When was the last time you spent 10 minutes in total silence? No noise, no distractions, no background ambiance: just total, complete silence? This was a question I asked some high school students several years ago (before smart phones were even the norm.) Most of them said that they had never done so in their entire lives.
An entire life lived without ten minutes of silence.
Naturally, I assigned them this task as part of their homework. They had to go somewhere alone, preferably in nature, without electronic gadgets and without other people, to sit in total silence for 10 whole minutes. For those who were open to it, this kind of exercise actually changed their approach to life. They learned the value of contemplation and the benefits of settling their souls into stillness in a world of rush and busyness.
Why does silence hold such power? Why can a mere 10 minutes change us?
Several years ago, I went to an evening of art and wine for ladies, where our host had arranged for us to make Jesse Tree ornaments. She had done the hard work of drawing all the art. Our job was fairly simple: we were to cut out the little drawings and glue them onto wooden ornaments.
Despite the kindergarten-level simplicity of the task, it was remarkably difficult to do perfectly. In fact, at one point she lamented that one of mine had been glued on crooked. I was frustrated at myself for messing up something so easy—but I had begun to work on letting go of perfectionism.
My response was that I knew it, but I wasn’t going to fix it. I forced myself to accept my mistake and move on. [Does it still bother me a little every year when we pull out the ornaments? You bet. But is it also a reminder to accept imperfection? Absolutely.]
Can you imagine a business that decides to implement a new set of policies without considering whether or how any of the current policies are working? And can you imagine the results if that business had no concrete way to measure whether or how any of the current policies are working? Obviously, it would be a disaster.
But what about our personal lives? Do we ever stop to consider how and why we are doing things the we do? From our daily habits, to family living, to hobbies and skills, we can learn a lot from taking time to reflect back on what is and isn’t working, and why.
Good resolutions start with good reviews. Have you paused to take a good look at 2018?
If you are not a perfectionist, this post may not make much sense. (As ever, it’s important to know where you are to know where you need to aim. If you don’t suffer with perfectionism, the advice below probably doesn’t apply to you.)
Today I found myself running late for an appointment. I hate hurrying, but it was my own fault. The trains were also running late, and those few minutes were probably going to cost me. As I rushed along in the cold, the times grew tighter and I found myself becoming more and more stressed.
Still, it was a beautiful morning, with the sun poking through the clouds after the bitter rains of the past few days. And in a moment of grace, it occurred to me that either I could spend the entire morning stressed out, or I could try to enjoy it, despite the pressures of time.
This realization felt like a hard-won victory. I’m prone to stress, to wanting to control everything, to having things be just the way I want them to be. But the last few years, it has occurred to me that choosing to be the kind of person who is driven by stress is just that – a choice. At least, in part. Continue Reading