The Power of Persistence

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Who, Me?

Here’s a question. Can you name your worst enemy? Even though a few names may cross your mind, I suggest it’s you.

How many of the 60,000 thoughts you’ll have today will be negative? I’m guessing a high percentage…and I’m not a pessimist. I simply know that our minds have a negative bias.

It’s a survival mechanism. Animals know this. It’s a matter of eat or be eaten.

I won’t go into the physiology of fear, but it plays a hefty role in not only your decision making, but your confidence level, and what you’re willing to try.

Failure…Yuck!

If you’ve ever failed at something, and who hasn’t, you might avoid this failed activity forever. Gone…trashed. Off your bucket list…kicked to the curb. But look at it this way… what made you try it in the first place, especially given the fact there are no guarantees?

I’m guessing it’s probably because it was something you wanted to do or achieve, something that interested you, something you were excited about, something you thought would be fun. Now, it’s like a deflated balloon. You’ve left this dream in shreds and shards.

What Next?

So, what to do next, and how many times to try …10,000?

No, that was Edison, and it paid off pretty well for him. But who, today, is that tenacious?

I’ll bet you’d make less than five attempts before you’d throw in the towel. That sounds like something I’d do.

It’s so easy to get discouraged. One failure, or one “No” to your request can feel like the straw that broke the camel’s back. After all, you still have those humiliating memories of that important test you studied for but failed, or the business plan that didn’t pan out. I wouldn’t blame you for quitting.

Keep the Faith!

But if you’re motivated enough to keep the faith, and throw in a dose of tenacity, your chances of not only success, but happiness multiply. The problem with most of us is we’re perfectionists. We can’t be happy unless we do it perfectly…anything less is seen as failure, and it’s shoved off the bucket list. If someone tells us we can’t, we make them the expert on our lives, and quit.

Many years ago, I played the banjo at an assisted living center. I was nervous about playing until one of the women in the room shouted out, “I don’t want to hear it!”. At that moment my fear morphed into irritation, as I remember thinking, “Well, you’re going to hear it!” I didn’t play it perfectly, but somehow that lady showed me, in a way, how silly it was to care so much about what other people think.

A Lightbulb Moment

After years of not playing, I rediscovered my love for bluegrass. I think Ken Burns’ documentary on country music had something to do with it.

I’d forgotten almost everything I knew and was, again, a total novice.

My goal is to practice every day for at least 5 minutes. I have no excuse not to. And some days I do, and some days I don’t. But the important thing is I haven’t given up.

I’ve learned that loving what you do is more important than how good you are. Bottom line, the more I practice, the better I’ll be.

I’ll never be Flatt and Scruggs but you know what, I’ll be happy, and to me, that’s what counts.

 

Tyranny of the “To-Do” List

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What’s To Love?

There’s a lot to love about my to-do list. It gets me going. It gives me structure. It makes me feel like I belong in the world…after all, I have things to do. I must count. And it keeps me from lying aimlessly on the couch, counting the beads on my popcorn ceiling.

Yes, I know popcorn ceilings are out of style. I’ll put popcorn removal on my to-do list.

I don’t remember when I started answering to this paper dictator. Maybe yours is a digital dictator. At some point, though, it seemed like a good idea.

The Down Side

It must have been in college, when I had more assignments than time. Then it carried over into my real life. The problem is, I’ve started carrying it around the house with me, and never remember where I put it.

Now I need a “Find-My-To Do-List” app. Yet, walking around my house from room to room does add more steps on my Apple Watch. That’s an upside.

The downside is my overly ambitious list making. Why did I think I could accomplish seven  important tasks in one day? As I get into bed, I see the items with no check by their name. In the wide world of sports, this is called the agony of defeat.

Rename the List?

Maybe I should change the name of the list from “To Do” List to “We’ll See” List. Yes, “We’ll See”. That’s a phrase your parents used to use, and it always meant either “No,”  or “Ask me next week and I hope you forget”.

A “We’ll See” list almost seems like a “Get Out of Jail” card. I like it.

But some of those things on my lists are actually “Do this or else” items. Leave these undone and bad stuff can happen. After all, people count on me. My cat counts on me.

Have you ever said, “We’ll see,” to a hungry cat? You don’t have to answer that. That’s why they call it a “To Do” list. It’s stuff you have to do.

Bottom line, I’m grateful for my “To Do” List. My cat is happy and it keeps me off the couch.

 

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Shower Meditation, Anyone?

shower1867380_1280In meditation, not everyone likes the protocol of focusing on an object, a word, or their breath. As they say, “different strokes for different folks”.

I’m no pro at meditation, but I’ve had some powerful experiences while focusing on my breath, or even the word, “one”. I’m not bragging. My ability to focus is limited. I often feel I’m a secret member of “Short Attention Span Theatre”.

Yet, despite this deficit, while I was writing my Meditation Books, I got ideas for each day’s message while meditating. You can’t argue with success.

It’s Too Hard!

But I totally understand it when people say, “I can’t meditate. It’s too hard to keep my mind still.”

Yes, and that’s the whole point. Meditation is a mental practice to still your mind. It’s a mental gym.

The Shower Power Method

For those of you who prefer less tedious methods, but still curious about meditation, I present the “Shower Meditation” option. It requires your attention, but also offers the benefit of negative ions as a bonus. In fact, exposure to water generated negative ions boosts your natural killer cells.

Negative ions not only clear the air of allergens, but reduce stress. The negative ions coming off the motion of the water can also be found at the beach or Niagara Falls, but I’m guessing your bathroom may be a closer option. So, think of your shower as a health spa…perfect place to meditate

Why I Started

I started recommending this to people after an extremely non-meditative experience. While showering, I couldn’t remember if I had washed my hair. Since I don’t have the kind of thick, lustrous hair that can go a week without washing, I had to decide whether to wash, or perhaps, re-wash my hair or forsake all vanity. My mind was somewhere in the stratosphere, but definitely not in the shower.

The Negative Thoughts Think Tank

I realized that my shower had morphed into a negative think tank. Every morning, I methodically rehearsed my day, imagining everything that could possibly go wrong. Sometimes I’d even get angry while visualizing these depressing scenes. No wonder I couldn’t remember whether I’d washed my hair. I wasn’t there. I was at work!

So, to meditate in the shower means to pay attention to what you’re doing. Notice that you’re washing your hair. Pay attention to the feeling of the warmth of the water on your skin. Enjoy the sensations. You won’t have to wash your hair twice. You’ll save water. You’ll feel less demented.

And best of all, when you step out of the shower, you’ve already done your morning meditation.

Go to the head of the class.