“A wise man changes his mind, a fool never will” — Spanish Proverb
I thought getting older was scary. I was seventeen at the time, in the living room doing handstands. My father would come home from work and say out loud after seeing me “ahh, I used to do that too. If only I could be young again.” Soon after, my brother (7 years older) would watch me do my handstands and would pass by saying to himself “I’d be able to do that too if I was a couple years younger, and if I wasn’t injured.” These words were said frequently, even before this moment, and it casted a spell on me. It got me to think that getting older meant I wouldn’t be able to move freely, or I would acquire some kind of impediment. Little did I know that my way of thinking was simply because I was surrounded by people who were envious of their youth, and those people placed a self imposed limitation on themselves!
Before my realization, I took on the beliefs that were presented to me at my young age, and I played out that life narrative at its fullest. As each passing year, instead of relishing the moment and being grateful for another day and feeling fortunate to have lived through another year, I started missing the past. Imagine a person in their twenties, being envious of their past self at age 14! Sounds truly ridiculous now as I think back in retrospect. But back then, this theme would continue. As my twenties started to pass, I would tell myself, “that moment when I was 21, I think that was my prime. It’s all down here from here”. It’s fascinating to think how our experiences can be shaped so dramatically from the small words we heard when we were younger.
As time progressed, and without trying to combat this limiting belief, I accidentally found a remedy through books. Reading allowed me to absorb perspectives of those outside of my proximity. It allowed me to learn that people who reach their later years in life, in their forties through sixties, are when they reach the peak of their successes (For most people, according to Napoleon Hill, in his book of studying high performing individuals in Think and Grow Rich). And there are also those who pick up hobbies even later in their life, (sixties through eighties) that allow them to live an even richer life than before.
I think reading the accounts of others can only take someone so far however, because there will still be a degree of skepticism that is felt. Skepticism because a person’s belief system is challenged, and when challenged, a person may feel threatened as the idea presented is not congruent with the identity they are upholding at the time (people are so afraid of change that some even fight to keep their limiting beliefs of themselves!). So to truly cement the new belief system one seeks to take on, I believe personal experience must come into play.
As I was diving deeper and deeper into self development and learning to develop better habits of eating healthier, reading, exercising, changing my negative self talk to positive, I soon found myself having an easier time performing these new habits and thinking more confidently. For example, I started enjoying eating “bland”, healthy food, more so than the greasy food, full of sugar and additives. It became easier for me to pick up a book rather than watching a TV show. I realized that it initially took quite a while to change my old ways (a couple years), but I found out after the beginning stages of trudging through mud, I gained momentum and was getting better and better results in my habits and my overall happiness. This was my personal experience, that allowed me to truly believe and adopt the new mindset — of not being afraid of aging — because I can now see that the future can yield amazing moments.
I compare my personal experience to a hand-pumped water well, which uses a pipe to draw water up from the water table several feet underground. To get the water to the surface, you have to pump the well’s lever to create the suction that brings the water above the ground and out of the spout. See image below.
In the beginning, it takes a considerable amount of effort of pumping to get a few drops of water out of the spout. It takes consistency to get to the point of full stream of water pouring, in which it’s no longer required to pump the lever as hard or as quickly to maintain the steady flow of water.
Just like the hand-pumped water well, I can see that the more I stay persistent with my good habits, the future is something I can look forward to. And because of the compounded growth of my consistent actions, it’s easier for me to uphold the virtues I wish to uphold.
So let’s have faith, that the future will yield many great things. It just requires time and effort.
Let me know down in the comments if you relate!