The good news is we all have both hemispheres, and we can all choose to focus on fear, or on curiosity. (Remember the story of the hungry wolves?)
If you want to develop certain muscles, you have to exercise them. If you want to develop certain attitudes to the world, you have to exercise those as well.
How much do you exercise your fears? How much time and headspace do you dedicate to them? And, on the other hand, how much do you exercise your curiosity?
Remember, as Ellen Langer says, if you want to live mindfully, seek out the new….
Or, as I’d put it “If you want to be a hero instead of a zombie, be curious”