Original Thought · Uncertainty

How to Combat Certainty in 5 No-so-Easy Steps

Certainty lays itself at our footsteps, across our thresh hold, in our email inbox and crams itself tightly into our heads. It robs us of creativity because ‘ a conclusion reached becomes a conclusion held.’ We conduct pseudo-experiments, gather strings of garble data, and hearken back to the theories of great scholars without so much a howdy do. The research confirms a suspicion and aligns with a desire and so it becomes a premise and then a fact. We continue to measure it and make it sacred. It can never be questioned, doubted or checked for its current relativity. Charging down the path towards an expectation, the certain choices lead to a specific and potentially altogether wrong destination. The surprise we feel when the findings, response or sales are chalked up to something else. We must have misread the data. The focus group was biased. The communication collateral wasn’t clear. But we never stop to consider the certainty that took us down the yellow brick road to Utopia. That certainty must be forever true. We need a manifesto of destruction and adaptation to lean comfortably into uncertainty but for the time being here are five steps to make your certainty intentionally uncomfortable.

1 Reframe. Begin with rattling reframing questions. ” If x isn’t entirely accurate, what might I observe?” ” When I am sure of my position, what might I be missing?” ” If I am not curious enough to see a different perspective, why do I expect different results?” Keep asking yourself challenging big picture questions so that you can concede that there may be another valid point of view, opinion or approach.

2 Reflect. I pause and wonder, where did this surety come from? Is my unshakeable belief based on bias, indoctrination, ‘education’ desire? Why am I afraid, uneasy, resentful that there could be many possible approaches? As I swim in the reflection, I learn more about myself that about any rigidity that I am harboring.

3 Refrain. It is a bit ironic that refrain can mean both ” a regularly occurring phrase” and ” to stop oneself from doing something.” This step is a bit of both. On occasion, when you hear yourself tugging on the same threads that you have pulled for years, I compel you to stop unraveling the tapestry and in just this one instance don’t go down the familiar path. Become a tourist who curiously explores a new journey and records your observations.

4 Remove. Take yourself out of the mix, when your certainty turns into intimidation and bullying. When you dig in your heels and because a tightly held ‘value’ is being challenged and you rise to a defensive or aggressive posture – remove yourself from the situation and repeat the first three steps.

5 Release. Release the tension of trying to hold onto the unknowable. Feel the stress drain away when you allow the edge of uncertainty to overlap with your defensive position. Relish the relaxation of curiosity and allow yourself to be renewed by unimagined possibilities.

Make today, and next year, remarkable,

B

 

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Clear Your Head

The idiom “clear your head” usually means relax so you can think clearly. This morning on my run, I realized that my head was crammed with schedules, appointments, problems, worries, opportunities, crazy ideas, unspoken concerns … Crammed full and it weighed on my shoulders and back. I started tossing them by the side of the path. One at a time they were examined and discarded, with either complete faith that they would find their way back into my head/heart, if important or would lay abandoned if they weren’t.

distraction

I lost track of time and distance but surrendered to the process and gave up holding on tightly. I could feel my mind uncramping and tension melting. There were moments of anxiousness as I flicked things into the grass that I worried I wouldn’t recall and then I flipped the worry onto the other side. Some challenges leaped off me of their own accord and piles of concerns spilled out as I turned at about the mid way point.

I ended up at home energized and relaxed. Paradoxically, I feel ready to take on a new today and a bunch of tomorrows.

 

Make Today Remarkable, by finding a way to clear your mind,

 

B

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Go for a Walk

It is Sunday where I live and the sun is shining. I don’t really need a reason or an excuse to go for a walk. Since the 10,000 step craze started we usually add 10 to 20k to the counter. It isn’t just the act of putting one foot in front of the other (that is important for physical and mental health) and it isn’t just about the destination (10k steps) however much I focus on getting to where I am going. It can and should be about the stroll.

 

What do your senses tell you about the journey. Is the light glinting off water? Are there buds on the trees? Robins, waxwings, nuthatches and chickadees are singing. You might even hear a warbler. I always enjoy the smells of the season. There is a wift of campfire and a hint of bbq in the air. The yeast plan and the brewery are steaming away and it is clear that a skunk passed by (or someone using something medicinal).

My feet appreciate the pathway but relish the softness of the earth when I escape the prescribed route and trek across the grass.  The breeze on my face is still cool but the sun is endeavoring to raise the temperature and there is a dampness in the middle of my back.

I pick up my pace and can feel my heart raise it’s tempo. My breath is deeper and my lungs love the  expansion of deeper inhaling. I chance to meet someone who I haven’t seen in years and a conversation, at first tentative and then intimate ensues. I notice changes in the neighbourhood that aren’t visible at a different speed (driving or biking).

The walk is good for me. Good for my soul. It can be good for you too.

 

Make Today Remarkable,by taking a walk,

B

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Is Busy an Excuse?

When asked “how are you doing?” do you respond with something like ” Good, busy but good.”?  What does that mean? Is it a ‘pat’ answer? What are you busy at?  It seems busy is laudable. Busy is respected. Busy is expected? But is busy meaningful, productive or healthy?

What would happen if you change the response? What if you said ” Good question. Let me think about that.” ” I am really enjoying my time at work and feeling like we are accomplishing all our goals. I get to spend time with family and friends and much needed time alone. My health is good and I am in a great place emotionally.” Too much? Maybe, but certainly more meaningful than ‘busy’.

busy

My confession is that I don’t feel busy. I don’t strive to feel busy. I love the pace that I am able to live life at. Am I missing anything? Likely, but in this moment I get to treasure the blessings and look forward to opportunities. Will I regret not being busier? I doubt it, when my time comes I hope there aren’t any regrets.

Can you become un-busy? Easy to say, harder to do. In this case(maybe in most cases) saying it is the beginning. Try not saying the B word for a week and see what unfolds itself. Observe where your priorities shift. Is watching another reality tv program or checking Facebook again still as urgent? Did you find time to get important stuff done and find time for you to enjoy the blessings in your life?

Make this week remarkably un-busy,

B

 

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Hacking Silence

Silence is golden – the fuller quote is  ‘speech is silver; silence is golden’ from the same era as ‘ Silence is a woman’s best garment’.

“Silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves together; that at length they may emerge, full-formed and majestic, into the daylight of Life, which they are thenceforth to rule.” ~ Thomas Carlyle

Convincing language and sentiment but how can we achieve comfort in silence?  I am not talking about my silence in the face of conversation or silence that may be seen as rude. Rather I am referring to silence as a contemplative, reflective, restorative state. With the whirring of the world how do I quiet my mind and my tongue?

It begins by turning off the cacophony – TV, Radio, music, Internet, phones and secluding yourself in the practice of silence. I suggest that 10 minutes is a good starting point with a goal of stretching the peace once it moves from anxious to bliss. Like most things, of worth, it requires a daily effort. Set aside 15 minutes, tomorrow, to prepare and rest in silence. Note what disturbs your peace so that it can be remidied for Tuesday and beyond.

Silence flourishes better in certain states ; maintain a period of absolute bodily stillness in a type of silent meditation every morning, a time just to allow everything to be without your controlling interest to appear. Practice stillness and silence together for the greatest blessings.

Be still and silent,

B

Update : Couldn’t resist this picture from Bored Panda which came a couple hours after this post went up.

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