“If you add a little to a little, and then do it again, soon that little shall be much.”

“If you add a little to a little, and then do it again, soon that little shall be much.”

—Hesiod, ancient Greek poet

I recently reviewed Stillness is the Key by Ryan Holiday. During the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, I wanted to feel that doing what appeared to be little or even nothing might prove beneficial beyond saving myself or others from exposure to the virus.

Ryan recommends little steps of stillness related to the domains of body, mind, and spirit. His examples include the story of Winston Churchill taking up bricklaying during a very demanding time of intense work and stress. The slow process of mixing mortar and stacking bricks was just the thing he needed to keep his body busy while allowing his mind to unwind.

EXERCISE:

Where might the process of introducing small mind, body, or spiritual activities/rituals to your day result in much more than you might expect?

Feel free to reply to this post with the practices that work best for you.

“What are you secretly working on today?”

“What are you secretly working on today?”

—Author Unknown

Image from Unsplash by Valery Sysoev

What do you dream or daydream about? What have you noticed about your wandering mind? Where does it go?

How much time do you spend shifting your focus from the matters at hand, seemingly pulled by invisible forces in new directions?

What would happen if you shifted your perspective to one in which dreaming and daydreaming were your job, and you took extra time and care to focus there more consistency?

Where might exercising your subconscious mind produce many wonderful and surprising benefits?

EXERCISE:

How might the practices of greater mindfulness and capturing these secret journeys in a notebook expand your efforts to work in new productive and meaningful ways?

Consider sharing these secret work efforts with a family member, friend, colleague, mentor or coach to gain additional social support. Of course, at this point it won’t be a secret any more.

“On the other side of the door of uncertainty is a room of wisdom.”

“On the other side of the door of uncertainty is a room of wisdom.”

—Chip Conley, American hospitality entrepreneur, author, and speaker

I recently reviewed Humble Inquiry by Edgar Schein. The subtitle is: The Gentle Art of Asking instead of Telling, which as a coach, had a great deal of appeal to me. Some key take-aways include:

  • Asking questions to which you do not already know the answer, and building a relationship on sincere interest in the other person.
  • When we tell instead of ask, we can sometimes offend or demean others.
  • Barriers to humble inquiry include status, rank, and the roles we play in our professional and personal communities.

We can all practice this important skill by slowing down, becoming more mindful and aware of our interactions and our surroundings.

EXERCISE:

Consider exploring Humble Inquiry – The Gentle Art of More Asking and Less Telling as a door to greater wisdom for yourself.

“Leave no stone unturned.”

“Leave no stone unturned.”

—Euripides, Ancient Greek Tragedian

Image from Unsplash by Priscilla Du Preez

In many areas of life, “Good Enough” is good enough.

Perhaps you, like many people these days, have pivoted more mindfully, professionally and personally, to dramatically reduce or eliminate certain life commitments, duties, or obligations.

In some cases, leaving these stones unturned makes sense.

On the other hand, there are those high-value priorities and commitments that warrant our fullest attention. What personal or professional areas of life deserve all you’ve got, and anything short of excellence won’t do?

EXERCISE:

Select one top priority project or area of your life in which you will leave no stone unturned until you realize your goal.

If you must speak ill of another

“If you must speak ill of another, do not speak it. Write it in the sand near the water’s edge.”

—Napoleon Hill, 20th Century American self-help Author

Image of "Time" written in the sand

Image from designtuts

Holding one’s tongue is pretty difficult to do, literally and figuratively. In both cases, it can be slippery and make you look bad, or at least silly.

Awareness of our inner voices can provide a few seconds of buffer time before we put those views or opinions on an external speaker. In many cases, prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure.

The same is often true for e-mail and especially texting, given the rapid turn-around on these forms of communication.

EXERCISE:

Where would waiting and allowing more time to pass before you speak or communicate through the written word enhance and improve your personal and professional relationships?

Things do not necessarily happen for the best

“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 of a sailboat on rough waters

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?

EXERCISE:

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.

Muddy water let stand will clear

“Muddy water let stand will clear.”

—Tao Te Ching, Classic Chinese Text

Image of feet jumping in muddy water

Image from Unsplash by Roopak Ravi

Is your mind muddy?

To what degree are your thoughts, emotions, and feelings stirred up by the rapid, moving waters of daily events?

At such times, it seems impossible to see even inches ahead, and we often can feel paralyzed or lost.

Today’s quote – a Chinese proverb – suggests we can all find greater clarity by slowing down and letting those muddy issues blocking our view settle out, so we can once again move forward.

Over the past two years I have instituted the daily practice of a 10-minute meditation, using an app called CALM. This resource continues to get better with additional tools, including their popular sleep stories to clear and settle one’s mind at bedtime.

EXERCISE:

Check out CALM at the website or at the app store. Please consider replying to this post with the mind-clearing strategies that work best for you.

Do you want to be happy

“Do you want to be happy? Let go of what’s gone, be grateful for what remains, and look forward to what is coming.”

—Author Unknown

Image of five clock on a wall, showing different time zones

Image from Unsplash by Luis Cortes

Through my mindfulness efforts over the past few years, I realize that I live in three different time zones. At certain times, I reflect on the past and hold on or grasp for what seems like “the good one days.”

The bulk of my days, I try my best to remain present, in the moment, so that I can make the most of the here and now, and be grateful for all I have.

Of course, we would not be human if we did not demonstrate a healthy curiosity about the years ahead, knowing that our actions today can manifest our visions for the future.

EXERCISE:

How and in what ways can you increase your own happiness and life satisfaction by letting go of what’s gone, being grateful for what remains, and looking forward to what is coming?

Caller ID for the voices in my head

“Can I get Caller ID for the voices in my head?”

—Author Unknown

Work on Caller ID technology began in the late 1960s, and eventually came to most of us between 1984 and 1989.

In 1995, call waiting technology arrived, to help us screen incoming calls when talking to someone else.

In a world that seems to always be trying to reach us, these boundary-setting technologies have helped a bit.

As many of us increase our self-awareness and mindfulness practices, no other outside influence compares to the almost constant voices in our heads. Many people experience considerable tugging and pulling in directions they would prefer not to go.

EXERCISE:

Where would gaining additional mastery of noticing your inner voice provide you with the greater peace of mind you desire?

No amount of guilt can change the past

“No amount of guilt can change the past, and no amount of worry can change the future.”

—Author Unknown

Image of a card stating "Mindfulness"

Image from Unspalsh by Lesly Juarez

The practices of guilt and worry are actually habits we form through our lives.

Close your eyes and look back in time at your upbringing under the influence of friends, family, school, religious institutions, the economy and the media, who always thrive on drama.

Take a few minutes to look also around your world as it exists today, and into the future to see what conversations or inner chatter occupies some or much of your thoughts.

Given that this line of thinking often results in frustration, exhaustion, uneasiness, and upset, ask yourself: How does my thinking this way help?

EXERCISE:

Assuming your answer to the question is “It Doesn’t,” what alternative strategies can you try to reduce or eliminate guilt and worry from your life?