When you have the state of mind of a beginner, you allow yourself to try new things and are open to new ideas, which is energizing and fun. When you are a beginner, you’re not afraid to try something just because you won’t be good at it or because it’s “not you.” You can have a great time at something and do it without the intent of becoming an expert. Who doesn’t love and admire the eighty-one-year-old woman who is picking up the piano for the first time or the fifty-year-old who is just learning to surf, both of whom are unlikely to become experts in these fields.
When you have the mind state of an expert and are heavy with success, you’re more likely to stay in your comfort zone and limit your experiences to those in which you can excel, and obviously that is not a fun way to live. And even in the fields in which you are truly an expert, it’s always great to not know it all. In being open we create room to learn new things and refine and improve our knowledge and skills.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, life is simply harder when you approach it as a know-it-all. When we think back on times when we “knew it all,” we invariably created more work for ourselves. I recall a time at one of my first jobs, the sous-chef saw me laboriously chopping an onion and said, “Hey, let me show you a great way to quickly dice an onion.” I replied, “I already know how” and summarily cut off the opportunity to learn how to do something in a more efficient way. At some point, I did learn the professional way to dice an onion and was amazed at what an idiot I had been. In “knowing it all,” I looked like an idiot to my coworkers by clinging to an inefficient way, but more importantly, I kept myself from learning a much better way of doing something. I’m grateful I had this experience so I could learn firsthand the beauty of being a beginner!
(Slightly amusing aside: after the book was published with this entry, several people asked me how to cut an onion.)
Tip excerpted from the book How to Be Happy NOW…Even if Things Aren’t Going Your Way, available on Amazon, Amazon UK and Amazon DE. © 2013 – 2014 Sara Weston. A FREE excerpt of the book is available here.