With a Beginner’s Mind attitude, you will be more open to possibilities and more creative. You will also form closer bonds with others in your life as they experience your interest in them and your appreciation for their thoughts and ideas.
What is Beginner’s Mind?
Beginner’s Mind (aka Shoshin) is exactly what it sounds like: a term used to describe the mindset of a true beginner. When you are new to something, you don’t know anything about it. In order to open your mind to learn, and develop understanding, you adopt a unique mindset.
In this state of mind, you are:
- Free of preconceptions of how anything works
- Free of expectations about what will happen
- Filled with curiosity to understand things more deeply
- Open to a world of possibilities, since you don’t yet know what is or isn’t possible
Most people spend their lives trying to become experienced in a field, expert in a subject-area, or skilled at a craft. Experience is indeed a wonderful thing. It often helps you do things at a higher level. But knowledge and understanding of how things work can prevent you from seeing clearly what’s in front of you.
Beginner’s Mind seems to run in opposition to that trajectory. Because of this, the idea can feel uncomfortable! The best part about beginner’s mind is that it’s always accessible. Every week, every day, and every moment is a new opportunity to begin again.
“When we adopt the mind of a beginner, we endeavor to look at things as if for the first time, free from the influence of the past or speculation about the future. We open ourselves to what is here now, rather than constructing stories about what we think is here. Much like a scientist who observes without bias, beginner’s mind allows us to collect raw data. This opens us up to new possibilities, rather than being confined by habits and conditioning.”
– Tracy Ochester, Attitudes of Mindfulness: Beginner’s Mind
Start tapping into the Beginners Mind attitude to uncover your hidden potentials,
Look for A Challenge
Constantly putting yourself in challenging situations is one way to maintain your “beginner’s attitude.” Say yes to things that are outside of your comfort zone and take on tasks that you aren’t the most qualified for. This will force you to stay in the mode of learning.
Audit Your Assumptions
Experience can cause us to become complacent and accept ways of doing things simply because they’re what we’ve been doing since the beginning. Tap into your Beginner’s Mind attitude by challenging your own assumptions and ask whether the assumptions you hold are still true.
Learn More : 10 Exercises to Develop Beginner’s Mind
Go into a meeting and ask the type of questions a newcomer would be comfortable asking. Questions such as “why are we doing this?” “what would happen if we didn’t do this?” and “who is this decision in the best interest of?” allows your mind to stretch beyond what it already accepts as being the answers and consider other options.
Take A Course in Something New
Because beginners never know which skills they will require next, one thing they are always doing is learning. Signing up for a course in something that will stretch your mental muscle is a great way to tap into your beginner’s mind.
When you work in a particular field, and see a similar set of problems time and time again, habits of thinking become ingrained. But deliberately experiencing a problem with the mind of a beginner can provide a fresh perspective on existing challenges. You’ll explore new opportunities that you didn’t previously consider.
When you’re familiar with something, it’s easy to go into autopilot. Beginner’s mind helps you slow you down to see what you’re doing in greater clarity, and avoid the drawbacks of mindlessly going through the motions.
If you’re procrastinating on a big work task, you could look at it with beginner’s mind and instead of worrying about how hard the task will be or how you might fail at it. You can be curious about what the task will be like. You can notice the details of doing the task, instead of trying to get away from them.
As you can see, the practice of beginner’s mind can transform any activity, get rid of a lot of our difficulties, allow us to be more flexible, open, curious, grateful, present. I’m not saying all of this happens automatically. It takes practice, but it’s worth the practice.
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