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"Think like a child again. "

Remember how it was as a child? Everything was shiny and new and exciting like having Christmas morning everyday. They say the reason we experience time as fleeting the older we get, is because our experiences tend to be recurrent and with less new to get excited about. Our connection with time seems to fly by!

So, recently I started using a new mental golf app called “Imagine.” It’s wonderful! Every day you hear a 3-4 minute thought for the day on how to improve your golf game. But these also translate well to your life game. As many of you know who have played the game, you know striving for that proverbial improving thought is never-ending. But more than that, it teaches you how amazing the human brain actually is. You can train it to perform difficult tasks with a process called visualization. In other words, think like a child again.

So, day in and day out we speak of meditation and time for ourselves and breathing techniques. From yoga to Pilates!! All of these are a collection of so-called mantras and brain clearing techniques. Ok, let me clarify a bit. Anyone who has watched a child play any sport knows the joy and absolute clarity of purpose. Negativity or defeat are added only by an adult presence. Watch a seven-year-old putt a golf ball, see it, hit it , do it again. There is no fear of failure or negative thoughts, just a positive vision of the ball going in the hole.

Herein lies the point to my story! We as adults in our daily lives allow negativity and sadness to enter in. I know that’s life, glass half empty or half full. But positivity both in our outlook and performance can be both practiced and learned on a daily basis. Next time you watch a golf tournament or a player on the free throw line, see how routine and visualization yield success. Your mind is a fabulous engine that you can train to improve in sports as in life. Let me leave you with a quick story about routine and success.

Coach John Wooden opened camp every fall with this simple task. He showed his players how to put on their socks and shoes. The socks had to have no wrinkles, as these would lead to blisters and missed practice time. The shoes had to fit precisely no extra toe space (like Mom used to do) because this too led to blisters. This shows how we build our lives on small building blocks and routines but we can always and should be open to visualization and using our imaginations for a positive future.

Christmas can come more often, a little Peter Pan is a good thing!

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Rick Zollinger, MD, FACS

Executive physician coach, mentor, listener

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