“So many conditions of happiness are available. You don’t have to run into the future in order to get more.”
—Thích Nhất Hạnh, late Vietnamese Thiền Buddhist monk
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As part of my coaching process, I introduce my clients to a concept called “creative tension” coined by Robert Frisk in his book, The Path of Least Resistance from the early 90’s.
The idea that an envisioned or expected future has the power to excite and pull us toward it has been a classic and useful tool in leadership training and enrolling people in new opportunities for millennia. It turns out that people tend to be pretty happy and engaged when their efforts lead to progress toward a desired future.
This means of generating a sense of happiness is, however, not the only condition available to us.
How can you use your amazing memory as well as your mindfulness capacities to examine the past and present to bolster your ability to seek and find more happiness?
“For those who expect everything, there are many curses. For those who appreciate everything, there are many blessings.”
—James Clear, Writer, Entrepreneur and Behavior Science Expert
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As we get older and hopefully wiser, many people come to learn that the myth of “having it all” is a lie. At some or many points in their lives, they learn that life forces us to choose and make many difficult tradeoffs.
If I say Yes to this it often means saying No to that. If I grasp this, I will likely need to let go of something else.
What have you discovered over the years regarding expecting everything versus appreciating everything? In what ways have your blessings outnumbered your curses with this added wisdom?
“If you can’t see what you’re looking for, see what’s there.”
Image from Unsplash by Anne Nygård
What is your relationship with reality? How often do you find yourself upset by the fact that your expectations of things go unfulfilled? Many of us often resist aspects of our lives only to notice during times of “heel digging” that these things seem to become even more persistent.
My meditation practice over the past several years has increased my capacity to accept and allow more things to be as they are, and appreciate the law of impermanence. Looking harder for things that aren’t actually there prevents us from seeing what it is that we can actually work with and influence.
Where is it time to take off your rose-colored glasses and see things as they are? How can and will you work with and influence your reality to improve the things you can, and accept the things you can’t?
“Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour. You don’t have to do it all today. Just lay a brick.”
—James Clear, author, entrepreneur, and photographer
Image from Unsplash by Joe Dudeck
What does being highly productive look like? How do things go when you are at your best? How have the last few days, weeks, or even the past year compared to the benchmarks and standards you hold for yourself?
Let’s face it — our best each day can vary widely due to internal motivators and capacities as well as a host of external constraints and limitations. How do you feel at these times, when your expectations of yourself and your world are not met?
Our lives are constantly under construction. What we get done with each day is simply what we get done — that’s it.
What cornerstones and foundational bricks can and will you lay today to build upon with each new day?
“Do something about it!”
Image from Unsplash by Clark Van Der Beken
How often do you experience the feeling of being upset? Examine your world and note things that are not where they should be, based on your beliefs and expectations. How often do you point your finger and blame others for the situations and events that are not proceeding as you wish?
The act of observing your thoughts, feelings, and emotions, can be troubling. Practicing our capacity for equanimity and accepting things as they are rarely satisfies us for long. We simply revert to seeing far too many things out of place.
Consider a recent day in which everything seemed right in your world. Think back to your levels of intentionality and efforts to move things forward. How many T’s did you cross? How many I’s did you dot?
Where is your world showing you a puzzle with some pieces missing? Where is it time to do something about it, bringing a better picture of your world into view?
“Ignore the cup and just enjoy the coffee.”
Image from Unsplash by Jordan @suspct
Product packaging is big business. In so many product categories, it can make the difference between super success and a big fat flop.
Long gone are the days when packaging was meant to only protect and preserve what was inside. Now, the container must scream BUY ME! I’M SPECIAL! I WILL MAKE YOUR LIFE BETTER!
How often does selling the sizzle actually meet your expectations, or better yet, exceed them?
Where, too often, is the added price of the cup not really worth the premium price to get the coffee?
If you enjoy a good cup of coffee check Google for the brands that have the highest rating with the lowest per ounce price.
Where and with whom in your worlds would looking closer at what’s on the inside make the biggest difference?
“Nobody notices what you do until you do not do it.”
Image from Unsplash by John Cameron
How tired do you feel at the end of a long, challenging day?
Before you head to bed tonight, look at all you did personally and professionally to serve and support others.
How much gratitude and sincere appreciation came your way?
Alternatively, how much and how many of your efforts seemed to be taken for granted or were simply expected by those around you?
Who would notice and what would they notice if you did not fulfill your duties?
Now reverse the situation and look closely at what all the people in your world do for you. Where are you missing or taking for granted the multitude of efforts of others due to your ingrained expectations?
These days, perhaps more than ever, we need to see all people as essential workers who make our lives much better for their generous efforts.
How might paying closer attention to the big and small efforts of others, and a few more words of acknowledgment and appreciation help all of us fall to sleep tonight with a smile of satisfaction?
“Not seeing results? Feel like giving up? Consider this: The last thing to grow on a fruit tree is the fruit.”
Image from Unsplash by Jason Richard
Take a look at the past year. What was your level of productivity? What results were achieved and where did you come up short regarding your expectations? How often did you feel like giving up?
We all desire to see our actions pay off, and taste the sweet fruits of our efforts. We also know that sometimes the weather and circumstances of our lives can be harsh. Like trees, we sometimes need to conserve and reserve our energy to stay alive for the coming season.
Acknowledge yourself and others who found the courage and strength to withstand the elements of this past year, regardless of the harvest.
Consider picking up a copy of THE DIP (A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit and When to Stick), by Seth Godin.
“Go beyond the expected.”
Image from EmpireOnLIne
One of our family’s most beloved film series is Toy Story. We have seen most of the films multiple times. Now with our two-and-a-half-year-old grandson Weston we have many more exposures, including action figures and his Woody and Buzz Lightyear pajamas.
When asked to describe Buzz, virtually everyone can repeat his famous “To infinity and beyond” phrase with bold enthusiasm. It uplifts and motivates all of us to channel our own superpowers, do great things, and exceed our own current potential.
Where and in what ways can you go well beyond the expectations others have for you in your personal or professional communities? What bold and significant actions can and will you take today to reach beyond your own perceived limits and exceed your own expectations?