This is one of my favorite quotes from the remarkable Maya Angelou. She expressed so many ideas and notions of the heart with such raw eloquence and clarity. As one who has struggled with clouded filters in my life, this resonates deeply.
Live in authenticity—not to satisfy the expectations of others, nor the perceived expectations of anyone else. It also means resisting the impulse to change, cajole, alter—or otherwise attempt to “fix” another. Peacefully release and allow . . . others to walk their own divine paths. Easier said than done, right? Instead, you may simply choose a different reality. Fighting or feeling dismayed gives the recipient of that energy power. Taking a different path alleviates so much stress and pain.
It is such an essential lesson for productivity, sanity and happiness. And at the core of this awareness is mindfulness. Marsha Linehan, a noted American psychologist and author, created Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) around this philosophy. It’s a powerful form of psychotherapy that actually combines behavioral science and brain theory with Buddhism tenets—acceptance, meditation and mindfulness.
In the spirit of our dear Dr. Angelou, who touched so many, we can all seek this state of inner peace and mindfulness—to communicate in truth—internally and externally. To believe in the veracity of what is. But we cannot if we are not clear— about who we are and how we feel. This, indeed, is the journey. In lieu of a mindfulness retreat or a series of therapy sessions with Dr. Linehan, here are a few ways to get a dose of this mindfulness practice:
- Focus on one thing at a time
Try giving up multitasking occasionally. It exacerbates stress and states of confusion. Handle one thing and one thing only—mindfully in the moment. Step away from the phone.
- Do what works
You do not always have to be right— make a statement, issue and edict, or win the war. Don’t cut off your nose despite your face. Think twice before you send that blazing email copying the president.
- Set achievable goals
Set aside the BHAGS for a while (the big, hairy, audacious goals – as a former boss used to call them). Focus on the attainable ones. Give yourself some wins!
- Nurture friends, connections, and support
Build a network. Connections are so important. They give you strength and a soft place to land when you run out of steam and your resources dwindle. YOU don’t have to be everything to everyone.
Keep moving. Reduce your physical vulnerability. You know about this one already.
- Be grateful
Find something to be grateful for every day. It multiplies (even at work).
There are more, but this is a great place to start. Until we understand exactly who we are and how we process stimuli, many of our reactions will be wildcards. This takes work, because so much of our communication is conducted on autopilot—hardwired and subconscious. There are no easy answers, but if we are mindful of our issues, we can begin asking better questions . . . What do you think?