Archives for posts with tag: practical application of The Big 5

Shouldn’t “embracing change” be easier than this? Is “easy” not actually “a thing”? Questions over coffee, on an overcast summer morning. My mind wanders unproductively between sips. The coffee is good, and that’s enough for this moment, right here.

I was sitting barefooted, cross-legged, in a favorite chair (the only comfortable chair in the new living room, presently… more room in the new house, same amount of furniture), on a morning so quiet I imagined I heard my Traveling Partner sigh as he woke, in another room. It’s a quiet house (so quiet!), and it seems unlikely that I actually heard the soft sound of his sigh, over my aquarium and my tinnitus. He approached a moment later, wearing his “just woke up” face. I offer to make coffee, and we share that. It is, generally speaking, a pleasant moment on a summer morning. I pretend, for the purposes of joy and love, that I’m not in the pain I’m in. I make room to be kind, and to listen, and to offer whatever support I can; he’s in pain, too. It’s been 10 days of fairly intense labor, getting moved out of the rented duplex, and into our home. For reasons of pandemic, and limiting exposure, we handled almost all of every bit of it ourselves, instead of hiring movers. I’m not sure I still think that was a great idea. lol

It was 10 days trying to get the internet set up. I wrote in the mornings, anyway. 🙂

“Home”. Damn, that sounds nice. I let the sound of it roll around in my thoughts contentedly for some moments. I find it so important to savor the successes – small, large, and in between. What I am suggesting is really taking time with those successes, enjoy and appreciate them, linger over their memory, and invest more of my cognitive and emotional bandwidth in that enjoyment and awareness, than I do in fussing over what didn’t work, or worked out uncomfortably or with problematic other outcomes. That “negativity bias” can really become an emotional wound, over time, swallowing up all the joy, and all the fun. Having a home of our own is a major milestone in our life together, and for me, in my own life as an individual human being. Huge win. Definitely needful to celebrate that. 🙂

I sip my coffee and look out the window of my new studio/office space here. I see the neighbor’s new fence, two pear trees, branches laden with young fruit hanging over the fence, and the cream-colored wall of their house just beyond. I see a sliver of gray sky. The neighbors – and neighborhood – are very pleasant, and very welcoming. Every new conversation begins in a similar way, with an apologetically, charmingly awkward excuse for not shaking hands or offering a hug; the pandemic is still a thing (very much so) in America.

…I hear my Traveling Partner call to me. As he wakes, his pain is more well-managed (mine, too, it seems very human). I want to hang out… I want to write. It’s been a while. There’s much to say, much to share. I think. Maybe. I mean… you’re here, reading, I should make that worth your while, yes? 😉 Perhaps, for now, this is enough?

Perspective, or view? What matters most? What is “enough”? Where does joy come from?

I sip my coffee. Finish my writing. I begin again.

 

I am sipping my morning coffee, considering the walk I am eager to want to take. I’m “not there yet”. lol My muscles ache from pushing myself, already. I’m not bitching about it, and I’m not unhappy over it. Sore muscles are muscles working a bit harder, doing more things that need done, and becoming more capable of more work. Consistency is a requirement for forward progress; if I skip the walk today over sore muscles, I don’t make as much progress toward my goals, nor as quickly, so… at some point? Walking. I’m not looking forward to the walking itself, although I’d like to. I am in pain. The walking helps the pain in my back and my neck (osteoarthritis), but is less helpful with the bad ankle that has to support the weight. Without walking, the weight remains an issue. With the walking, the ankle is an issue. I’m not saying it as though this is an unsolvable conundrum, either, just saying that these complications are part of my experience. 🙂 There’s a metaphor here…

It’s a journey with a lot of steps.

We become what we practice. Emotionally and physically. There’s not a lot of room to argue on this one. Are you hot tempered, easily frustrated, quick to react, and tending to fall back on negative feedback and criticism to communicate your needs? Well, that’s the person you become, over time, in a fixed and rather predictably unpleasant way. Are you tender-hearted, prone to tears in the face of negative feedback, (whether or not it is accurate or well-intended, or useful at all) particularly when it comes from someone whose opinion you value? Same slope; you become more of who you already are, and what you choose to do with the toxicity of the world around you, because it is what you practice. You may get called a bitch when you demand that your agency be respected, or when you insist on not being interrupted in a meeting, but that lack of boundary-setting? It’s a practice, too.

…Also? Don’t be a dick. Don’t be a bitch. Don’t call someone names, either; how about we start there? Speak gently. Be clear, and also honest. “Stay in your lane” in the sense that not every opinion you have actually needs to be shared (particularly with regard to your aesthetic, and someone else’s appearance). Check your assumptions – a lot of them are wrong (the science is in on that) – and practice deep listening, instead of waiting for your turn to talk.

Does it sound like I’m venting aimlessly, about commonplace bullshit we all seem to engage in, if not regularly, then once in a while? Well… then I’ve failed to communicate clearly. I’ll try again…

Your words matter. Use them with care. If you are communicating with someone you say you love, communicate with love – real love, using words and tone that make it very clear that the love is first and foremost in your mind, rather than some momentary frustration. Our bitterness, our hurt, our anger – once shared, it’s out there. Shared with emotional force, and absent the love that may be part of our experience, it causes real harms, real doubts about our affection, and can undermine that love we cherish so much.

Don’t let the sun set on a treasured relationship without saying something encouraging, supportive, authentically affectionate – the smallest moment of authentic appreciation and praise can change the color of an entire day. I am fairly certain most of us share negative feedback with cherished others almost every day… imagine the crushing weight of all that criticism, all that negativity, the constant pressure to raise oneself up from beneath the weight of it… Let’s not do that. Let’s handle our words with greater care, ensuring that we take more time for what is positive and uplifting that we do for things we see as problems needing correction.

I challenge you to practice even a 1 to 1 ratio of (authentic) compliments and (sincere) encouragement to criticism and requests for change. I hope you find that incredibly easy (and succeed) – because people need more love and encouragement than that, and as starting points go, it’s a bare minimum for success. I promise you that if you are only sharing negative feedback, that’s all that is being heard. That sounds like a pretty terrible experience to be on the receiving end of, just saying. Use your words as a force for good in your life, use them to lift others up, to encourage what is positive in everyone you meet.

A lot of people may grow up in environments in which very little positive feedback is shared, or the positive words are hollow superlatives about qualities they can’t control, and no attention given to the whole person. People coming from that place may not know how to give authentic positive feedback, and may genuinely not understand why it is necessary. They need to see it done, to feel it, before it will be something they can easily practice themselves. Is that someone part of your life? Be open to explicitly telling them what you need to hear – without excuses, or a need to justify yourself. It’s okay to need what you need, and it’s also quite okay to ask for it. 🙂 “I need you to say something nice to me right now.” may feel weird to say, but it is one place to start. 🙂

We’re all so human. There’s so much stress and hostility in the world right now. Our culture feels so toxic. Be someone who understands there is work to be done, and recognize you can do some of it. Be someone willing to do it. Be the change we need. Speak gently. Be encouraging and kind. Soften your tone. Be trustworthy. Be honest without being mean. Let small shit go. Don’t drink the poison offered to you. Don’t offer others poison.

Don’t like the world as it is? Be part of what changes it. We become what we practice. Practice being the person you truly most want to be. Every choice, every interaction, every day. Sometimes you will fail (I know I do); your results will vary. Practice more. 🙂 Be that better version of yourself, because you choose it, and it matters. Other people may not make these choices – don’t drink the poison they offer you, and walk your own path. 😉

It’s time to begin again.

A morning with some challenges. I sip my coffee, finding my center through music. Love Rollercoaster feels appropriate. I take another sip of coffee, clean up my subscriptions in YouTube… astonished that I ever subscribed to that. What was I thinking? For real? Life and love, as journeys go, aren’t a smooth, well-lit, comfortably paved, straight broad path from this moment to the next. Like a lot of journeys, sometimes it’s gravel, sometimes it’s grassy, sometimes it’s a steep climb, other times it is so effortless is passes nearly unnoticed, caught up in my own unrelated thinking about it in the abstract. Like a rollercoaster? Sure, near enough, I suppose.

I’m not cross or unhappy this morning, and eventually I settled into a comfortable groove, feeling good. This Love Rollercoaster has many twists and curves, and I’ve learned much about love. The morning just got off to a bumpy start. It happens, and it’s not always about love. 🙂 There are other things going on. Let’s start with aging – and pain. Aging sucks in one or two regards – pain being one of those. I’ve got mine, my Traveling Partner has his. I woke this morning, with him, we each had our reasons for wakefulness to do with physical pain. Feelings were briefly hurt over unintentionally harsh words, because… pain. We both let it go, quickly, because neither of us wants to add to the other’s hurting, and we both mean to treat each other well. Affectionate reassurances, and loving heartfelt apologies, and the moment is behind us.

I had made coffee for us both, but we weren’t really up for coffee together; the morning started too early, and with too much discomfort. I sat down in my studio to chill with some music videos. I’d have gone back to bed, but had awakened feeling “triggered” and on edge by my own pain, and sleep wasn’t going to come easily (or, possibly, at all) – and I was near enough to “well-rested” to let that go, I just needed to restore that sense of balance, and begin again. 🙂 Eventually, my partner pops in to admit that he’s not really ready for coffee, after all, and shares his intention of attempting to go back to bed. Makes sense to me. I would, if I could. 🙂 He offers me his coffee, apologetically, appreciatively, and lovingly. I’m warmed by the gesture every bit as much as I would be by the coffee… sometime later, after I finished mine, I go get his – still warm. I smile, pleased to have a second cup of coffee without running the grinder and potentially disturbing my partner’s rest; I know he needs the rest.

I sit in the warmth of what an amazing weekend this has been for love and loving, without trying to analyze it – just enjoying it.

I think about our lovely evening the night before – dinner out with friends, hanging out at our place, afterward. It was nice. My smile deepens. Brunch with a friend at noontime – also quite delightful. Good weekend. I sip my coffee feeling content and satisfied. Fulfilled? Definitely. Happy? I think maybe, yeah. Feels good.

The difficult moments this morning weren’t personal, weren’t any sort of attack, really weren’t a big deal – just difficult, and actually, very very momentary. I can deal with that. I can also remember a time when a moment like that one this morning would not only have blown my day – it would have blotted out my recollections of this delightful weekend of love, affection, romance, and shared experiences with friends. I’d have drowned my heart in emotional “weather” – unable to enjoy the lovely “climate” in this period of my life, generally. I’m glad I have undertaken so many small practices that prevent me from becoming mired in a painful moment and unable to connect with a joyful life.

Quite a lot has gone into getting from “there” to “here”. 🙂

I sit quietly sipping my coffee, appreciative of how far my journey has taken me, how wonderful love is, and how pleasant it is to be so easily able to let go of the small stuff, and bounce back quickly. Basic mindfulness practices. Real actual practice. Verbs. Incremental change over time. Lots of books (have you seen my Reading List??). Lots of practice. My results have varied, and I’ve avoided taking that as a personal failure, beginning again thousands of times. What works, works; we become what we practice. 😀

…Well… It’s a lovely Sunday. Time to finish this coffee, and start the day. 😀