Tip/Thought of the Day

Can You Teach An Old Dog New Tricks?

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. A cliché that seems as true today as it was yesterday. Are we so entrenched in where we currently are, and what we have become that we no longer have the ability to look at where we can go?

Success never happens in a vacuum. It happens in an environment that encourages discussion and a variety of voices.

When do we close our minds to options and the ability to change? I see all around me discontent, frustration, and fear. Change and the unknown are scary words, but for many, where we are is just as scary. Most are asking “isn’t there more?”.

Is this all life has to offer?

There’s no question change can be scary, but it can also be exciting, offering new adventures and experiences. Some changes may be outright failures. Others will succeed beyond all expectations. Regardless of the results it’ll show us opportunities the status quo ignored. Isn’t that better than plodding along one path with blinders on, never acknowledging others exist?

How different would the world be today if brilliant minds refused to seek out innovations, opting for mediocrity instead?

Would our lives be better off if women never had careers, the vote, or control over their bodies? If they were still forced to stay home regardless of their own hopes and dreams? Would you really want a country filled with only one voice, one color, one belief? Is that what we’re desperately clinging to? We’ve always surpassed others because we encouraged diversity of thought and ideas. Success never happens in a vacuum. It happens in an environment that encourages discussion and a variety of voices.

I grew up in a time when the work force was predominantly men who expected to work for a company 50 years and then retire with the obligatory gold watch. When aspiring to be a physician was little more than a dream because I’m a woman. A typewriter was the only way to get a reasonably presentable paper and white-out marred the perfection every few sentences. I grew up when an oven and stove top were the only way to cook and a cordless rotary phone was an amazing advance in freedom. An acceptable photograph was hoped for in a 24-exposure camera roll and had to be developed days later to be viewed. Cassette players held a dozen songs and vinyl records had a background noise all their own. A phone was meant to ring and talk into. TV had four channels and went off the air at midnight. There were no portable phones, microwaves, faxes (once an incredible feat in itself and now obsolete), cable stations, blow dryers, iPods, computers, or the internet.

As a girl, I never imagined the wondrous things to come, all based on visionaries willing to push past all critics and boundaries.

We used to talk dreamily of someday having a technology that freed us up to work a four day week. Instead we live in a world where staying in a job for more than a few years is a rarity and computers are outdated in months. We are all forced to keep up with the advances bombarding us daily. No wonder we feel overwhelmed and frustrated. No wonder we seek comfort and routine. Technology didn’t free us up for more quality time, it tethered us to a never ending connection that always exists.

Life’s pace may have changed in my lifetime, but the desire for stability and constancy has not. Yes, an old dog can learn new tricks and is forced to as the world around us continues to expand at an exponential rate.

Perhaps the real lesson is: we all grow comfortable and uneasy with change.

We’re all wondering, regardless of age, is this all there is? In the end we all desire the same thing- a balance. Maybe the answer is to share our concerns, support our differences, embrace our history while aspiring to greater achievements together. Realizing that the good old days weren’t all that great. They excluded huge portions of our population and communication was unilateral. The current days are skewed to constant migration, isolation, and data overload.

I suggest we take the best of both worlds, realizing nothing will happen overnight. Perhaps a little more old-school relaxation with friends, contemplating the stars or reading an old fashion book. Even if it’s alongside the wonders of having thousands of options on a Kindle, being able to Skype with loved ones hundreds of miles away, and the ability to seek out specific stars with the aid of your phone, is a start. Occasionally shutting down and appreciating the simple wonders all around us, while admiring the innovations that bring them closer to home. No matter our age, we can all learn new tricks. Minute by minute, hour by hour, and day by day, we can help each other move toward new goals and richer more fulfilling lives.

dsc_0323    –Dr. Courtney

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