It’s hard to define fully the concept of mindfulness, but one thing is clear: it involves the complete suspension of judgment as one pays full attention to what is happening in the present moment. When we can do that, when we can attend to what is happening in the here and now without evaluating as to whether or not it is right or wrong, then we are already winners in the game of life. Want to learn how to bring that spirit into your way of being? Read on!
As I wrote in Provision #841, What Mindfulness Means, there are different ways to understand the concept of mindfulness. It can mean paying attention to the mundane things in life just as well as the extraordinary. It can mean slowing down just as well as getting lost in the run. It can mean being careful in what we say and do just as well as being daring. It can mean suspending judgment just as well as standing up for justice, like Martin Luther King, Jr.. There are, indeed, many facets and dimensions to the concept of mindfulness.
One of the more interesting and uplifting aspects, if you ask me, is the way in which mindfulness has no objective other than mindfulness. It is neither a means to an end nor an end to a means. It doesn’t seek to get anything other than what it already has, namely, mindfulness. In that sense, then, mindfulness presents everyone with the opportunity claim our status as “winners”. We don’t have to accumulate or accomplish anything else to get to that point. We just have to notice and appreciate all that is around us.
I love the double meaning of the word “appreciate”. It is well expressed by one of my favorite Appreciative Inquiry expressions: what we appreciate appreciates. In other words, the things we value most – the things that make a positive contribution in life – increase in value each and every time we recognize and claim their value. In this sense, then, appreciation is a virtuous cycle (in contrast to vicious cycles). It is good for us as well as for all everyone around us. It ‘s good for the spirit, both individually and collectively.
On one level, everyone knows this. Who doesn’t enjoy being appreciated? On another level, appreciation is an elusive notion both to understand and to live out. It’s tough to come from a place of appreciation when we are in the midst of the hardships, difficulties, and shortcomings in life. That’s when most of us tend to come from a place of depreciation: we complain about what’s going on, we express negative feelings and opinions about what is going on, and, if the going is tough enough, we may even give up as though we were losers at the game of life.
That’s where the simple act of waking up in the morning, with at least some measure of orientation and purpose, makes each of us already a winner. We don’t have to conquer the world. We don’t have to succeed according to the standards of the world in terms, for example, of wealth, power, and fame. We just have to wake up with our mind staid on who we are and what we are about.
Although you may not resonate spiritually with the following example that illustrates this point, I will share one such experience for me. When I was the founding pastor of a low-income church in Chicago, from 1979 into the early 1990s, we used to sing a simple chorus and it meant a lot. People who had little to nothing at all in material terms would stand up in that church on Sunday morning and sing, with heartfelt emotion, how thankful they were that they “woke up this morning with their mind stayed on Jesus”.
That chorus, both for them and for me, took on multiple dimensions. For one, it is always a gift to wake up in the morning. That can never be taken for granted and it is something always worth appreciating, even when times are tough. Being alive is a gift, whether we are struggling or sitting on top of the world. I know. For years I thought of the world as my playground. My health was good, I was doing good work, I had good leisure pursuits, and I was blessed with a good family. What more could a person ask for?
But when all that changed, other than my good family, I had to find new ways to claim and appreciate the sense of being already a winner. And one of the ways I have done that is by recognizing simply that waking up at all represents a form of “winning”. It’s one thing to live a long life and then to pass away. That’s the natural course of things. But to die in the prime of life? That’s hard on everyone. My family and friends keep telling me that they are glad I am still around. That was in question early on in my trauma, so I am quite mindful of and thankful for winning the gift of life for at least a few more years.
I am even more thankful that I woke up in some semblance of my right my mind. Apart from that, were I to have woken up “mind-less”, in other words, there would have been no possibility for “mind-fulness”. But I woke up with the gift of being still myself. Perhaps you have noticed that when you read these Provisions. The perspective and writing still comes from and sounds like me. My core values and way of putting them out in the world have not changed. If anything, those values and expressions have become more aligned with each other. My family and friends notice and confirm this. In some respects, they “like” me better now and find me “easier” to be around. Given what I’ve been through, the gift of waking up, especially waking up with an even sweeter spirit, makes me already a winner. I am thankful for that as well.
But one doesn’t have to survive a trauma to find ways in which we are already winners. if we look around and pay attention, and if we let go of the various definitions of winning according to the standards of the world, we can lean into that awareness. We can create and claim our own definition when we take the time as well as the vantage point to do so. I know what a difference that has made for me and I believe that can make quite a difference for you as well. Why not give it a try? You are, after all, already a winner.
Coaching Inquiries: What would it take for you to release any negative images you may hold about yourself and to claim yourself as already a winner? How could you make that shift and who could assist you to do so? What not find that friend, partner, or coach and do so today?
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Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Form or Email Bob.
What a special story about your UPS driver. Talk about someone who pays mindfully pays attention to and cares about every day life! That’s clearly your stance and practice. Thanks for sharing one small way in which you do that.
Thanks for all the work and effort you put into your weekly email newsletters. I look forward to receiving them and I read them every week. They really do live up to their name: they are valuable provisions on the trek of life.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. I receive so much from who you are and what you offer to the world. Keep up the good work!
May you be filled with goodness, peace, joy, and health.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC
President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
Past President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time, Online Retailers
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