So, What Do You Need?
So, What Do You Need?
Well, this past week has been a super-interesting one for me. Every year, as November marches along and moves quickly into December, things get crazy-busy, life gets hectic and I find myself standing just on the edge of overwhelm. Many days I give thanks for my ability to start my days with quiet meditation, enjoy a cup or two of herbal tea, and soak in a tub from time to time. These are the things that save my sanity.
Last week, as things ramped up to an almost fever pitch in terms of managing family schedules, I found myself saying – more than once – that I just needed some down time; just a few hours would do, but this is what I needed. I knew it in every fiber of my being. I articulated this need to several people, who knowingly nodded and expressed their understanding. But the busy-ness continued.
Until the proverbial a-ha moment.
During one of my moments of exasperation, as I heard myself saying (to myself this time) that I just needed a few hours off, a quiet voice asked: so, what are you going to do about it?
As I stopped dead in my tracks, I realized a truth. This need that I kept expressing wasn’t getting met, because I wasn’t doing anything to meet it. It was as though I was waiting for someone to give me permission to take some time off, to carve out an afternoon or a morning or a day. I realized that I was looking outside of myself to have my needs met, when it was completely within my power to meet it myself.
Well, wasn’t that an eye-opener.
So, it got me thinking. How often do I acknowledge a need, but look outside of myself to have it met? How often do I expect others to make me something, give me something, do something for me? And what would it take for me to meet my needs on my own?
I will admit that I’m still working with this idea. But what I’m slowly coming to realize is that whenever I’m looking outside of myself for something, I’m abdicating my own power to create what I want. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not denying for a minute that there’s something gratifying and lovely about having my needs met from outside of myself. That being said, however, when I can take care of myself, it’s less likely that I will move into the place of overwhelm and burden.
Can you get your head around that?
Whether it’s a need for a break, a need for acknowledgement, a need for nourishment, a need for comfort, a need for insight – whatever you’re needing, what would it take for you to meet that need yourself? Something to think about. Because what I’m slowly realizing is that it’s within my power to meet all of my needs. And there’s something pretty empowering about that, in the truest sense of that word.
It’s Time to Move, People!
Fall is upon us and winter is fast approaching. At least it is in my neck of the woods. I can feel it in every fiber of my being. My brain knows it. My body knows it. And the world around me knows it. When this happens – when we shift into this season of cozy hibernation, we instinctively move less and lounge more. There’s something rather primal about it. And, if you’re not careful, this instinctive way of being can get you stuck.
So it’s time to heighten your awareness and avoid the impending rut. It’s time to make time to move!
Yesterday, I had the fabulous Carolyn Martyn from Shine Fitness on my radio show. Carolyn is a personal trainer with a very unique approach to world of fitness. In conversing with her, I gleaned a few insights about fitness and it is these insights that have prompted this article this week. Because what I know for sure is that the need to move is as much a part of our human experience as the need to rest. The two need to happen in combination. And yet, it’s too easy, particularly as winter approaches, to settle into a stationary rut.
So, here’s what you need to know:
- The benefits of movement go way beyond your physical being. Yes, you may well lose inches and body fat; but you’ll also lose stress and mental cobwebs. In other words, you’ll feel the benefits of movement mentally and emotionally as well.
- Beneficial movement isn’t limited to the work that you do at the gym, or typically athletic endeavours. Dancing, stair-climbing, simple walking – these all count as activities that get you moving.
- You don’t have to carve out long blocks of time to be effective. Working in movement at every opportunity – even if it’s just a 10 minute walk around the block – is far better than sitting at your desk for prolonged periods of time.
- Having an accountability partner can go a long way to helping you be successful in this area. Someone who will agree to “move with you” ends up being someone who will ultimately get you moving when you aren’t inclined to –and vise versa.
- When in doubt, crank the tunes. In my experience, the presence of music will get you moving, even if only for a few minutes. And ultimately, it’s the cumulative effect of the movement over time that is going to work in your favour.
Bottom-line: yes, you need to make time for stillness in your life. And at the same time, you’ve got to balance this with movement. Physical movement makes you more productive in the long run; moreover, if you’re ever stuck, the simple act of moving naturally gets you unstuck in every way. So go on, get moving. It’ll help you finish out this year and enter the new one with a bang!
How Many Have You Had Lately?
Boy, I do love coming up with cryptic article titles. I’m not sure how marketing gurus react, but to me they seem somewhat provocative. The intention is to get you curious…and I imagine you want to know what the heck I’m talking about. I mean, what am I referring to when I ask about how many you’ve had? Chocolate cookies? Exercise sessions? Date nights? In some ways, this last one comes the closest. What I’m wondering about is the number of MEANINGFUL conversations that you’re engaging in. Why? Because such conversations are essential to all of your relationships. Let me explain.
We live in a world that is rife with what I call communication blips. There’s a way that we bandy about information like it’s going out of style (and admittedly, some of it may well be, our world is changing so fast). We have lots of quick, superficial, short interactions with those around us. Often we are squeezing in an interaction, a conversations, as we shift between events. Such interactions are good. And, they’re not meaningful enough.
Meaningful conversations are those in which you actually connect with others, move beyond the superficial “hey, how are you?”, be in another’s presence (energetically, if not physically), share and listen. You hear what’s being said, you respond and are responded to. There’s a sense that you are learning about each other, no matter how long you’ve known each other. You feel witnessed. Can you sense how a meaningful conversation differs from a communication exchange? I hope so.
Now the question that may be arising is, why do such conversations matter? Isn’t it enough that we connect on some level, even if it is only superficially? One would think so and yet, my experience tells me otherwise. In my work with clients and in my own life what I have come to realize is that meaningful conversations serve as a foundational element to some degree. Here’s what I mean by this.
Meaningful conversations build a foundation for difficult conversations – conversations about differences of opinion, about challenges, about frustrations – to happen productively. Without such a foundation, difficult conversations become unnecessarily confrontational. And given the difficult conversations can and do happen in all areas of life – personally, professionally and everything in between – it’s important that you build a foundation upon which these can happen, productively. This foundation is made up of all the MEANINGFUL conversations that you’ve had along the way.
Now, meaningful conversations do not have to be long. They don’t have to be intense. They only have to be had with regularity and with the intent of connecting, witnessing, building. That’s it, that’s all. The challenge that I’m seeing – one of the things that I’m noticing – is that we are starting to place meaningful conversations and difficult conversations into the same category. While difficult conversations are often meaningful ones, when you haven’t made time for meaningful conversations that aren’t difficult, then when difficult conversations do happen, they feel bigger and more emotionally charged than they need to. Does that make sense? If you’re not making time to truly engage with the people in your life, then you’re setting yourself up for more difficult conversations than might actually be necessary.
Bottom-line: it’s time to start paying attention and investing a wee bit more energy in your conversations. Stop skimming the surface and go for deeper meaning. Really connect with the people in your life so that when the time for a difficult conversation arises, you’ve got a solid foundation of meaning upon which to stand and create. Meaningful conversations are the building blocks of relationships that serve.
Would the Real You Please Stand Up!
Authenticity. This is such a buzz-word these days. Everywhere you turn, everywhere you go, you’re being invited, encouraged and challenged to be authentic. The self-help industry as a whole (of which, admittedly, I consider myself a member) would have us believe that authenticity is essential to being in effective relationship with one another. Moreover, there’s a suggestion that inauthentic behavior is a the root of problems of all sorts, whether in a relationship context or not.
Personally, I support the idea that authenticity matters. I think it’s essential to healthy, fulfilled living. I think the best relationships – whether family, friends or collegial – are built upon an authentic foundation. When authenticity is lacking, it’s only a matter of time before problems arise, in my experience.
So here’s the question: what the heck is authenticity? My sense is that many people understand the concept theoretically, but the practical implementation poses problems of all sorts. So let me set the record straight, and clarify the concept for you.
At its core, authenticity is about honesty. Authenticity is about truth, right? The truth that’s required, however, in order to live authentically exists on three different levels. There’s truth that’s spoken, truth of being, and truth that’s expressed in action. When most people think of truth, they stop at the spoken aspect. They give consideration to what they express verbally, and nothing more. In light of this, they inadvertently show up without authenticity.
What you say matters absolutely, when it comes to authentic living and leading. You need to ensure that your spoken words are an accurate reflection of what you’re thinking, what you value and what you need in any given moment. But such spoken accuracy isn’t enough. Your words have got to be matched by your demeanor and your actions. These three in combination, are what the world at large experiences as authentic – or not. Whenever there’s a disconnect between what you say, what you do, and/or how you be, you’re inauthentic.
So, how do you guard against such inauthentic behavior?
You heighten your sense of self-awareness. You pay attention to your emotional state and your physical demeanor. You notice the actions that you take and stand in the question of how these align with your verbal claims. Anytime you notice a disconnect, you tweak. Tweak what you’re saying, tweak how you’re being, and tweak what you’re doing, in whatever combination necessary to bring these things into alignment.
Admittedly, this requires an investment of time and energy on your part; but it’s time and energy well-spent. The longer you go without investing such time and energy, the greater the likelihood that you’ll be less than authentic and, as a result, find yourself in problematic interactions. That’s how important authenticity is.
As a leader, such authenticity is essential. Why? Because it lays the foundation for whatever your leadership platform is. Any misalignment leads to the potential for cracks to develop in this platform, which results, inevitably, in disgruntled (if not non-existent) followers. And to quote John C. Maxwell, “he who leads but has no followers is simply taking a walk.”
Bottom-line: authenticity matters. In the world of leadership – whether of a corporate, political, non-profit, or simply social nature – it’s essential. In order to be truly authentic, you’ve got to broaden your understanding beyond the scope of mere words, and take stock of your demeanor and actions as well. When words, demeanor and actions are all aligned, then you’re being authentic. And then, you’re in a position to lead most effectively.
Are You Getting Enough?
I know; you have no idea what I’m referring to in this article’s title, do you? I’m not really trying to be coy, I just couldn’t think of any other way to speak to a learning which I had this week. As so often happens for me, the actual information wasn’t new. But the concrete experience was like none I had ever had before. Let me explain. Obviously, I’ve had an epiphany of sorts over the last week. Something that allowed me to know beyond a shadow of a doubt what was missing before, and what I’m slowly but surely getting enough of now. I know that if you allow yourself the opportunity to get enough of this one thing, you’re life will be easier all around. Want to know what it is? It’s unscheduled time.
Think about it. Take a look at a typical week in your life. How much of it is “unscheduled time?” My guess is that there’s not very much “white space” in your calendar, daytimer, blackberry – whatever it is you use to keep yourself organized and your time accounted for. Between personal appointments, children’s activities, work meetings, projects and tasks you’re probably scheduled to the max. That’s not including time to eat, bathe, sleep and tend to other basic essentials. Let’s face it; you’re a pretty scheduled person. I know what that’s like; my schedule can look the same way most weeks.
Last week, however, I had the opportunity to take back some time. This was possible in part because of a couple of appointment cancellations. Ordinarily what I would have done in that circumstance is fill the suddenly opened time with other tasks; goodness knows there’s always something to do. But last week, I chose to let the time and space be open. I could feel a cold coming on and, given the time that was suddenly available to me, I chose to just be. No writing, no talking, no reading, no nothing – just being. Letting my mind wander, I was amazed to experience a degree of grounding like I hadn’t felt in a long time. In doing this, I confirmed for myself something I’ve known intrinsically for a while: as human beings, it really does serve us to just “be”.
I know this can be hard to do, but that’s the point. You don’t have to “do” anything – just “be” for a while. It doesn’t have to be for long, it just has to be for a time. A small amount of time can revitalize you in a big way. Giving yourself time to go for a mental walk of sorts – which is what I’m really talking about when I say “just be” – fills your life with clarity like nothing else can.
For me, this is taking the 80/20 rule of time management one step further. If you’re not familiar with it, the 80/20 rule advises that you schedule 80% of your time, allowing 20% to be unscheduled so that when things take longer than anticipated (which they inevitably will) or when crises arise (which does happen from time to time) you won’t fall behind or become overwhelmed. My suggestion to you is, in addition to allowing for buffer time in this way, you also allow for “being time” – wide open space in which nothing is scheduled and nothing gets scheduled, which allows for you to just be.
Bottom-line, just like you need sufficient doses of various vitamins to function properly, you also need sufficient amounts of unscheduled time. This is time for you to just be free – not in front of the TV or cuddled up with a book, but rather time to be free of any and all tasks and agendas, allowing your mind to wander and your brain to slow down a bit. As a chronic thinker, I know this can be challenging. And at the same time, what I know for sure is that there’s a reason you’re called a human BEING as opposed to a human DOING – time to BE is far more important to your life than time to DO. So create some time to BE and watch your life improve.
Your Goals are Robbing You of Happiness
Goals. We are all taught to set them, to work towards them, to achieve them, and to some degree, to identify ourselves by such achievement. Goals can motivate us and give us a sense of direction, of purpose. Generally speaking, goals are considered good things, especially when you can be really specific about what they are, and how you are going to go about reaching them. The problem is that, in some ways, these objectives are getting in the way of your experience of happiness.
So often, when you’re working towards your goals, whatever they are, your eyes are on the prize. In fact, when it comes to goal achievement, you’re taught that this is essential to the process: keep your eyes on the prize, right? Stay focused, stay determined, stay the course. Can you relate?
As you move with your eyes on the prize, the fact is that you are missing all that is going on around you, or at least most of it. You are so forward-focused, that you’re not allowing yourself to experience what’s around you in the here and now. And then, when you finally reach the goal, whatever it is, you find that it’s not quite what you thought it would be. Even if it is all that you imagined, the sense of accomplishment, of enjoyment, is short-lived at best before you set your eyes on another prize.
So, what’s the solution?
Well, it’s not to avoid goals. It is, however, to make sure that you don’t make your life about goals alone. The way to avoid the unhappiness associated with focusing on goals, is to learn to make your life revolve around the JOURNEY toward the goal, rather than the destination of the goal itself. Do you understand?
If you want happiness in your life, you have got to source it out in THIS moment. You can’t keep putting it off until whatever it is that you’re striving for comes about.
Happiness is found in the here and now. Period. Go ahead, set your goals and work towards them. But don’t make your happiness dependent on the achievement of them. Link your happiness to the experience of moving forward, however you do that.
Bottom-line: enjoy the moments along the way, and you’ll experience an explosion of happiness in the most meaningful of ways.
How Are You Changing the World?
Whenever I talk about changing the world – whether I’m talking about my hopes and desires for such change or questioning others on their experiences in this regard – I can feel a sort of heaviness infuse the space. There’s something about “changing the world” that feels so daunting – the world is a big place, filled with a lot of people, a lot of challenges, a lot of opportunities. How do you decide where to start, right? And how can one person change anything?
This last question is one that often permeates any discussion on change: “I’m just one person; how can I possibly make a difference?” Well, it’s time to put that particular myth to rest. No matter who you are or what you’re up to, you’re changing the world already, like it or not. Your very presence on the planet is having an impact and it’s imperative that you realize this. Moreover, you’ve got to understand that, no matter how small your action, its impact radiates outward, creating an effect that you may or may not have anticipated. In other words, you’re changing the world, consciously or not.
Here’s the thing. Such change is happening most in the realm of action. Yes, your thoughts have impact and your words have impact, but action – the choices you make, the example you set – is what is changing the world most powerfully, most visibly, and is what you will ultimately be remembered for. So often, discussions around change are no more than that – mere discussion. And discussions can be a great starting point, in that you can explore, expound and extrapolate ideas until they feel actionable. But the point at which you take action is the point at which you’ll really make a difference, have a presence, and change the world around you.
Paulo Coelho, one of my favorite authors, has said that “the world is changed by your example, not your opinion.” From my perspective, this quote invites me – invites all of us – to move beyond the realm of discussion and into the realm of living out our ideals. Consciously setting an example of the changes we want to see is what makes the biggest difference and has the biggest impact on the world around us. So, this begs the question: what example are you setting in the world? And what changes is this bringing about? Something to think about…
So, There’s This Guy I Can’t Stand…
That probably seems like an unusual title for one of my feature articles. Typically, I write with a view to instruct or inspire, you know? Well, this week is no exception – despite what the title might suggest. I’m just going to go about it a bit differently, by beginning from the place of personal experience. My request is that you humour me, just a bit. I’ll make it worth your while.
My daily life revolves in many circles. I have my coaching work, my writing, my speaking. I have my library work and my book club groups. I have my church work where I chair the council as a whole, work with numerous committees and simultaneously find spiritual nourishment. I have my dance family (thanks to my daughter) and my sports family (thanks to my son). I have friends that fall outside of any of these groups. And I have family all over the place. Being involved in so many circles, it’s pretty safe to say that I interact with a LOT of people, in various capacities. And when I say “a lot of people”, I mean a lot of different people. I’m talking about different personalities, different perspectives, different beliefs, different ways of interacting with the world around us all.
Ordinarily, I’m a big proponent of embracing the differences. After all, there’s a cliché that goes something along the line that diversity is the only thing we truly have in common. My sense is that each and every person has something to offer the world, something to teach us, something to share. My inclination is to look for that thing, that value, whatever it may be, and focus on that. And this inclination has served me very well…until recently.
A new individual has come into one of my circles. The nature of this circle is such that he and I need to interact in a variety of situations, and work on a few projects together. And, I cannot stand the man. I really can’t. I find him loud, obnoxious, and condescending. I have yet to experience him as a good listener – unless he’s listening to the sound of his own voice. He actually pulls the adult version of “if you don’t do things my way then I’m picking up my marbles and going home”. He appears to think he’s beyond rules – rules seem only to exist to support his agenda. He seems to have no awareness of his impact on the space around him. He has yet to admit that he doesn’t know an answer…he’ll make it up as he goes along, regardless of the consequences. And heaven forbid the man should accept responsibility for a mistake, or apologize in any meaningful way. As you can tell, this guy has gotten under my skin and I’m irked.
When I first realized what I was up against, I was annoyed. Moreover, I didn’t know what to do. I mean, in my worldview, as I said earlier, embracing and accepting differences is how I prefer to operate. But how do I embrace and accept someone who operates in such a polarizing way? Perhaps, more specifically, how the heck do I WORK with this guy? How do I ensure that what needs to happen – what I’ve been entrusted to make happen – happens, without his way of being undermining everything?
What was getting in the way for me was a sense that if I “accepted” him in the traditional sense, then I would be condoning his behavior. And I couldn’t do that. Not when I saw the damage that was slowly being eeked out in that particular circle. And, I couldn’t ignore him (standard advice when you run up against someone you don’t like) because of the nature of our work together.
So, here’s the question: how do you be with someone you can’t stand? How do you move forward and do the work that has to be done, when it’s clear that your worldviews don’t align? Are you ready for the answer? Because I think I may have found it. And it’s a multi-facted one.
First, get over the idea that you have to like whoever you work with. You don’t. It’s actually okay for you to not like each other, even as you work together. Obviously, it’s easier to work with those whom you like, and it’s not a prerequisite. Understanding this was a liberating experience for me.
Second, get comfortable with discomfort –and say what needs to be said. This might be the most important facet of the solution. You don’t have to be mean, not at all. What you do need to do is be honest. Share what’s working and what isn’t. Let the individual in question know when boundaries are crossed. Be clear about expectations, and then get on with the work at hand. When I had such a dialogue, as difficult as it was, it was actually productive. Particularly because I was able to implement the next two facets while I did so.
Third, hold the bigger picture, always. Remember what your circle’s objective is, and your role in facilitating that outcome. Work with that end in mind. Holding my circle’s objective and ultimate goal allowed me to speak clearly and in a grounded fashion.
Fourth, model what you’re expecting. In other words, if you need the individual in question to listen more, make sure you’re listening as well. Set the example of what your circle needs, in conjunction with having the necessary dialogue.
Finally, make sure you’re not fighting fire with fire. This can be tricky – I mean, if someone’s being obnoxious, it can be tempting to be equally obnoxious in return. It’s a form of modeling, right? As in, modeling what you don’t want? The thing is, it’s not effective. It might provide a moment of satisfaction, but it will not serve the bigger picture. So stay clear of the temptation.
Bottom-line: you will find yourself in the position of having to work with someone you can’t stand. Not just someone you don’t see eye-to-eye with, but someone who pushes every button you possess. This is challenging to say the least, I know; at the same time, there is a way to navigate it. Keep it all simple, and remember that the key lies in holding the big picture and saying what needs to be said. While you’ll likely never reach a point of understanding with someone who’s so diametrically opposed to your way of being, you will find a way to co-exist and move forward. And in the end, that’s the piece that really matters.
The Paradox of Possibility: Do You Get It?
Every week, when I coach my clients, I have the privilege of bearing witness to their challenges, their successes, their progress, and their choices. I get to notice discrepancies between what they say they’re about and how they’re actually showing up. And I get to support them in determining how they really want to be in the world, what they really want to do in the world, and what it is they want the world to know about them. This last piece – telling the world what you want it to know about you – is something that you likely don’t give a whole lot of thought to. And, my experience tells me that this lack of thought is hurting you to some degree or another.
You see, everything you do, everything you say, every choice you make sends the world a message. In its simplest form, your choices and actions are “yes/no” statements. When you choose to say ‘yes’ to one thing, by definition you’re saying ‘no’ to something else. Think about that for a moment if you need to. Got it? Okay, let’s move on.
When you say ‘yes’ to some things and ‘no’ to others, what you’re doing is telling the world what you’re about. Some choices in this regard are of more importance than others. And, I would assert that the cumulative message of all of your choices over time, speak volumes, whether you’re aware of it or not. It’s this aspect that I want to highlight for you today, because my guess is that there is so much you’re telling the world, without even being aware of it.
We live in a world, and perhaps more importantly in an age that increasingly tells us that everything is possible. Indeed, one of my favourite quotes comes from Anthony Robbins who says that “impossible is not a fact, it’s an opinion. What’s impossible only remains so until someone finds a way to do what others said could not be done.” How empowering and liberating and exciting is that? While I fully believe his words to be the truth, there’s a bit of a paradox at play, in my opinion. Namely, that saying ‘yes’ to one thing implies saying ‘no’ to something else. Why is this a paradox? Because you actually cannot have it all, do it all, be it all – whatever all is – at the same time. The nature of “yes/no” – which could also be understood in terms of contrasts – denies this. Period.
So, when you say ‘yes’ to going to the gym, you’re inherently saying ‘no’ to sitting and eating a bowl of chips at the same time. You might eat some chips when you get home, but not while you’re at the gym. And, if those two choices were made, your unconscious message to those around you is some version of I value my health, and I enjoy my salty snacks as well. If this is the message you want to send, great. If, however, you want the world to believe that you’re a fitness and health guru, you’re likely undermining yourself. You’ve got to make sure that what you say matters to you, and the choices that you make, align. When it comes right down to it, no matter how much you articulate that you want something or believe in something, it’s the choices that you make which truly tell people what matters to you, and in turn, tell the world who you are and what you’re about.
Now, admittedly, even conscious messages can be misinterpreted, based on the filters being used by the individual on the receiving end, however, that’s a whole other article…maybe one to be touched on next week. For the purposes of this week, what I want you to concentrate on is aligning the messages that you are sending. Ii want you to make sure that you understand that when you choose ‘x’ you’re inherently denying ‘y’ –even if only for the time being. And the question for you to answer is whether or not this choice aligns with what matters to you.
Bottom-line: in the words of J. K. Rowling, from the book The Chamber of Secrets, “it is our choices that tell who we really are, far more than our abilities.” I would extend this to say “far more than what we say”. So get conscious about your choices. Turn up the dial on your conscious living. Be sure that the actions you take allow you to say ‘yes’ to what truly matters to you, so that the world knows what you’re about. Because when it comes right down to it, that’s how you’re going to be known, and be remembered – by what you actually say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to.
Summer Lessons to Last the Whole Year
The month of August is complete, and the month of September is upon us. For most of us, this heralds the dawn of a new beginning: the start of school, a return to routine, letting go of a certain amount of relaxation that just goes hand-in-hand with the summer experience.
One of the things that we don’t typically associate with summer is the experience of learning. Learning is for school, and school is generally NOT a summer thing, right? Maybe not. But learning happens all over the place, all the time, including in the summer, and this summer was chock-full of learning for me. Much of it was unintended, admittedly. But all of it was more than worthwhile. In light of this, I want to share these lessons with you. My sense is that each of these lessons, in one way or another, can and will help you as you move on in whatever it is that you’re engaged in. So, in no particular order, here are some summer lessons that can serve you year-round:
1) Taking time to rest is not an indulgence, it’s a necessity. Whether it’s turning in for the night, grabbing a catnap in the afternoon, going for a mid-morning walk, or just sitting on your porch for half an hour, breathing in the fresh air, time to rest allows your brain to slow down, your body to rejuvenate, and whatever challenges you’re facing to resolve, in one way or another.
2) Ditto for taking time to disconnect from the electronic, virtual world. No matter who you are, believe it or not, the world will function just fine without your input for a stretch of time. So put away your phone, turn off the computer and go for a walk. Or a device-free vacation.
3) On the flip side, true human connection is soul-nourishing. Make time –every day if possible, or weekly at the very least – to be in the presence of others, having conversation, listening to one another, laughing together. Playing board games, discussing books, enjoying a meal – these are all ways to be together, and such togetherness creates experiences that cannot be replaced.
4) Worry is an exercise in futility – don’t indulge in it. The challenge, of course, is that worry can disguise itself as “problem-solving”. You can distinguish between the two based on the amount of mental bandwidth that’s being taken up. If your brain is incessantly pondering “how to” deal with something, then you’re not problem-solving, you’re worrying. And the answer will not be forthcoming. So move on to lesson #5.
5) When you allow things to unfold, they usually do in the best possible way – one that you couldn’t imagine. This doesn’t mean that you can’t consider your options. It just means that at some point, you let go of the “problem” at hand, and let circumstances unfold. You stop trying to be the master of every situation, and truly let things unfold. So often, what emerges is a thing of beauty and one that you couldn’t have anticipated in the first place.
6) Standing in expectancy, while letting go of all expectation is the most liberating experience. Admittedly, this can be a tricky one. And my experience this summer tells me this: expectancy is that circumstance in which you allow yourself to stand in wonder, to know that something good is going to happen. It’s a childlike anticipation, that’s how I would best describe it. Letting go of expectation means that you don’t get really specific about the details – you just know that it’s going to be something good – and you blend this expectancy with lesson #5, and allow it to unfold. My experience this summer with this last lesson was incredible.
Bottom-line: life is a continual exercise in learning. Sometimes the richest learning happens anywhere but in a classroom. This summer provided me with some rich learning experiences, and my intention is to live these out in the months ahead. My hope, in sharing these with you, is that you will benefit as well.