what we pay attention to matters & grows.

I’ve wasted some time not understanding (or maybe believing) this simple concept.  Every day we wake up with a choice to be made, even when it doesn’t feel like a choice.

choices and attention lisa lillibridgeWho wants to wake up in the morning highly attuned to the things that make them feel like crap?  I honestly don’t, and yet, sometimes I do that to myself.

I want my anger and resentment some days.  I really want to hang out in the house of pain and suffering on occasion.  In the last few years though, I’ve increasingly become aware of the toll those days take on me and everyone in my orbit. My dark days will obviously never go away completely, but thankfully, by noticing where my attention is directed, those days are finally getting to be fewer and far between.

Once I noticed my habits and patterns I couldn’t possibly un-notice them. 

Damnit, I tried pretty hard.  Trust me, I gave it a really good shot.

I love that knowledge can be brilliantly sneaky that way.

Good luck noticing, folks.

A NOTE OF COMPASSION:  Many people suffer with devastating, lasting sadness that requires way more than just noticing habits and patterns.  I don’t mean to diminish anyone’s experience.  I’m only sharing what’s been helpful to me.  I struggle with the blues, not prolonged clinical depression.

Today, I’m choosing…

to imagine a world filled with wonder…this requires some effort, especially when the world doesn’t seem so “wonderfilled” to me right now.

WONDER/noun:  a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable…

Ooh, this definition gives me chills.

Ummm, let’s see…do I want to listen to the news all day, filling myself up with stories that make me feel fearful and angry—OR, do I want to do a little “wonder seeking” that could lead to something interesting that fuels me creatively?

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If what we think about grows…

Today, my musings lead me to imagine my daughter, Willa swimming in a tower I photographed by the airport in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  This image made me think about other possibilities of where else she might be swimming and that cracked me up…many more images to come, I’m sure.

 

martyr v. trickster energy

One of my favorite books is Elizabeth Gilbert’s BIG MAGIC.  She writes about creativity and what type of energy we let dominate our lives.  She boils it down to two types.

The martyr OR the trickster?

“Martyr energy is dark, solemn, macho, hierarchical, fundamentalist, austere, unforgiving, and profoundly rigid.  

“Trickster energy is light, sly, transgender, transgression, animist, seditious, primal, and endlessly shape-shifting.”

“I believe that the original human impulse for creativity was born out of pure trickster energy. …Creativity wants to flip the mundane world upside down and turn it inside out, and that’s exactly what a trickster does best.  The trickster is obviously a charming and subversive figure.

But for me, the most wonderful thing about a good trickster is that he trusts.

He trusts himself, obviously. He trusts his own cunning, his own right to be here, his own ability to land on his feet in any situation. To a certain extent, of course, he also trusts other people. But mostly, the trickster trusts the universe.”

—Elizabeth Gilbert/BIG MAGIC

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Who wants to live with mostly martyr energy?

Martyr energy is a total bummer.

If the universe is meant to be played with, then we must PLAY.  This doesn’t mean we can escape the mundane parts of daily life, grief or death.  However, deploying our creative trickster energy when needed (even in very difficult passages of our lives) gives us more options and lets us access more creativity.

The trickster trusts and doesn’t let doubt or paranoia get in the way of a good time.

The trickster would invite the martyr to discuss something very serious and then maybe coax them into skinny dipping instead.

Come on, let your inner trickster out.

 

life is choices.

When I carefully choose what I want to pay attention to, my heart swells.

When I let the world be in charge of what I should pay attention to, my heart sinks.

 

 

Thank you Eleanor Roosevelt.

I’ve been reading a lot lately about the nature of choice.  We live in a society where there sometimes is a tendency to “blame” others for our own behavior. “The devil made me do it.”  We all make mistakes, it’s the choices we make after them that really matter.

choice/noun

noun: choice; plural noun: choices
  1. an act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities.
I know some people subscribe to a philosophy that our lives are just laid out in front of us with no choices…all fate.  All the time.  That’s fine if that’s working for you.  I just happen to wholeheartedly disagree.  We have free will.  We choose how to respond.  We can choose who we want to be. We can choose whether or not to let someone provoke bad behavior in us. We can choose to learn more. We choose how to utilize new knowledge. Knowledge is power in every circumstance even sometimes when it’s painful.

When I realized that every minute of every day I have a choice, even though it seems so simple, I really felt like I had been liberated.

We have the privilege of getting to make choices (good or bad) and learn from them and get up another day and make another round of choices.  We are choice makers—not constant victims of circumstance.  Fabulous, huh?

Well, not entirely, because when I began to study about the nature of choice it put a bunch of victim crap I’ve carried around back on my own broad shoulders. Wait, I can’t dump that on someone else?  Someone didn’t DO that to me, that was my choice?  I didn’t want to think about it.  Choosing is not an easy process, but that’s the way the universe operates.  I tried to unlearn and block out what I was reading.  I just couldn’t, the genie was out of the bottle and now I’m grateful.

Every moment of every day we have choices to make.

choice eleanor roosevelt lisa lillibridge

When we make choices with personal authority and ownership they can actually help us learn a lot about ourselves.  I don’t know about you, but I will spend my lifetime trying to understand Lisa.  She’s actually a total pain in the ass—however, the more I know about her, the more I know and that’s never a bad thing…even if it’s painful in the short term.

The world is a complicated place…

thankfully we have a choice every day.

lisa lillibridge love and hate

happiness is a choice

happiness lillibridge dakota 1966

After a wonderfully dense four hour conversation this morning with two very smart thoughtful friends over coffee, pastry and strawberries I learned of the book: The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky. I wanted to give you a quick visual for the basis of the book. I personally need to use this pie chart as a quick visual reminder for my own happiness and choices.

“But what precisely can we do to hasten or bolster such increases in happiness? The answer lies in the pie chart theory of happiness. Recall that 50 percent of individual differences in happiness are governed by genes, 10 percent by life circumstances, and the remaining 40 percent by what we do and how we think-that is, our intentional activities and strategies.” Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside

OUR HAPPINESS IS WITHIN OUR POWER TO CHANGE not an entirely predetermined way of life. Let that marinade in your brain a while OR put that in your pipe and smoke it. Whatever resonates more for you. It might sound ridiculous, but some little changes could net big gains in your happiness level. Maybe worth a shot, huh?

Here’s the link to the book:
http://thehowofhappiness.com/