Tara Brach, the author of Radical Acceptance, once told the story of a tiger named Mohini:
Mohini was a regal white tiger who lived for many years at the Washington D.C. National Zoo. For most of those years her home was in the old lion house—a typical twelve-by-twelve-foot cage with iron bars and a cement floor. Mohini spent her days pacing restlessly back and forth in her cramped quarters. Eventually, biologists and staff worked together to create a natural habitat for her. Covering several acres, it had hills, trees, a pond and a variety of vegetation. With excitement and anticipation they released Mohini into her new and expansive environment. But it was too late. The tiger immediately sought refuge in a corner of the compound, where she lived for the remainder of her life. Mohini paced and paced in that corner until an area twelve by twelve feet was worn bare of grass.
I came across this story while reading through Tim Ferriss’ Tools of Titans, a playbook of tips, tactics and strategies of billionaires, icons and world class performers. I’ve read it four times and I highly recommend it.
The story of Mohini made me ponder that the conditioning that prevented Mohini from exploring his new enclosure happens to us as humans too.
When we are children and young adults, we tend to jump in at the deep end, take risks and put ourselves in novel situations.
As we get older, we experience events that inhibit our curious side. We get told that our dreams and motivations aren’t possible, and we experience some failures and challenges. Our self-identity solidifies, and our personalities become rigid.
Let’s ask ourselves: How much of this world can I gain access to, yet I am unconsciously choosing to be confined to an imaginary cage? What could I do or achieve or pursue if I just decided to believe in myself? What act of courage could I take to bring me out of my comfort zone and add vibrancy and energy and curiosity back into life?