“Ambition is a get-a-head-ache.”
Image from Unsplash by Kyle Glenn
For much of my life, I’ve been pretty ambitious. How about you?
Examine your school years, sports, and even sibling rivalries — how much did you want to get ahead and stay ahead?
Where have your ambitions served you well?
Where have they caused you to stumble and experience pain?
Where is getting ahead of others driving your every action, and where is it driving you crazy?
How might you relieve the ache of ambition by focusing on getting ahead of yourself instead of always taking on the world?
Keep your attention on your present moment efforts. Forget the summit and focus on each step of your journey.
Image from Unsplash by Alessandro Erbetta
As kids on road trips, we kept asking our dad: Are we there yet? Most of our trips took less than two hours, but our “ants in our pants” impatience made them seem like eternity.
When our own children were young, Wendy and I lived in Michigan. Most of our road trips were ten to twelve hours, heading back east to visit family, and of course, our annual trip to the Pocono Mountains. With better car radios, cassette recorders, games, and interesting places to stop along the way, I don’t recall ever hearing those four little words.
How focused are you these days in reaching your personal and professional summits?
How would greater appreciation of the steps along the way make your journeys even more memorable and remarkable?
“A day is a perfect span of time to dedicate to a different intention—to focus in prayer or meditation on the good of another.”
—Arthur C. Brooks, American author, public speaker, and academic
Image from Unsplash by Lucian Alexe
1440 is one of my daily reads to keep informed about what’s going on in the world. I have found its content impartial, allowing me to draw my own conclusions. 1440 also happens to be the number of minutes in a day.
Reading this curated source of information usually takes me about five minutes, leaving me 1,435 to direct my attentions and intentions to matters I consider important.
How do you fill up your typical day? How many of your 1440 minutes are used purposely, to better yourself and do good within your various communities?
How can you dedicate the coming rotation of the earth to some new or different intention? What will be your focus and who do you plan to serve?
Aging mindfully and gracefully involves embracing the law of impermanence. Each thought, emotion, and sensation can be a portal to all kinds of new discoveries.
—Calm App Reflection
Image from Unsplash by Kelly Sikkema
It’s funny the experiences we store in our memories.
One that stands out for me is getting my first-grade report card from Mrs. Gray. I received an “E” in work habits with the comment Barry is a nice boy but he needs to pay closer attention. Distractability seemed to follow me and other students—mostly boys—throughout grade school, until I applied to my dad’s alma mater, Central High School. I distinctly remember buckling down to be eventually accepted, which made my dad very proud.
At that time in my life, I realized being mindful and focused was a source of accomplishing the things I desired. What has been your experience of the passage of time?
To what degree have you embraced the law of impermanence over the years? How is the aging process and your mindfulness efforts opening new portals of discovery?
Become one with your point of focus and fall into flow.
—Tamara Levitt, Calm App Reflection
Image from Unsplash by Ravi Perchik
Our grandson Weston has been taking swimming lessons at a local aquatic club since last fall. Over the past few months, we’ve noticed a plateauing effect on his progress. His weekly 30-minute classes have a single instructor and three other students, thus limiting his individualized attention.
With the warmer weather, he now swims outside on a regular basis with the family and gets many more hours of personal attention and wrinkled fingers. To our delight, his progress has taken a giant leap and he is quickly moving from a guppy to a dolphin in his abilities.
Where do you demonstrate the greatest level of focus?
How does your single-minded attention impact your experience of these events and your ability to perform at your best?
Mindfulness and concentration are interdependent. Concentration is the magnifying glass and mindfulness is the light.
—Calm App Reflection
Image from Unsplash by Stephen Kraakmo
How fired up have you been feeling lately? Who are the people and what are the things that spark your interest and grab your attention? To what degree are you fully engaged and focused on aspects of your life that light up your heart and soul?
Think back to a time when you first used a magnifying glass. How long did it take you to learn that they could not only enlarge the objects you were viewing, but also focus the sun’s light to make fire?
How mindful are you as you go about your typical day?
What is the wattage of your awareness lighting your path?
How often do you take the time to truly concentrate on your relationships and daily activities to set your life ablaze?
Where and how could greater mindfulness and concentration fire up and brighten up your life?
“Look beyond yourself, see a need and meet it.”
Image from Amazon
There seems to be a continuum between selfish and selfless tendencies for most of us. On one hand, sustainable happiness and life satisfaction are rarely seen by focusing solely on ourselves. On the other, the complete focus only on the needs of others — although noble — has been demonstrated to also have a down side, including burnout and health challenges.
Where do you see yourself between these two poles?
How do you meet your own needs to have the capacity to serve and support others in your communities?
Where and when is it appropriate to be SELF-ISH to meet your own needs, or to be OTHER-ISH to meet the needs of others? How would doing so meet your own need for purpose and a more meaningful life? Consider checking out Joshua Becker’s new book, Things That Matter, for additional ideas on this subject.
“As our eyes grow accustomed to sight, they armor themselves against wonder.”
—Leonard Cohen, late Canadian singer, songwriter, musician, poet, and novelist
This is Ella!
My granddaughter Ella is now about four months old. We adore her sparkling personality and gorgeous eyes, and love watching her gaze at the world around her with delight and wonder.
She especially loves looking at people’s faces, ceiling fans, and various digital devices. The other day we caught her watching the Olympic games as if she was a figure skating judge.
As grown-ups, time and entrenched habits often dull the specialness of things around us. Our brains fill in the attention gaps to be efficient and save the energy of looking at things more closely. Perhaps this is why many people enjoy traveling to new places.
Where and how can you refocus on your world a bit more, like Ella? How would a fresh view on the seemingly ordinary aspects of life offer you many more wonders to discover?
“A penny will hide the biggest star in the universe if you hold it close enough to your eye.”
—Samuel Grafton, 20th Century American Journalist
Image from Unsplash by Daniil Kuželev
We all experience hyper-focus from time to time. Some top priority grabs our complete attention and the rest of the world just disappears.
What are the benefits and costs to you personally and professionally in such situations? What is one such priority that comes to mind today or in the recent past where this was an opportunity or an issue?
Where in your life is keeping things too close blocking your view of other stars that need your attention?