I’ve been doing a lot of reading—shocking, I know—around mindfulness, personal-development, and goal setting. There have been some common themes on my mind.
From love not for love
Let me preface this by saying there is nothing wrong with wanting love and care from the people in your life. Those people should be showing you those things and helping you feel valued. This practice isn’t about being selfless or void of needs. We all have emotional needs, whether we want them or not.
Acting from love instead of for love reckons with expectation. I expect myself to treat others with kindness, care, compassion, and love, without the qualification that I receive those things in return every time. If I’m fortunate, more often than not, people will meet me there. But it’s not a requirement.
When we act from love and not for love, we waste nothing. Any love I give has no strings attached. There is no performance fee. You may have it.
I base how I treat others on expectations I have for myself, independent of how people treat me.
Of course, this does not mean I sit idly by while people mistreat me. Along with my expectations for how I treat others, I have an equally important set of expectations for how I treat myself—and I strive to meet myself with the same care and respect I show for others. That means having the self-respect to leave harmful situations with grace.
What matters, actually?
Once, I would have been able to tell you what mattered to me with confidence, and they wouldn’t have mattered at all. Aka: becoming famous for my writing, having a boyfriend, owning a teacup pig, etc., etc.
Those things mattered so much to me as a young teen—yes, even the teacup pig—and yet, they don’t speak to the core of what counts.
Being famous is inconsequential at the end of the day—what life do you go home to? Having a boyfriend does not bring the mystical wholeness pop culture pedals, you’re whole on your own—why not wait for a real connection? And the teacup pig, well—let’s face it, that was a phase.
Now I can say that what matters is people. What matters is my health—mental, physical, and spiritual. What matters more than being well-known is writing with one person in mind, even if sometimes that person is me. What matters is the imprint I leave on people in my life, not how many people know my name across the world.
Notice that none of this references the annoying email in my inbox that I don’t want to deal with, the dishes in the sink that feel insurmountable, the looming dread of tax season, or grandiose accomplishments.
These things matter only to the point of regulation and problem-solving. Yes, I’m going to respond to the email. Yes, I’m going to do the dishes. Yes, I’m going to tackle tax season when it arrives in all its confusing glory. And yes, I’m still going to dream big.
But those things don’t matter the same way those other things do, and never have. I no longer go to bed stressing about menial tasks that will not matter in 48 hours or less. If I’m aligned with my life vision, taking appropriate steps for healing, progressing with my aspirations, and being attentive in my relationships, all is well.
Power in stillness
In the age of constant stimulation, distraction, and addiction, it’s a small rebellion to be still. To be quiet, to watch clouds and rivers and bees.
Now, don’t get me wrong—I don’t believe distraction is a new problem for society. People have been figuring out how to distract themselves since the dawn of time. We will always find a way, technology or no technology.
The only significant change is how much simpler it is to lose minutes, hours, and days, to our devices and vices. It’s interesting how close those two words are to one another.
Technology has its place, and I’m grateful for it. I wouldn’t be able to live the life I do without it. But with innovation always comes sacrifice, and I want to keep track of what I’m giving up.
So, with all this content, the hustle, and the clamor, I look for ways to capture stillness. Steadiness amid the chaos. Sometimes this is simple breathwork, or a walk with my dog—although I’ll admit that’s not the most serene of times—or even washing those dishes in the sink. There’s a reason we often get ideas while doing automatic tasks like showering or mowing the lawn.
It’s times like those that let our minds work on solutions, meander, and reconnect with our surroundings and emotions—that’s powerful. Leaving room for boredom is a critical part of my day. Life isn’t meant to be as fast as we’re told it should be.
If you’re curious about what books are helping me refine these mindsets, see below:
– How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
– Things That Matter by Joshua Becker
– The 12 Week Year by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington
– Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn
– Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard
I have so much to learn. So many blank pages to fill—literally and figuratively—and I’m forever grateful for those who stick by me as I fumble around figuring it out.
Thank you for reading, and I hope your year is off to a fantastic start.