|How Your Mind is Like Your Underwear
by Tom Hanson, Ph,D
In 1996 I spent 30 straight days as a student at a yoga center.
We did about 5 hours of yoga a day and ate vegetarian food. All that stretching and breathing
not only changed me physically (I felt like a greyhound when I left), it also opened me up to a new
world of learning and personal growth.
I met so many fascinating people and had so many mind-expanding conversations that
I’ve never been the same since. I’m more open to new ideas, I’ve taken more risks (e.g. quit a tenured college professorship to pursue my dream) and as a result my life has been a great adventure.
I attribute much of my growth and current happiness to my choice to put myself through that yoga experience.
Our minds are like our underwear: Once they get stretched passed their current capacity they never go back to their original size.
Those of us who have experienced getting a “snuggy” or a “wedgy” (or whatever you called it when you were a kid) know what I mean.
As I observe successful people, ones I want to be like, I see they pursue life-changing experiences instead of waiting around for them to happen.
We all experience unwanted, powerful, life-changing events: We lose jobs, lose loved ones, get dropped by girlfriends, get injured and get let down by people we trust.
These unwanted events are referred to in my world as AFGOs: Another (Fricking) Growth Opportunity.
But if you pursue great positive, wanted learning experiences you meet them on your own terms rather than waiting until an AFGO hunts you down. The more you do so the better you’ll be able to handle the AFGOs when they do come.
The yoga month I did was by my choice and it gave me skills and experiences that have helped me through some challenging times (like when I quit a tenured college professorship to pursue my dreams…)
Life is going to deal us all lessons, be it on the field or off. That is inevitable. Yet we can choose to live as a learning hunter or a learning hunted.
Rick, a high school player I coached this summer, was experiencing a lot of stress from the way his parents were acting. They wanted him to get a scholarship or get drafted and kept reminding him of what he needed to do. They were well-intentioned and didn’t realize the effect they were having on Rick.
Rick sought my help. I shared with him some ideas on how to be loving yet powerful in communicating his feelings with his parents. After some practice he was ready, and he initiated a tough conversation with his parents.
He could have sat back and not expressed himself, but he chose to do some learning, then take the actions he needed to clear his head. Everything went great and as you might expect, when the relationship with his parents improved, so did his performance, greatly improving his chances of reaching his goals.
Now he has an experience of initiating a difficult conversation with an authority figure. The ability to do that results in a different life from a guy who swallows his feelings.
Rick was a learning hunter.
Dr. Tom Hanson