My New Favorite Self-Reflection Question

I actually heard this in an advertisement on a YouTube video. It’s a great question! Kudos to the advertising executives who came up with it. Who says business is not a creative enterprise?

Here it is: “When was the last time you did something for the first time?”

Keeping life fresh is important. But it’s up to you to do it. You’re the only one with yourself 24/7. Short of gunpoint, there’s very little others can do to stop you.

We live in an era of full-fledged victimization. New victim categories are created every day. We are all victims. So many of us are victims, in fact, that very few of us are not victims.

Sad to say, my own mental health profession — the mental health industry — is responsible for a lot of this. Under the guise of medical science, it feeds into the idea that people are victims. As a result, many of us have absorbed this mindset. It’s debilitating. It’s sad. It’s weakening. You might say it’s “selfish,” but there’s nothing self-interested about it. Thinking of yourself as primarily a victim is self-defeating and self-destructive.

One problem with thinking of yourself as a victim? You stop doing things for yourself. You stagnate. You get dull. Yes, the dullness leads to depression. We’re told it’s all a medical illness, and has nothing whatsoever to do with your own thoughts, ideas or choices. Take some medicine, and — if you’re lucky — it will curb all of your enthusiasm without side effects. A psychiatrist spends five minutes with you, and so long as the symptoms are diminished, all is well. A good deal for the psychiatric industry, perhaps; but what about you?

Particularly if you’re over 40 — but really at any age — take a look at your life. How long has it been since you did something for the first time? Not to imply that anything is automatically and always good just because it’s new. But if you’ve started to stagnate, for whatever reason, it could be the cause of what we’re continually told is depression. Or any kind of emotional, psychological or spiritual malaise. Your “depression” isn’t doing this to you. You’re actually doing it to yourself, although you don’t intend to, and might not realize it.

If you can’t remember the last time you did something for the first time, it means you’re not taking risks. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of taking a risk before doing so. But if you’re refusing to take risks “on principle,” you’re cheating yourself out of growth, all for the sake of sustaining a never-ending plateau.

Growth never has to stop. Even as we age, there are always new territories to enter and new domains to conquer. The specifics change, but the themes never should.

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