I can often become obsessed with outcomes. That is part of who I am, and also a trait of most perfectionists, even recovering ones. How is this working? Have I arrived yet? Did I finish? Is this correct? All of these thoughts can and have dominated my life for a long time. The weirdest thing happened recently. I realized that for the most part they don’t anymore. Even weirder for a results oriented perfectionist, I also realized I was not consciously trying to get rid of them. I was not really even focused on them. Instead I was focused on adopting some positive actions. The journey I started over a year and a half ago.
All of sudden this week I noticed that some things had actually shifted as a result of the actions I had tried to adopt. It feels a little like compound interest of the soul. All of these little investments and changes actually led to some real change. I have been working on being more mindful and present and being kinder. I had to spend a lot of time reminding myself stay present. Or realizing three hours later that I am not even sure what I did for the last three hours; I was that much on autopilot. Also because my nature is defensive sarcastic, I had to really consciously work to be kind. Reminding myself be nice, be compassionate, listen. Last week I was in several conversations, even difficult ones, and I noticed that instead of saying “be kind”, I was actually being kind. I found myself fully engaged in moments with friends, family, my husband, and my cats. Also I could notice when I wasn’t.
I am not sure when all of this started coming together. Probably not a great tribute to mindfulness. I am clueless as to when the whole thing started coming more naturally and bringing more awareness about when I am not achieving these goals. I do think certain soul investments have been most valuable to me.
- Meditation everyday. I don’t know when the promise to do it just once a day for 2 minutes became twice a day and able to sit for 30 minutes or more. I know the results have been revolutionary for this hyper-active, performance driven workaholic.
- Gratitude practice. The sharing three things we are grateful for practice my husband I adopted before dinner is now a highlight of my day. Not just because it makes me focus on something positive but I am learning more about what my husband finds joy in. Also this lens, without even knowing it now changes many things in life for me. I can view them and say “wow I am really lucky.”
- My Buddhist Communication Course and Insight timer Courses. Having daily lessons and activities as well as tools to achieve better communication and deeper meditation have really helped me with clarity, honesty, and empathy.
- Volunteering. This has really brought a lot of value to my life and helped me align my values and step out of myself.
- Going back to vegetarianism. It has helped my health I feel better than I have in years. Also it was true to my soul and values. I believe all animals are sentient beings and eating them is just not consistent with that belief.
It was not a lightning bolt and I did not do all of these things at once. I added them gradually as I was ready. All of it has begun to add up. I feel, calmer, kinder, more aligned, less reactive, and more focused. Turns out incremental progress is okay after all.