One’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions. – Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.
What does that mean?
This quote says that new thoughts, new ideas (especially the big ones) permanently change our minds. Our thought process is different, once we have a new idea with which to play. Our horizons of ‘possible’ have been moved, and there are now new spaces in which we can play.
As we hear new ideas, not only do we have new places to explore, our minds are often drawn there. To explore this new open space is almost an imperative. We may not always find this new space useful, but we still notice all that new space.
Even those ideas we dislike or with which we disagree leave our mind stretched, if only in our attempts to refute or disprove the new idea. Our minds are never going to return to the size they were before. And that is the point of the quote.
Why is exploring the expanding possibilities of life important?
Like a baby’s first steps and first run, like an older child’s first ride on a bicycle without training wheels, or like a teenager’s first solo drive in the car, once we have experienced the expanding of our limits, life is different, and will never be the same.
Seeking out new ideas, or at least reacting to them when we come across them, is part of human nature. We are inquisitive (although some are more so than others) and seem to enjoy mastering new skills or ideas (at least while we are young – any idea why some people seem to grow out of it?).
Each new day brings possibilities. What will you learn today that might open a new door? What might let you see past an obstacle? What will bring you the insight necessary to take the next step? The world is big and getting bigger.
There are more ideas in nearly every subject, all you have to do is pick your favorite topic and pay attention to the new ideas. Then let your mind expand and explore the new space that the new ideas brings with it. Expand your mind, broaden your horizons.
Where can I apply this in my life?
It all depends on where in your life you have interest in new ideas. Are you interested in new ideas in your hobbies? What if you were a gardener and just found out about a new way to grow plants with minimal fuss, less space, and still get good results? Would your thinking ever be the same?
Even if it didn’t really work, and it was just a sales pitch. Has your mind been expanded? Is there a space for an idea for possible new methods of cultivating plants? Just because that implementation of the idea failed, perhaps there’s something to the concept. Even if you don’t pursue the idea, your mind is no longer the same size, it has been stretched.
What other areas of your life are you looking for new ideas? There are whole sections of book stores and magazine racks full of ideas. From romance to woodworking, home construction to motorcycles, interior decorating to cars, computer help to self help to classic literature.
Any and all of these will introduce new ideas and expand your mind. What you do from there, of course, is up to you. If you stick to things you enjoy, I would imagine the likelihood of you exploring the new space in your mind to be much higher than if you don’t enjoy the topic.
I could learn a lot from a sewing magazine. I am capable of sewing, and have even made some costumes. But I’m not really into it. If I read about a new technique or some other idea, my mind would be stretched, but I doubt I would ever play in or explore the new area. Just not that interested.
By sticking to the things that are of interest, you will likely get more out of the new ideas. Hopefully you do a little of this at work from time to time. Some would call it “sharpening the axe.” That’s something that can really help you in your career, if you let it.
Take a moment and think about the last week or two. What new things have you learned, what are some of the new ideas to which have you been exposed? Can you see how your mind has been changed, even if just a little? Can you completely ignore the new information, or do you now think of it when making a choice where the idea might have an influence?
Imagine the life of a child, when they first learn to operate a door knob. Their mind, and their world, just got a little bit bigger. Any room they enter for the rest of their life will be examined for door knobs, even if it happens far below the surface.
What of the child that finds a quarter sitting in the coin return of a vending machine, or a token in a video game? How many years will they check other machines for a left-over gift? And do they ever stop, or do they just start to restrain themselves from acting on the impulse. Any way you look at it, their minds were stretched by that spare coin.
What do you plan to do to stretch your mind? What new ideas will you pursue? It’s up to you. Enjoy life, learn new things, and expand your mind.
From: Twitter, @GreatestQuotes
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/o/oliverwend161303.html
Photo by ryancboren
Happy Birthday to Oliver Wendell Holmes (Sr.), born 29 August 1809.