We had one of our leaders come and talk to us at a work meeting. He was talking about expense pressure and how it is a given. He made a comment that stood out to me – ‘You do not walk around thinking about Gravity, do you?’
His point was expense pressures will always be there – so why spend unnecessary energy thinking about its existence and griping about it? He makes an excellent point. But to treat expense pressures (or any other habit) like gravity requires work.
His comment is not valid only for expense pressure but for any habit that we are trying to build. Think about the process of building a practice. Let’s tackle an easy one – brushing your teeth every day. Do you think about it every day? The chances are that you don’t go around thinking about brushing your teeth. You just wake up and do it. Now, think about avoiding sugar or processed foods. It is highly likely that you think about food a lot when you are trying to build a good eating habit. The goal is to get to a point with food where you treat it just like gravity – it exists.
To get there with habits takes time and courage. First, the desire in you has to be resolute that you do not give up despite challenges, obstacles. Let’s continue with the food habit. It is highly likely that you switch back to the old eating habits in a couple of days or a week and then it takes you days to get back on the ‘good eating’ bandwagon. The desire to have a good eating habit needs to be strong for you to keep trying. And it takes courage to get up after you have fallen umpteen times. The one thing that very few people talk about which you need the most is Self-Compassion. It is tough to change habits because they are ingrained in our minds as neural pathways. And to accomplish this daunting task, we need to have a love for us as we fail.
When we are babies and learn how to walk – we are not caught in the human predicament yet. Hence as babies, we pick ourselves up with very little mind-chatter and keep at it until we start walking. But as we grow up, we become more human; our mind chatter takes over. As a result, we give ourselves a hard time when we fail at anything. And this is where self-compassion is the solution. Be kind to yourself like you would towards a friend until the habit you are trying to build becomes like gravity.
Once the gravitational pull exists, then it does all the work for you – you just have to build enough energy to gather the strength that sucks you into the habit.
Kindness and desire – are the two keywords to build a habitational pull that sustains all the good habits for you.
How will you work on building your habitational pull?
I just finished reading the Inspector Gamache Series by Louise Penny. It is a series of murder mysteries set in the fictional village of Three Pines in Quebec. It is an excellent read if you read fiction books. Louise Penny does such a great job of describing the characters that you feel like you can just go to the bistro in the village and have a hot chocolate with them. The role that I fell in love with is Inspector Gamache himself. And what I like about him is that when people see him they see the kindness in his brown eyes. What kind of a person he has to be for kindness to reflect in his eyes?
He is an explorer not of places but human emotions.He goes in the inner crevices of the human being to find out what spark happened in their life which led to this murder. For somebody to go and explore that is a brave act. Because for me I am afraid to go into the dark corners in other people as I avoid it in myself – I guess. I believe that this ability has something to do with kindness.
For example, if you can spend a day as a beggar then you will have an understanding of the homeless, and it might change the way you see them, you think about them. But what it entails is that you can spend a day as a beggar – feel how they do, live in dirt and grime, eat leftovers. It is hard – you need empathy, the ability to put yourself in somebody else’s shoes and still retain the skill to be detached. Not easy – not for me yet.
Another trait of Gamache that I admire is his ability to listen. He listens and is not afraid of uncomfortable silence. He knows that it is only after the lull that storm arrives and you have to sit patiently through the hiatus readying yourself for the storm. I tend to fill the silence with unnecessary chatter because my listening muscle is weak.
What has empathy and listening got to do with kindness? Like everything in life kindness is a choice. And the decision becomes more comfortable if we have understood what the other person is going through or have sat through the silence which deepens the human bonds.
Why is it hard to do? We believe that we are the star around which sun revolves. We are the hero of the movie called life, and everybody else is the star-struck audience. It is hard for me who lives in a me-Centered world to step out of that role and watch somebody else be the hero in the movie. But the beauty of life and the secret of success is in living in the Other-Centered Universe. We can only flourish when we let other shine their light.
Next time you have the urge to show off your brilliance – hold it, nobody cares. For them they are brilliant and as in one of my previous quotes – people will forget what you said, what you did but remember how you made them feel.