In our last +1, we talked about using the WEATHER as a prompt to practice our philosophy.
I shared my new favorite temperature which, as you may recall, is WHATEVER THE TEMPERATURE IS RIGHT NOW! (Hah.) (Seriously though! 🤓 )
I promised we’d chat more about Michael Singer and his idea of practicing “surrendering” to reality by picking some low-hanging fruit.
Here’s some of his wisdom on the subject from his great (!) book Living Untethered.
He tells us: “The best way to let go of stored pockets of pain is to practice. Just as you practice the scales to learn the piano or practice a sport to get good at it, you practice letting go to learn how to do it. You start with simple things. We call these low-hanging fruit. There are many situations each day when you create inner disturbance for absolutely no good reason. Bothering yourself about the car in front of you does no good at all. It only makes you tense and uptight. The cost-benefit analysis is one-hundred-percent cost and zero benefit. Letting go of that tendency should be easy, but it’s not. You will find that you’re in the habit of insisting and demanding that things should be the way you want, even if it’s irrational. Things are the way they are because of the influences that made them that way. You are not going to change the weather by complaining about it. If you are wise, you will start to change your reactions to reality instead of fighting with reality. By doing so, you will change your relationship with yourself and with everything else.”
And, he says: “Start with the small things to prove to yourself that you are capable of doing this. Working with yourself at this level is practicing letting go.”
Let’s emphasize three aspects of that passage.
First, we’ll talk about the importance of PRACTICE in general. Second, we’ll talk about the fact that wasting our energy on trivial things that are out of our control is a 100% cost 0% benefit outcome. And, third, we’ll talk about the importance of finding little things to use as part of your idiosyncratic practice in particular.
Regarding practice in general…
Just this morning, as I was exploring some of the quotes in the Heroic app as I committed to practicing (!) the virtue of Self-Mastery, I read a brilliant gem from Alex Korb’s great book The Upward Spiral—which is all about “Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time.”
He tells us: “Ultimately it comes down to the most cliched but scientifically true maxim: practice, practice, practice. To create new, good habits, you have to repeat them over and over again until your brain rewires itself.”
And… As I was rowing after my AM1 Deep Work block, I thought of the fact that I needed to connect all this wisdom about practice to Daniel Coyle and his wisdom in his great book The Little Book of Talent.
He tells us: “Repetition has a bad reputation. We tend to think of it as dull and uninspiring. But this perception is titanically wrong. Repetition is the single most powerful lever we have to improve skills, because it uses the built-in mechanism for making the wires of our brains faster and more accurate.”
PRACTICE. PRACTICE! PRACTICE!!
It’s super important.
The cost includes not only our tension and uptightness but the LOST OPPORTUNITY to have alchemized that same trigger into an opportunity to grow.
We missed the chance to turn that -1 into a +1 and then aggregate and compound all those tiny little gains into some MASSIVE change.
Add up all those missed opportunities and… That gets expensive FAST!
Now let’s shine a spotlight on YOU and your idiosyncratic opportunities to practice.
What little things bother YOU?
Think of something that a) you have no control over that b) you know you’re wasting your energy getting all worked up about that c) you could use as a new prompt to practice your philosophy.
What is it?
Let’s stop letting ourselves get annoyed by arguing with reality over insanely trivial things that are OBVIOUSLY totally (!) out of our control.
The next time that thing happens, let’s NOTICE how we’re getting all tense and uptight.
Take a nice, deep breath.
Then go on with your day.
You just plucked some low-hanging fruit.
Let’s use that fruit as fuel to strengthen our ability to step in between a stimulus and our old response to choose the most empowered response as we get stronger in preparation for the inevitable bigger challenges life will give us.
-1 to +1. -1 to +1. -1 to +1.
All day every day.