We have numerous coping mechanisms and self-defense practices to help us get through the day. Many seem innocuous and inconsequential. But like most devices, we can dangerously overuse them and isolate ourselves from our reality and those around us.
To the world, I look like an extrovert and in the sense that I process outside my head, I am. But after spending an afternoon, a day, or a week in the midst of people – I am exhausted and need to retreat to a quiet space where I can ‘be’ inside my head and heart in order to get refreshed. While not quite the dictionary definition of ruminate, I do ponder the intent, the words, and the actions I took today and consider where I may have been unnecessarily harsh, too provocative, or selfish. In my rumination, I review and revisit but I don’t beat myself up. I try to learn from my missteps and I try to do better next time. Connecting dots backwards helps me see how I can be more supple and subtle in the future. On the days that I wrestle with myself and am open to my gentle probing and receptive to being better, I am invigorated.
When I allow distraction or laziness to keep me from reflection, I begin to seed trauma. While I pretend to keep busy with other tasks, my head and heart are using kinetic energy trying to reconcile fragments that require focus to understand. I bury the instance or interaction and insist that it is forgotten but until I acknowledge the emotions, atone for any infractions or forgive myself, I allow the boil to fester. The trauma compiles with and compresses yesterday’s stuff that wasn’t dealt with and the day before and … Before long the stress is too much to bear and I present and resent in unhealthy ways. I either lose my temper, my composure, or I begin plotting some ridiculous vengeance. None are necessary or helpful.
There seems to be evidence (I know not pure scientific research) that when I let the boils of discontent fester without rumination, I suffer from stress and when I reflect, grimace and reconcile I celebrate growth.
I am better when I am better at mulling, accepting, confessing, and remedying. I will reflect on that last sentence tonight before I fall into blissful sleep.
What are you celebrating this morning? The first breath after waking from a deep and delicious slumber? A dry roof and warm and comfortable home? A fresh cup of coffee or clean drinking water? Are you taking so many blessings for granted as to feel underprivileged?
I know I can miss the everyday when I am looking for something grand and elaborate. I disregard the lottery I have won being born in North America, receiving an education, in a democracy that allows if not encourages my dissent in favor of complaining about a difficult decision as to what I should eat for lunch. Complaining that there isn’t anything new to try or bemoaning the fact that there are too many choices on the menu.
This is first world whining but more tragically it is a lack of appreciation for the blessings in our lives. If we don’t recognize and acknowledge the worth of these gifts it is a waste and maybe we shouldn’t be the recipients. I know that habit isn’t heroic but I urge you to take 2 minutes every day (as early as possible in your day) to celebrate something that you are grateful for. Take one minute and reflect on your current situation and then take one minute and hold your own mini celebration by writing down one thing that you are grateful for today. Write something on the same page each day for 100 days or write on a small note and place it in a jar or post one word on social media with #celebrateblessings.
Reflect, celebrate, acknowledge. If you start tomorrow you will have celebrated 100 times on December 23, 2016. Will you join me? I will be writing on one and posting on Facebook and Twitter.
Make Today Remarkable, because it is,
I heard Suzanne West from Imagena Energy speak yesterday at an event called #BecauseCalgary. She was part of a panel on business innovation and the changing landscape ahead of us. They all had a lesson to share and as always Suzanne was passionate and inspirational. She said that ” we shouldn’t back down. In fact we should joyfully eat problems for breakfast because that is how we move the needle.” I have written about tackling something big first thing in the day and agree that we need to embrace the opportunity that challenges bring. There is something exciting and frightening (in a good way) about facing a new problem with my Cheerios.
I have been reading a lot of spiritual practice writing and there is some suggestion that if we spend ten minutes at the end of the day reflecting on the day that was and imagining the day to come that in sleep, a new possibility arises. When you awake, before you dive into the day, take another ten minutes and reflect on how the shape of the problem has changed and record your ideas for change and the newly imagined path to a solution.
Keep the solution in view all day, either as a post-it or a screen grab. When you have another ten minutes begin a reflect and refine process. Keeping the solution on the proximate periphery allows you to use it as part of your day and use your day to improve the solution.
Try the ten minute routine tonight and tomorrow morning and at least once throughout tomorrow and then rinse and repeat.
Make Tomorrow Remarkable, by eating a problem for breakfast,
Following up on Seth’s short post from yesterday, you can begin using your sophisticated pattern matching as early as this morning. I love that intuition isn’t taking a wild stab in the dark but rather based on best data and past experience it rises naturally to help form a decision.
I consider myself a pretty intuitive guy and make lots of choices and adapt processes without crafting a decision tree or logic model (at least formally).
Saturday is a great day to test out your intuitive skills. As your day begins, commit to listening to the voice you may not understand initially. Practice hearing and acting on the information for the next 24 hours. It may help if you record your practice and observations so that on Sunday you get to reflect for 20 minutes on how well you listened.
Take Today and Make it Remarkable,
There is a young girl, 9 years old, who often asks me ” So, what was your bitter and your sweet yesterday? Last week? Last month?” She offers me a great reminder and one that I need to hear – take some time to reflect. Pause, breathe, appreciate and measure. I wear a talisman that says Breathe and even with it touching my wrist and always being present, I can find myself running to or away all day. So when I am not asked the bitter and sweet question, I need to remind myself.
Bitter -Monday, it was raining here in Oceanside, California all morning. I come to southern California for sunshine so it was disappointing to have clouds hang around until early afternoon. This are is still suffering from a drought so of course my bitter is someone else’s sweet and I did get to see a spectacular lightening show over the ocean and have a remarkable March day full of afternoon sunshine and happy hour on the patio.
Sweet – We picked up my 87 year old mother at the airport. She is still able to travel (with some assistance) and still loves to fly, tour and see and learn new things. Watching her eyes sparkle as she laughs at something silly or talks about our trip to Culver City this week to see a taping of Jeopardy is sweet. Before we left for the airport we saw a lost seal lion pup get rescued (50 this spring just in this area) and headed for the safety and rehabilitation of Sea World. He was terrified and relieved ( my anthropomorphic interpretation) and will survive but alone without his mother. Side note the suspicion is that this coastal region has exceeded carrying capacity for the population and mothers are searching for food deeper and farther from their babies.
What is your bitter and your sweet? Keep a journal for a week and I suspect you will see some of them flow together.
Make Today Remarkable, by pausing, breathing, appreciating and measuring,