“Human nature is like water. It takes the shape of its container.”
—Wallace Stevens, 20th Century American Poet
Image from Unsplash by Delbert Pagayona
When I was a boy, one of my hobbies was maintaining a tropical fish tank with many varieties of brightly colored and various shaped species. In the early years, before they knew my level of commitment, my parents purchased a small set that included a ten-gallon tank.
As my interest grew, I graduated to more elaborate set-ups, which always involved a larger tank.
One thing I particularly enjoyed was that almost all fish species grew a bit larger in their expanded environments.
Examine some of the professional and personal containers in which you swim each day. How large is the container that supports your growth? Who are the individuals that influence your nature? What attitudes and behaviors do they exhibit?
“Things do not necessarily happen for the best, but I can choose to make the best of things that happen.”
—Tal Ben-Shahar, Israeli-American Author/Lecturer
Image from Unsplash by Alan Meceanu
Take a few minutes to reflect on your day if it is evening, or on yesterday’s events if you are reading this in the morning. To what degree did everything go as planned, and work out exactly as you hoped?
If things did not work out for the best for whatever reason, what consequences did you experience?
How did you react or respond, and what emotions or feelings came up?
Consider the metaphor of a sailboat. How might you adjust your sails and rudders of mindfulness and adaptability to the sometime stormy seas of life?
Feel free to reply to this post to share the approaches you take on a daily basis to make the best of things that happen.
“If you are acting like a sheep, don’t blame the shepherd.”
—Eli Jaxon-Bear, American spiritual teacher and author
Image from Unsplash by Sam Carter
Throughout our lives, we have been taught we have to “go along to get along.” Fitting in, being one of the gang, and literally being “with it” has made us sheep in many of our communities.
Take a moment to identify all the personal, professional, and community-based groups that herd us together. Consider all the new digital communities that foster similar practices and beliefs.
Where does being a sheep actually work for you and serve your best interest? Where does it clearly not support your most genuine self?
In what areas of your life is it time to act like a lion versus a lamb?
What bold, courageous or simply contrarian thing will you say or do to say goodbye to these shepherds?
“We didn’t all come over on the same ship, but we’re all in the same boat.”
—Bernard M. Baruch, 20th Century American Philanthropist
Have you ever watched the procession of countries an the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games? Summer or Winter, you will definitely see thousands of athletes from hundreds of countries, each with their own languages, cultures, and traditions. This makes it appear that we are separate and distinct from one another.
With technology, we are in a hyper-connected world, with increasing evidence that through economic, social and environmental factors, we are all in the same boat. We sink or swim together.
Consider reading the latest edition of The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman, or his latest book, Thank You for Being Late, to explore your own place in this global boat.
“Tomorrow hopes we have learned something from yesterday.”
—John Wayne, American film icon
Image from SpaceSys
When you settle under the covers and reflect on your day, what factors bring you satisfaction and put a smile on your face? What represents a day well spent to you?
Most people would say learning something new, and making a positive contribution are keys to living a meaningful life.
What do you intend to learn and contribute today, to make for a much brighter tomorrow?
“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.”
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?
How and in what ways can you bail any water that has entered your worlds, and begin sailing toward calmer, more prosperous seas?
“Nobody in the history of the world has ever washed their rental car.”
Image from ultimatecarwashanddetail.com
Are you familiar with the “Endowment Effect”?
I wasn’t either, until I learned that it is our tendency to undervalue things that aren’t ours, and to overvalue things because we already own them.
Do you, like many people, have drawers, closets, or even entire rooms filled with items that you haven’t used or worn in years? What are these items worth to you, and what might it be costing you in having them take up space in your world?
Consider what you would actually pay for these items, if you didn’t own them already.
Imagine that you are planning to change your place of residence. The two criteria I’d like you to consider as you go through the things you own are:
- You will be downsizing your living and storage space by 25-35 percent.
- You must pay a substantial extra fee to bring all non-essential items along.
What would stay, and what would go?
What actions will you take based on your answers?