Two overarching themes define this week's musings. Firstly, seasonality. Accepting the fact that no process in nature progresses in a straight line, and our tendency to not accept this. Secondly, the art of letting go. Our hoarding nature working against us, fear of missing out and the joy of leaving things behind. Enjoy!
In his weekly newsletter, entrepreneur Nat Eliason recently discussed the concept of working in 'seasons'. He basically noticed how he had developed an undeliberate, natural tendency to work with ups and downs in terms of output and efficiency.
"I rather like this ebb and flow. Six to nine months of focused output, a period of rest, a period of reflection and planning, then another push forward."
The article resonated with me. Though this rhythm does not necessarily have to coincide with the nature's seasons nor an annual cycle, the whole idea that you have periods in which you thrive and others in which you contemplate and re-energize, seems very logical to me. It could be part of man's overall journey in search for purpose. Switching gears and careers, at least occasionally, may not only be logical, but even a necessity, consciously creating some form of imbalance to enable progress.
"It's partially because many people's work is not making progress towards a meaningful goal. And in those cases, it is a shame to spend an unnecessary amount of time on your job at the expense of other more meaningful things."
This type of 'work seasonality' may create irregular income events. Knowing this, it could be useful to work with detailed budgets and define the boundaries within which you can financially operate. Perhaps in itself and eye-opening exercise. You are a business! One that is in search of its infinite game, one worth continuing its play.
When Tim Ferriss started his podcast back in 2014, I became one of its most faithful listeners (and promotors, as those who know me probably can remember...). I often spent commutes listening to one of his (often 2+ hours) episodes. I religiously devoured even the episodes with guests that did not immediately attract me, since even those touched on interesting subjects I knew nothing about. Somewhere around the 220 episode mark, I lost my streak. Episodes started 'piling up' and I felt I was falling short of 'keeping up'. Fast forward 7 years and Tim is now at episode 536. I listen to an episode every once in a while, but feel perfectly comfortable with missing out on tons of possibly wonderful material.
Letting go of the notion that all my selected sources needed to be consumed in full did feel awkward at first, and I still struggle sometimes. A growing pile of old Economist magazines near my tea table is living proof. These days, I feel my consumption of sources comes and goes in waves. I tend to feel ok with that notion, knowing that the ebb and flow of my curiosity is a steadfast phenomenon. I want to bite off what I can really chew on. Only when I've noticed I did not consume anything for longer periods of time, some introspection is warranted. Often this means there is not enough space and downtime.
The same goes for this newsletter. Most of the articles we write are meant to be consumed for introspection purposes. They're not the daily news, it's an invitation to take its value. If you feel like you're not able to chew, it's fine to let go and not feel bad about it. Hit unsubscribe and make room for other joyful activity. We won't be disappointed. Promised!
One of the notable effects of routine meditation is a growing awareness of your own thoughts. Instead of being part of a continuous stream of thoughts and emotions, you can sometimes (just sometimes) catch yourself and start looking at it as it flows by. It's often compared to looking at the river instead of being in the river.
Being confronted with this view, it's not all roses and sunshine. With clarity also comes the harsh reality of seeing your emotional responses to your environment. One thing that hit me most in this respect, was the incessant judgement of the actions of those around you. I found it amazing how much thought I spent on labelling and judging behaviour and events. The fact that most of these judgements are not that favourable, apparently has its roots in our Ego which thrives on comparison.
The other day, a passage from 'Autobiography of a Yogi' (Steve Jobs' favourite book) showed up on my phone's homescreen that summed it up quite nicely: "Some people try to be tall by cutting off the heads of others!"
Apparently, this is happening on a small scale in much of our thinking. The good news is that seeing these thoughts and letting them go, feels awfully great. Letting go of judgement, even in small quantities, makes you feel so much lighter.
To forgive is a powerful tool. It enables 'cleaning the house', is a big source of relief and can free you up. It helps to move on. Both mentally and physically. People that have actively reached for the forgiveness tool, very often report that some of their physical nuisances disappeared as well.
At the same time, many describe it as being a very difficult process. I guess this is because it is so personal, so deep. It conflicts with your personal norms, values and foundational structures. The key here is that to forgive somebody is not the same as saying it was ok what that person did. To forgive is to accept that what happened, happened. There is no blame. The one who did it had a reason for doing so. The reason may be faulty, but that's not the point. As Dutch spiritualist Willem Glaudemans puts it:
"When you're angry at someone for more than 15 seconds, it is basically about yourself"
It is a healing process that you need to do on your own, but that can be practiced. For our Dutch readers, I suggest "The book of forgiveness" that contains a solid set of practical tips. Please also revisit our coverage of "The book of Joy" by the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu.
Once you're well underway forgiving others, you'll probably start noticing a new challenge looming at the horizon: to forgive yourself. By that time, you're well practiced and know that it is worth the effort.
As always, we would love to hear your thoughts and tips. Just reply to this e-mail to get in touch with us.
Have a great week!
Quinten & Alphons