Stretching & Growing - April 8, 2021

How can we show patience towards ourselves as we learn new things?

April 9, 2021
Graphic of a light bulb

Stretching & Growing - April 8, 2021

How can we show patience towards ourselves as we learn new things?

April 9, 2021

"The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice." -Brian Herbert

Alexander Jewish Family Service Friends – 

One of things that I find challenging is being patient with myself when I am learning something new. That feeling of not knowing how to do something – or feeling clumsy or inept as I practice a new skill can sometimes be frustrating. I find it especially difficult when I can see others doing it well and seemingly without much effort. I guess its just my competitive nature that makes me want to excel.

Bonnie Kathleen Blair is a retired American speed skater has an interesting take on the idea of winning. She is one of the top skaters of her era, and one of the most decorated athletes in Olympic history. Blair competed for the United States in four Olympics, winning five gold medals and one bronze medal. Blair says:

“Winning doesn’t always mean being first. Winning means you’re doing better than you’ve done before.”

I really like that approach, the idea that winning can mean that we are learning, growing and doing a bit better than we did before. Not all success needs to be measured in comparison to someone else. We can measure our personal success by how much each of us have learned and grown.

Learning new things, though challenging and at times frustrating, is what keeps our mind fresh and ready to tackle what lies ahead. In fact, Henry Ford believed that it is what keeps us young. According to Ford:

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.”

Perhaps, just as important, is that as new challenges present themselves we will need new and novel skills to rise to the challenge: Albert Einstein put it this way:

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

Prior to the pandemic, I received a camera for my computer as a gift from NJHSA. When it arrived, I remember looking at it and thinking, “I’ll never use this” – I had no way of knowing at the time how central that item would become to surviving and thriving in the time of a new and unanticipated challenge – a global pandemic. To be honest, I had the same reaction many years prior when phones first started to be able to text, receive email, have internet access and a camera –I distinctly remember thinking that I would never use any of that – I just needed a phone. The good news is that once we can see the possibilities our minds are forever expanded and more open.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, US Supreme Court Justice from 1902 – 1932, famously said:

"Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions."

I guess one of the lessons is that as new inventions, ideas and technology come into our lives we may not always be able to predict all of the ways that they may change or improve our lives but by remaining curious and open to learning we may discover surprising and unexpected benefits.

Wishing you the curiosity to continue to explore and learn new things and patience with yourself while you are learning.

Take care,
Carl Josehart's signature

Carl E. Josehart, MSW (he/him/his)

Chief Operating Officer

You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream- C.S. Lewis

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