I love the holidays because of the family gatherings. I see my nieces and nephews, and sisters for that matter, all too infrequently and so this sacred tradition means so much to me. This year I marvel at how much the young people have grown and matured but also at the absence of Mom at the stove and table this year. Not all the change feels good, but it is necessary.
I’ve written before about change relative to the growth vs fixed mindset. Growth mindset folk believe they can change and adapt, but fixed mindset folk believe they are who they are and that is pretty constant. The former, perhaps unsurprisingly, is more adaptable and resilient. Fixed mindset folk have the belief that they can’t change in response to a challenge and so tend to get stuck following a setback.
I know some folk who are somewhat proud of being of fixed mindset. One in particular felt he was pretty happy with who he was by age 22 and I think mentally and emotionally settled into that developmental stage for the long haul. I’m sure he was terrific at that age since he was pretty terrific 20 years later. But still, now that I’m looking at family members who are currently at that age, it sort of makes me wonder.
Twenty year olds are still mostly “all about me.” It’s about their immediate needs and gratifications, their feelings and desires. They are not financially independent and pretty much do what they want whenever they want. Most of them still cannot manage their own affairs, like filing their taxes or arranging to get their car fixed. Their relationship management skills can be excellent in some ways, especially socially. However, they are also trying to figure out the balance between intimacy and isolation and learning to create successful relationships. Some may be trying to still identify their sense of self. They are becoming more conscious.
Imagine a 40- or 50- year old with skills at this level.
A 40 year old normally would be trying to create and nurture things to last, primarily at work and with their children, during this generative stage of life. A successful adult will feel a sense of accomplishment and contribution and eventually will lead to a sense of life fulfillment.
I have no doubt that my young family members will turn out to be pretty amazing at any age, regardless of growth or fixed mindset. However, the risk to fixed mindset and failure to progress through these developmental stages successfully can result in a shallow existence resulting in bitterness and despair in their old age (think: Ebenezer Scrooge). I hope these kids will learn to continue to grow and create a prosperous life full of meaning. Also, I’m hoping they’ll start to help us do stuff like make appointments or solve complex relationship issues instead of relying on us into our golden years for daily life management. I also want them to be the kind of people that others can rely on and trust for their growing wisdom, compassion, maturity and resilience.
There’s no need for a crystal ball or a hallucination to know what’s in store for us if we choose to live a shallow and superficial life characterized by self-gratification and isolation. Change is not easy, but it sure beats the alternative.
Merry Christmas everyone. May your holiday and life be blessed with love, meaning and gratitude, every day.