What are you practicing? I am re-reading Richard Sennet’s ” Together” ehere hr investigates cooperation. He takes us through an historical journey back to the early 16th century. When discussing chivalry as a cooperation technique he offers that chivalry is the practice of restraint and the maintenance of honor. The idea that knight’s practiced restraint was incongruous until he explained the they were practicing sexual restraint so as not to assault or rape women of the court.Seems an outrageous state when not raping someone is the most chivalric thing they could do. But the idea of practicing prompted some personal questions.
What am I practicing? Am I practicing perfectly and am I seeing improvement? I am not thinking about the running and weight training that I do almost every day which has provided improved health and fitness. It isn’t the practice of learning that takes me through a routine of reading, writing and inquiry. I isn’t the practice of healthy eating that makes me food conscious.
I am wondering about a less specific set of practices. Do I practice generousity? Am I taking intentional steps towards joy? Is there a planned routine to curiousity? kindness? restraint? improvement? cooperation? persistence? mediocrity? excellence? stubbornness? reflection? The list isn’t comprehensive but was meant to prompt me to think about what I am rehearsing by my attitudes, intentions and actions.
The path to achieve awareness is in the doing and the recognition of the doing. Becoming self aware requires honesty, transparency, reflection, and willingness to adapt. Is my practice working or is it bad practice fostering bad outcomes.
I have been dwelling on the tribalism of politics in my head, heart and writing and need to let it all go so I don’t break. Instead I am choosing to practice joy and look for ways to improve being joyful.
Mei Mei Fox of MBG wrote a post a couple of years ago entitled ” 40 Ways To Practice Joy Every Single Day“. It seems like a great place to begin. While I can’t undertake all of them every day – it seems that progress could come from trying/doing 10 each day.
For today I am making the following my own joy exercises.
5. Listen to the wisdom of elders
6. Cheerlead someone to greatness
8. Speak to yourself with kindness
13. Spend some reflective time alone
15. Pause to say thank you – and really mean it
20. Make someone smile
26. Re-gift something
29. Dress in brightly coloured clothes
37. Connect with nature
I am hopeful that you will take a look at the 40 and choose your own and practice them i your own way or write your list and make it habitual. The ingrained outcome comes from persistent practice and improvement.
Make Your Practice Remarkable,
A month that was and a month that will be. The flipping of a calendar page should offer pause to reflect on what challenges you faced in September and how you responded to them. Did you shrink away? Are you still researching possible solutions? Was some butt kicked and challenges overcome? Could you have done better? What inspired you in September? Did you try something new? Take on something different? Meet someone special? Were you inspired by a challenge?
I take these somewhat arbitrary but appropriate passages as an opportunity to move ahead. I reflect on what I did and what I could have done another way. I learn from my past experiences, I try not to beat myself up, and I move ahead.
October brings a new season, some celebrations and family gatherings, new opportunities with work, some planned challenges and a birthday. I set out to add some routine – 31 days in a row of writing, 31 consecutive days of working out, and an alcohol free month. I have mental and physical goals attached to these three commitments and a plan and schedule to remove barriers. I have set some expectations of myself and outcomes.
I am also leaving space for the unexpected, the anti-routine. I have a couple of events I am attending that aren’t my usual fare. Places and people that I wouldn’t encounter if I stayed the course. I have 3 books at the ready from authors I don’t know and whose subject matter is outside my comfortable niche. I have set a goal to meet someone new every day; not for any advantage or leverage but just to add their their space with mine for a moment in time. I don’t have any assumptions or predictions about what comes from venturing away from the safety of my shore but I approach October with hope.
What challenged you in September? What inspired? Have you charted a course for parts of October? Are there adventures you are planning?
Make October Remarkable,
Groundhog Day 2016 – The day where the decision of a woodchuck or Thickwood Badger determines the fate of a community. In the dead of winter in New England, sometime in the late 18th century folks began feeling serious cabin fever. They concocted a contest, likely of of boredom and maybe some hope. It has grown to the place where a groundhog named Phil in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania forecasts the seasons by whether he sees his shadow when he crawls out of a hole.
The date took on a new meaning when in 1993 Bill Murray began reliving the same day over and over and over in a movie of the same name. Groundhog Day has worked it’s way into the colloquial and has been used to describe slow moving progress.
Regardless of the date, we can all get stuck in a rut that becomes motivation numbing and possibility blinding. In Groundhog Day Murray’s character, a weather forecaster named Phil, relives the same routine he has been experiencing for months, years. He wakes up on February 2 and plans on ‘phoning in’ his morning forecast. Things begin to repeat themselves and in the repetition Phil begins to try to change the outcome and eventually changes himself.
I have written about Gretchen Rubin’s book Better Than Before where she says “If you want to make a change in your life you need to change something in your routine”. The book is about habits and how changing higher order habits can be liberating. I always thought tht habits were a handcuff but have discovered that when I make a higher order decision ( Live a healthier lifestyle) then most lower order decisions (run or not run) become moot. I get to change and improve every day because I chose something different from the day before.
A smaller lesson from Phil (both of them) is that you can’t really change things beyond your control (most) or other people. I, you, we can change and should change , especially today something in our routine but stay away from trying to force your colleague or family to embrace your change.
Tomorrow, I will let you know what I changed (big or smaller) and would appreciate if part of your Groundhog Day celebration includes letting us know what you changed in the comments.
Make Today Remarkable,