Delayed gratification and procrastination
There was a famous research study conducted years ago that involved young children and cookies. If the child could wait with a cookie in front of them, then they got another cookie. Apparently the children who delayed gratification, and thus got an extra cookie, were more successful later in life.
I judge myself to be good at delaying gratification, both by my nature and by my training. But at times this seems to intersect with an adult tendency to procrastinate. Sure one in the hand are better than two in the bush, but what if I believe I have a plan to get the two in the bush? The plan suddenly becomes more attractive than one in the hand, even though it is not yet realized.
Where are you living in plans instead of the present reality?
Reactive and Generative Prosperity
My work on prosperity continues. I was raised to count every dollar and every penny, cut coupons, find deals, and save money at all costs.
My first step away from scarcity was into reactive prosperity. I had enough because I knew how much I had and how much I needed and wanted. I could be generous because I had enough calculated out to be able to give a portion of it.
I'm now exploring what I would call generative prosperity. I have enough because of my faith in my ability to provide, and I give because it is who I am. My generosity is more closely tied to my self-worth than my net-worth, and my giving is more about who I am than what I do. This is still very much a work in progress.
Have you ever lived in scarcity? Where is your prosperity reactive when it could be generative?
In the past few years I have learned and grown immensely. Perhaps above all else, the largest steps I've taken toward truth, faith, and peace seem to be the least explainable.
They read like Zen koans. Many fit under the Socratic wisdom of, “They who know they do not know are the wisest among us.”
Where are your profound life lessons leading you to new levels of meaningful uncertainty and unexplainable truth?
When you put two items into water, they become somehow more proximate to one another. Imagine two people swimming together; They are somehow more connected than if they were simply standing in a room.
When you put two items into fire, they somehow become more mixed with one another. Imagine placing paper and metal into a fire; They meld into one another as the flame takes them both.
When you bury two items into the earth, they somehow become more a part of the ground together. Imagine two beloved past pets buried in your backyward; They are somehow both parts of the same space.
When you put two items in the same air, they still somehow become more a part of one another! We don't think of it often, but we share air regularly with trees, animals, and other human beings.
Who are you sharing air with today, and how might that bring the two of you closer to one another?
Habits and practices
Habits are patterns that we condition ourselves into following. They are largely unconscious and automated.
Practices are patterns that we consciously choose each time. They require commitment and discipline, because only conscious decision can keep them alive.
Where are you building habits? Where are you cultivating practices?
Love in a word
Love is a beautiful word, but sometimes I wish it were more specific. Do I really love both my shoes and my daughter with the same verb? Seems like different words for each object of affection would be more suitable. But perhaps the single word helps us all to see the love in ways large and small.
Who or what do you love?
I am fortunate enough to have an infant child to call my own. She teaches me remarkable lessons about life and gratitude.
A few days ago I took her swimming in a pool for the first time. The next time we were near that same pool she suddenly said, “SWM!” Her vowel seemed to be missing, but the fact that she remembered both the word and the location was nothing short of stunning.
I walk around every day aware of where I am and using words to label the world around me. But only when my little one did that same thing did I realize how remarkable that skill is.
What simple thing could a child remind you to see as remarkable in your life?
Breathing in the sunlight
Generally I breathe air with my lungs. Breathing in I am aware that I am alive in an environment that provides with me with the oxygen I need to live.
This morning it occurred to me that my skin and eyes, in a sense, “breathe” sunlight. It's not respiration in the medical sense, but my body takes in the warmth and light of the sun in order to sustain life.
What do you think of the invitation to breathe sunlight?
For most of my life emotions were intimating to me. Years ago I learned the term “emotional sobriety”, which resonated with my desire to manage my emotions. I distorted the meaning to justify my avoidance of deep emotional work. I started running a story that if I avoid the “intoxicant” of emotions then I stay sober.
But now I am discovering that my emotions are not designed to be managed. They are made to be listened to and integrated into my being.
My strategy for emotional safety used to be to avoid emotions, and now it has shifted to seeking to embrace them. It is a challenge and an ongoing practice, especially for more intense emotions associated with pain and difficulty.
I am seeking to experience my full truth and know I am safe in the present moment.
What would it mean for you to be emotionally sober?
Can such sobriety include the power of emotions themselves?
Stressful Job... Peaceful Life?
Sometimes my day job can be stressful. I bet yours can be as well.
My meditation practice brings peace into my life. I hope yours does, too.
Lately the centering practice of stepping back feels like an escape from the stress in my life. It has been difficult to integrate my mindfulness and spiritual practices into my work domain. I realize now that this challenge is also an opportunity for me to grow through what I have currently in my life.
I hope and pray that a month from today I might have more peace at work and less of a feeling of escape when I meditate. Care to join me with this intention?
How do you integrate the peace of meditation with the stress of work in your life?