The most difficult thing about my age is feeling attached to every life experience I’ve had thus far.
That is: the older we get, the more we build our beliefs based on whatever they were founded on.
When a child encounters something new or different, she’s likely to approach it with a natural curiosity. As adults, whenever we encounter something that feels different, our intuition might be to react negatively or to outright ignore it. We lose our sense of curiosity about the world as a way of ensuring our relative safety and comfort. Rejecting something different than what we believe or think we know helps us to be efficient and safe, but it also means we miss opportunities to propel things forward. As a result: we end up living in a routine, we fail to improve our lives or society or profession because we’d rather stick to what we know or think we know.
There could be a thousand ways to be happier, healthier, and creatively richer, but because we find ourselves comfortable in our beliefs, we fail to even start looking outside of them. Fear is a very real block to creative thinking.
The older you get, the more difficult it becomes to get away from your beliefs, simply because you’ve had more time to experience more things and to ingrain those experiences in your thinking.
Even for experienced creatives, those who have lived their lives pursuing creativity or adventures, the difficulty of looking away from your beliefs or a lifetime of experiences can be incredibly difficult and daunting.
So how do you do it? How do you not let age and experience prevent you from being creative or pursuing new ideas?
I think one way is to challenge yourself, quietly and in private, and what you think you know. There are easy ways to accomplish this: reading books that go against what you believe. Stopping yourself any time you find yourself thinking you know something and really investigating time to determine whether or not that’s true. Learning to bulid your empathy muscles and seeing the world through other’s lenses.
Anything that can help challenge your routine is going to be what gets you through the creative block, the fear of change. As I wrote back in 2009 in answer to the question: Does age make you any less creative?
“Call in sick and go for a drive to a place you have never been to, go attempt to fly a kite in a field, make chocolate chip pancakes (using blended bananas in the batter instead of eggs) for dinner. Do something that is far from your regular routine and challenges your creativity.”