Editor’s Column: Changing our minds

The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind.

~ William blake

Change is hard, and perhaps no kind of change is more difficult than that of changing our own minds.

Our opinions are rooted in what we believe, and we are loath to admit that what we believe about a subject is flawed. It hurts the ego to admit we might be wrong, and humans are particularly averse to feeling any kind of pain, even the kind of pain that helps us grow.

I started lifting weights consistently about six months ago as part of my exercise program. As we age, experts tell us we must lift weights if we want to maintain muscle mass, and maintaining muscle mass is one of the ways we can avoid that dreaded middle-age spread. To my surprise, it’s not just a muscular challenge, it’s a mental one.

My body will tell me I absolutely cannot do another bicep curl or shoulder press, or that there’s no way I can use a 25 or 30 pound dumbbell for squats, but I find that by changing my mind, I can almost always do at least one more rep or up my weights. It hurts, but it also produces positive results.

We all know — or are — someone who says, “that’s my opinion and I’m sticking with it,” regardless of new information received. They don’t grow, they don’t get stronger. They simply stagnate, and, as Blake puts it, they start to harbor mental reptiles.

I didn’t make resolutions this year for the first time in a long time. Instead, I’m just challenging myself every day to examine long-held opinions and/or accompanying beliefs, holding them up to the light of any new information to see if they still hold true.