“The components of anxiety, stress, fear, and anger do not exist independently of you in the world. They simply do not exist in the physical world, even though we talk about them as if they do.”
Times are interesting for sure.
Is there any more fuel for stress today than there was last year, last decade, or last century?
Who knows? We don’t compile that data. Not here anyway.
One thing for sure, the more stress that gets expressed, expanded and elevated, the more seems to show up.
For example, putting aside the incidences of terrorist attacks that seem to have become a part of living in our modern world, the amount of random acts of violence for the most innocuous reasons—a relationship breakup, being cut off in traffic, a layoff—have seemed to rise. Or, is there simply more tension in the general air that have those events just catch our attention more?
Either way, left unchecked, tense times appear to bring about more tense times…for each of us individually and the world as a whole.
I recently noticed that the political climate has had my “guard up” for the last several months. Even though I believe in my mind that I can separate the mood brought about by this climate from my work, my relationships, and my being and interacting in the world, I realized that I’m fooling myself. The general mood I find myself in in one area can’t help but put a pale or cloud over another area.
We’ve all heard that “Wherever you go, that’s where you are.” So, realizing that bracketing or separating out the moods in one area from others won’t just happen on its own, I’ve become more vigilant about stemming the tide of tension.
We are living in times of high-potential stress. It’s what we each do with that potential that makes a difference. The potential either gets expressed, or it gets transmuted by our individual efforts.
Given that muscles are only built from resistance, perhaps this is a perfect time to build muscles around stress…because the world’s resistance to being at peace is all around us.
We can either add to the escalation in our responses and reactions, or peacefulize events and environments through intentional workouts.
Simon Sinek says “We live in times of high stress. Messages that are simple, messages that are inspiring, messages that are life-affirming, are a welcome break from our real lives.”
We seek to do that each week here, in our Back Forty messages and efforts.
What messages can you send out today, whether initiated or in response, to turn the tide toward peace?
Here’s a few ideas to help you Peacefulize in a Stress Test.
First, it’s important to just notice the resident vibe in which you’re operating. I say “resident” because it kind of lives in us. It may be an unwelcomed visitor, but if it’s a negative vibration that snuck in and is living in your basement, it’s smelling up the whole house.
So, first, begin to notice what’s lurking in the unseen. Are you irritable? Are you punchy? Are you easily rattled or thrown into concern or argument? Notice how you respond to the natural flow of life each day and see if you can be an observer to yourself.
Is that person happy and content, from an observer’s point of view, or might they have something going on behind the scenes or under the hood?
Get good at noticing your resident mood…and what might be going on that has you in that mood.
Have some empathy for yourself, realizing that you’re not wrong for any reason you may be punchy or irritable, and understand that most people would be operating the same way you are.
You’re only human, and stuff happens that throws the majority of humanity into fear, concern and stress.
Realize that you have a choice, each and every moment, as to how you’ll be. Will you side with the majority, and be the average person handling stressful times in an average way, being just as argumentative and committed to being right as the next person…or will you be different?
Look, you’re not “right” for choosing to be different, for choosing to find a different way to operate than the majority, but just realize that you do have a choice.
If you do happen to be one of the minority who choose to take the road less travelled, find ways to bring peace instead of more dissension and tension into every event or environment in which you find yourself.
General tension in the air means that most people will be at a heightened level of blowing off steam. See, in every situation, how you might be someone who cools down the steam so that, as water, it can flow easily down the path of least resistance, which water tends to do.
Sure, “count to 10” if you need to resort to basics…but, beyond that, how might you serve yourself and others by bringing out the possibility or perfection of every situation vs. buying into the problem that everyone else will be focused on? Be inventive. Be creative. Be different.
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”
In The Back Forty, we say you have yet to do what you came here to do.
If you’re here to play a yet bigger game – no matter what you’ve accomplished thus far – it will take you being different than the rest of the crowd and bringing out ALL of you in a NEW way.
We created The Back Forty Re-NEW-ALL Program for just this reason: to support you to go against the grain of how the majority would view challenges and potential stresses and actually have them serve you to be who you came to be and do what you came to do. Those “stress tests” are really your best friend, helping you get there, if you approach them powerfully.
Check out A Back Forty Re-NEW-ALL Program here, to ReNEW the ALL of YOU.
“Telling someone how you feel is honestly the hardest thing ever.”
Many of us have been shaped by the self-made-man or self-made-woman motif.
There’s a lot of John Wayne swagger in our images of being successful and together.
And yet, if you dig underneath the neatly coiffed outward appearances, all people experience personal and growth challenges.
One downfall is keeping what’s inside to ourselves.
Too often we find out stuff was going on with someone only after they’ve removed themselves from the conversation.
I recently attended a memorial service for a friend of a friend, and the huge temple was packed and overflowing with mourners.
This man was so lovingly regarded by so many, and yet—though people had been somewhat aware of his depression—nobody knew it would go to the depths it did, having him take himself out… unexpectedly, in the twinkling of an eye.
He had a long reputation for being the cheerful and jovial one. Apparently that personae remained in place until the very end.
If we tell our own truth, others often sense the safety to do the same. The rub is for both ourselves and others to be willing to get outside the standard ways of acting and being with each other.
Not like wearing all our insides on our sleeves, and yet putting the masks and guards down as part of our full repertoire can create a safe space of openness.
In many respects, telling others serves our greater good.
Want to realize that you’re just like everyone else? Tell someone what’s going on with you.
Want to find voices more supportive than those in your head? Tell someone what you’d like to achieve.
Want to be sure you achieve what you say? Tell someone and ask them to hold you accountable.
If we only ever simply capitalized on this last action, which flies in the face of our supposed “independence”—choosing to make ourselves accountable—how much more might we live in life when we have someone holding us to our word of how we want to live it?
What can you tell someone today to plug into resources outside of your own?
Here’s a few tips for telling someone something that will move you forward.
Want to see if someone is there for the long run with you? Show them the real you right away.
A wise man once said that, if you want to see if a relationship has stickability, put your worst foot forward.
That doesn’t mean actually try to sabotage anything, but most people are always trying to look their best and show up all “together”. If you can reveal your warts as well as your wonders, you can see what wart-bearing capacity is over there early on.
When you’ve tested the wart-bearing waters—or as another way to do so—share something with someone that you most don’t want anyone to know.
In the world of romantic relationships, it’s a great way to start to really get to know someone beyond the “looking good” phase of initial dating. On each successive date, share the one thing you most don’t want them to know. Ideally, for the game to work, they do the same.
If you start at your deepest “most don’t want them to know” then, on each successive date, you’re working your way up. After a month or so of dating, talk about learning that someone can be with you warts and all.
Sure, it takes trust…but you have to first be the change you want to see, yes?
Ask someone if you can trust them enough to reveal to them your big dream. Will they be supportive? Will they empower you?
Asking is a good first step because you don’t want to throw “pearls before swine”.
Then, tell them.
If you really care enough to have that big dream fulfilled, ask them if you can make promises to them about what you’ll do by when you’ll do it to activate that dream.
Ask them to hold you to account for doing what you say by when you say you’ll do it.
Ask them if you can schedule times to check in with them on your progress.
Ask them to be bold and supportive in pointing out to you when you’re not being who you said you’d be or doing what you said you’d do.
The degree to which you commit to empowering them to hold you to account is the degree to which your dream will be realized.
“Tell the truth, or eventually someone will tell it for you.”
In The Back Forty, we say you have yet to do what you came here to do.
If you’re here to play a yet bigger game – no matter what you’ve accomplished thus far – it will take baring, sharing, daring and caring…to bring out the ALL of you in a NEW way.
We created The Back Forty Re-NEW-ALL Program for just this reason: to have you saying what really matters, and getting over and beyond the challenges that have held you back from realizing it. Those challenges are really your best friend, helping you get there, if you approach them powerfully.
Check out A Back Forty Re-NEW-ALL Program here, to ReNEW the ALL of YOU.
“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”
What’s the big deal about starting over?
There’s a cultural stigma that says, if you have to start over, you somehow failed on the first attempt.
Yet, every new day offers a new opportunity to take a new look at what’s in front of us…even if it’s patterns, projects and processes that may been going on for a while.
We recently completed a big push towards a conference that pretty much held our focus of attention and finances for the better part of a year. The conference itself turned out to be a bust. Yet, it was holding onto the regrets, couldas, wouldas, shouldas and other forms of making ourselves and others wrong in the aftermath that impeded moving on to “Next!”
This got me thinking that this whole phrase of “starting over” should not be limited to last-ditch attempts when gasping for air before finally going under. What if starting over were a way of life?
Perhaps it’s the ability to see newly what’s already in motion, to come from “beginner’s mind” even when things have been proven to work (or not), that is a practice we want to develop.
Of course, seeing this in hindsight around our year-long initiative doesn’t change anything in the past. But does anything ever change anything in the past…other than learning and moving on with greater awareness?
There’s only moving forward, and I’m thinking that a good forward-moving strategy is to start over continually…and to be proud of saying so.
An intention to grow invites change. Change invites constant transition. Constant transition invites starting over…again and again.
How empowering would it be if we could all get comfortable with a casual response to the common greeting “How are you today?” with “Great! I’m starting over!”
Where can you choose starting over today…even if nothing is broken?
Where can you choose starting over today…especially if you feel something IS broken?
For this reason, we created The Back Forty Re-NEW-ALL Online Program.
If you’re up to playing big games, you’ll always be in constant flux and transition. And if you’ve been dealt what seems like a blow from life, it’s only because you’re on the disempowered side of the Bigger YOU that this transition is bringing with it.
The Back Forty Re-NEW-ALL Online Program shows you how to turn lemons literally into GOLD (forget the lemonade).
It’s a way of life, and you’ll either adopt a strategy for engaging in it powerfully or you’ll get constant bag-of-brick bruises upside the head that you’ll put all your attention on.
Just like I tell clients around job search and career transition, if you don’t have an ongoing career management strategy, you’ll always be caught off guard.
By learning a strategy to take any of life’s transitions – around relationships, finances, business, health, loved ones, career, etc. – and become more powerful out of them, you set yourself up for unimpeded growth and development.
Behind, back-of, inside-of, and underneath all supposed “bad things” that happen to us there are blessings. We rarely want to look at those in the midst of the muck.
However, by turning our attention away from our victim-ness and onto the unseen blessings, all of a sudden they begin to grow in our awareness and activate our next level of growth.
On the other side of the chasm of transition, there are new territories to be explored and new skills and abilities to be developed.
So many of us resist change when we see it coming, and yet there’s nary a one of us that can’t claim some new understanding, skill, capacity, awareness, knowledge or personal improvement on the other side of any change.
Getting clear on the opportunity to grow one’s curiosity becomes a lucky life gift on the far side of yucky life rifts.
Every change brings with it NEWness: of ourselves and the playing fields we then enter.
Learning to give ourselves the freedom to open up and play again – without the need to have it all figured out – brings a breath of fresh air into what might have become a very standard, staid, and typically normal life.
In The Back Forty, we say you have yet to do what you came here to do.
We all think normal is to be sought after, but if we’re really here to play a yet bigger game – no matter what we’ve accomplished thus far – it will take us breaking normal, taking risks again, and learning to have fun in the process.
“Maybe it’s not always about trying to fix something broken. Maybe it’s about starting over and creating something better.”
“The energy of the mind is the essence of life.”
According to current perceptions, the evidence is in.
They are or it is definitely wrong, screwed up, off track, and whacked.
The question is, what choice are you going to make as to how that “fact” affects you?
It’s difficult to balance out what seems to be the very real, tangible, hard and fast proof of our “rightness” with the completely invisible impact of energetic vibrations because the seduction of vindication is juicy.
Yet, more often than not, the impact of unseen negative vibes has costly ripple effects that show up in apparently unrelated yet powerful ways.
The boss levels what appears to be criticism in the morning, and the cat gets kicked at home in the evening.
A business partner leaves you feeling slighted, and all of a sudden there are issues with your power steering.
In The Back Forty, we say that you have yet to do what you came here to do, so playing bigger (not smaller) is the way of your future…no matter your age or what you’ve already accomplished in life.
We all can relate to the archetypal crotchety old man or woman – either because they were part of our immediate or extended family or, if nowhere else, from fiction and movies – who has enough grudges, judgments, opinions, or scars to share for everyone.
Though none of us can see ourselves being that type of person, if left unobserved, an undercurrent of our own un-redirected bitches and moans can build toward that future.
If we plan to be and do yet greater and bigger things all the way until we are up and outta here (vs. society’s message of down and outta here), we will need to be playing, increasingly, with even more folks to bring those things about.
Jean Paul Sartre said “Hell is other people.” Sharing our big game with the world, participating in organizations, joint venturing our businesses, enrolling other in our mission or message…all involves relationships with others. And relationships with others naturally brings about many positive or negative energy choices.
We can’t control what others do. We can only control our response to what they do.
Watching our energy flow like a hawk and making conscious choices as to which direction we will drive it (vs. it flowing the path of least resistance, like water) can have the cat and car much happier…not to mention ourselves, in the long run.
Here are 4 steps to choosing appropriate alternative energy.
Become alert to the thoughts you’re thinking at all times, and especially in times of challenge or desire for redress. Often we have undercurrent feelings that begin driving us a particularly negative direction without our being aware. We just “somehow” end up in a bad mood, irritable or melancholy.
Develop the muscle of internal energy awareness. Begin to hear the voice in the head determining what it all means.
Before letting yourself default into an old pattern or natural flow of standard reaction, take a moment in your mind and ride the wave of energy you’re feeling in the direction it wants to go and see where it takes you.
Will that direction serve you in the end?
Wayne Dyer says that the ultimate question to ask before all action – and definitely in re-action – is “Will this bring me peace?”
Ask yourself: “Though the ‘rightness’ of my position may seem juicy in the moment, will going this direction bring me peace in the end?”
When taking the long view, if the answer to the above question is no, then consciously choose to let that path go and choose another which will bring you peace.
Get to work on directing your energy towards what will, in the long run, attract to you more and more good, even in the face of whatever you perceived as “bad” that just happened. Plain and simple, you get more of what you think about.
Thich Nhat Hanh offers several ways to redirect and choose the alternative energy, and undoubtedly you know from even everything you were taught in Kindergarten some simple ways to get happier and move towards peace.
“There are many ways to calm a negative energy without suppressing or fighting it. You recognize it, you smile to it, and you invite something nicer to come up and replace it; you read some inspiring words, you listen to a piece of beautiful music, you go somewhere in nature, or you do some walking meditation.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh
The point is watch, observe, redirect and always choose the alternative energy that will serve you best.
“Negativity…it can only affect you if you’re on the same frequency. Vibrate higher.”
“Intention leads to behaviors which lead to habits which lead to personality development which leads to destiny.”
Many great and creative minds say it’s all about intention.
“Our intention creates our reality.”
“Let the power of intention lead the way.”
“All that counts in life is intention.”
– Andrea Bocelli
“A good intention clothes itself with sudden power.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
And many also say a good intention and $1.85 will get you a cup of coffee.
“Many of our intentions die after we have put their harness on.”
-Henry S. Haskins
“Men with good intentions make promises. Men with good character keep them.”
“It’s not intentions that matter. It’s actions. We are what we do and say, not what we intend to.”
“There is always a gap between intention and action.”
For those who haven’t already resigned themselves to no possibility (which many have, whom we can’t reach anyway), we can wax eloquently on the potential for our lives, careers, dreams and purposes for being on the planet.
Yet, concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary question, the unasking of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans.
“Will you really? But really really??”
Often the closer we actually get to a dream’s or goal’s fulfillment, the more a myriad of forces come alive to make that last yard truly the longest. It’s far easier to talk about the goal “one day” being realized than to close in on it, see beneath and beyond the mental and subconscious tricksters that come to bargain us away, and actually get it done.
Steven Pressfield addresses these sly forces in “The War of Art”, classifying them all as “resistance”. They show up in what’s commonly known as “the fear of success” in forms such as perfectionism, doubt, distractibility, irritability, confusion, procrastination, etc.
In The Back Forty, with a lifetime of making and unfulfilling on so many intentions already, it requires a real leaving of the past in the past to get up the courage to again intend with a vengeance.
That’s why we’re here in this journey together. We look at the past as simply R & D, research and development, for who we came here to be and what we came here to do. So, any intention play we’ve done before was simply practice, not carving our inability into stone.
Here are 4 ways to up your practice of Active Re-Intention in your second half/best half of life.
You don’t want to put icing on a cake of poop, so first get real, down and dirty about where you’ve spoken bold intentions before…and didn’t git ‘er done.
You might make a list for yourself and then ritualize the letting go of that past pattern by burning it. Or, you might check in with people who knew you when you were playing big for something and then saw you disappear.
People are forgiving, and we all love redemption stories. However, with yourself or others, cleaning up the mess from previous intentional misfires can help you listen to your Self with fresh ears.
Get your bold on…with measured sobriety. Be willing to make some big demands on the Self you are now, stake some outrageous claims on your possibilities, and have some unrecognizable declarations pass your lips.
Then ask people if you’re crazy, or if it can be done.
For those who say you’re crazy, ask them why. For those who say it can be done, ask them specifically how and why.
Measure the responses, then ask those you trust to measure the responses, and choose your friends wisely. Your producing the result in the face of no agreement is always possible, and yet your ability to enroll others in your intention and have a world pulling for you and holding you to account is a more powerful approach.
Don’t do it alone, yet again, just like you’ve always done, with your Lone Ranger, maverick, Rebel Without a Cause, self-made man/woman, “I’ve got this” false confidence.
Get a buddy. Commit to specifics and by whens. Put your ass on the line. Agree to pay money if you don’t meet your milestones. Give yourself big rewards when you do.
The greatest single key to delivering on your intention is having someone to be accountable to beyond yourself.
For your Self. Use your buddy and your commitments to them (and your Self) to let this be the time you actually did what you said you’d do by the time you said you’d do it.
There’s so many forces that will come up here to slow you down, turn your head to one side or the other, or convince you it wasn’t a smart or worthy idea in the first place.
Go Nike on yourself. Just do it. Take the actions required by the intentions. Again, and again. And when you don’t, go back to Clean Up and start all over.
“Take action! An inch of movement will bring you closer to your goals than a mile of intention.”
-Dr. Steve Maraboli
“In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or step back into safety.”
There’s two different cuts we can take at stepping back.
The first is when we revert to the comfort zone in the face of the challenges and contortionisic stretches required to play bigger, express broader, and adventure into new territories.
The other is when we move away from the machine so as to get a bigger picture than the next rung on the rat wheel.
We can all fall prey to working in our career vs. on our career, in our business vs. on our business, awash in our life vs. perspective on our life.
For example, it’s great to have that current job or business, especially if you love it and feel your highest self-expression pouring forth. Yet, we all know that nothing is guaranteed and, according to standard business wisdom, if you’re not moving forward, you’re moving back—there is no standing still.
Also, there may be personal or business practices, tried and true, that we engage in without thinking anymore of whether they are working.
Therefore, stepping back from the activity to get the bigger picture is a wise, forward-focused practice.
The same goes for the progress forward of our relationships, health, finances, personal mission and overall sense of well-being. Nothing stands still. It’s forward or back.
Alexandra (my partner in Back Forty crime) and I recently took a 911 weekend away. We cancelled all appointments and booked a last-minute hotel and unplugged, unscheduled, and unwound. Yes, we relaxed, and yet we began some meaningful (but not significant) conversations about how we want to design our Back Forty from the long-view perspective.
That weekend, and the inquiry thus begun, has produced ongoing ripple effects which have shaped our consistently upgraded views on many aspects of our work, mission, and enjoyment of life. Good thing! We figure that, with us being the forerunners, scouts and pioneers of creating a radical second half of play, passion and purpose, we are to live it to prove it’s possible!
From the bigger picture, all of us can see what’s working and what’s not…and put in the pieces we don’t see when up close and personal.
Incorporating healthy backsteps into your dance, to catch that bigger perspective, can make for a far more workable final choreography.
Here’s a few questions to ask from our own exploration:
Sometimes, it’s necessary to look at the State of the Personal Union to see if how we’re living, how we’re working, how we’re relating is actually sustainable over the long term.
Sure, there are some crunch times in everyone’s life. Yet, you can’t really sustain crunchtime. Over the long term, you tend to get crunched.
Consider the impacts of machines running on High all the time – they wear out, burn out, or at least don’t perform at their highest productivity.
Is the career, business, life you’re running safe and sound at the pace or peace it’s going? Is it worthwhile to re-evaluate and re-frame what’s really important and what’s really working (and what’s not)?
We may think, at first blush, that everything is tied with a bow as it is and there would just be too much upset caused by rethinking and reorganizing the pieces.
Yet, that’s simply not the case. Were something major to happen in your world today, truly, all bets are off. So, what can we let go, mix up, or do differently?
In the 80’s, there was a Fram Oil Filter commercial with a famous tagline: “You can pay me now, or you can pay me later.”
Today’s Back Forty question is: where can you step back from the trance to enhance the workability of your own dance?
“Often stepping back you see more, don’t you?”
“Change can be frightening, and the temptation is often to resist it. But change almost always provides opportunities – to learn new things, to rethink tired processes, and to improve the way we work.”
What if A didn’t necessarily need to precede B…or what if there was a way to get to Z by circumventing the linear alphabetic song.
In other words, we often set up rules in our minds as to “the way things need to go” in order to get from A to Z. And, by establishing such rules — consciously or (for the most part) unconsciously — we create a reality. Change becomes prescribed to take place a certain way.
We often can’t imagine a result we’re committed to having in our life, our career, our business, our relationships simply showing up. That’s what’s called “magical thinking,” and we all know we have to work for it.
So says the industrial mindset, and we can all agree that simply saying it or waiting for it doesn’t have it appear.
And yet, somewhere within that rigid and calculated “truth”, if there were the slightest crack of radical possibility that things may not be so fixed as how we see them, what might have a chance to happen outside the rules?
There are philosophies that say the results that come to us are not so much a function of what we are doing as who we are BEING: the general outward expression of our most deeply held truths.
There are yet other philosophies which tell us that it is the thoughts that we hold predominate in our conscious mind which attract to us our experience. Plus, we all know that those thoughts we hold in our SUB-conscious mind are huge factors or culprits in our life, depending on what we’re attracting.
Let’s not throw out our earnest-strategy babies with the bathwater. Coming up with our plans and directions to pursue are healthy and give us confidence (e.g., “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”).
Yet, perhaps there’s value in making room for unexpected and unforeseen fortuitous factors to creep in.
Here are a few thoughts to consider:
Pick an area of your life where you’d like to see results you’re currently not experiencing.
Is it in the area of relationship? Maybe dating? Or how about the area of career?
Look to see what “rules” you’ve created about the way things need to go in order to have that result.
For example, I need to be on 4 dating sites and go out with 3 first dates each week. Or, I need to get my resume in perfect shape and then start looking for openings by reviewing online job boards.
Just look beneath your assumptions and outline the steps and processes you believe must take place for it to happen.
Begin to ask yourself some simple questions that take you outside of those rules.
What if I were to get a call today from a friend who wanted me to meet someone? What if I actually looked around me today and created some casual conversations? What if I were to hear about a new company or meet a new person who turned me onto to a new opportunity?
Seems simple, but we don’t often just allow ourselves to ponder what it would feel like if what we seek were simply to come.
Allow yourself to keep doing what you think you need to do, yet allow yourself also to expect the unexpected.
Simply seeing how our rules have blocked us into a reality that must seemingly go a certain way can allow the unforeseen and unexpected to arise.
Here’s the big question: what do you have to lose by simply pondering some what ifs outside of your rules?
“Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said: ‘one can’t believe impossible things.’
‘I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.'”
-Lewis Carroll, Alice Through the Looking Glass
“In all chaos, there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.”
“Waiting to exhale” is a phrase many are familiar with, if not from the movie of the same name, just the experience of life as lived. Stressful events in our lives and the world can cause a virtual breathing disorder.
Big changes in our world or our own lives (e.g., career shift, relationship changes, “midlife crisis”, etc.) can have us almost holding our breath. Such feelings of personal or planetary chaos may attempt to deflect our attention and hope from what Thoreau calls our individual versions of “the direction of your dreams…the life you’ve imagined.”
Though any change is always, at first, discombobulating, in The Back Forty we offer that any “crisis” can also be seen as an opportunity.
Yet, while in the midst of the crisis-come-opportunity, we do need to stabilize and get grounded. In that process of getting back to basics, the most basic of basics is to remember to breathe…into the apparent disorder.
We don’t often regard the practice of breathing – whether it be literally, or figuratively (e.g., stepping away from everything to gain perspective) – as a first-blush consideration in living life. Yet, too often that invisible or unappreciated practice becomes highly regarded after a scare of one type or another.
I recently wrote about the opportunity to invent reasons to stop ourselves and breathe before something else stops us (health scare, relationship upheaval, financial sideswipe, etc.).
If we subscribe to The Back Forty belief that each of us has yet to do what we came here to do, then that means we want to take the long view…because we’re ideally going to be around for a very long time.
So, whatever it takes to focus on breathing – literally and figuratively – into whatever disorder we stir up in our purposeful pursuit of a second half of play, passion and purpose is worth every last minute it gives us…because it may be that last minute of this life when we accomplish what we came here to do.
Here’s some thoughts to help you take a breather from world or personal events, and be inspired (latin inspīrāre, to breathe upon or into ):
“True stability results when presumed order and presumed disorder are balanced. A truly stable system expects the unexpected, is prepared to be disrupted, waits to be transformed.”
“One way to break up any kind of tension is good deep breathing.”
“Smiling is very important. If we are not able to smile, then the world will not have peace. It is not by going out for a demonstration against nuclear missiles that we can bring about peace. It is with our capacity of smiling, breathing, and being peace that we can make peace.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh
“Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again.”
-L. Frank Baum
“I wake up every day and I think, ‘I’m breathing! It’s a good day.'”
“I’m convinced of this: Good done anywhere is good done everywhere. For a change, start by speaking to people rather than walking by them like they’re stones that don’t matter. As long as you’re breathing, it’s never too late to do some good.”
“The only reason I would take up jogging is so that I could hear heavy breathing again.”
And here’s a few deep breaths to keep in mind as disorder may, for the moment, continue to wave its frazzled, fearful head:
You can’t help anyone in any worthwhile way unless you have applied your own oxygen mask first.
First and foremost, be sure you’re getting the rest, nutrition and mental relaxation necessary to keep coming at your work, your life, your world with the highest functioning of your full faculties.
There’s a phrase that says, when things get a bit crazy, HALT: never get to Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired.
There are many phrases from many cultures which say the same basic truth: things will look different in the morning.
Realizing that, if we give ourselves the self-care to step back for a moment, a bit of rest and NOT thinking about the issue at hand can actually open up new perspectives from which can then be seen new actions to take.
Take a breather from the urgency of the moment. Step away from the machine.
Actually realize the blessing of the fact that you are, right now, in this moment, breathing, with the health, and ability, and food in the fridge, and people who really do care all around you, and opportunities to contribute…all right now available in the present.
There is a next step. This is a life to be lived. There is something yet to unfold to have you be who you came to be and do what you came to do. And you need to keep breathing to get there.
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
“Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.”
The tendency is to do, and do, and do…and keep doing until done.
Our cultural work ethic values pressing forward and figuring it out, whatever it takes.
There’s a lot to be said for pressing forward, yet especially with an easy touch.
When the chips are down, we often go head down, nose to the grindstone and get so tight that we only breathe in.
We forget that tight means no openings for entry…for new ideas, innovative approaches and, God forbid, playfulness.
Literally, I can see myself having two completely contrary personalities at times. When in a relaxed state of playfulness and connection, I can attract play partners like the biggest magnet on the planet. Yet, when I’m tightly wound, trying to figure out through smarts or strategy the best ways to go, often the flow stops…as well as those wanting to be around me.
Winston Churchill, a man with the fate of the world on his shoulders, painted to open his mental creative faculties for battle.
Thomas Edison, one of the greatest inventors of all time, was an avid fisherman–with no bait because he wanted solitude and inspiration, not fish.
Researchers have discovered that people exhibiting relaxed playfulness appear to be better at coping with stress, can easily see things from new perspectives, and are more likely to report leading active lifestyles.
It’s in those moments where it really counts that our exhibiting such playfulness has its greatest impact. Yet, in those moments, a playful attitude just doesn’t make logical sense.
The gold is in the contrary action.
In our second half, we can become rigid in how we have forced things to happen in the past. As Monty Python says, “and now for something completely different”—becoming playful—can feel different, and yet far better for our long run of doing what we came here to do.
So, the next time the tight wad of forcing an outcome wraps you up, contrary action such as loosening your grip may save the color in your knuckles and even incite some chuckles.
Laughing and relaxing in the face of challenges and tribulations may be the smartest strategy to play.
Here’s a few pointers on how to dig on relaxspiration.
First, you have to get really good at noticing the tightness.
Start feeling your body when you’re doing what seems relaxing and easy and then compare it to times when you’re in the heat of forcing something to happen.
If you’re so tight most of the time that a piece of charcoal could turn to diamond in your presence, it will be hard to for you to see it yourself. Do a tightness survey with your friends. Find out how they’d rate you on a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of diamond mining.
Notice the worldly weight of the moment, when everything seems to hinge on the answer, the path, the route to take absolutely needing to be on the table hours before.
When there’s no time to waste and every slight delay or challenge meets with irritability and a few choice expletives, just ignore the logic…and step away from the critical-importance machine.
It’s really not worth all that tension in your body. Your health and well-being are of much greater long-term importance.
Give it up! Don’t take yes for an answer. The answer at this moment is no: no to working harder, no to figuring it out, no to breaking necks and backs to force a result.
Don’t give up, but do give up the struggle. This isn’t the way to the peaceful, playful and purposeful person you choose to be. Accept that you have the right to take a contrary action for the health and well-being of everyone.
Just laugh all over yourself. Find something to do that breaks the rigid, clenched jaw. Getting into the practice of laughing in the face of your moments of all-importance could be the best habit to bring into a Back Forty of contribution. And a good laugh is always a contribution to everyone.
“Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer.”
-William S. Burroughs
We re-did our first broadcast because the first version has poor sound quality since I was out of the office with low bandwidth. If you’re still intrigued, watch the original version below, you’ll be able to handle the sound quality![youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ui3VtQuh7dk]
“The days blur into one, and the backs of my eyes hum with the things I’ve never done.”
The term “radical” can raise our antennae and suspicions. It carries the energy of dramatic shift, and implies extremes.
Yet, the idea of extremities is only the word’s secondary definition. The primary definition is about going to the root of something, a fundamental shift.
Radical Forgiveness, Radical Happiness, Radical Restarts…all imply a going deeper than the surface norm by getting to the core of the thing itself.
To impact the drift of life often requires a radical wake-up, because it’s just too easy to stick to the norm. You hear of folks who took on whole new ways of living after sudden health scares, near-death experiences, etc.
The question is: do we need to wait for such an external wake-up?
I like the idea of fomenting a crisis proactively, meaning self-inflicting the urgency for shift before the shift hits the fan.
What if you knew (or could make yourself believe) that your body was about to give out next week for lack of care? How would your diet, fitness and sleep program look this week?
Alexandra and I recently looked at the logic-of-the-moment vs the generally-accepted-wisdom around sleep.
In the moment, there simply seems to be no choice but to get less sleep so that “everything can get done.” Yet, there’s the joke itself: everything will NEVER get done! And, allowing that thought pattern to continue – with sleep taking the hit from overzealous engagement – means that bodily rest becomes the red-headed, disregarded stepchild.
The generally accepted wisdom today, touted by many inspirational leaders and health experts, is that 7 hours is the minimum of sleep we need…for a boatload of reasons. So, the facts are in, and it’s just the question of “in the moment” whether we can go against our skewed logic and trust the facts. Who knows how much more alert, acute and astute we may become with solid nights of sleep under our belts?
So, we’ve taken on a commitment to our second half/best half of life including what seems like illogical sleep habits because if, as we say in The Back Forty, “we have yet to do what we came here to do”, we need the healthy bodies required to house the spirits to do that!
There can be many areas in which to foment radical change:
What if you knew (or could make yourself believe) that this job you’ve been hating will definitely end in a month? How would your career change efforts look then?
What if you knew (or could make yourself believe) that something is brewing under the surface with your mate that will have him/her leave soon? How would your efforts to communicate alter immediately?
What if you knew (or could make yourself believe) that your croaking was imminent, definitely within the year? What bucket list items or purpose fulfillment would you take on right now?
Consider this an invitation to look into your own life and foment your own crisis. It’s a real opportunity to put yourself in the driver’s seat of The Back Forty kind of life you want to live.
Here’s a few easy steps you can take to create some radical change in your own life. Start with one thing, and then apply it to others after you’ve had success.
Identify an area you’ve been nattering about, something you say you want to change but it keeps on keeping on just as it is.
Is it your work? Is it a relationship issue (either inside of one or wanting one)? Is it that “thing” you keep saying you’ll do – write the book, devote time to that charity, schedule a vacation, take that course?
Whatever it is, just find the top, most juicy thing you’re very logically convinced can’t happen yet.
Now, of course, I don’t mean to really kill yourself, but in your mind.
Consider that it’s all over now. Whatever you considered so important and critical that you simply couldn’t do that “thing”…all those reasons are now gone.
You exited the planet. Maybe you exited without having done that “thing”. How does that feel?
Maybe you exited the planet BECAUSE you didn’t do that “thing”? How does that feel?
Whoa! You just had a near-death experience! How radical was that?
Did you see light? Did you start through a tunnel? Did you hover over your body a while inside a peaceful state of ease and grace?
Well, whatever your experience, you’re back…back in this body, back in this life, and back with all of the same stuff and challenges and opportunities you left with.
What will you do about that “thing” now?
Consider that it’s time to get radical! Yes, you have all the time in the world…and yet not a moment to waste!
Frank Sinatra sings “The best is yet to come and, babe, won’t it be fine.” Let’s make Frankie right, ok?
“If you want to make any radical change in your life, then either give it a clear date and time or do it today. There is no someday.”