I'm Paying Attention

I picked up the phone yesterday to schedule a meeting with my beloved coach who I haven’t seen in a long minute. The first thing he says:

“You sound really good.”

There’s a handful of people I really trust when they say things like that. People I believe can sense my energy over the phone. He’s one of them. With a laugh and a dramatic sigh of relief, I said:

“Yeah! I’m paying attention.

Paying attention? I’m paying attention. I never heard myself put it that way. I liked the way it sounded.

“Yes,” he echoed. “You sound really focused.”

That felt really good to hear. And it got me thinking. What does that mean - that I’m paying attention? I’m circling around three things:

  1. Mental Clarity. Since giving up things like excessive alcohol, I’ve had a lot more space to think about how I’m feeling and what I really want to be doing moment-to-moment. It’s not all roses - sometimes I’m pulling at the weeds. But it’s more fun to explore the nuances of my own emotional spectrum when I’m asking the right questions. For example…

    Is this love or is it infatuation?

    Is this hunger or is it boredom?

    Is this anger or is it ego?

  2. Physical Awareness. With more mental real estate to play with, I’m making more informed decisions about where to put my body. How to move. What to eat. When to wake up or go to sleep. It’s an ongoing experiment in consistency and it gets messy sometimes. But just like the real scientific method, the more I repeat a routine, the more I learn. And adjustments are always available to make.

  3. Spiritual Grounded-ness. Gentle, gentle, gentle — that’s the unspoken mantra I’ve been whispering to myself throughout my transformation these last few months.

    When I’m feeling really hyped about completing a task and I want to go even harder I have to remind myself, is this a pace I can sustain?

    When I want to beat myself up about the way I’ve acted in a relationship I have to ask myself, is that guilt really helping you out right now?

    I’ve had to sacrifice a few short-term pleasures for my long-term goals and I’m learning to be ok with letting those go.

This mindset is not an on/off switch for me. It’s a fluid practice I commit to and learn from everyday.

What does it mean for you to pay attention?

Talent vs. Commitment

When caught in comparison, it’s easy for me to start counting the awards and appearances of others - stewing comfortably in a salt bath of insecurity.

I’m talented! I’ve got talent!

I want that. I could do that. I deserve that, too….right?

That’s the voice of my ego (occasionally reinforced by partners, family, friends, fans).

Behind that voice, I’ve started listening to another one. The voice of commitment.

How much do I want it?

What am I willing to risk?

How long am I willing to wait? and

Can I be happy with where I’m at right now?

These are the questions that help me put things in perspective.

Talent is only one element of the equation. Why not consider the other variables, preferably the ones already in your control?

The Art of Letting Life Be Good

“How’s everything going with you?”

Without hesitation I began,

Life is good, but still…”

“I mean, I really do like my life right now but…”

I paused, searching for something to gripe about…because that’s what I always do. How unnecessary, though? Truly, life was good. My rent was paid, my health was great…I had the privilege of making up problems on a Thursday afternoon over an iced coffee. So why did I feel the need to temper my good vibes with a soggy “but”?

I was reminded of three things:

  1. Similar to my sense of self-deprecating humor and sarcasm, I use light-hearted negativity to cut myself down before someone else or something else does.

  2. Many times I feel guilty for enjoying parts of my life to the fullest because I haven’t worked or don’t feel like I’m working “hard enough.”

  3. I’m simply accustomed to feeling a way about certain things. The stories I tell myself about always being behind or always making mistakes are stories that I know like the back of my hand. As twisted as it sounds, they make me feel assured, correct, and comfortable. Plus, I’ve invested so much time and energy into these stories that they’ve become a part of my self-image. It makes sense that I’d want to inject them into any conversation that makes a departure from that familiar “life sucks” narrative.

But in the long run, none of this stuff is useful.

So now I’ve made it a point to recognize that I can enjoy my life when I’m feeling it and express gratitude without any other negative statements to balance the scales. After all, the better I feel about right now, the more open I am to receiving good things in the future.

“Life is good. Period.”

That’s not the way I usually end a sentence, but I’m getting used to it.