I know you know this already ... but I'm gonna say it anyway.
Life isn’t about the end game;
it is more about how we manage ourselves while getting there.
Like most inspirational memes flying across our screens these days, this one is easy to say, but hard to do. So I thought we could try and put it into practice. Let's try moving our attention away from outcomes and over to process.
To do this in the art studio, for example, we could shift focus away from the finished product and instead observe how we are feeling while we are painting. In honor of "Back to School" season, I'll put it in grammatical terms: Let's keep our attention on the subject and verb while ignoring the object — i.e. “I am painting” instead of “I am painting a thing".
By watching how we do things, we get to become our own "observer", which is kind of like seeing ourselves from a bird's eye view. This is key to really seeing ourselves. From this perspective, we can more easily recognize what works for us and what does not, what brings us closer to happiness and what pulls us away. Once we have a lay of the land, we can figure what changes are in order.
When painting in the "observer state", we will likely catch ourselves judging our canvas — and even ourselves — harshly. Booya! We have found the inner critic hard at work, crapping on our experience.
We might ask, “What’s the point of my painting if I am doing it with furrowed brows and listening to nasty talk?” Good question! Instead, I'd invite us to simply watch the harsh judgements from our inner critic — almost like watching a cloud roll by — and promptly return our focus to exploring in the creative process. This keeps our minds engaged and in a state of flow.
We might apply this to other aspects of life:
1) Try forgetting about where we are driving and what we will do when we get there; rather think about how we could best enjoy the drive itself. Would we like to listen to a podcast or belt out tunes from our favorite band?
2) If we are working, are we sitting comfortably and calmly. Do we need to stop and stretch for a few minutes?
3) If we are folding clothes, can we entertain ourselves at the same time — like set up a Skype call with a friend or loved one or watch a Tedtalk or movie?
Maybe check in to see how you feel in your routine today....
and make sure you're enjoying the ride.