Being like gravity

Gravity is massively underrated.

We take it for granted, as we well should. It doesn’t give us any reason not to. We don’t encounter situations where it varies from our expectation.

Gravity’s consistency makes life easier because we build it into our model of life. We don’t have to worry “Will gravity be working today when I to head into town?”

It’s defined by its consistency. It’s always on.

When we do our work, when we live our lives, we can choose, to be more like gravity.

This doesn’t mean that we become unchanging robots – but that we understand the power of consistency. It’s knowing that the “always on” aspects of ourselves define us.

It’s our consistent action, traits and behaviours which make us who we are.

No one remembers occasional brilliance when it’s wrapped in the behaviour of a consistent arsehole.

Understanding that we’re defined by our most consistent qualities can be a powerful focussing force. Like gravity, it can help to keep our feet on the ground.

Say want you want

We are empathetic animals, but much of our evolutionary programming is self centred.

We spend so much our of time with our head up our own arses that we often don’t intuit even the basics about the wants and needs of the people around us.

Relax, I’m not having a go at you, it’s just how we’re built.

Conversely, we can’t expect everyone else to undestand our wants and needs because they’re focussed on themselves.

This means that we must be direct and clear when communicating what we want with other people if we want to achieve our goals.

This way, they won’t have to spend their time and effort trying to guess what we want. It will then allow them to better able to make decisions about whether and how they can help us.

It doesn’t always feel natural to be this direct, but getting better at it will pay dividends in the long term.

Despite our networks and social connection, being a human can still be an isolating experience. Clear communication about what we want is a positive step towards establishing true connection with those around us.

Of course the best way to establish connection given the above is to be generous and take the time to understand those around us without thought for our own reward or gain.

As usual, the best outcome costs a little more that our time and attention, yet sometimes we need a little nudge to even remember that it’s on the table as an option.

Anger: Great warning system, lousy fuel

Anger gets a bad rap these days.

We’re told that we can’t be angry, that it doesn’t have a place in a peaceful, productive life.

But anger is as much a part of the human experience as breathing, sleeping or salted popcorn and denying it misses the whole point of its utility. It’s only when we use anger for the wrong purpose that it becomes problematic.

It’s like a sharp kitchen knife – great for cutting vegetables, but unhelpful for other household chores, like bathing children.

Anger is an amazing warning system. It tells us when something we care about is under threat. When used in this way, it allows us to take faster action to protect what’s important to us.

And since it’s not just physical items or people which make us angry – we can also use anger as a tool to understand what we’re sensitive about. We see this when we become angry at something surprising – and we become aware how attached we’ve become to something, only when we experience the prospect of losing it.

Making full use of anger involves recognising and acknowledging it, but then letting it go before taking any action. And letting it go is the key step.

We quickly get into hot water when we act without first letting go of our anger, as it becomes the fuel for our action.

When anger compel us, it limits our options. Possibilities which are open when we’re calm are off the table when anger is the fuel we’re burning.

Anger makes us more likely to deal with a situation, but strips us of the tools we need to make it a success.

The trick, is to spot as soon as it arrives, and then let it go before we do or say anything we’ll regret later. When we let anger fuel our actions, we’re essentially stomping around the house, waving a sharp knife and wondering why things aren’t going so well.

Learn to spot change

The only constant, is change.

Feelings, situations and people all evolve as we respond to the fluid and shifting circumstances around us.

We change as we learn, as we grow, as we alter our brain chemistry with our morning coffee.

But we’re not very good at identifying this change. We tend to only focus on a single point of information, tied to the present moment.

I am happy now.

The apple is ripe, at the moment.

Today, weather is cold.

When things start to change we often don’t spot the transition until it’s too late.

We don’t notice getting angry until we’re consumed by it.

We don’t notice speeding up until the roadside speed camera fires its flash at us.

We don’t notice someone becoming dissatisfied until they leave.

But learning to spot this change comes with two huge benefits:

Firstly, noticing this change allows us to more effectively influence situations and create better outcomes.

If we learn to notice ourselves becoming angry, we can make the effort to pause before we say or do something we will regret.

Secondly, awareness of change helps to prevent attachment or aversion to the present moment.

If we learn to notice how fleeting both the good and bad are – we won’t spend so long taking the positive for granted and running away from the negative. Both will be over shortly, so we should spend our time responding to them appropriately.

Accepting change is the first step, embracing it is the second. But it’s learning to spot change, as (or before) it happens which is the key skill. It’s that which enables us to both be happier with the world as it is, and to influence it for the better.

We’re 100% responsible for our experience

Win or lose, we choose the value of our days, weeks and months. We ascribe value to these pieces of our lives, and too often we value them poorly.

We forget that today is a piece of our actual life and treat it like something cheap and disposable.

But it’s not.

It’s a discreet, unique, non-refundable and non-negotiable slice of existence which is ticking away and never coming back.

And if it seems hectic, boring, wet, sore, painful, expensive, rude or otherwise shit – that’s on us.

Because we’re 100% responsible for our experience.