Do as I say, not as I do. Am I guilty of this when I share ideas on these pages from psychologists, philosophers and my experiences about positive ways to enhance one’s life? Sure. The recommendations I offer here are ones I support wholeheartedly. They are congruent with my value system; they have potential to help others; and they make sense intellectually. I have even tested some of them and found them useful. However, just because I think an idea is great doesn’t necessarily mean that I adopt it as my practice. Why not? Because this would require making a change in behavior, which would call for a redirection of my time, energy and focus. Like most people, I am ambivalent about changing, unsure whether the outcome will be superior to whatever results I’m getting now. It’s easier to do nothing differently, even when I may suspect that my normal behavior isn’t working.
This topic came to mind after talking to a friend who had read my blog on writing a personal mission statement. While suggesting it might be worthwhile for others, I avoided writing my own, until after my friend described her reaction to the notion of creating a personal “manifesto.” She decided immediately that this didn’t apply to her. She said, “My first thought was that this exercise was for young people who have their whole future ahead of them. No one my age needs to think about this subject.” Later, she changed her mind.
Here’s what she wrote as her mission:
The ideas come from Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now, which I refer to every day. What do I want in my life? – Peace through acceptance of what is, by *being and staying present in the moment; *maintaining body awareness – what am I feeling now? don’t analyze it or think about it, just be aware of it; *remembering that I am not my thoughts; and *dissolving the ‘pain-body’ which is always some form of nonacceptance or unconscious resistance to what is.
In telling me she had done this, my friend wasn’t putting forth a challenge, but I decided to view it as that and come up with my mission statement. Here’s what I created: showing kindness to all living things, including myself; expressing gratitude for everyone and everything that makes it possible for me to live; operating in the present and not the past and future. Operationally, these would involve more daily reflection and analysis of my behavior. Hmmm. Looks like a slight redirection of time, energy and focus. Whoa. That sounds a lot like making a change! Will ambivalence prevail?