Convergence of Experiences As we are doing our final preparation for the Christmas holiday and approaching the end of another year I find myself, once again, reflecting on the past and looking to the future. I do not think I am alone in saying that the year has had its ups and downs, disappointments, and successes. My perspective on normal life roller coaster is summed up in a post on Facebook:
“I never lose, I just gain from experiences or learn from experiences. Either way it was a personal WIN (personal commentary; made even sweeter because no one has to “lose”)!
This Rambling is the result of the convergence recently of five experiences (gifts, really) that have been relevant, meaningful, and interesting—particularly because they all came to me at the same time.
1) Someone suggested I read the book, Think!: Why Crucial Decisions Can’t Be Made in the Blink of an Eye, by Michael R. LeGault (which, I’ve started). LeGault espouses the value of critical thinking;
2) I came across an article on LinkedIn by Rakesh Jain entitled, The Forsaken Art of Thinking;
3) I participate in leading a weekly Adult Class at Wayzata Free Church. During a recent gathering, we listened to Peter Hollens’ stirring rendition of, “Mary Did You Know?” https://youtu.be/hSfHXWjzqu0 Please take a moment to listen to it;
4) I finished the book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, by Malcom Gladwell. Gladwell talks about the choices and decisions we make instantaneously, relying on our intuition to guide us;
5) I was sent a video clip of the Scarecrow, in The Wizard of Oz singing, “If I Only Had a Brain.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nauLgZISozs&sns=em Listen to all the wise things the Scarecrow says he would do if only he had a brain to think with.
I challenge you to think about this (and do something with it) as I have, I’m learning that contemplation, intentionality, and engagement through conversation, reading, and observation adds depth and meaning to life and relationships. Living with intention can help us respond to life’s challenges with a sense of calm and helps us be more thoughtful when engaging in a healthy debate—respecting and really listening to the perspectives of others. I encourage you to hone an attitude of intentionality that works for you.
The 5-Minute Pause
I discovered there is an ART TO THINKING, (and definitely different styles!) particularly when you’re having a conversation where differing opinions are being expressed, or perhaps varying levels of emotion. For me, the art of thinking helps me in keeping an open mind, not making judgments too quickly, and really listening to what is being said as well as the “color” or nuances behind what is being said. The idea (and power) of a 5-minute pause gives us time to digest the full nature of a discussion, temper our emotional responses, and absorb the significance of what is being said. This pause, before responding, may open you up to adjusting your personal perspective. It certainly can help the other person feel he is being heard. In the spirit of intentionality and minimizing misunderstandings, let the other person know you’re using the 5-minute pause and why.
A Recovering Norwegian A few years ago, I vowed to be less guarded, or rigid, whether it was in what I chose to read, or my perspectives, reactions, attitudes, feelings, or the way I communicated. I vowed to be a “Recovering Norwegian.” If you’re a Norwegian, I trust you know what I mean. I remain proud of my heritage, yet try not to be prideful or let the persona improperly define me. I smile when I remember how I used to refer to my “inner Norwegian” style as a hallmark of who I was. However, I discovered it was actually a hindrance to finding meaningfulness in relationships, both personal and professional.
Whether you’re a Norwegian or not, when you reflect on your life do you experience a sense of wonder, disappointment, or perhaps, amazement as to things that happened in the past? For me, there were also mistakes made that remain very painful. There were times when I truly didn’t know how to embrace a situation or relationship. At times I was poor at communicating. And, there were times when I just plain-old blew an amazing life changing opportunity
There’s another aspect of the Norwegians worth contemplating: The VIKINGS.
The Vikings’ were anything but shy, reserved, controlled, or guarded: They were full of adventure and knew how to express themselves! A few years ago, I decided this was a side of my heritage that I needed to re-discover! A change occurred.
Change is possible if it is important enough to you.
“Mary Did You Know?” This is one of my favorite pieces of music. Have you listened to the clip I provided? No matter how many times I listen to it, it always deeply touches me. There have been times when I looked back on my life, that, like Mary, I couldn’t perceive of what was before me.
I believe Mary did know her son was something special, not only the moment son was born, but before, when the angel visited her. What Mary may not have known was the lasting impact her son, Jesus, would have on the world. As Jesus worked to gather and teach his flock, He was willing to stand true to his beliefs and calling despite the ridicule and immense challenges He faced. He did not flaunt his power with arrogance, but demonstrated the power and grandeur of his father and why He was placed on this earth. Jesus was sent to teach the unbelievable wonder of love and to sacrifice himself for the benefit of others.
Mary was a proud yet a humble mother as she watched her son walk the path of his creator with absolute conviction, compassion, and passion. The next time you listen to “Mary Did You Know?” let it touch your heart.
We do not always know the impact we make on people with our behavior, attitudes, and communication. If you’re like me, you hope there’s something about you that has a positive impact on others.
Best wishes for a Happy New Year. I challenge you to add more contemplation and intention to your life in the year ahead and see where the journey takes you—whether your approach is that of “Think” or “Blink.”