Let go. Notice more. Use Everything.

“Let go.
Notice more.
Use everything.
…since each of these phrases is also an action, you could start practicing now without even getting into specifics. In the very next conversation you have, you could let go of trying to control the outcome, devote more attention to what other people say or make an effort to use anything that happens to feed the flow of the conversation—including interruptions, disagreements or misunderstandings that you might normally ignore. A small shift perhaps, but one that, if taken to heart, can create a big difference.
The advantage of this simple practice is that you have less to remember. It relieves the pressure of keeping up with the explosion of new ideas that abound in the management literature (or the self-help books). You can exchange the restless search or a quick fix for the quiet patience of a practice. Whatever happens, you can go back to the same simple, familiar ideas and apply them again. Over time you deepen and internalize your understanding, so that you can bring these ideas to bear quickly and easily, without even thinking about them consciously.”

A longtime believer in the power of practices (as opposed to changing behavior through sheer willpower or “step” systems) and a newcomer to the world of improvisational theater, I nearly cheered aloud when I read this passage from Robert Poynton’s Everything’s An Offer: How To Do More with Less , a book on using improvisational theater in everyday life.

I started to think of my big 3 practices for life in a new light. Less to remember! Bypass information glut! Yay!

My guiding practices are:

Nonviolent communication. (Practicing mostly informally for about 3 years.) It helps me with authentic participation and connection.
Improv. (Practicing for 3 weeks.) It further supports this by helping me practice non-judgment and acceptance (saying yes).
And Vipassana Meditation (practicing for 7 months) forms a solid foundation with perhaps the most general and seriously useful practice of equanimity (seeing things as they are and not blindly reacting).

Do you have practices that you find you keep coming back to?

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Gotta do it.

What if you showed up to your life as if by threat of firing or, better yet, by promise of promotion, success, fame, etc.?

Maybe you’re thinking, “Well, Mary, sorry to disappoint you but I don’t really take my work that seriously.” I feel ya. I’d also be willing to guess, though, that you show up the vast majority of days that you’re scheduled to do so (and you probably have a schedule) and when you can’t show up, you call in or get your shift/work covered for that time period. I imagine you think some about your work outside of your work hours and do some “planning” even if that just translates to picking out your outfit for the day or packing your lunch.

You probably don’t even realize the many things you do that are part of taking your work seriously….even if you hate your job.

And that’s what I’m asking you to do with your passions, with those things that you “wish you had more time for” or that you “really want to do but (insert excuse here).” We don’t often find ourselves making excuses for why we can’t go to work today. And it feels justified because that’s our livelihood. That’s how we pay the bills. Nevertheless, that feeling of obligation, of “just gotta do it” is something that we self-impose (which is, no doubt, buttressed by a host of outside influences). We made it up harnessing the power of our minds. And, congratulations on that one, because it’s powerful.

We can use this ability we’ve created in our minds, the “gotta do it” attitude and the actions and behaviors springing from it, and use it in ways that serve us by transferring it to the work or projects that you feel drawn to and inspired by (talents, passion, purposed-based projects). If this feels overwhelming, do a micromovement. Commit yourself to experimenting with this for, say, 10 minutes a day for a whole week. To keep going beyond this, notice how this “pays off” in terms of your mood or level of energy or inspiration. (Here’s why.) Depending on what your passion is, it might also pay off monetarily (e.g. selling handmade wares on Etsy).

What project do you gotta work on this week?