We Strengthen What We Practice


What are you strengthening right now? Maybe curiosity, maybe learning new skills, maybe taking a risk because you’re thinking about asking for help with a difficult problem. Maybe you’re practicing avoidance because there is something else you told yourself you’d do right now. (This is a short post so read on!) The point is we are always strengthening something, whether we’re aware of it or not. You’ve likely heard a lot of talk about the power of intention, but following intention with mindful attention of even the most mundane moments in life is like adding jet fuel to your intentions.

If you’ve ever been engaged in an exercise program, you know that you get a lot of benefit from exercising regularly, even if its not a big work-out, like climbing the stairs at work instead of using the elevator. So mindful attention works the same way – its like adding reps of self awareness throughout your day.

Here’s an example that happened this weekend: I made an intention a few months ago to practice taking risks to speak up, verbally and through writing, especially at times when it might be more comfortable to stay silent. I also had made an earlier intention to practice kindness.

When I set out for the beach the other day, I had no idea that I would have the perfect opportunity to practice both at once. When we got there, there was a parked car with the headlights on. As I walked past the car, I thought about the disappointment and hassle of having your battery run down. I wondered if I could just show up at the small beach, make an announcement about it and then set up my chair and towel to read. As I thought about it, my stomach tightened a bit anticipating embarrassment. As we continued down the path, I weighed the few seconds of embarrassment against the hassle of a dead battery. It was tiny.

“Someone with a maroon car has left their headlights on,” I said as loudly as I could. Everyone turned to stare. My husband joked,”We’re hee-yer!” At first nothing happened, then a few chapters into my book, long past the stomach tightness, two women came up to thank me and offer me some cold water they had brought. “You saved our day,” they said.

So give it a try – throughout your day ask yourself, “What am I practicing right now?” And try to leave the judgement out of it, which is likely to shut down awareness, even if what you find yourself practicing is judgement of yourself or others. There’s no need to add anything; take notice, but that’s all and then let it end on its own. Let me know how it goes!