Brute force is one approach.  Put your head down, muscle through, teeth gritted, grinding and clawing for results in whatever the endeavor happens to be.  Sometimes it gets results.  Sometimes.  Never mind that it leaves you in a sweaty, exhausted heap, sort of twitching when you think about the next phase of the project.

Or you can relax.  Letting go of the need for tight control, and going with the flow.  Just waiting for the inspiration and confident knowledge as to the best next action and then flowing and going.  Oh, yeah.  Flowin’ and goin’…

Love Never Fails

It’s true. Love never fails. It’s just that sometimes some people get a little confused about what love is.

I loved playing in my shed studio with paper, paint, stamps and ink to make this small multimedia piece. I don’t think I am at all confused about that.

Body Wisdom

“Nothing is as close to us as our body, but there is nothing else that is close to us and about which we know so little.”  Gunther von Hagens, creator of the “Body Worlds” exhibits.

All of us walking around on this great big revolving ball of dirt orbiting around the universe schlepp around a fairly significant load every day, most of us a hundred pounds or more.  Some of us, lots more.  Yet what do we know about these bodies that we live in and what is our relationship with our bodies?  I would venture a guess that the vast majority of us don’t reap the benefits of the rich value that our bodies offer.  Even worse, many of us are pretty darn annoyed about almost everything body related and, quite honestly, pretty ticked off that the body we got wasn’t quite what we had in mind.

Or is it?  Maybe your body is EXACTLY what you have in mind.  You just don’t know it, consciously anyway.  According to Bruce Lipton, Ph.D., author of The Biology of Belief, “It is not gene-directed hormones and neurotransmitters that control our bodies and our minds, our beliefs control our bodies, our minds and thus our lives.”  Pair this with the teaching of Abraham-Hicks, “A belief is just a thought you keep thinking,” and you have sort of a mind-blowing idea.  Your life, which includes your body, your circumstances, your relationships, your finances, the whole shebang, are all a product of your beliefs, which are a product of your habits of thought.

If this is true, and let’s just say it is for the sake of exploration, this body you’re schlepping around and complaining about is really nobody’s fault but your own.  Yeah, I know I alienated a wad of you right there.  Understandable.  My pointing out the fact that your reality really kind of stinks right now, and then proceeding to tell you that you created it is not likely to win me many friends.  Until they realize it’s true.

Back to this body of yours.  You created it:  it is an expression of your life experience on this planet thus far.  So how can you make that advantageous for yourself?  Instead of complaining and moaning about what a pain in the back side your body is and how you got ripped off in the body department, start to partner with it.  Learn it.  Explore it.  Listen closely to it.  For goodness’ sake, try being nice to it.  Find out what messages your body has for you.  If you actually do this, brace yourself for amazement.

I don’t remember learning much about my body in school, much less from my parents.  Of course, there was that science class that mentioned anatomy and then there was that horrible, embarrassing junior high school film about the birds and the bees.  That’s not really the angle about body messages that I’m trying to hone in on here.  Don’t get me wrong, my parents and my schoolteachers were awesome.  They were teaching the very best they knew to teach, and taught me some great stuff.  But “body awareness” is a huge body (couldn’t help myself!) of information that is massively valuable, and it’s just not taught in mainstream society.  At least not in the U.S. Midwest culture that I grew up in.

Whether you love your body or hate it, or something in between, it has incredibly valuable information for you just for the listening.  That tightness in your tummy when you think about your upcoming presentation at work, that is a clue to a belief that you have about your abilities or lack thereof; a belief that really has very little to do with your actual abilities.  It has more to do with what you picked up about your worth and value when you were just a little kid.  It might indicate a belief that goes something like, “What I have to say is not valuable; I should be seen and not heard,” and it’s been tripping you up your whole adult life.

But if you were to stop and listen, your body can give you clues to uncover those somewhat subconscious beliefs and help bring them to the light.  In my search for knowledge about how we humans function, what works well and what works not quite as well, I have stumbled across several leading edge thinkers that have spent their lives studying this.  For example, Eugene Gendlin, Ph.D., who developed the philosophy of Focusing, teaches that “your body knows more about situations than you are explicitly aware of.  For example, your body picks up more about another person than you consciously know. With a little training, you can get a bodily feel for the ‘more’ that is happening in any situation.”  I have personally experienced this, have helped others experience it, and it is quite amazing.

Another teacher, Steve Sisgold, has written an entire book:  “What’s Your Body Telling You?”  He has found that, “the happiest, healthiest, most successful people are those who integrate IQ (cognitive intelligence) with BQ (body intelligence).”  Sisgold calls this unique state “whole-body consciousness”.  There is an entire field dedicated to this topic.  According to Wikipedia, Somatic Psychology is an interdisciplinary field involving the study of the body, somatic experience, and the embodied self, including therapeutic and holistic approaches to body.

These are just a couple of examples of folks who have noticed the great advantage of embracing the wisdom of your body and intentionally tapping into it for a whole new level of guidance, effectiveness and enjoyment in life.  Your body is a product of your thoughts and beliefs, and for that very reason it is a powerful tool to help you become more aware of your thought patterns and the effects of those thoughts.  When your body tightens up, whether in the neck area, around the throat or in your stomach, it is telling you that there is something that it feels the need to defend against.  When you feel an openness and lightness within your body, that is a clear signal that you are in alignment with your inner, eternal self and your body feels safe to open up.

This might be old news for you, or it might be a whole new, crazy way of approaching life.  Either way, it is worth investigating further.  It can have huge payoffs in all areas of your life, not just your physical body.  Heck, even if it was just a benefit to your physical body, that is worth the price of admission, because regardless of how you feel about your body, you take it with you everywhere you go.

The Power of Words

“Pay attention to what has your attention.”  David Allen

When I was growing up, there was a familiar, and honestly kind of annoying, phrase that we used:  “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”  I, being the smart-alec that I was, liked to reply, “Words can hurt you if I whack you with a big dictionary!”  Of course, technically speaking, it wasn’t the words that would hurt, it was the weight of the stack of printed and bound paper slamming into the person’s body that did the damage.

The power of words is much like that.  It’s not the actual words that have power.   They are just the triggers that launch the concepts, ideas and emotions that have the true impact.  This is a fun experiment to play with.  Years ago, when I was struggling to claw my way back up out of a dark emotional hole that I had dug myself into, I ran across a book that had a simple, yet very powerful suggestion in it.  The author asked that you read a list of words and notice the emotional impact.  I was skeptical, but being desperate for relief, I played around with it.  I was shocked at the shift this particular list of words had upon my emotions.

Before turning my attention to the list of words, I was feeling depressed and disempowered, lethargic and melancholy.  On the emotional scale, I was hovering around two on a scale of one to ten, with one being utterly miserable and ten being on top of the world.  I swear, just by reading the list of words, I moved up at least two or three points on that scale.  It wasn’t just seeing black marks on white paper that did it.  It was that the black marks on white paper represented letters that formed words that conjured concepts that now had my attention.  The words in the list were powerful and uplifting.  Although I didn’t experiment with a list of negative words, I assume it would work the same way, knocking me down a notch or two on the same scale.  I just really didn’t need that kind of movement.

The attention factor is very critical.  The concepts represented in that list were not new to me:  they were in my mental file cabinet all along.  The difference is that I had tossed them aside to the dusty corners of my brain, most definitely outside my zone of awareness.  I simply was not in the habit of focusing my attention on empowering thoughts – quite the opposite.  No surprise I was in that dark, suffocating emotional place.  However, when I turned my attention to the concepts triggered by the list of positive words, I began to experience the essence of them.  They triggered related thoughts and ideas that then resulted in corresponding emotions.

It is interesting to note also that thoughts are not loners.  They do not like to travel alone.  They’re pack animals, and move in herds.  Or trains.  One thought triggers a similar thought, which triggers another similar thought, and all of this triggering forms trains of thought which gain in momentum and clarity and specificity.  For example, someone says “dog”.  That reminds me of my dog Kona, who is very specifically a chocolate lab.  Who is getting old.  Which reminds me that she won’t live forever.  That reminds me of another dog of mine, Callie, who didn’t live forever.  It was incredibly difficult for me to watch her decline with age and then die, and that reminds me of the specific day she died and how I felt when she breathed her last breath.  That, of course, reminds me of all the other dogs I have loved dearly and lost and I have now heaped every pain-related dog memory in a huge pile like I’m building the mother of all bonfires.  If I don’t find something to derail the momentum (and darn quickly), a can of gasoline and a huge box of matches is on the way.   The next thing you know, the neutral concept of “dog” has me in a heap on the floor in a pile of used Kleenex, makeup running everywhere in a most unflattering way.

Now, most everyone knows this, or if challenged they could figure it out, but for some crazy reason it is frequently not consciously put to use in the average schmoe’s everyday life.  Even though it is a really, really good idea to purposely make use of this information.  If you’re aware of the mechanism, you can stop the train before it flattens you on the track.  You can stop the momentum before it gets so darn hard to manage.  You get to decide to stop digging before you find yourself at the bottom of that deep, dark, emotional hole.  It saves all that pesky clawing to get back out.

In fact, you get to decide any ole time you want, to create an upward spiral using the same dynamic as the downward spiral.  You can point it in the direction you want to go, then knock yourself out shoveling heaps of coal in the engine of the train (of thought) and experience glorious upward momentum.  Go ahead, purposely focus your attention on those thoughts that have an upward pull on your emotions.  Instead of thinking “dog” and ruminating on the negative memories, I can purposely place my attention on all the happy memories associated with “dog” – and there are plenty of them to choose from.

This world is a place of extreme abundance.  There is a boundless abundance of what is wanted, and there is an equally boundless abundance of what is unwanted.  Your experience of life is a direct result of which flavor, wanted or unwanted, you most often turn your attention to.

It’s a real no-brainer choice, but it’s not always so easy to do.  It takes intention, attention and a quality decision.  It is harder at first to change the momentum, but it gets easier and easier as you notice your thoughts, notice the emotional result, and deliberately choose your train’s direction.  Good to know – and remember – and apply.

Enjoying Creating as Much as the Creation

Everybody needs a good redefining every now and then.  That doesn’t mean there was anything wrong with the old definition, but there really is no such thing as staying put, and since you’re constantly changing and evolving and experiencing life anew each day, doesn’t it make sense to put some thought into the direction you’re moving rather than leaving it all up to chance – and entropy.

If I considered myself to be an expert on anything, I believe I would have to pick entropy as my most-known subject.  You stop paying attention to your diet and nutrition, and it “tends to disorder” in a blinding hurry!  If only it would tend back to order so quickly.

Organization is another hot entropic topic.  I can walk into my office, file everything, put everything away, even clean out my email inbox – then turn my back, and bam, it all jumps back out of place before I can boot up my computer.

What about cooking dinner?  You plan a meal, go grocery shopping, bring everything home, put it away neatly, clean the kitchen.  Then you’re ready to begin.  Hang onto your butt with both hands, because that baby’s going entropic in a big way.  When I am done cooking, every single dishy in the kitchen is dirty, food is splattered on every surface, and me personally?  Hair is a mess and makeup is melted.  Then you sit down with your guests, exhausted, not that hungry because you smelled it the whole time it was cooking – and oh, all right, I taste-tested everything at least three times – and then the meal is eaten in 15 minutes.  Seriously, how fair is that?  All things considered, shopping, cleaning, preparing, cooking, serving, cleaning up again, it took like nine hours to create the meal and then it is gone in 15 minutes!  Where is the equity in that?????

But even though the preparation far outweighs the actual meal, it is still worth it.  If you just measure it in black and white, time spent preparing versus time spent consuming the meal, it wouldn’t weigh out.  However, that doesn’t paint the whole picture.  There is so much to be gained from the experience of planning, executing, adjusting, imagining, and projecting, that the actual consumption of the meal is almost overshadowed.  The act of creation is the main thing.  The joy of imagining, planning, beginning to take action steps, seeing the image come into focus and begin to take shape – that’s the true joy.  Having your guests over and sitting down to a meal is just the excuse to get to engage in the creative act.

I’m asking myself how much more I would enjoy my life overall, minute to minute and not just the occasional highlights, if I really understood this more and slowed down enough to notice it, instead of trudging and striving and curmudgeoning my way through one task, agenda item, or to-do after another.  How much more fun would the simple things in life be?  How much more joy would I experience in the ordinary days of my life?

In Defense of Kona

My dog, Kona, likes to put her paw on me when I pet her.  She’ll flop her most available paw up on my arm or leg, just however she can reach me.  It seems very important to her that she have a paw on me in some fashion.   I don’t know why she likes to do this.  It is very illogical. It’s really very sweet, but sometimes it hurts.  Like the other day when she was a little over-energetic with it, she miscalculated a bit when she was reaching for my arm, and nailed me right in the lip.  It drew blood.

Kona being overly excited was very understandable, as this was immediately after an overly exciting incident, a little run-in with the neighbor dogs who are big bullies and very brazen about it.  She was on her porch, minding her own business, when these two big bullies violated the sacred canine pee-marked boundaries and dog-trotted into the yard and surrounded her.  Needless to say, she assumed a defensive posture.  Fairly loudly.

I was inside the house, still in my dorky plaid pajamas, working on my laptop computer, when I heard the ruckus.  The volume and tone of the barking left no question in my mind that it was urgent, so I scrambled to my feet, grabbing the closest thing I could find for a weapon and charged outside to the rescue (yes, still in my pajamas).  In retrospect, the three-ring binder in my hand was a totally lame choice of weapon.

I realize a 50-something, silver-haired woman in her pajamas wielding a three-ring notebook, generally speaking, is not that intimidating, but it worked.  The bully neighbor dogs retreated as quickly as I emerged.  Thankfully, I never had to figure out what I was going to do with the notebook.  It seems that waving my arms wildly and screaming very unfriendly things at them was enough to convince the bully dogs.

I was there to even the odds and Kona, seeing that she now had backup, apparently felt empowered to take the offensive.  As the bully neighbor dogs ran down the driveway and out of the yard, she ran after them, barking.  It sounded a lot like, “And don’t come back!”  But I don’t’ really speak dog, so I can’t say that for sure.

Although the bully dogs were gone and we were safe in the house, Kona and I were both still a bit excited.  I kneeled in the floor beside her to comfort her.  That’s when she put her paw on me a little too exuberantly, and that was the end of me trying to comfort her.  I quickly decided I needed to comfort myself and also stop the bleeding.  Next time I just need to assess the excitement level before I get too close to that paw of hers.

The Whispers Hurt Less than the Shouts

I used to live in the quaintest, cutest, most darling brick Gingerbread house.  It was old enough to be charming, and not just old.  I really enjoyed that house.  The detailing in the house was outstanding and while it had been well taken care of before me, I took it even further, adding my own personality and flair.  One of the points of character of the house was that it had plaster walls, which are much less forgiving than drywall, so I took great care to hang all artwork from the crown moulding rather than marring the wall itself.

One particular painting that I had was very large and dramatic, and I had proudly placed it above the couch, hanging it from extra, extra heavy duty fishing line, secured by a decorative D-ring anchored in the moulding.  One day, as I passed through the living area, I noticed that the D-ring was showing tiny signs of stress and had actually begun to separate.  I think it was trying to become a C-ring.  I said to myself, “You should get a heavier D-ring and fix that.”  But I didn’t.

The next time I passed through the living room, I noticed that the gap in the D-ring, now C-ring contender, was ever so slightly larger.  I said to myself, “You REALLY should get something and fix that.  Soon.”  But I didn’t.  Did I mention this was a really large picture with a very heavy frame?

This went on for a while, I cannot say how long.  Then one day, feeling uncharacteristically tired, I took a break from my busy weekend activities, and sat on the couch, indulging in a little rest.  Felt good.  The sitting turned into lounging.  Felt even better.  The lounging turned into napping.

It was actually quite rare for me to take naps in those days.  This was unusual that I would take a nap in the first place, but it was extremely unusual to be awakened suddenly and with acute and substantial pain.  Once the shock and confusion cleared, I realized that the D-ring, which had been calling to me softly for weeks, was now screaming.  It failed, the picture fell, and rapped me sharply over the head.

The lesson of this story is pretty clear, take care of things when they whisper to you that they need attention.  I have no statistics, but I would bet a substantial amount on the fact that most people had soft whispers of warnings to take care of things before they blew up on them “out of the blue”.  Your body whispers to you, louder and louder over time, that you’re not taking care of it.  Your finances whisper to you that they need attention.  Possibly most importantly, your relationships whisper to you that they need nurture and care, possibly more engagement or consideration, or even more space, long before the relationship blows up and people act all shocked and surprised.

If you look back on the last thing that blind-sided you and get brutally honest with yourself – did it really?  Is that really true?  Did it not give you any clues at all?  Or were you just not willing to address the issues and make some changes because it was easier to stay on the path you were on, preferring to address it at some time off in the future, just hoping it will be easier or more convenient then (it won’t)?

I replaced the D-ring very shortly thereafter, and the picture hung securely there until I took it down when I moved.  Although  I don’t live in that house anymore, the memories and lessons still live in me.  Whenever I am tempted to procrastinate or ignore the signs and whispers this world so lovingly provides, I try to remind myself that I can take care of it right away or I can nurse a knot on my head.

Kona, Kitty and Me

I have a dog named Kona and a cat named Kitty.  Particularly creative name for the cat, I know.  She really has other names, but I can’t seem to call her anything but Kitty.  Kona is an old Chocolate Lab, but still pretty spry for her age.  She is the reason I go for my walks every day.  Strange how I will do it for her, but I won’t do it for myself.  But whatever reason works is a good enough reason for me.  She has such a sweet, sensitive nature, but she knows how to get what she wants.  A master of persuasion.  If I could stare at people with big, brown, melty, hopeful eyes like she does, I would probably win major sales and marketing awards.  However, I do think it best to not follow people around all day every day, very closely on their heels, breathing loudly like Looney Tunes’ Tazmanian Devil.  The likelihood they would find it annoying is quite high.  Taz would be a good name for her is she wasn’t already named Kona.

Kitty follows me around all day, too, but not quite so closely and she doesn’t breathe quite so loudly.  She does snore when she sleeps, which is most of the time, but it’s a cute little snore and not really annoying at all.  What is annoying is how she has digestive issues and leaves little messes to clean up.  She also is rather rotund and takes up way more than her share of the bed at night.  She takes up way more than her share of the chair during the day, too.  She magically appears instantaneously if there is tuna or chicken involved.

I like to complain about them a lot, but I secretly like them.  I secretly enjoy their company.  I am a retired software developer who now gets to stay home every day.   I’m quite sure I’ve really died and gone to heaven and it’s just like I’m still living on earth but it got so much better I have to tell dramatic stories like dying and going places to explain it.

Since I’ve retired from the corporate information technology world, I’ve been running around, flapping my arms and making lots of noise like I’m going to start an entrepreneurial venture.  I spent several thousand dollars, lots of time and cell phone minutes to get a life coach certification, with the intention of starting a life coaching business.  That venture is still parked at the gate.  It is not even pretending to taxi to the runway.  It didn’t seem like nearly as brilliant an idea when I thought about networking, and sales calls and, if that was successful, being tied to phone appointments all day.

In spite of the costs, I don’t regret the education.  I learned some extraordinarily valuable stuff and stretched past my previous comfort zone.  I have the potential to be a darn good life coach, and I probably will be one day as ideas emerge for how to do that and still enjoy the structure of my day.  In the meantime, my days are spent wandering around the house alone, except for Kona and Kitty, wondering how to create a successful entrepreneurial venture and still thoroughly enjoy my days.  I am in the enviable position of not having to work, so fear of starvation and homelessness are not scaring me into doing something I will despise.

As I find my way, I have peace of mind, furry companionship, the most amazing and awesome husband ever, and creative potential eager to find its way out.  About the furry companionship, though, a little personal space might be nice.  So, Kitty, please stop pushing the bathroom door open.  Yes, I know that Kona put you up to it.

Untapped Potential

Untapped potential is so much easier to see on someone else than it is to see within yourself.  It is easy for me to look at you and see your brilliance, your capacity for accomplishment, and even where you’re missing some opportunities and making some knot-headed decisions.

That may be one of the best gifts that I can give you, to reflect what I see back to you so that you can see yourself more clearly.  No judgment, no demands, no attachment to outcomes.  That is definitely one of the best gifts that you can give to me.

I have received that gift recently.  There is an amazing young man in my life with whom I have had the chance to interact with more closely than usual in the last couple of weeks.  He has unknowingly given me this gift.  I see the potential in him – it oozes out of him – but he has not been living up to it for the past several months.  Years, really.  I wonder to myself how he could miss something so obvious.

Then I remember to ask myself about how I’m doing with that.  Dang it.  I have quite a load of untapped potential myself.  I can’t help but consider my own life and all that I am tolerating and leaving undone and where I am settling for less than what I really want.

Up until about a year and a half ago, I had worked in the corporate world.  I desperately wanted to create a business for myself, doing work that I truly enjoy and doing it on my own terms, but I had nothing left after dragging myself, kicking and whining, to work for way too many hours each week.  I let this go on for decades.

It was a long time coming, but I have an amazing opportunity right now.  Because of my incredibly generous and very successful husband, I no longer drag myself to work.  For the last year and a half I have been totally at choice as to how I spend my days.  I have plenty of money and plenty of time.  Countless people would give a major appendage for an opportunity like this.

I am in the middle of that opportunity and I still have all my appendages. I have been exploring options, searching within to become clear on what I truly want, and have even accomplished a major goal of earning a life coach certification from a top school.  However, the interaction with the amazing young man has made me question whether I am really making the most of this opportunity or just coasting.

Maybe it was appropriate to coast for a little while and decompress after all the years of work that didn’t fit quite right.  I’m okay with that.  But what about now?  I believe the time has come to step up and step into some of my own untapped potential.  As I continue to hold the vision for the young man in my life and help him see what he can be, I’m choosing to include myself in the mix.

It’s time to draw a line in the sand and think a little differently than I have been.  It’s time to demand more of myself than what I’ve been living.  I suspect as I do that for myself, it will inspire and encourage those around me to step up in a much bigger and more satisfying way.  Everyone wins!

Thoughts and Feelings, In Tennis and in Life

It would be a challenge to improve on the tennis lesson I had yesterday.  The weather was exactly what makes tennis players salivate:  sunny, ideal temperature, and no annoying Oklahoma Plains pesky winds toying with my tennis precision.  It was endorphine-laced, invigorating fun.  I attribute much of the enjoyment factor to Coach Bob.  His teaching style is effective, and more importantly, the lessons are a blast.  The bonus is that at the end of each lesson, I walk away knowing unequivocally that I got a good workout as evidenced by my weak and shaky legs.  I appreciate Coach Bob, not just because my tennis stroke has improved, but also because I thoroughly enjoy bantering with him about the internal part of the game.  We get a chance to chat during the breaks where he kindly allows me to recover upon seeing my struggle with exertion-induced oxygen deprivation – a malady common amongst the out-of-shape and slightly overweight.

If you are familiar with the book The Inner Game of Tennis, then you know the kind of stuff we talk about.  It is a riveting topic for me because I am endlessly curious about how our mysterious human brains work and why we think and act the way we do, in life’s many scenarios.  I think tennis is a particularly brilliant vehicle for learning more about who you are and how you think.  The game is both very mental and very physical, so you are already stretched, and then the competition factor finishes you off, drawing all your “stuff” right to the surface, for all to see.

On a break during the lesson yesterday, we began talking about playing the game with thinking as the primary approach versus placing the focus on feeling.  Both are required, and it serves you extremely well if you know and understand the concept and can switch focus between the two, at will.  It’s fascinating to consider how this applies to life in the broader sense as well.

When you’re first learning tennis – or anything for that matter – you have to think.  You don’t have the experience to have developed a “feel” yet, so that is not available to you.  However, eventually you progress in the game far enough to start playing by feel , and that is required to reach any level of mastery.  During a high level game of tennis, there is no time for mental gyrations.   The Four Stages of Learning competence model demonstrates this nicely:

Unconscious Incompetence – You don’t know what you don’t know.

Conscious Incompetence – Tennis is now on your radar and you’re giving it a try, but you can’t keep the ball in the park, never mind the court.

Conscious Competence – You’re starting to get pretty good at the game, hitting a few good strokes, but you have to really think about it and it’s not happening naturally or consistently yet.

Unconscious Competence – You’re great at the game and you don’t have to think about it at the conscious level much any more.  You’re playing “out of your head”, and you know how to find “the zone”.

But a funny thing happens with some folks.  They resist letting go of the thinking part and unknowingly put a ceiling on their improvement.  They can’t quite shift from playing from their head to bringing their heart and gut, the feeling part, to the forefront, learning to trust their muscles and instincts rather than trying to control everything with their brain.  And, oh, what they are missing!

I have to admit, in my own tennis game, I haven’t been there, to the zone, anywhere near as often as I would like to go, but I have been there enough to know what it feels like.  It is euphoric!  It is truly a “sweet spot”.  I am even more reluctant to admit that, in the broader sense of life in general, I haven’t been to the zone anywhere near as often as I would like to go either, but I’m still reaching for unconscious competence in more ways, more often.

My theory is that learning the roles of thinking and feeling and getting truly adept at applying them skillfully aids tremendously in finding life’s sweet spot more consistently.  Your emotions, how you are feeling in the moment, is guidance for how effectively you are thinking, and thinking intentionally and purposefully helps you to attain desired emotions, which is necessary for enjoyment of life.

One example from my own life in the broader sense is my search for career satisfaction.  I have been trying to think through my career direction for decades, and it has been an exercise in acute futility.  That long-term frustration is painful.  Now I’m learning to bring my feelings into the mix and think AND feel my way there.  Good move on my part.  I’m making more progress with this in a few weeks than I have with thinking alone for decades.  I noticed the feeling of relief and encouragement and inspiration when I set that intention.  I THINK it FEELS good!

Learning to let go of operating solely from thinking, from your head, and learning to expand your modes of operation to include feeling your way to success, both on and off the court, pays huge dividends.