Mental age as the weight of experience

Mental age as the weight of experience

We all know that Adults and Children react to situations in life differently. Whereas to the child, much is in wonder, and much is overwhelming. The adult will react with less wonder and amazement, but also has more capacity to deal with temporary setbacks.

Reflecting on various life experiences, It occurred to me that we are all more child-like in regards to areas and situations that we are unfamiliar with. Simply put, without a prior body of knowledge in a field, every new piece of information is far more interesting and significant, much like it is to a kid. Indeed, when encountering new experiences, time passes more slowly. Perhaps time passes quicker to an adult by sheer sameness of events, with nothing to really mark time.

Take for example, going on an adventurous vacation to a new country. After two weeks, you have experienced so much, it's like those two weeks were longer than two months of the regular daily cycle of events. Or take moving away from home to attend university. That first semester at university, no doubt, seemed longer to you than your whole last year of high school, by sheer number of new things encountered.

There are of course the inevitable physiological changes that occur in the brain over time. However, in terms of how we perceive things, it's almost as though the entire difference in adult versus child behaviour can be explained by the weight of experience vs. the impact of new events. Let me try to explain some of the things I see as different between children and adults, and explain them in terms of accumulated experience.

So how is this relevant?

Sometimes people say, they'd love to be a kid again, and all that. Of course, they probably really wouldn't want that, no more than they wanted to be an adult while they were a kid.

Still, as adults, we don't have the sense of wonder and amazement that kids have. Perhaps its not that we don't have the capacity for it anymore. Perhaps it's just that we chose not to get ourselves into situations that lead to it.

And the way to address it is very simple. Experience something new, and you will regain some of that sense of amazement and wonder. Take up a new skill or hobby, or visit a foreign country. Of course, you may not like the idea of doing something you are not good at, or getting into situations that you can't predict. And there's the rub - perhaps we haven't so much lost our sense of curiosity and wonder. Perhaps we just learned to avoid it!

To my rants page