Do you remember the feeling of coming up with a thought that you thought to be totally original? I think this happens to most of us as teenagers. We come to some kind of profound realization, and we are sure that no one has ever considered it before. We excitedly share our new found revelation with friends, parents or teachers only to get a lukewarm response. Why? Because our thought was really not that original. Millions of people had thought it before us.
Every one of us has a world all our own. Some are big. Some are small. Your world consists of the people you know, the places your go, the experiences you have had, and the knowledge you possess. These moments of inspiration described above happen when you come to understand something outside the boundaries of your world.
There are two ways I can learn. One is for me to increase my understanding of my world. For example I might come to understand the way trees and grass grow. Trees and grass have always been a part of my world, but now I have learned more about them. My knowledge of my world is increasing. The other ways that I can learn is to increase the size of my world. When this happens, the boundaries of my experience are pushed wider. This often makes me feel like I know less than before.
We often hear the statement that teenagers think they know everything. The fact is, they often do know everything. Teenagers are at a place in life where they are coming to understand everything about their world. But their world is yet to be expanded. When we reach our 20s and 30s we realize how little we knew as teenagers. This is not because we were stupid when we were younger (well, maybe we were) but because the further we venture into adulthood, the bigger our world becomes. The size is our knowledge is smaller compared to the size of our world.
When we feel that we are gaining more understanding, it is because the size of our knowledge is approaching the size of our world. When we feel like we know less today than yesterday, that is because the size of our world is growing.
I believe that many people live lives in which their worlds never grow. They are completely satisfied with the size of their existence. It is usually a bit uncomfortable for our world to grow, so sometimes we would prefer it stay just the way it is.
Not only is it unhealthy for us to stop growing our knowledge of the world, it is unhealthy for us to stop growing our world.
If you don’t feel sometimes like you know less than you one knew, then it is time to grow your world.