What Really Stops Us From Becoming Better
“The biggest obstacle to learning is the belief that you already know it."
This saying's origins are not concretely known as of right now.
However, we know that both the zen masters of old and Steven Hawking himself are linked to this or a very similar statement, proving how reasonable the idea is.
When people who have lived in such different times and environments can both state something with absolute certainty, it's clear that the concept in question has immense value and usefulness.
So let's explain what they meant in detail.
Life As A Sim
It's usually a good thing when we are sure of something.
We can proceed with our actions without fear or worry that they might be wrong and negatively affect us.
However, sometimes this certainty can hinder our ability to see every other option around us.
As people say, the world is full of opportunities.
The trouble comes when we get too used to one specific way of doing things.
When this happens, we often become ignorant of all the other possibilities because we know our method works.
We forget that it was, in fact, an exploration process that brought us our initial solution and that there are likely many more, maybe even better ideas, that are available if we keep searching.
The process described above happens when we have an initial approval or success and start doing the action that led to it on a loop.
It occurs most often when we are already busy with a lot of the other things life throws at us.
We get used to relying on the same actions leading to the same effects repeatedly, so we don't even acknowledge that the situation can be improved.
Our brain is on autopilot in those moments - we disregard the present and how we can change it because we are too busy thinking about all the other things on our To-do lists.
That's one of the minuses of the fast-paced environment most of us are too familiar with.
So how do we change it?
The exact opposite of the mindset described above is that of a child.
Kids are innately curious, and for them, boundaries or habits are almost nonexistent.
We realize that both these concepts are great things to have in moderation and that every adult should strive to improve on them as much as they feel comfortable.
However, sometimes boundaries turn into limits, and habits turn into compulsions.
That's because we tend to stop questioning the existing method, and thus every other solution or idea becomes irrelevant.
That's when they start stopping us from bettering our current situation.
The other thing that’s likely to happen is when we see ourselves as the most knowledgeable regarding a particular topic.
When we are sure that there’s nothing new to learn, or no one to learn it from, we are less likely to consider ideas that are outside the box.
However, the belief that we already know everything about a topic is more likely to limit the possibility of better understanding something instead of boosting it.
Not to mention that there was a time when the "status quo" we are so reliant on now was the "out of the box" idea.
As we grow older, it's normal to rely more upon tried and tested methods.
However, this shouldn't discourage us from trying new things.
Different perspectives, people with diverse backgrounds or knowledge levels, and even simply answering seemingly effortless questions can lead us to beautiful new realizations.
This is why being curious, asking for more information, and talking with those who know a little bit less than us, are all vital parts of improving ourselves.
So how do we change from one mindset to the other?
Well, it all starts in how we think and, therefore, the words we use.
Instead of saying "I already know this" or "this is boring," try thinking of aspects you aren't sure of and asking questions about them.
Also, instead of focusing on your understanding, engage with those around you and talk about their ideas and perspectives - this way, you have an even bigger pool of possible knowledge.
The doors this sort of communication opens are endless.
And not only that, chances are those around you will love sharing their ideas, which will help you build closer relationships.
It's sometimes easy to get caught up in the knowledge and ideas we already have.
We can get used to how we do something rather quickly and thus never think of ways to improve it.
However, we, as a species, are innately curious.
An excellent way to prove this point is to consider how many questions children ask on a daily basis.
If we try to keep this sort of curiosity regarding the grown-up world we live in, we will likely surprise ourselves with just how much we don't yet know about it.
And with the realization of how much we can learn and improve every day, we will likely start changing for the better a little bit every single day.
That's the beauty of this way of thinking - the world becomes an endless source of possibilities.