We all go through ups and downs. One problem with how we handle the downs is that we attach our identities to where we are and how we feel in the moment, even if the moment lasts a month.
We make one poor decision and think: I’m not very smart. We come across a picture of ourselves back when we were at our physical best and say: I’m out of shape. A situation or outcome makes us miserable and we think: I am depressed.
Don’t confuse who you are right now with where you are right now.
I make it a habit to check in and confirm that I’m truly present wherever I am. That means I’m not on the phone when I’m with family and friends. It also means I AM focused on my phone when I’m having a text or email conversation. Intentional behavior is not a distraction.
One thing that helps me accomplish this is to ensure that I’ve accomplished enough during focused work/email/chores time, that these things aren’t like apps running on my brain when my brain should be “here”.
The goal is to follow the obvious but challenging advice: wherever you are, be there.
In the old days a small amount of sugar, a bit of gossip, and some entertainment improved well-being. But modern diseases are diseases of abundance. Too much sugar. Too much gossip. Too much politicizing nuanced issues to the point of outrage. Too many entertainment options leading to FOMO, decision-fatigue, and filter failure.
There is such thing as too much of even good things, including water (it’s called drowning).
“Filter mastery” is a modern superpower – deliberately filtering out the majority of sensory inputs that feel beneficial but are actually putting us at dis-ease.
To deter myself from staying up late scrolling through social media or going down a YouTube rabbit hole, I remember the rule: “don’t stay up late for something you wouldn’t get up early for.”
I enjoy the occasional cheat meal, but my rule is: if I “shouldn’t” eat it it’s not coming in my house. When I found myself hitting snooze too many times, I started placing my alarm clock steps away from the bed.
Self-control is over-rated. Simple rules you create (and follow) are more reliable ways to change habits.
That thing you almost did that would have harmed your career…that horrendous car accident you barely avoided…it sounds counter-intuitive and depressing to spend moments contemplating these near tragedies.
But one effective way to amplify gratitude even faster than being thankful for what we do have or did achieve, is considering how fortunate we are for what DIDN’T happen that could have disrupted or even ended our lives.
The fact that you are now alive to tell even one such story is worthy of gratitude.
Treating people as equals and creating equal opportunity despite gender, race, etc. is an admirable version of equality. But that’s as far as it goes.
Treating all projects, endeavors, and hours of the day with equal importance is a flaw that un-successful, overwhelmed, stressed-out people share. Those who have achieved mastery, fulfillment and are in control of their lives distinguish and prioritize the critical, few, most significant things, from the trivial and unlimited choices for allocating their time and attention.
Focus on what’s most meaningful and significant, and give that the UNEQUAL attention it deserves.
I once heard a business owner tell a consultant that he preferred not to offer training to his employees. “What if I train them and then they leave?!” he said. I never forgot the consultant’s reply: “Worse still…what if you don’t train them and they stay?”
What a great perspective on investing in sharpening skills for ourselves and others. Investing in people seldom creates anything other than goodwill, gratitude, and (go figure) upgraded skills.