Still have a lot to learn

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.

His theory boils down to three tenets:

  1. Life can be short.
  2. Life can change quickly.
  3. 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:

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:

  1. I have to learn from my mistakes, I have to learn from my successes.
  2. I have to learn from the positives and the negatives in my life.
  3. 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.

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