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habit vs intentional choice

During the mindfulness workshop I was at on Saturday, the facilitator and mindfulness practitioner of several decades emphasized that we spend too much time on auto-pilot, not really present in the moment.  His message was that we will be better if we are always aware of and present in the current moment, consciously choosing how to respond.

In the book I’ve just finished, the writer presented the idea that there is no such thing as stress, rather stress is how we think and feel about experiences in our past or in the future, and seldom about the moment we are currently in.  One of her messages is that events/things happen, and when we accept that things will happen (both positive and negative) we be less stressed and happier.

A podcast I frequently listen to includes a segment on behaviour change focused on people being better than before, the podcast host reminds listeners that if you make something a habit and remove the element of choice you are way more likely to be successful (e.g., when you have a habit of working out 5 times a week, you no longer need to consciously choose to work out, as it is part of your routine).

There different perspectives on the importance of the being in the current moment, habit, and intentional choice.

All three have impacted me.  All three are a bit right.  All three are a bit wrong.  There are few 100% black and white answers in this world.  And that’s okay.  Take what you need from each piece of insight or wisdom you encounter and make it work for you.

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There will be more light.

Whatever you are feeling today, positive or negative.

Whatever challenge or opportunity you are experiencing.

Whatever phase of life you are in.

There will be more light.

If you are currently in a great place. there will be more light.

If you are currently in a not so great place, there will be more light.

It’s a short statement.  It’s a statement full of so much depth and hope and truth and meaning.

There will be more light.

we’re in this together

At one point, one part of the organization I worked for, shared a theme song entitled “we’re in this together”.  At the time the song was particularly powerful to me.  It was the idea of being connected to a group of people all working with same goals and outcomes in mind, that resonated deeply with me.

Years later, the title and that line have been popping into my mind a lot lately.  It’s the reminder that we all need each other.  We all are part of something together.  That together we are better.  That sometimes we are the strong one and sometimes we are the weak one.  That we all have gifts to share and we need the gifts of others to make things complete.  That we need to both offer and receive help.  That there is room at the table for everyone.

This need and this truth does not just apply to a project, or a committee, or a workplace.  In all of life, we need each other.  We’re all is this thing called life together.   And that’s the point.  And that the challenge.  And that’s the beauty.

 

Below are a few lines from the song by Ben Wright ….

we’re in this together

though it feels like you’re apart

we’re in this together

through this dark night of your soul

we’re in this together

we’re stronger when there’s more

we’re in this together

oh it’s hope we are fighting for

no guarantees

The opposite of an guarantee is risk.  Many of us are not a bit fan of risk.

Unfortunately most things in life don’t come with guarantees.  Which means we need to take some kind of risk.

What we consider “risky” is very personal.  For some it’s risking time, for others it’s risking money, for others still it’s reputation, it could be control or predictability.

With every decision we make, big and small, we consider the risks and then proceed.  We like to think that with more information we can make a less risky (aka more guaranteed) decision.  We like to think that making decision only about tomorrow or next week means more guarantee that things will work out. But the truth is, that in life there are very few guarantees. Maybe you will drop the brand new computer on the floor.  Maybe you will say yes to something and regret it,  Maybe you will say no to something and regret it.  Maybe you will buy the outdoor concert tickets months in advance and it will rain.  Maybe you will be the outdoor concert tickets a week in advance, thinking the weather forecast looks sunny for the concert day, and it will rain.

We can’t eliminate risk.  Life doesn’t come with guarantees.  We can’t guarantee we will remain healthy, we can’t guarantee someone won’t experience challenges, we can’t guarantee the weather tomorrow.

There are no guarantees. So we make decisions.  We take the risk.  And when things don’t work out as we hope (as sometimes they don’t), we make a new decision.  That’s life.

less resourceful day

Some days we are just feel less resourceful.

By this I mean that despite all the effort we have put into building coping skills; maintaining a healthy body by getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising regularly; surrounding ourselves with positive people and relationships; and making time to do things that replenish and fill us; we still feel that we just don’t have what it takes to face the reality of our day.

There are days when the things life throws at us seem to be more than all our good resources can respond and adapt to.

And this is okay.

And it shouldn’t be every day.

Some days are diamonds and some days are stones.

Some days we have enough resources to respond to the things that life puts in our path.  Some days we have fewer resources to respond to the things that life puts in out path.

On the days you feel you have fewer resources, consider what you would tell a friend if they were feeling how you are feeling.  A good friend would say: “Be kind to yourself.” “Let me help you.” “You are stronger than you think”.  “We all have bad days”.

Not every day will be a stone.  Not every day will feel like a less resourceful day.  Some days you will feel like you have tons of resources.  Some days will be diamonds.

you never know…

How many ideas have you talked yourselves out of doing?

I know I do it all the time.  Some of these ideas a big projects, some are ideas for social engagement or an activity with friends, and others are something I think of to text or email someone.

It far too common for me to think of the idea, and then talk myself out of moving it from my head into action.  The reasons I give myself are numerous and varied, depending on the specific situation.

But you never know what would happen if you just did it, or said it, or shared it.  You never know if your idea is exactly what someone else needs.  You never know the positive impact that idea may have had on a friend or on your community.  And you never know the possible ripple effect the idea may have had, as your idea touches not just people directly but the people they know and interact with too.

Today I encourage you to pick one of those ideas and just do it.  Because you never know.

words matter

I’ve written before about the power of language and words.  And in those posts, I was talking about the words we say out loud to others during the course of conversation.

I’ve also written before about the power of narrative.  Those posts were about the words we say to ourselves inside our heads.  Narrative also refers to the stories we tell ourselves and each other about who we are or are not (as often may be the case).

In all these situations, words matter.

Words are so powerful.  The words we use in our heads, in our communities, in our conversations shape what we think, feel, and believe is possible.

The exciting thing is that if we don’t like what we are thinking, feeling or believing is possible, the simple act of changing our words can have a huge impact.   Use new words.  Say in your head “Stop!”, and then repeat the thought with new words or reframed in a new way.  Use the words in your head (and what you say outloud) to rewrite the story.  The words you use can create a different future.

Words are powerful.  You can change them.  And in changing them you will change what you think, feel, and experience.  And it’s all within your control.

too full, full, not full enough… they are not so far apart

We tend to think about things in life as being on a continuum.  That is a line, with an idea at one end and opposite idea at the other end.  We often think that there is a magical spot in the middle (i.e., the “just right” spot), and that there is lots of space between the two ends (i.e., that the line is long).

Perhaps our tendency to think this is not 100% accurate.

Over the past week or so as I have thought about the idea of “slack” in our lives, our work, our schedules AND also the idea of a full life, I’ve had the realization, that there is a very small difference between too much slack, just the right amount of slack, and feeling like there is no slack at all.  This is also true when I think about social time vs home time.  When I think about a full schedule vs a schedule with lots of commitment.  When I think about enough activity vs no activity.

We a mistaken when we think that the ends of the line, the ends of the continuum are far apart.  In reality, the line is very short, and we move between the ends day by day and sometimes minute by minute.  And the fact that we can’t find the sweet spot in the middle and maintain it, is okay.  As it’s in experiencing both ends that we come to know ourselves and appreciate the simple joys of life.

modus operandi

modus operandi: a particular way or method of doing something, especially one that is characteristic or well-established.

Yesterday while sitting at a stop light, I suddenly saw the connection between two very different parts of my life.  The connection I observed, as really more of a pattern or moduc operandi.  Basically I realized, that the way I respond to one situation is basically identical to the way I respond to a very different situation.  Because the situations are so different, until now, I had failed to notice the pattern.

We all have modus operandi or patterns in how we think, act, and respond.  Often we fail to notice that something is actually a pattern.

I was excited to notice the pattern, it was a light bulb or aha moment.  The more challenging next step is changing my modus operandi to get to the place and person I want to be.

What patterns might you be missing?

one sentence every day

Write one sentence every day.

That doesn’t seem like a hard thing to do.

Maybe it’s one sentence to describe your day.  Maybe it’s one sentence of thanks or gratitude.  Maybe it’s one sentence that captures the weather.  Maybe it’s one sentence of a blog or a short story or a book.

Start today.  It’s not hard – it’s just one sentence.  Tomorrow you will be twice as far as you were yesterday.

Think of what you will have in a month or a year.

Just write one sentence every day.