by Tamara Lechner: Youth is as much an attitude as it is a number. With a more flexible mind and body, everyday living can be easier…
Suddenly, the world is with—not against—you, and the years just fade away.
These days, a flexible attitude and approach to living is more pertinent than ever. We’re living 15 to 20 years longer than previous generations. As Deepak Chopra advises “the way you think, the way you behave, the way you eat, can influence your life by 30 to 50 years.”
What Is a Flexible Mind?
A flexible mind indicates an opening to new ideas. It doesn’t indicate indecisiveness or not knowing what you want.
The Benefits of a Flexible Mind
People who have a flexible mind are adaptable and resilient. They’re better equipped to go with the flow. They have a strengthened ability to solve problems because they know there’s more than one way to succeed.
They also see failure and mistakes as part of the life process, so they bounce back from adversity more quickly.
Flexibility means you’re able to see the opportunity in everything; what looks like a roadblock to one person, might seem like a growth opportunity to a flexible thinker.
How to Cultivate a Flexible Thought Pattern
A person with a rigid, unyielding view of the world can become more flexible with persistence and practice. Follow these three tips to develop a flexible mind:
- Meditation is a great habit to cultivate flexibility. Habits, both good and bad, generate biochemical and physiological changes that perpetuate behavior. When you begin to meditate, you develop an awareness of patterns that might not serve you. Stepping out of this habituation of thought is the first step to changing a pattern.
- Open your mind. Notice the places in conversation where you have strong emotional opinions. These are easy to pick out around topics like religion and politics. Rather than going with your initial gut reaction, pause, and open your mind to hear the other side. Think about where these opinions came from. Some of your beliefs might have taken root in your childhood. Now might be the time to question or examine them. Take time to explore why you have a particular belief; you may find that it gives you a greater understanding of other opinions.
- Listen to hear, not to speak. Many times in conversation we’re just waiting for our turn to speak. Try listening more and planning less. This creates a more flexible mind and also boosts your connection to the others in the conversation.
Benefits of a Flexible Body
Flexible bodies are often equated with youth simply because the majority of children are naturally pliable. As we age, we fall less, and brace more. With these behaviors, we become less agile and supple. Flexibility leads to better blood flow, less frequent injuries, and a greater ability to increase muscle tone.
How Flexible Do You Need to Be?
You don’t need to be able to sit in full splits or practice back arches, although for some adults these are reasonable goals. The goal has to be appropriate for the individual. Having flexibility in the neck, in the back, and up the hamstring as well as through the shoulders and hips allow adults to flourish rather than fade as they age.
How to Become More Flexible Physically
Stretching is one obvious activity that should increase your flexibility. Follow all five of these tips to increase your flexibility.
- Yoga is designed to gently stretch your entire body including internal organs. Try a class.
- If you work at a desk, take breaks to gently stretch your neck, shoulders, and hips. Get out and walk or exercise on your breaks.
- If your lifestyle includes regular physical exercise, make sure you’re stretching too. Runners can be in fabulous cardiovascular shape with hamstrings that are as tight as guitar strings. Tennis players need to balance their game with rotator cuff stretches.
- Remember to breathe when you stretch.
- Pushing to the point of pain means you’re stretching too deeply. Once your body starts to brace against the stretch, you’re losing much of the benefit.
Learning flexibility allows you to release attachment to outcome and stop feeling so driven by plans. This frees you up to embrace whatever plan the universe has for you. And when you begin to live this way, it suddenly feels like the universe is on your side.