One of the people I follow on Twitter is Peter McGraw, consumer psychologist at University of Colorado-Boulder. Aside from some witty tweets and hashtag games on humor (as is one of his central streams of research), McGraw has coined a theory called the “Big Day” theory. It goes like this:
Every day, McGraw gets up, says that today’s a big day, and sometimes, he tweets it.
— Peter McGraw (@PeterMcGraw) December 8, 2013
His theory boils down to three tenets:
- Life can be short.
- Life can change quickly.
- Life should have some urgency.
This pause for thought reminds me of some of the work that I’ve read on mindfulness along the route to my colleagues and I starting a consumer research stream on mindfulness. In a way, this creates a space between the individual and the day. It’s an early inflection point of a priori self-awareness and even present-moment. It’s a simple meditation without necessarily causing anxiety toward the day’s events or future events.
As I’ve been going through this challenging semester and trying (keyword: trying) to grow along the way, I’ve realized that there are a lot of things I still need to learn. I have emotional learning to do, mental/cognitive learning to do, social/political learning to do–and this learning isn’t only on a personal level, it’s on a professional level as well. I need to learn to be a better husband, a better father, a better son, a better friend, a better researcher, a better teacher… all of the roles in my life necessitate that I learn how to improve my skills, talent, and maturity, and move my life to the directions I need/want to head. This is something I partially allude to in the annual Yom Kippur reflection email I send to close family, friends, and colleagues.
A couple of days ago, I saw McGraw tweet the following:
still have a lot to learn
— Peter McGraw (@PeterMcGraw) December 7, 2013
It hit me: McGraw’s possibly innocuous tweet summed up exactly what I needed to acknowledge at the end of my day, every day. I still have a lot to learn. The theory goes like this:
- I have to learn from my mistakes, I have to learn from my successes.
- I have to learn from the positives and the negatives in my life.
- I have to acknowledge that I’ve learned something from the day/past and that I still have yet to learn tomorrow/in the future.
In a way, “still have a lot to learn” is the flipside to “big day”–it’s a simple space between the individual and the day. It’s an inflection point at which self-awareness and present-moment converge, post hoc. And it’s a simple meditation without necessarily causing anxiety from the day’s events or past events.
So, starting this evening, I’m going to start saying that I “still have a lot to learn” and perhaps tweeting it. I’m curious how this actually affects me and whether or not I can actually leverage acknowledging how much I’ve learned and how I still have a lot to learn. Much like the experiments on positive psychology and gratitude journaling, we’ll see if I feel growth from the experience. I’m sure I’ll still have a lot to learn.