… unless it’s a cheesecake, of course… and you happen to like cheesecake.
Day to day, I’m not someone who enjoys surprises. I like to know what’s going on, what’s coming up, and to plan ahead. A surprise cheesecake never hurt, though, so there is definitely an important definition here of “surprise”.
I define a “surprise” in this context as “something which happens and which I wasn’t aware of or didn’t plan for”. Coupled with choosing to respond rather than to react to circumstances, I’ve found taking the approach of “no surprises” to be helpful both in and outside of work.
“It’s always easier to swim with the river’s current than against it.” This quote, and others like it, are likely quite common and known to most of us. The sentiment behind this quote is one of collaboration, working together, and embracing change or difference, rather than resisting it. A similar concept which has come up for me in different contexts is one of “embrace” versus “conquest”.
It always seems impossible until its doneNelson Mandela
When reflecting on my day, I find often recurring themes or recurring lessons and advice. The reflection is often clearest when the same themes show up in various spheres of life. The latest such theme is that a task or project seems complicated not purely by the nature of the task, but also by the perceived amount of knowledge and experience I have with the task.
Similar to my recent experience of leaning into my irrational fear of drilling holes into our house, I’ve noticed two instances where I found myself making a task seem more complicated than it is. When describing this to my team or to family, I describe this as “going around the block, when one needs only to cross the street”.
When confronted with something new or unexpected, we have a choice; do we react, or do we respond? There is a distinct difference, which I’ll unpack below.
In new or unexpected scenarios, it is very common to react. This is most commonly visible in lashing out or responding with angst and stress. Our muscles tense, our voice is raised, and our entire being goes into a “fight, flight, or flee” mode. Our reaction to the stimulus often leaves us feeling far worse off than before the reaction. An alternative is to respond.
I’ve often advised people to “lean in”, to “eat that frog”, and to focus on addressing the thing that is most troubling them. Whether a conflict, a fear, or something else, leaning into it is far more effective at addressing the concern than is leaning away. I found myself offering this feedback more frequently lately, and found an opportunity to apply the feedback myself as well, to get over a fear. At this point I truly realised the ripple effect overcoming a fear can have, and how it opens ones eyes even more than anticipated.
For as long as I can recall, the phrase “on purpose” has been a colloquial phrase said to mean “consciously” (as in, “I consciously ate the piece of cheese” / “I ate the piece of cheese on purpose“). I’ve recently redefined “on purpose” for myself to mean (in simplified form) “with intention”, and with a broader definition which shaped my thinking more than I realised in the moment.
At times, we’ve all felt lost. Confused. Uncertain. Perhaps even a combination of all three. At times, we feel stuck. Stuck between thoughts. Between feelings. We’re stuck between where we’ve been, and where we’re going. At times, we feel as though we are “nowhere”. No where.
In these moments, our thoughts and feelings begin to rapidly bubble up, with our mind finding all of the creative ways it can to emphasize how “nowhere” feels.
Today, I’d like to re-frame “nowhere”, simply to “now here”. You are now here. In this moment. What brought you here is in the past, and is immutable and done. What is in your future is currently unwritten. What we know for certain, though, is that you are now here.
Take that moment, and embrace it. What could you do to feel differently in the next moment? How does it feel to take the current moment and feel it fully, knowing that the next moment could be consciously different, by your own design?
Reflect on what brought you to this moment, and how you can build on that, learn from it, and grow into the next moment.
Reflect on how it feels to be now here.
To enjoy something or someone carries with it such a pronounced and clear meaning in today’s world. The dictionary definition of “enjoy”, described below, uses words such as “receive”, and “have”. Possessive words, often associated with material objects, things, possessions, and personal fulfillment.
v.en·joyed, en·joy·ing, en·joys
- To receive pleasure or satisfaction from.
- To have the use or benefit of: enjoys good health.
During my morning reading, and while meditating on the concept of joy and enjoyment, I cross-referenced other “en-” and “em-” words (“embolden”, for example) and would like to propose an alternative meaning for “enjoy”.
To “embolden” someone with something is to impart it to them. For example, to “embolden someone with courage” is to give them courage. I believe the same can be true for enjoyment.
v.en·joyed, en·joy·ing, en·joys
- To give/impart pleasure or satisfaction to.
- To give the use or benefit of.
To “enjoy” something is to bring joy to that experience, rather than taking joy from the experience. Joy, like all other emotions, is a choice we can make consciously.
Today, I choose to impart joy with my day.
Continuing the practice of meditating on annual word themes (here’s the meditation for 2021 on “kindness” and “positivity”), below is 2020’s meditation, working backwards to fill in meditations for previous annual word themes.
Our words for 2020 were “health” and “clarity”.
Each year, my partner and I choose one word each. These words combined will be our theme for the year, woven into the fabric of everything we do, and attracted by our thoughts and focus on them. Our words for 2021 are “kindness” and “positivity”.
This year, I decided to evolve our process, and externalize the meditation I do on these words, both to crystalize it for future, and to deeper explore the thought process. These will be streams of consciousness.