You Need A Practice

It took me a long time to realize how very little of life is in our control. We go through life feeling like we are in control—until we aren’t. Something happens that shakes us. A broken arm or health issue that shows us we are not invincible. A random circumstance that knocks the wind out of us. A realization that changes how we think about the world. These are turning points that can either keep us scared or lift us to a new level of understanding.

At its fundamental level, control means having power or influence over something. With just one hand, I could count how many things I have controller over:

  1. My thoughts.
  2. My actions and reactions.
  3. What I prioritize, focus on and/or value.
  4. Where I spend my time (and other resources).

In a way, what’s in our control are all related to one another. Thoughts lead to actions, and actions show what we prioritize our time on. These give us a credible amount of agency over our lives, but at the same time we are are in the midst of things outside of our control—an island in the middle of an untamable sea. But chaos doesn’t mean we are powerless. By focusing and honing what we do control, we can handle any life circumstances that come our way.

One great way to channel what’s in our control is to start a practice. Having a practice grounds you when everything else is up in the air.

Having a practice grounds you when everything else is up in the air.

What practice(s) you do is up to you. It could be something creative, like writing, dance, pottery, painting, drawing, making youtube videos, calligraphy, guitar, etc. It could be something nourishing, like yoga, mediation, cooking, running, swimming, etc.

What matters is making it intentional. And, ideally, it’s something you put into practice daily. But I’m not yo mama. I’m not going to tell you how you should live your life. We each have our own choice here. We could go about life rocking with the ship and whatever wave hits us. Or we could learn how to sail.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #876

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Related:

Having A Practice – Steven Pressfield

Coronavirus Resources

“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”

Marcus Aurelius

I’m not the type of person that gets caught up in fearing things that are outside of my control. Perhaps that comes from the chronic neck issue I’ve been renting a room with the past 8 years. There’s not a lot of things that phases me, and it takes a mountain of effort to get under my skin.

That being said, a global virus we are currently dealing with isn’t about me. It’s about all of us. I likely won’t be harmed by it if I get it. But that’s potentially not true for the elderly or less healthy individuals. A lot of people will try to capitalize on the crisis. A lot will panic buy lots of toilet paper. A lot of people will be misinformed, but you don’t have to be.

It’s hard to know what’s real and what’s hype out there. Here’s a great list of resources from top-notch doctors and experienced experts to help you navigate the truth from hype, and stay in control in a world where very little is in our control:

Peter Attia:

#97 – Peter Hotez, M.D., Ph.D.: COVID-19: transmissibility, vaccines, risk reduction, and treatment – Peter Attia

#98 – Peter Attia, M.D. and Paul Grewal, M.D.: Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQ – Peter Attia

Dr. Weil:

COVID-19: What You Should Know About Coronavirus | Andrew Weil, M.D.

Dr. Andrew Weil – Coronavirus (COVID-19) prevention tactics…

Tim Ferriss:

Tyler Cowen on Rationality, COVID-19, Talismans, and Life on the Margins (#413) – The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss

Jack Kornfield — How to Find Peace Amidst COVID-19, How to Cultivate Calm in Chaos (#414) – The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss


STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #870

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Focus on What You Can Control

“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

Steve Jobs

There’s a lot of things in life that are out of our control. I can dance all day, but my actions are not not going to make it rain today. But there are a lot of things that are in our control too. It’s when we dwell on things out of our control and ignore / dismiss things in our control, where we can cause the most unhappiness and friction in our lives.

Things in our control are easier to dismiss because they usually come in small and non-obvious packages.

Off the top of my head, here’s seven things we are in control of:

  1. How we think.
  2. How we act and react.
  3. What / who we surround ourselves with.
  4. What we prioritize in our lives.
  5. Our breath.
  6. What we say no to.
  7. Where we live.

How we think

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.”

Buddha

What does negativity do for us? Not a whole lot except make us miserable. Just like anything else, complaining, negativity, worry and fear are habits. Everything we do is leading us…. somewhere. The question is, where are our thoughts taking us? How we think is subtle yet pervasive. We never go a day without thinking, we’re always surrounded by our thoughts (internally and externally). But if we are constantly self-criticizing ourselves and telling ourselves we hate who we are, how is that effecting our lives? Does our daily self-criticism making us less confident and capable? I would argue yes. It’s a cliché phrase, but change your thoughts and you can change your life. Every negative thought has an optimistic counterpart. The goal is to train ourselves to think optimistically and see the possibilities of the life we’ve given (and driven), so that we can build a meaningful life instead of a negative one.

How we act and react.

“Action is the foundational key to all success.”

Pablo Picasso

Our actions are more potent than we think. When faced with fear, doubt and uncertainty, most people don’t make a move (or act with inaction). But we can be different. While everyone is standing idly by, we are out there trying and giving it our all. There might be a chance we will fail, but there’s 100% chance we’ll fail if we do nothing.

What / who we surround ourselves with.

“Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.”

Oprah Winfrey

Our input equals our output. If we have a sucky relationship, harmful / untrustworthy friends, or surround ourselves with media and entertainment that isn’t making us better, then of course we’ll feel stuck and out of control. Ask yourself, “what has influence over my life?”

What we prioritize in our lives.

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”

Stephen Covey

What’s the first thing you do every morning? How often are you working on your creative passions that make you feel ALIVE? Our time may be finite, our schedules may be full, but we have to power to prioritize what we love over everything else that distracts us from that. The goal is to get our daily lives to match our priorities. Is your side passion your priority? Then why are you spending all of your time drinking? Is your family your priority? Then why are you working 24/7.

Our breath.

“Stay calm and aggressive.”

Gabrielle Reece

Breathing is free. To quote Wim Hof, “breathe motherf🙈cker!”. It only takes a handful of of deep breaths to calm yourself and switch from a sympathetic state to a parasympathetic state.(1) Staying calm and focused on what’s in front of us can have massive impact on our lives!

What we say no to.

“All the mistakes I ever made were when I wanted to say ‘No’ and said ‘Yes’.”

Moss Hart

There’s a lot of circumstances, setbacks and responsibilities we have to say yes to. Your’s might be completely different from mine, but they’re still each of ours to bare. But that doesn’t mean we are helpless. We still have the power to say no. Our circumstances might limit us, our responsibilities might narrow our current capabilities, but we can still can say no to anything that doesn’t enable us to be better versions of ourselves. We can say no to a lot of things, really. We can say no to anything that doesn’t align with our goals and values. We can say no to non priorities. We can say no to people that don’t support us, or people who are actively holding us back. We can say no to unhealthy habits. What we say no to is just as important, if not more so, than what we say yes to.

Where we live.

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

Walt Disney

I’ve only been to a handful of places in my life (so far), but each place I visit has a distinct voice and prioritizes specific values. If you don’t like where you are, travel. Find a place that matches your values and the values you want to grow in. Work and creative expression drives New York. Technology and innovation drives San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Different speeds for different needs. Do you need to move to SF to start a tech company? No. Not with the internet. There are plenty of needs and ideas where you are. But if you are looking to grow in particular areas, then surrounding yourself (either where you are or somewhere else) with people that can make you better is key.

But recognize that liking where you are and liking yourself is two different things. It’s easy to get lost in the romance and newness of travel and moving, while at the same time, you’re still bring yourself and all your problems with you.

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Even one change in one of these seven (or other things in our control) can have a massive impact in all areas of our lives (directly and indirectly). When you find yourself at a place where you are cultivating none of these things, start with one. Pick the one that stands out or is the easiest for you to do. If you’re doing one, try changing another. If you’re working on them all, keep doing it. The variable that makes these (and everything really) more complex is time — our life isn’t static. Change is continuously happening. Imagine what cultivating all seven of these over five, ten, twenty years could do for us.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #689


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Change Starts With You

Change is a decision.

It’s something we decide to do.

Most of the time, we are doing this without thinking,
which can be good or bad depending on our instincts.

Ultimately,

Changing your life starts with you+

Catalysts can open us to to change, but we have to initiate it.
New opportunities, new possibilities..

Outside events will affect our lives, and change can seem scary because it feel’s like we don’t have control over them..
But we’re the ones who get to decide how we react to them.

We can’t control the event,

but we can control our response.

If you feel stuck, dissatisfied, or want to change something — then make the decision to do something about it today.

The first step to change (and therefore growth) is implicitly deciding to do so.

You’ve got this.

#KeepPursuing — Josh Waggoner

‘Brevity is the soul of wit.’  Email me (josh@renaissancemanlife.com) your thoughts on this post. Can you reduce the essential idea further?

related

“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” — Marcus Aurelius