Thinking about mindfulness more the last few days. I think we're trained as children to be mindful. Mind your parents, mind your teachers, mind your manners. All about being mindful.
Of course, I can only speak for my bubble of existence, when and where I grew up, in white, lower middle class 20th century America as a heterosexual male in white, lower middle class, conservative neighborhoods. I don't know where that epoch stands on the mindfulness spectrum. I imagine it falls a little short of Buddhists. I will bet gays, blacks, and women in America all learned much more about being mindful of who they are, and what they say and do than I needed to learn. In a sense, as a white boy in America, I had the privileges of growing up both a ruler and invisible.
I've evolved my own precepts of what mindfulness entails in writing, living and working. Some common concepts underline all. The golden rule of do unto others as you would have them do unto you. That you can't control everything and some things must be accepted, like change. That change should be mindfully addressed, and that it, like grief, can have many parts and stages. That perfection is hard but don't stop trying, and yet, begin with a plan, any plan, and go from there. And to borrow from Stephen Covey again, again, again, begin with the end in mind.
There will always be derailments. Accept them and figure out how to get back on track. Don't let emotions rule. If an email angers me, get up and walk away. Cool off. Do other things and then respond.
Review where you're at and where you want to be. Write goals down. Having it written down help cement the pact with yourself and provides a tangible reminder of who you were, who you are, and what you want to achieve.
Priotize. Don't let mindless habits rule. If things impact you, ask why? Delve for the root cause.
Yet - don't obsess. Don't overanalyze. There are my biggest dangers. I let these two dangers begin an avalanche of self-doubt that leads to paralysis which encourages procrastination. Self-doubt is a comfortable bed. So is procrastination but they lead to atrophy, energy losses, and a faltering will. It's an ugly, ugly doom loop of lowering effort, lowering expectations and lessening results.
Don't let fear rule. Acknowledge the fear. Acknowledge the worst that might happen. I address these things in words. Seeing them in paper help me reduce and manage my fears. After a while of doing so on paper, I learn I can duplicate the experience of strength and balance by thinking it through, writing it through in my head. But sometimes, the fear is stronger, so the whole exercise is needed.
Never give up. I'll often say, "I give up." "I surrender." "I quit." "I'm done." The statements are often part of a longer string that includes either, "The hell with this," or "Fuck this." They are empty reactions, born from my past conditioning as much as my emotions.
They're okay. I say them, walk away, and regroup. Sometimes I'll write through why I want to give up. That writing process helps me see my fears' root causes. Then I can work my way into a new plan.
Build. Always build. But remember that destruction and creation are part of the same cycle. Sometimes building requires me to tear it down and start over again.
And that's okay. Failure is as natural as success. We're taught, especially in business and school to fear failure, and the failure's fallout, ridicule. It drenches us with negative energy. That's hard to wring out. But without failure, we would never learn anything. Few people do the most basic and common activity of walking without falling down a few times. If we let failure stop us, how many of us would be walking?
I'm mindful these precepts are self-evident. They're not perfect. They're not my start. I've been working on these all my life, off and on, in various states of mindfulness. These are my latest marker, a star on my life map.
I am here.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com