Are we maturing or just getting older? You might be asking, “What’s the difference?”
We’re just getting older if we just live life as it comes. Life lived that way tends to repeat itself. We make the same mistakes. We hurt the same people in the same ways. We think of ourselves in the same ways. In short, we never change. We just get older.
To mature, we must be aware of what we are thinking and doing, and ask ourselves questions about those things.
- Why am I thinking that?
- Why am I doing that?
- What were the consequences?
- What am I thinking in response to someone or something?
- Is there another way to think about that, a way that is more peaceful and loving?
- Is there another way I can respond to other people, a way that is more peaceful and loving?
- And so on.
And we must ask ourselves deeper questions:
- Who am I?
- Who do I think I am?
- What are my principles in life?
- Do I have a moral code? An ethical code? If so, what are they? If not, do I want one? What kind of code do I want?
- And so on.
Although philosophical, these questions are also deeply practical. The answers to our questions will lead to more questions and more answers, until eventually we find ourselves maturing, becoming more aware human beings; more understanding, both of ourselves and other people, and more compassionate and kind.
Can it hurt? Maybe, if you don’t like finding out something about yourself that needs improvement. But what’s going to hurt you more in the long run:
- living a life of denial and self-ignorance, so that nothing ever changes and nothing ever gets better; so that you continue to hurt yourself and others without any idea of the cause, or
- living a self-examined life in which you come to know yourself more fully and so are more in control of yourself and your life?