Beginning Over Again. What do you do when the job, the spouse, the house, or the town you’ve chosen to live in, isn’t working out?
The problem is that few of us know how to deal with the challenge of realizing too late that we have taken the wrong fork in the road. The tendency is to move on to something new – a new job, a new partner, a new house, a new community.
I was watching an interview with Tom Shadyac, known for his work in such movies as “Ace Ventura”, “The Nutty Professor”, “Bruce Almighty”, “I AM”, and a slew of highly successful movies at the box office. He was saying he had just bought and moved into, a 17,000 sq ft estate. And as the movers closed the door, he stood on the stairs and looked down into the beautiful, red oriental-carpeted foyer, and realized that he had everything he had ever dreamed of. He had reached the top of his game, was flying around in his own private plane, and now had an estate that proclaimed to all the world that he had made it.
But in his heart he knew that he was not happy. Instead of feeling contented and at peace, he felt only emptiness inside. He had reached that fork in the road.
Where Are You in Your Life?
You can be at the top or the bottom of the ladder of life, when you realize you may have taken a wrong turn somewhere along the path. Now what?
The thing is, there is no one solution for everyone. But there is a way to find the best solution for you. And you are about to learn a technique that you can apply whenever you need to change course.
It involves coming into balance with yourself, your own vision of who you are, and what you desire for yourself. And when you come into balance with yourself, things are likely to fall into place in surprising ways.
Out With the Old
You start with a cleaning out of the old baggage from your past, the old ideas, the old beliefs, the unproductive stories that have been part of your guidance system up to now. And you open yourself up to a new and different way of thinking. The key here is a willingness to be open to new things.
What is “Beginner’s Mind”?
Beginner’s Mind refers to having an attitude of openness, or wonderment, an eagerness for what comes next. It’s the opposite of thinking “been there, done that”. It’s an aspect of mindfulness, that opens you up to new ideas, new approaches to life.
Holding the attitude of a beginner who has no preconceived ideas about what you are observing or thinking about, allows you to be open to receiving a new perspective, which can open doors that would otherwise be closed to you.
We might consider it the opposite of being an expert. In the expert’s mind there is little allowance for new possibilities since by definition, the expert is supposed to be the final word on it. The beginner’s mind, on the other hand, is open to many as yet unthought-of possibilities.
An oft-quoted enigmatic passage of Jesus seems to refer to this: “One cannot enter the kingdom of heaven, unless he becomes as a little child.” Could this be a reference to the beginner’s mind? A child’s mind is clear. It is not weighed down by the baggage of the past. We call it innocence, naivete, as if it is something to be gotten past, in order to reach maturity. But an attitude of innocence, wonderment, and spontaneity, may actually be of more value to us as we move through life, than a “been there, done that” attitude.
Have you ever noticed that the most creative people keep an open mind?
Creative people are always wondering, “what if”? They approach everything with the same attitude – eagerness, anticipation, and curiosity. On a path that they may have taken many times before, they walk with expectation. For who knows what may be waiting around the next bend?
Many experts practice “beginner’s mind” in order to find a new, and different approach to old ways of doing things.
For example, what if, after going through an extensive training program, you find yourself in a field that is nothing like you expected. And you realize that you made the wrong choice in choosing that occupation. What is the most effective course of action to take?
Following a New Dream
Should you look for another career? Not necessarily so. How would “beginner’s mind see this dilemma?
It would stop and ask: “What do I really want to achieve? What are my long term goals? Where do I want to be working?” Beginner’s mind redefines the goal posts.
It takes the goals and follows the way of the seer, the one who has a dream and envisions each move step by step until you reach the goal.
The practice of beginner’s mind:
A) Allows us to notice the consequences of each move we make,
B) To be honest with ourselves so we can change, in midstream, if we have to,
C) To have respect for any outcome that will likely follow a particular course of action.
Next time, you have a problem, make a mistake or have to change course in midstream, instead of panicking, and losing your cool, step back a moment. Remember to breathe. Relax and allow your mind to daydream a little. The solution is never far away, when you open yourself up to new and fresh ways of looking at things, by letting go, and looking through new eyes. In fact, the field of limitless possibilities lays before you, because Beginner’s Mind helps you to tap into the realm of your intuition.
I don’t know how Tom Shadyac decided what to do next. He realized that he had bought into the dream of opulent materialism, and found it wasn’t what he expected. He later sold his 17,000 sq ft estate and moved into a trailer park in Malibu, California, where he is now happier than he’s ever been. He found a group of people who have chosen to live in “Intentional Community”, where they help each other, and share their lives together.
The Big Picture
Some people come to realize that the real goal in life, may not necessarily be, to control everyone and everything in their lives, and to make it all work the way they want. They become observers, who notice life, and seek to be able to learn from whatever people and circumstances they find themselves in. Is that a place you’d like to be?
Whatever you choose, the best part about “beginner’s mind”, is that you can always revise and reinvent yourself, and try something new.
Used to be, if you had more than one career in your lifetime, employers might consider you unstable, unreliable, someone they couldn’t depend on to stay in the job. How times have changed!
Now, employers think you are versatile, adaptable, resourceful and likely to be more creative, if you’ve worked in several different careers. They see you as bringing so much more to the table than someone who has labored 15-20 years in the same job. It’s all a matter of mindset.
Steve Jobs in his address to the graduating class at Stanford University in 2005 said: “. . . for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today? And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
Abraham Hicks talks about a technique for feeling your way to a better life. She calls it the “forking off process”. Listen to her explaining it here.
Never be afraid to change, to try something new, to go back to the beginning and start over again, and while you are doing it, remember to enjoy your life. It’s the only one you have. 🙂