What Seemed Best Each Day

“I have simply tried to do what seemed best each day, as each day came.”

—Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States

image of the ocean with today's quote superimposed

A state of calm centeredness came over me when I read today’s quote. My first thought was “I can do that!”

Many of us experience overwhelm in the enormity of all that must be done in our lives. Far too often we are exhausted by the end of the day, and frustrated by not having achieved what we intended. We then add insult to injury by throwing in our own negative commentary.

Alternatively, being satisfied with our best, which can differ from day to day, grants a peaceful and accepting sense of our humanity, and what Brené Brown would call the “Gifts of Imperfection.”

EXERCISE:

How would taking your life one day at a time, doing your best regardless of what happens, be the source of a happier and more fulfilling life?

Don’t Push the River

“Don’t Push the River: It Flows By Itself.”

—Barry Stevens, author of the book by the same title

image of the Three Gorges Dam

Image from Flickr by Pedro Vasquez Colmenares

The Three Gorges Dam, spanning the Yangtze River in China, is controversial domestically and abroad. It also happens to be the world’s largest power station in terms of its installed capacity of 22,500 megawatts.

Its purpose – besides generating electricity – was to increase the river’s shipping capacity, which reduces the potential for floods, and is a step toward reducing China’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The negative view of its acclaim is due to the displacement of over one million people, numerous ecological changes such as landslides, and the loss of cultural sites and landmarks.

EXERCISE:

Where and in what ways have you been pushing at your own life rivers, with less than desirable effects?

Where would going with the flow of things be the best decision at this point in your personal or professional life?

Mindfulness Gives You Time

“Mindfulness gives you time. Time gives you choices. Choices, skillfully made, lead to freedom.”

—Bhante Henepolo Gunaratana, Sri Lankan Buddhist monk

Image of a pink flower with "Mindfulness" above it

We’ve all heard the phrase, “The choices we make make us.”

Do you agree? Perhaps if we were all able to make even better choices, we would experience the freedom and fulfillment of an even more wonderful life.

Today’s quote suggests that through increased mindfulness and greater self awareness we can all find time to make better, more discerning choices about how we spend this precious resource.

EXERCISE:

How can and will you invest a bit more time on a daily basis to strengthen and build your mindfulness muscle?

If you are new to such practices, consider starting with 5 minutes in the morning or evening in a practice such as meditation, gratitude reflection, or some form of life review, to enhance this skill.

Make The Most of What Comes

“Make the most of what comes and the least of what goes.”

—Author Unknown

Image from psdgraphics.com

Nothing last forever.

We tell ourselves this all the time, yet we often go about our lives as if, through some form of sheer will power, we can alter this “Law of Impermanence.”

Rather than struggling to prevent things from being lost or drifting away with time, we can perceive them in an empowering and grateful manner.

We can further our engagement and delight in life by also making the most of the people and events that enter our lives, no matter how brief the time.

EXERCISE:

How can you exercise your maximizing and minimizing abilities where it counts the most? Sharing your intentions to use these strategies with others will increase your ability, and likely benefit them as well.

A book that may support your effort is Essentialism by Greg McKeown

Friday Review Decisions

FRIDAY REVIEW: DECISIONS

What is your decision-making process? Here are a few decision-related posts you may have missed. Click the links to read the full message.

 

“When at a conflict between mind and heart, always follow your heart.”

 

 

 

“Is the juice worth squeezing?”

 

 

 

 

“Life is like an elevator. On your way up, sometimes you have to stop and let some people off.”

 

 

 

The Spark of Celestial Fire Called Conscience

“Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.”

—George Washington, Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company & Conversation, ca. 1744

Imag of a man with men on each of his hands

Image from crosswalk.com

What do the first President of the United States, Jiminy Cricket from Disney’s Pinocchio, and Marvin Gay of Motown fame have in common?

Washington’s quote may give it away, with his coaching to always let your conscience be your guide. Jiminy Cricket is the voice of conscience for Pinocchio. And for Marvin Gaye fans, it was the debut single released from his first album, The Soulful Moods of Marvin Gaye.

How often do you recognize the inner voice, or the sense of what is right or wrong in your actions, or the actions of others? Where do the issues of ethics or moral principles influence, guide, or control your thoughts and actions? You may even hear the voices of a parent, teacher, or spiritual guide from years ago.

EXERCISE:

How and in what ways can you use the celestial fires of conscience to make important personal or professional decisions today, and in the future?

Ships don’t sink because of the water around them

“Ships don’t sink because of the water around them. Ships sink because of the water that gets in them. Don’t let what’s happening around you get inside you and weigh you down.”

-Author Unknown

Image of the wrecked SS Edumund Fitzgerald

Image of SS Edmund Fitzgerald by NewsMax.com

As a citizen of Michigan, I greatly appreciate our five Great Lakes, the largest group of freshwater lakes in the world. The lakes have been traversed by native people since the dawn of time, and by western man since the 17th century.

Thousands of ships have sunk in these waters, and an estimated 30,000 people have lost their lives as a result. The most famous was the wreck of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank in a Lake Superior storm in November, 1975, with the loss of the entire 29-member crew.

What personal and professional waters are you navigating these days? What stormy or rocky events are causing you to take on water and giving you that sinking feeling?

EXERCISE:

How and in what ways can you bail any water that has entered your worlds, and begin sailing toward calmer, more prosperous seas?

Choices are the hinges of destiny

“Choices are the hinges of destiny.”

⏤Edwin Markham, 20th Century American Poet

Image of an ornate door hinge

Image from Flickr by Fred Faulkner

In the book The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz warns us that more is less, and that our abundance-based culture often robs us of our satisfaction in life.

Imagine yourself in a room with a few dozen doors. You are told that some will lead to great opportunities, others to places far less desirable, maybe even dead ends.

All too often, we are looking outside ourselves to what others or society tells us are the best choices. And yet, we are frequently dissatisfied, because by comparison there is always something better⏤or at least we think so.

EXERCISE:

How might you use your most deeply held values and beliefs to design and open the doors you are meant to open? Your destiny hinges on it.

Make decisions by design

“Make decisions by design, rather than default.”

⏤Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism

Seth Godin is one of my favorite authors. He has been blogging longer than almost anyone, and has written somewhere around 20 books. I particularly enjoy his provocative and edgy thinking on a large number of diverse subjects, especially when it come to being the leader in our own lives.

His recent book, What to Do When It’s Your Turn, points out that it is always our turn if, as today’s quote suggests, we make our own life decisions by design, not defaulting to the decisions of those around us.

EXERCISE:

Examine the degree to which you make your own important life decisions by design rather than default. How can you “choose yourself” more often, and decide that it is your turn to lead the life you were meant to live?

Your assumptions are your windows on the world

“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.”

—Isaac Asimov, Science Fiction Writer

Image of "The Four Agreements" book cover

Have you every read The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz? If not, please order a copy today.

The third agreement in this masterpiece is “Don’t Make Assumptions.”

Unfortunately, we all tend to make assumptions about everything and everybody. This is often the root of much dysfunction, chaos, and general unhappiness in our world.

EXERCISE:

Where would greater openness and clarification of issues, personally or professionally, let more light in so you could lead a more fulfilling and satisfying life?