If we were wise…

I believe that the ultimate goal of wisdom is to have the same clarity you’ll have on your deathbed, but long before that so you can still act on it.

From that perspective, it seems absurd that we would ever:
– Feel bad for not fitting in with certain groups
– Believe that others are hyper-aware of our minor flaws, like your unmatched shoelaces or tiny scar
– Thoughtlessly allow other people’s beliefs, opinions or fears to become our own
– Connect with, date, or befriend toxic people out of obligation or fear of the alternative
– Blame others for our circumstances
– Judge others for anything other than their character
– EVER take the most important people in our lives for granted

An alternative to NY resolutions

I stopped making specific resolutions, and started doing an 80/20 analysis of my year instead. There is a much more sophisticated version of this, but here is the practice from 10,000 feet:

  1. Evaluate the last 12 months on your calendar thru the lens of: the 20% of people and activities that produced 80% of your positive / negative emotions
  2. Commit to scheduling activities and appointments with people that bring you the positive 20%.  This involves planning and paying for trips, planning meetings, get-togethers, and events now – or as early as possible.
  3. Create a NOT-to-do list which includes people and activities you’ll avoid, as they represent the negative side of the list.

Re-framing

Re-framing is an important cognitive tool that allows us to improve our situation by assigning a meaning that serves us better.

We’ll occasionally be wrong, but we’re in a better place to assume our friend who hasn’t called back is busy rather than that she stopped caring about us, or that our pre-performance anxiety is actually excitement (look it up – the symptoms are identical).

Words matter.  Not just in how we use them with each other, but how we use them with ourselves.

The impermanence of emotion

Language often reflects our thoughts.  There’s a reason we don’t say “I am a broken ankle” and “I am a fever”.  And yet when it comes to emotion we say “I am depressed” or “I am angry”.

There’s a chicken and egg problem regarding influence of language on thoughts (or vice versa), and I can’t solve that.  But I can tell you that it’s easier to recognize the impermanence of your current emotion if you just think: “For the time being, I feel angry”.

This too shall pass.

What is freedom?

It’s tempting and occasionally true to equate the level of freedom with one’s wealth and resources.  And while it’s cliche of me to tell you that these things alone rarely dictate the amount of freedom we have, I’m going to offer an alternative definition.

Freedom = options.

For me, our freedom increases in relation to the options and choices WE are able to make.  And most people reading this are fortunate enough to choose our own adventures, rather than pick from a short list of what we’re “supposed to” (or worse yet, “have to”) do.

Be grateful for your options.

Cleaning house

Have you ever deleted negative or antagonistic Facebook friends, only to realize that your feed seems to be filled with content that makes you feel good?

 

 Perhaps you notice more interesting, useful, funny, inventive things shared.  Advice.  Requests for help.  Recommendations.  Pictures of events or kids or things you care about, because you really care about the people in those pictures.  If this sounds like your idea of a community, you can take control.

 

 It should be obvious that this applies – perhaps even more significantly – to your “real” life.  The energetic effects of those in your physical presence  are even more influential than what happens when you scroll.