Approaching life with a beginner's mind
Learning a valuable life lesson from my 5 year old son.
Last night my 5-year-old son asked me to solve a quiz he found in his coloring book. I purposefully kept getting the wrong answers to see his reaction as he let me know exactly why my answer was wrong and to try again. We kept going until only the correct answer was left, which I'm glad I got right.
I asked my son to circle the correct answer and move on to the next activity in the coloring book. He said he didn't want to circle the answer because he wanted to retake the quiz.
I wondered why he would want to retake the quiz if he had completed it after all the surprise was gone. My adult brain couldn't comprehend this.
So I asked him why he didn't want to mark the correct answer, and his response blew me away. He said he didn't want to circle the answer because he had fun taking the quiz and wanted to retake it.
My son was more concerned about having a fun time instead of being content with completing the activity. It was an eye-opening lesson for me and got me thinking about how we can appreciate an activity each time we take part in it many times over of focusing on its completion alone. This was a great example of a beginner's mind, a concept in Zen, which is about approaching each activity without any assumptions or expertise clouding our experience as if we were doing it for the first time.
How can we bring a beginner's mind to everything we do?
Let's say, for example, I need to create a report. It's an activity I have done many times before, so I will most likely approach it with an attitude of "let's just get it done" and move on.
Instead, I can approach it with a beginner's mind and find the opportunity to look at it from a fresh perspective. I can see the opportunity to make it even better. I can do more research, improve the layout, get feedback and improve the story I'm telling.
Instead of relying on my expertise or assuming that I've got this because I have done it a million times, I can step out of those limiting thoughts and see the activity as an opportunity with infinite possibilities to learn from.
As Shenryu Suzuki, the Zen teacher who introduced the concept of a beginner's mind, said, "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's, there are few."
So why not approach each moment in life with an open mind by dropping our judgments, expectations, assumptions, presumptions, and preconceived notions and seeing everything we do with an open mind, ready to learn as if we're experiencing life for the first time?
Try it out and open up a world of possibilities.
Thanks for reading. Till next time, stay strong!