Made to be Broken
It’s January, and we all know what that means: resolution time. With a January 5 birthday, I feel double the pressure to take stock and make detailed plans for the year.
Like most Americans, by mid-February I’ve not only stopped following my resolutions, I’ve also completely forgotten what they even were.
At this point in my life, I’m happy I remember to put on pants before I leave the house – so how the hell am I going to remember that 10-point self-improvement plan I was so gung-ho about during that dripping-with-promise-and-sobriety first week of January?
Enter 2014. No goals list. No plan. Nothing. I didn’t even bust out my journal.
This year, all I want to do is show up.
Where I’ve Been
In my mindfulness and energy practice, I’ve become acutely aware of how often I am missing-in-action.
Before you send a search party, I’m physically present, but frequently little else. Instead, I’ve been preoccupied with my overactive mind and unengaged with whomever and whatever was right in front of me.
I’ve acted entitled. Been unprepared. Passively waited for other people to get things going and pick up the slack.
I’ve had a bad attitude and crappy energy. Made it clear I never wanted to be there in the first place. Expected the worst and barely tolerated the meantime.
I am hardly alone.
I’ve been in full-capacity rooms where not a single person actually showed up.
What a waste.
We are all 100% responsible for the energy we bring to each and every situation.
It doesn’t matter what you think of the event, people, or circumstances. It also doesn’t matter what anyone else does (or doesn’t) think, feel, or do.
You decide every single moment how YOU will show up. (So do I.)
When we don’t truly show up, we mostly hurt ourselves.
You may not be consciously aware of this or willing to admit it. Doesn’t matter.
You let yourself down (and likely others as well) because you are better than that.
When you zombie, distract, or grudge your way through a moment, it’s gone. Forever.
Those moments all add up to something called… your life.
Why Are We Here?
I don’t think anyone’s deepest desire is to be mediocre and just get by.
In our heart of hearts, we all want to make a difference, whether on a big or small scale.
We all want to love and be loved, to explore, discover, connect, create, solve, help, learn, and grow.
We all want our lives to mean something, and many of us hope to leave the world even just a little better than we found it.
Sometimes our egos get stuck in the muck, and we forget.
Showing Up Is a Choice
Thankfully, we can refocus by simply remembering that how you show up is a choice. As Woody Allen said, “80% of success is showing up.”
Choose to show up.
Change your circumstances – or change your attitude. Either one works.
If you don’t like your job, partner, or friend, find another.
If you choose to stay in your job, make it one you’re proud of. Put on your big-girl or –boy pants and get to work, regardless of how anyone else decides to behave. (That’s what being professional means.)
If you choose to be in a relationship, then truly relate. Being alone is often far less lonely than being ‘with’ someone who isn’t even there. Connect, engage, and deepen your relationships so they nourish both of you.
Just Do It
If you make showing up a regular practice, it will gradually become unconscious habit. Track what happens so you appreciate what you’re doing – both for yourself and others.
Since showing up can only happen in the Now, take some deep breaths and be present as much as you possibly can.
Get centered before a conversation, meeting, or other interaction. It only takes a few seconds – and can make a huge difference.
Check your energy, thoughts, and emotions in advance – and take care of your own stuff before you enter the room, or it’ll come out in ways you may regret. If you can’t shift, manage, or leave it behind, don’t go in.
Set an intention both to stay present and for a good outcome (and then let go of expectations since you can’t control the outcome).
Send peace and happiness to those present, whether you like them or not. It’s amazing how much different the experience is when you do.
Actively listen, without an agenda. Be curious. Honest. Authentic.
Adopt a constructive, collaborative stance.
Constantly monitor to ensure you stay engaged, and gently bring yourself back when you stray.
Observe how others react.
Acknowledge your shortcomings and commit to working on them.
Remember that everyone else is responsible for him/herself – but that you can set the tone and lead by example. Often, one person showing up well transforms an entire group dynamic.
Perhaps most important, when you forget – when all this flies out the window in an instant – be kind to yourself, forgive, and get right back to it. Over. And over. And over.
The poet Mary Oliver asks, “What is it you intend to do with your one wild and precious life?”
A meaningful life is less about what you do than how you do it.
You can start by truly showing up.
From there, the possibilities are endless.