“The nearer a man comes to a calm mind, the closer he is to strength.”
In today’s age setting aside the time and space to create a “quiet mind” is almost viewed negatively. It is socially more acceptable to be busy all the time than to give oneself space to read, reflect and learn—what a shame.
Progress and growth aren’t created in the margins of life; it is made when one makes room for a blank page to do the new and creative work. To build strength, you must give yourself space to breathe, think and reflect.
What are you willing to turn off to allow yourself this space?
“Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).”
What are you doing right now? (Besides the obvious reading of this post, thank you very much!) What is going on around you? What are you seeing, sensing and perceiving?
If you took one minute to simply notice the current happenings in your life what would you see? What would you feel? What would stand out? Would it be positive? Negative? How many of the things that you notice will disappear into the background once you “resume life?”
So much our lives are lived in autopilot mode. We simply exist, rinse, wash and repeat. We don’t see, or appreciate, the simple things that create beauty or add the unique flavors and seasonings to our experiences.
I am very much a novice in this area of awareness and mindfulness. I can fully and honestly say that I have spent the vast majority, if not almost all, of my life living either in the past or in the future. Being fully present and in the moment has always been a struggle for me. In a lot of cases it seemed like a waste of time to be present. In general, the present was simply to be tolerated and whatever task or thing that was in front of me was a means to the next end; something to be accomplished in order to achieve my goals or fulfill my next desire.
But what if there was more to how we lived our lives? How much of life’s simple joys do we miss because we aren’t present in the moment? How many things simply pass us by? For example, do you enjoy the rich taste of your coffee after the first sip? Or do you even taste the coffee at all as you wait for the caffeine to kick in? I know that I only rarely taste anything after the first bite. Unfortunately I know that this is a paradigm that applies to so many areas of my life.
If you, like me, know that there is potentially so much life available and you want learn more I highly recommend checking out these books and podcasts to get started.
Take a deep breath, be present, and revel in the fact that no matter what it is you are experiencing it is all temporary. One can’t live an authentic life of service to others if you aren’t present in your own life. In fact, I can think of no better reason than that to learn how to focus on being present.
You don’t want to get to the end of your life and realize that while you ate a full meal you didn’t actually taste anything…
“This is the precept by which I have lived: Prepare for the worst; expect the best; and take what comes.”
It is amazing how liberating it is when you can live life this way consistently. I find it to be challenging to stay in this mindset at all times. When I am stuck on a decision the question that I always ask myself is; “What is the worst that can happen?” When you have a clear answer to this then anything else that happens is a win.
So when you are stuck ask yourself this question and answer it honestly. I find that once I have reset my mind in this way everything suddenly becomes much clearer…
“The mind is just like a muscle – the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets and the more it can expand.”
I have been reading and listening to a ton of books and podcasts on mindfulness and the power of the mind/body connection. It is incredible to see how powerful our mind is when we choose to activate it. I admittedly geek out over the science side of things and I really love learning the nitty gritty stuff about how everything works together from a mind, brain, body, biology, and human physiology perspective. It is hard for me to learn something at a surface level. On almost any topic, if I find it truly intriguing, I love to go a mile deep and get as many different perspectives and opinions about whatever that particular topic might be.
One of the most compelling things that keeps resonating in every thing I read and study on the topic of mindfulness is the power of human choice, which starts in your mind, not in your body with a first-level dependency on our own individual biology. We all have the power of choice, and when we make that choice, whether it is to exercise our mind, our bodies, our souls, those choices have far reaching and deep consequences both within ourselves and those that are around us. God’s gift of free will is so incredibly powerful and when we exercise it with a focus on Him and His Kingdom it can have profound impact to our entire world.
The more I learn, the more I understand that there is so much more yet to discover…
If you are interested in this topic here are a few good links to check out:
“The greats never stop learning. Instinct and talent without technique just makes you reckless, like a teenager driving a powerful, high-performance vehicle. Instinct is raw clay that can be shaped into a masterpiece, if you develop skills that match your talent. That can only come from learning everything there is to know about what you do.”
Tim S. Grover
Both life and leadership are a journey of constant and continuous learning. I believe (and most sincerely hope) that I am a far better leader today than I was five years ago and yet I know that I am nowhere near where I want and need to be five or ten years from now. It has nothing to do with role or title but everything to do with impact and effectiveness. The more I learn the more that I realize how much more I need to learn and how much opportunity I have to grow and improve.
I had a conversation with a leader that I greatly respect last night on the impact and power of mindfulness and focus, especially in today’s incredibly distracted age. The time that can, and is, wasted on non-value added activity is so powerful if it can be harnessed for intentional learning and thinking. I have so much to learn about this both from a skill and knowledge perspective and have been receiving multiple nudges in this direction over the past several months.
For example, I just finished reading (through a book club I belong to) an excellent book titled “Digital Minimalism” about the power of focus in a very noisy world and I am I am in the process of reading another book (that was referenced in “Digital Minimalism”) titled (Lead Yourself First) that is really pushing me outside of my comfort zone and making me realize the power of, and need for, quiet and solitude to clarify one’s thinking.
I bring both of these up not to recommend or push others down this path but simply as an example of my own journey and realizing how much work I need to continue to do on myself as a Christian, leader, husband and father. Life is a journey. You are either growing, or you are dying on the vine…