“Helping doesn’t always help.”
Anne Lamott, American novelist and non-fiction writer
Image from Unsplash by Wonderland
In his work, Meditations, Marcus Aurelius stated:
“Joy for human beings lies in proper human work and proper human work consists in: acts of kindness to other human beings…”
How have you been trying to help others in your various communities these past few months?
How have others accepted your acts of kindness and service?
How have your good intentions and efforts, on certain occasions, not helped or improved the situation?
It seems that despite our own best efforts to put forth what we perceive as our best human work, others in our world do not always see it as such and sometimes don’t seem to benefit.
At these times, your generous intentions and efforts can be replaced by far less pleasant emotions, leaving us clueless.
Consider the idea that you are speaking to a loved one or someone you care about in a new language that they do not understand or appreciate. What might be the benefit of listening for greater understanding and learning more about the language they are speaking?
“Don’t rush through moments to get to better ones.”
Image from Unsplash by Dieter de Vroomen
- Drive faster than the speed limit?
- Eat your meals on the run?
- Speed read or scan e-mails?
- Race from meeting to meeting?
- Live for your weekend and dread Mondays?
- Spend excessive time on social media?
Where else do you find yourself in a rush to get to some place else that appears better?
One possible reason may be due to the concept of “creative tension” described by Robert Fritz in his book, The Path of Least Resistance. He suggests that when we hold both a clear picture of current reality and a vision for a seemingly preferred future in mind, the vision will actually pull or attract us to it.
This concept can be highly useful to goal achievement and making progress toward what we desire. It can also leave us a bit empty and dissatisfied—always seeking something more or better.
Where and how would slowing down—mindfully and skillfully experiencing each moment—help you lead a happier and more satisfying life?
“You cannot teach a crab to walk straight.”
—Aristophanes, classic Athenian poet and playwright
Image from Unsplash by Chandler Cruttenden
Picture a crab scurrying across a beach, searching for food or a mate, or avoiding a predator.
With claws and legs of different sizes and functions, getting to their destination in a straight line is not the point for this creature—being a successful crustacean living from one day to the next is.
Perhaps our changing world has altered our own way of getting around. Many direct routes to our objectives are not open or have significant detours, causing us to adapt and adjust our course.
What can we learn from the crab? Perhaps if we took more lefts, rights, and zig-zags, would we not only survive, but thrive as we headed into the future?
Where in your personal or professional world is taking the straight path not working?
Where might a less direct path lead you to where you wish to be?
“Good listeners are like trampolines.”
—Harvard Business Review
Image from Amazon
When questioned about one’s listening skills, most people describe themselves above or well above average, similar to when queried about their driving ability.
As markers for this self-assessment, they often confirm this bias by the fact that they do not talk while others are speaking. They can often repeat word-for-word what others have said.
In the book Mindful Listening, six levels of listening are described, with each going deeper into greater levels of mastery. Hallmarks of the very best listeners include:
- The use of powerful questions to clarify assumptions
- Selectively injecting some thoughts and ideas on the topic at hand that could be useful to the other person
- Great listeners never highjack the conversation and make it about themselves
- They act as trampolines instead of sponges. Their efforts amplify, energize, and clarify ones thinking.
Where and with whom in your personal or professional life would being a more masterful listener make the biggest difference? Consider exploring Mindful Listening as a helpful resource in this effort.
“What is your body of work? Focus on Cumulative Output.”
Image from Unsplash by Anupam Mahapatra
Do you or someone close to you use a FitBit or similar device to measure your daily steps? For many, getting 10,000 steps in each day can be an obsession.
In the past few years the standing desk and even the treadmill desk that rolls along at a slow pace have been introduced to help people increase their daily activity.
Beyond your daily physical activity, where and on what do you spend your days? What small, modest, daily efforts have you been accumulating to create your personal and professional body of work or life resumé?
Please reply to this post with a few of the worthy efforts that represent your body of work.
How have these actions become the foundation of the legacy you wish to offer the world?
I hope others in your various communities appreciate your efforts and that you fully enjoy the process and cumulative output.
“Do your expectations fuel you or deflate you?”
Having something to look forward to is a powerful thing. It sets up our expectations and can shift our present moment attitude toward positivity and anticipation.
Notice how you feel when you look forward to:
- A weekend
- A vacation
- A tasty meal
- Time with a good friend
- A massage or spa treatment
- A nap or good night’s sleep
Unfortunately, negative expectations about the future can take the wind out of us just as easily. Consider these situations:
- Career and job instability or simply a job you don’t like on a Monday morning
- Being in poor or uncertain health
- An impending visit to the dentist
- A bad weather forecast
How can and will you use greater mindfulness and self-awareness to maximize your positive and minimize your negative expectations?
Practicing and applying this exercise daily can provide the fuel for a more fulfilling life.
“The biological lifespan of a particular emotion is about 90 seconds. It’s the afterlife of that emotion that we constantly review and bathe in.”
—Chip Conley, author of Emotional Equations
Image from Pinterest
Take a look at these two lists and compare them to how you and those close to you have been feeling lately:
How long do these emotions last throughout your days? To what degree can and do you simply notice the undesirable ones and release them? How often do you try to resist and fight them only to discover how much they persist?
How might paying particular attention to your positive emotions offer better waters to bathe in?
Consider exploring Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions to look a bit further into this subject.
“If you mess up, fess up.”
—Kevin Kelly, founding executive editor of Wired magazine
Image from Unsplash by Sarah Killian
It Takes Two to Tango.
Take a moment to look at the health and work-ability of your closest and most important relationships.
Examine how things are going with your spouse, partner, children, siblings, and friends. How about your connections with colleagues, customers, and others at work?
Virtually all of my coaching clients place communications and improving relationships at or near the very top of their most important and urgent priorities. Among the tips and techniques offered in countless books, workshops, and seminars is the good old-fashioned sincere apology.
Where and with whom have you stepped on a toe or two recently?
What role and what level of responsibility do you have in what is and isn’t working?
Where would fessing up to a mess you made or helped create make the biggest difference?
When will you take the necessary action to clean things up?
Please reply to this post and let me know how things go.