Too often we try to improve our human experience by managing it. We celebrate our highs and try to maximize them. We critique our lows and try to root them out. Though we do it in all innocence, all that managing and editorializing actually interferes with our inborn ability to learn, grown, and adapt. In this video I share a story about the time I tried to sail a boat with my buns by way of illustrating the futility of managing our experience with our thinking.
Today in yoga class I was struck for a few moments by the miracle of the body: by what a marvelous, phenomenal, generous gift I had been given. That what Mary Oliver refers to as the “soft animal of your body” in her poem, “Wild Geese,” was given to me to inhabit so that I could have the experience of life. It is so easy to judge our bodies. To worry about them, resent them, struggle with them. For a few minutes I was blessed with the sweet simplicity of seeing the gift we have each been given.
I once heard in a 12 Step meeting, “I’ve been around these rooms for 35 years. The bad news is that every five years I got a new set of problems. The good news is that they were always higher quality problems.” There’s a lot of truth in this. We learn and grow, and our baseline awareness of our wellbeing, our capacity, our potential increases. Overall, we are doing better. At the same time, life continues to happen. We continue to experience ups and downs. If we focus on the ups and downs, we can overlook the fact that, overall, we really have made progress.
In the course of our lives we experience all manner of ups and downs. Sometimes strong feelings result, and we have a natural tendency to be compelled by them. The more intense the feeling, the more compelling it seems.
But there is no necessary correlation between the intensity of a feeling and the truth of your thinking. None. Zero. Nada. A person can be 100% mistaken and feel utterly righteous about their point of view at the same time.
And here’s the deal. When we’re in the grip of intense feelings, our ability to see the truth by reflecting on what’s going on is impaired. We’re not likely to find the truth by thinking longer or harder about things, at least not until we’ve settled way down.
Understanding this can save huge amounts of wear and tear on your relationships, including your relationship with your business or career. The thing to do when you’re extremely worked up is to wait. Let your mind get quiet. No matter what the situation, the wisdom and insight you need to make a good decision will come from being settled down, not from letting strong feelings sway you.
There’s no need to deny or argue with how you feel. You don’t actually need to have an opinion about it. Just know enough to defer action until your thoughts are quieter.
It really is that simple.
Have a wonderful, wonder-filled week, and please let me know what’s in your heart by sharing it in the comments.
We have a very different experience of life when we simply feel our feelings as opposed to when we worry about our feelings. The direct experience of sadness, for example, can be a doorway to compassion, whereas worrying about sadness leads to depression.
Though it might seem like we need to make a choice between anxiety and an insight that can see through or behind our moment to moment experience, we really don’t. Awareness takes care of things without effort or intervention.