Anatomy of a Moment

Patience has not always been my strongest point.

For me, the flipside of enthusiasm is invariably impatience. Quite often I find that when I’m feeling most motivated and energised, my patience levels evaporate.You’d think energy and motivation would be good things. But the impacts of reacting instinctively, without pause, can range from simply missing opportunities to a blazing row.

The other form of impatience that I’d like to address is the one born of being self absorbed or introverted. The sort of impatience that says we don’t have time to talk to the person in the street carrying out a survey or raising money for charity. Or the impatience that turns down the offer of a cup of tea or something similar at work, for fear of getting drawn into a long conversation or the expectation of having to reciprocate (heaven forbid!). I’ve found myself being guilty of all of the above but the strange thing is that almost every time, I regret it when it’s too late and the moment has gone.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book ‘Blink’, he talks about “taking charge of the first two seconds”.

“Every moment… is composed of a series of discrete moving parts, and every one of those parts offers an opportunity for intervention, for reform, and for correction”

Opening the fridge the other day, this carton design (by Innocent) reminded me of the idea.

Anatomy of a Sip3

In an attempt to do something about it, I’ve been trying meditation. It’s not hard to find suggestions about how to meditate on the Net. For a superb, comprehensive and simple guide, the best I’ve found so far is contained in HHDL’s “How To See Yourself As You Really Are”

Peter Bregman’s excellent HBR blog talks about another benefit of meditation that is increasing your capacity to resist distracting urges.

Research shows that an ability to resist urges will improve your relationships, increase your dependability, and raise your performance.”

After attempting and giving up in the past I’ve been making a more concerted effort over the past few days to set aside time. This means an hour or so before the rest of the family wakes up in the morning and ten minutes or so before a planned meeting, especially one-to-one sessions. So far so good. I’ve not missed a morning session yet and I have noticed myself being more positive, calm and focused. But above all, I do feel more patient and in control of those first 2-3 seconds. Just got to keep it up now!

#witsoh.. a happiness survey

I’ve been asking people this same question for years and always get a different answer. When someone seems unusually cheerful I ask them, ‘what is the secret of happiness?’

One of my favourite responses came a few years back from a pensioner, travelling with his wife in South America. We were on a packed bus, broken down in the middle of Chile somewhere. Ended up arriving to our destination 6 hours late, at 4 in the morning. Everyone was exhausted, but instead of getting upset, the two of them took it completely in their stride, cracking jokes and making us laugh. Newly married at the time, my wife and I both thought that it would be great to have such a good relationship and sense of adventure after being together for 40 years. We still remember their example as something to aspire to.

I asked the guy ‘what is the secret of happiness?’ and he replied, ‘Remembering to say “I’m sorry dear. It won’t happen again!”‘

Down the years, I’ve forgotten most of the responses. So I thought I’d start a new hash tag  #witsoh, which I’ll use to collate them on Twitter and G+ as I come across them.

What’s your secret? 🙂

“Normal” probably isn’t balanced

I’ve had this nagging pain in my neck and shoulder for months, so for the first time ever I went to see an osteopath.

This was his diagnosis: compressed vertebrae in my neck, tendinitis in my shoulder and a slight hip imbalance. He showed me how, when relaxed, one of my shoulders sat about an inch above the other and one of my legs extended beyond the other. Sounds bad, but I’m told that these are actually fairly common complaints. Whilst they may not cause big problems in the short term, over time, the affects could become more serious if left unchecked. In my case, the most likely causes are the high impact and sudden forces involved with kite surfing, and the more subtle, incremental forces of things like working at a computer.

It was quite a surprise to find how far from normal my perception of normal was. And strange how unnatural my body felt being pushed into a more balanced position. I suppose anybody who has a preference between their right and left sides must suffer to some degree and will appreciate how odd it feels to lead with the opposite side. I also found out that whilst I’m right handed, I’m in a minority of less than 20% of people with left eye dominance. [Here’s how to test for yourself]

I wonder how many “normal” things in life are in fact destructively imbalanced either as a result of major shocks or incremental effects over time. Whether it’s your body, relationships, the economy or the environment, I guess the good news is that there are always early warning signals offering opportunities to redress the balance. Perhaps the important challenge is to spot those signals and actively set about getting back into equilibrium.

Is there anything that you’ve thought doesn’t feel quite right but you’ve not got round to fixing?

Here’s a profound and beautiful video featuring someone who’s given this a lot of thought.