“Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished. The person you are right now is as transient, as fleeting and as temporary as all the people you’ve ever been. The one constant in our life is change.”
These are the words with which psychologist Dan Gilbert closes his 7 minutes TED talk “The psychology of your future self“.
In his research, Gilbert asked people “how much your life has changed for them in the last ten years?” and then, to people ten years younger, “how much do you think your life will change in the next ten year?“
He discovered that people vastly underestimated how much change they would experience over the next ten years. He calls this the “end of history illusion”. The idea that we are where we need to be so there won’t be so many changes in the future.
Ten years ago, I would never expect to go through so many changes. Yet, here I am. And I honestly struggle to imagine how the next ten years can bring as much change in my life as the past ten.
But you know what?
I love surprises!
For the last seven days, I focused mostly on one single daily practice.
I kept doing all my regular practices, but I took particular care of this one.
It was a simple recentering practice to help me stay in the flow during the day. And to make it more deliberate, I had a checkpoint with an accountability buddy every evening.
I thought my practice was all about focus, peace of mind and awareness of my emotions. And it is, but I was missing an essential part.
The quality of my attention starts with my body.
When my physical energy is low, I can’t focus. No matter how hard I try, or the mental strategies that I activate, the quality of my attention stays low.
Most of my work is based on my mental and emotional faculties, so I often overlooked my physical energy.
Yet, it is just fundamental.
My brain is quite good at understanding things. In particular myself and my own behaviours. My mind can dissect the things I’ve said or done, find triggers and patterns, discover what I should change and how I can do things differently. It can also tell me compelling and reasonable stories.
My mind can do all of this. In hindsight.
However, when it really counts, my emotions and my instinct are way faster and louder than my mind.
Do you know that feeling? When you know what would be the right thing to say or do, but you talk and act differently?
To know or understand something in one thing. To live it or be it, is a whole different story.
What I’ve understood is that it’s all about practice. Using the mind to design and plan the exercises I need to become who I want to be.
And then going for it.
Day after day.
Until I’ll get to the point when my thoughts, emotions and instincts are in sync.
It takes time and a lot of failures.
But little by little, I’m getting closer.
“The problem in defence is how far you can go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower
I read this quote from Eisenhower a few days ago, and since then, I haven’t been able to take it out of my mind. I sense these words are saying me something valuable even I’m not sure what, yet.
So, I decided to set an appointment with my creative self and see if together, we can crack the message.
Thinking about the time we are living, with the lockdown, the distancing, the masks and all the rest, the message can be quite straightforward. How long can we stay locked in our own houses or in ourselves – that is what social distancing is all about, isn’t it? – without losing our balance or even our sanity. In short, without destroying ourselves from within.
But I feel there is something more about that quote. Something personal and intimate. Something about my mindset and my attitude towards this whole situation. From the very beginning, I thought it was vital for me to protect my mental and emotional space from all the toxic news and conversations around me. The fearful, divisive, judgemental and blaming ones. I made a commitment to stay away from media as much as I could, to avoid conversations that I felt were not forward-oriented. However, in doing so, I realised that some negative feelings and thoughts have been growing in me. Resentment, arrogance, annoyance, anger. I became judgemental. The very thing I was trying to keep outside my defence has been growing within. So, maybe instead of defending my space from external forces, I should focus on nurturing my inner strength so I won’t have to build any wall.
I was fully immersed in a conversation with Vanessa when this word hit me. I didn’t know why, but I felt I had to stop for a second and jot it down. I couldn’t let it go until I knew it was safe somewhere.
I don’t know where you are right now.
Someone is home.
Someone is stuck somewhere dreaming about home.
Some are in a house they don’t feel home.
All of a sudden, my body has been confined in one place.
But what about my mind, heart and soul? Where are they?
Are they home too, or are they still trying to hold to somewhere else?
I had this image of a halo effect, like the tail of a comet. My body abruptly dragged home while the rest of me was still clinging to the many places and people of my life.
There are parts of me that are missing right now.
Dreams, ambitions, projects, connections.
They were all out there when my body was forced within here.
Yeah, this thing took something from me.
Though, the connection is still there.
Like an elastic band, pulling them back home.
And the more they come home, the more I feel whole and in peace.
It is a process.
A sort of homecoming.