Worry compounds the futility of being trapped on a dead-end street

“Worry compounds the futility of being trapped on a dead-end street. Thinking opens up new avenues.”

—Cullen Hightower, American quip writer

Image from Unsplash by Yellow I’m Nik

Over the past several weeks I’ve become increasingly aware and sensitive to the worries, complaints, and repeating gossip in the people around me. I am sure I must participate at some level, but I can’t stop wishing others would cease and desist with these ever-looping, dead-end conversations.

I wish I had a magic wand to shift other’s perspectives to open up new avenues to more empowering and productive paths in their discussions.

EXERCISE:

What are some of your best approaches when you and others in your communities are trapped on the dead-end streets of worry? What can you do to open yourself and others up to new avenues of thinking?

If your mind were a suitcase and could only hold five things what would they be

“If your mind were a suitcase and could only hold five things, what would they be?”

—Mark Nepo, author of The Book of Awakening

Image from Unsplash by Amy Shamblen

About 10 years ago we bought a set of luggage from a local warehouse store. It was a good value, the right color and the set of three pieces conveniently fit inside one another for easy storage. This was actually a second set and we justified it because we packed heavy for some longer trips to address all contingencies, and our desire to not use unfamiliar laundry facilities.

Prior to our recent move from Michigan to Pennsylvania we amusingly donated more than two thirds of our luggage and about a third of our possessions, realizing that traveling lighter had many advantages.

Keeping our most essential items was a step in the right direction to reduce both our physical and mental loads.

EXERCISE:

What size mental suitcase are you carrying around? What are the five most important things packed inside? A small backpack may actually be all you need.

“To think too long about doing a thing often becomes its undoing.”

“To think too long about doing a thing often becomes its undoing.”

—Eva Young, M.D. Orthopedic Physician

Image from Unsplash by Jason Strull

How familiar are you with the concept of BE, DO, HAVE?

One way to describe this idea might sound like: in order to HAVE the life you desire you must DO the things that are consistent with your vision, values and BEINGNESS.

Other examples of this could be wanting to be healthy and fit without the proper nutrition, exercise, and rest, or wanting to move up in your career without doing the hard work to earn your advancement.

EXERCISE:

Where are you procrastinating and still thinking about what you most want in your life? What must you begin doing today to not have this habit become your undoing?

”It’s not what you say out of your mouth that determines your life, it’s what you whisper to yourself that has the most power!”

”It’s not what you say out of your mouth that determines your life, it’s what you whisper to yourself that has the most power!”

—Robert Kiyosaki, American author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad

Image from Unsplash by magnet.me

Thoughts become things. In a typical day, we actually use our inner voices far more than our external ones.

We are constantly having what Susan Scott describes in her book, Fierce Conversations, as versations — which is simply a conversation with ourselves.

The power of bathing in our own thoughts is a form of leadership where we  repeatedly speak about our reality and our vision for the future. This repetition carves deep grooves in our conscious and unconscious minds, which can and often do lead to behaviors that determine our lives.

EXERCISE:

Notice your inner voice whispering to you throughout the day. What is it saying?

Is this voice positive and affirming or negative and judgmental?

How can and will you use the power of versations to enhance your life?

“Losses loom larger than gain.”

“Losses loom larger than gain.”

Daniel Kahneman, Thinking Fast and Slow

Image from Amazon

I have become a consistent meditator. This daily mindfulness practice has had me thinking a lot about my own thinking and how it influences my experience of life.

Daniel Kahneman’s book, Thinking Fast and Slow fit nicely with this exploration.

Throughout my professional life, I have consistently had a sales role, or at least a position that required persuasion or influence. On many occasions, I noticed that people tend to be pain-adverse rather than pleasure seekers. It seemed that avoiding loss influences our choices more than the potential upside of a particular decision.

What has been your experience?

EXERCISE:

Observe both your fast and slow thinking on choices and decisions you make today.

Which way of thinking serves you best and offers fewer losses and more gains in your life?

“Dialogue is balancing advocacy with inquiry.”

“Dialogue is balancing advocacy with inquiry.”

—Author Unknown

Image from Unsplash by Priscilla Du Preez

 

In his book, Dialogue: The Art of Thinking Together, William Isaac describes this critical skill as the intention to reach new levels of mutual understanding.

Doing so, he indicates we can form a totally new basis from which to think and act.

He further states that this capacity for talking together constitutes the foundation for democracy.

EXERCISE:

Where are you observing and participating in true dialogue in your various communities?

How could a better balance between advocacy and inquiry improve communities throughout the world?

“You cannot look in a new direction by looking harder in the same direction.”

“You cannot look in a new direction by looking harder in the same direction.”

—Edward de Bono, Author of Six Thinking Hats

Image from Unsplash by marianne bos

Many of us are doing a lot more thinking about our thinking these days. With things changing all around us, most of us are taking significantly more time to explore our perspectives, attitudes, and values.

Where has this expanded and broader view taken you? Where are you simply looking harder in the same direction, hoping for the old normal?

EXERCISE:

How and in what ways can you move beyond looking harder in the same direction to take some new and courageous steps in a better direction?

Please reply to this post with any insights you are inspired to act upon today.

“Eons of natural selection coded you to act first and think later. You must adapt to a new world that demands the opposite.”

“Eons of natural selection coded you to act first and think later. You must adapt to a new world that demands the opposite.”

—Jennifer Garvey Berger & Keith Johnson, Simple Habits for Complex Times

Image from Amazon.com

To what degree are emotions running high in your personal and professional communities? Where are you and others on edge, frustrated, angry and upset?

What behaviors are being demonstrated toward a better, calmer and more workable future? Where are you seeing your fellow men and women at their worst?

Our ancestors were coded to survive and live another day. Emotions clearly played a critical role, and pondering one’s situation could actually be deadly unless acted upon immediately.

Today, we like to see ourselves as thoughtful, reflective, and far more perceptive beings, whose reasoning minds can clearly override those animal instincts.

EXERCISE:

Where is it necessary to tap or slam on the brakes in your world? How and in what ways can you more fully awaken to think far more clearly before acting?

“Life is actually an essay, not a series of responses to someone else’s agenda.”

“Life is actually an essay, not a series of responses to someone else’s agenda.”

—Seth Godin, American Author

Image from Unsplash by Thought Catalog

In order to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic, most schools and other learning institutions closed for the year.

Once the initial “extended summer vacation” excitement wore off and the reality set in, we were given an extremely important assignment.

Our homework is to write and experience the next chapters of our life stories. Some of us might look to the limitations and constraints. But we can also see new levels of creativity, innovation, and freedom to express ourselves through the amazing examples set by others in our various communities.

EXERCISE:

What will you include in your Hero’s Journey essay? How can you continue to influence your communities, expand your capabilities, and make an even more purposeful difference in the world?

What would happen if more of us put down the remote and picked up our pens to pursue our personal agenda?

“Few is the number who think with their own minds and feel with their own hearts.”

“Few is the number who think with their own minds and feel with their own hearts.”

—Albert Einstein

Image from Unsplash by Nathan Dumlao

How are you and the people in your personal and professional communities doing relative to today’s quote?

With far more time on our hands due to social and physical distancing, I’ve observed a lot of people thinking and feeling more deeply than ever before.

When – perhaps in the past – have you gone along with the crowd instead of trusting your own heart and head before making an important decision, or taking a significant action?

How has the world grinding to a halt versus the frenetic pace we usually keep given you greater clarity on life?

EXERCISE:

How can and will you use the lessons from these challenging times to help you count yourself among the “few more” people who think with their own minds and feel with their own hearts?

Please reply to this post with whatever thoughts and feelings you care to share.