As with the start of previousyears, I’ve picked three words I want to see better reflected in my thoughts and actions for the coming twelve months.
This is not a to do list. Rather, each one is a process.
I don't attain these as much as ensure they're elements present in the mix of what comprises my deliberate work.
I struggle with this one at lot and that’s why it’s at the top of the list.
Instinctively I tend to look at problems as things that are my responsibility to solve. It comes from an ego-driven mindset, which manifests itself in two ways. Either I take on a burden that isn’t mine to carry, or the problem that is mine is one I try to solve by pushing against a countervailing force.
Either way, it’s a path to reactive-based thinking and being.
Instead I remind myself of the Taoist principle of Wu-Wei. It translates poorly into English, but the most reliable adaptation I’ve found comes from Alan Watts, who describes it as to not force things.
Embrace nondoing. Stop acting against nature. Let things be as they are. Keep working at being like water. This is not hard to do.
Fighting a fact is at the root of suffering. And yet there are times when what we really have to do is accept it into our lives in its many forms of adversity.
I'm fond of the way Naval Ravikant explains this: "There are two attractive things about suffering in the long term," he says. "One is that it can make you accept the world the way it is. The other thing is that it can make your ego change in an extremely hard way."
When we let go of that which we think is owed to us, we are quieting that ego. Acceptance makes things hard and makes things better.
Too often, there's an over-preoccupation with the physical aspect of poise. It’s as though we assume it's body language that influences the way we think and not the other way around.
We are a product of our thoughts. The poise with which we construct our understanding of the world around us determines how we respond to problems in our work and in our personal lives.
In his excellent book, The Art of Learning, Josh Waitzkin tells the story of a Tai Chi master: a man of advanced age whose graceful moves went largely unnoticed (and underestimated) by his students.
Waitzkin learned much from his Master, but only once he was prepared to understand what powered the old man’s rich movements. “It took full concentration to pick up on each valuable lesson,” he writes, “so on many levels a Tai Chi class was an exercise in awareness.”
Mindful poise leads to more deliberate actions. This is how we can each start again no matter where we are in life.
P.S. A great way to start 2017 is to share ideas with others. You can do that by clicking on either one of the green buttons below.