The stagnant life; why do adults stop “growing” when they stop growing?

A friend recently posted  a Jimmy Kimmel excerpt on Facebook where they were asking pedestrians to name any country on a map, and as you probably have already guessed, no one (with the exception of a child) were able to name a single country. Yes, not even the United States of America, where they live! Were there people who probably guessed a few countries but got edited out, most likely, but that’s not the point.  How can a person not even have the ability to point out the country they live in?

 Jimmy Kimmel Shows American geographical ignorance

Do you remember the show “Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?” Do you remember how shocking it was that children demonstrated more knowledge than an adult? As a former teacher, I can attest to the growth of American ignorance in the classrooms.  Facts that any breathing and verbal human being should know, many high schoolers did not.  However, I guarantee many of our average high school students today would still score higher than the average adult.  Why is that?

Not to oversimplify, but we stop investing in ourselves.  Chances are, if you are reading this blog (God bless you, I appreciate you), you do not fall into this category, but as a whole, we stop exposing ourselves to growth opportunities as we get older.  Why?  Simply put: life.  Family, kids, disease/sickness, adulting, whatever you want to blame it on, we focus on getting through each day rather than on growing through each day.  Do you feel me?  As a mom, wife, and business woman, there are literally more things I can do each day than I have time for.  Do I do them all?  No, but that would be awesome if I did!  Some days are busier than others but the reality is that we all have this never-ending list of “to-dos” or “could-dos” and then we have a list of “want to-dos” but those rarely make an appearance.

As I mentioned in my “blog introduction” I really want to focus on helping people live a full and thriving life, so today my focus is breaking through the mold of stagnant adulthood and move towards living a life full of growth.

If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.” —Gail Sheehy

How do we go about transforming our mundane, survival-mode, stagnant life to one that is thriving, changing, and growing?

  1. Read- at the beginning of all growth is the experience found from reading.  Reading opens your minds, works your brains, and explores new possibilities.  I remember spending countless hours reading as a child.  Each book was an educational experience for me.  As I began reading larger and more advanced writing, I had to keep a dictionary (before the days of google) nearby so I could look up and learn each word I did not know.  I learned the power of words and the beauty of expressing yourself and thoughts through the written language.  As I made my way through two Masters degrees, I became completely burnt out on reading because it seemed as though it was all I did, well, that and writing.  Then I started my own home-based business and I was thrust into the world of reading again.  I very quickly learned that successful people read. Successful people all have reading in common. Warren Buffet once said “Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.” I think it is important to note, not all reading is equal.  Reading the pages of the grocery checkout tabloid is not equal to reading the complex and enlightening readings found in the classics or the writings of Napoleon Hill or John Maxwell.  Find a book that interests you, comes highly recommended, and can help you grow.
  2. Experience life- go do something you have never done before or go somewhere you have never been.  Some people think traveling and going places has to be expensive.  It does not.  I had the wonderful blessing of traveling a lot as a child.  My dad was a pastor and we lived in a lot of places but more important than that was the constant “adventures” they took us on.  Some of my fondest memories as a child were the places we went.  We lived up north for a total of 9-10 years and one of the wonderful conveniences of living in New England are the incredible historical sites that are in close proximity.  Maybe that young exposure to history is what eventually made me love history and become a history teacher.  You don’t have to live in New England or a big city, you can find adventure wherever you live!  Whether it be a man-made attraction or natural, experiences are everywhere you turn.  Getting outside of your “bubble” inevitably leads to exposure and growth.
  3. Volunteer- or at least do something that doesn’t revolve around you.  Helping others teaches us, prods us to do more and be better, and makes us grateful for what we have.  There is literally no excuse for not volunteering, except laziness.  OUCH! I know, that one hurts a little.  But it’s truth, and it’s truth that hits home.  I grew up volunteering, I taught volunteering, but yet I rarely do (and shame on me).  There are a million and one ways you can volunteer, just pick one. If you don’t know where to start, go to your local church, school, or non-profit organization.  Teach your children by showing them; teach them the importance of giving of your time to those in need.

Whatever you do, don’t be satisfied with a stagnant life.  Always push yourself to grow and become better.  There are too many people counting on you, whether you know it or not, to not become everything you were created to be.

“Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.”
― John C. Maxwell

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