Dear Why Team member,
I hope this week’s message finds you well. Thank you so much for being a member. If any of these messages serve you, please consider sharing them with others.
This week we consider:
With attention and effort, we can improve the condition of most things, be it a home, furniture, old leather shoes. In fact, for many, it’s rewarding to make something old new again.
Maybe because it awakens in us our ability to transform the world outside of us.
Well, how about the world inside of us? Our behavior in any given moment is largely the result of our current condition, born from our attention, or lack of attention, during past experiences; which in turn were born from even earlier past experiences, all the way back to when we were babies. Our “current” condition then, is the result of our conditioning in the past combined with the choices we make today.
Consider the moment you must physically lift something heavy, your ability to do so will depend, of course, on your physical condition. There is a saying that adversity reveals us. When lifting a heavy box, our physical condition is revealed; thus, the adversity awakens us to that which needs attention. And as we all know, consistent physical conditioning, over time, will make lifting boxes easier. So, this begs the question, how are you conditioning your mind for optimal ability when it encounters adversity? What are your daily thought disciplines?
Recently I was speaking to my 14-year-old son, Grayson, about being attentive to how he feeds his mind. How are you developing your mental strength and endurance? Are you prepared for a heavy load? And if you are currently carrying a heavy mental weight, maybe consider it a workout to improve your strength. Have you ever made that mental shift when doing manual labor? Let’s say you have a big job outside, shoveling snow, cutting wood, I know some who shift their intent to include getting a great workout; changing their attitude from a burden of responsibility to an opportunity to improve their abilities to respond. How many times do we turn away from an emotional challenge because it’s hard? Why not face what keeps showing up in our face and develop ourselves by doing so?
“It’s a simple and generous rule of life,” as Elizabeth Gilbert mentions in her book Big Magic “that whatever you practice, you will improve at.”
Conditioning, both physically and mentally, helps fortify us for what life will inevitably bring. Not an anxiety motived conditioning, but rather a conditioning that you know will improve every aspect of your life, fueling greater confidence that you can handle whatever comes your way.
In late July of this year, I have committed to climb the highest peak in Europe: Mt. Elbrus. We fly into Moscow and then on to the Caucasus. Not only is this in a part of the world I have never been, this will be the highest glacier I have ever climbed; at 18,000 feet, there will also be the challenge of acclimation.
Even though the climb is still six months away, you can bet that every new day has become an important day of conditioning. Many ask why people climb mountains, and while there are many reasons, one that I enjoy is that they get my attention. When I commit to a climb, I become more intentional about my behavior to be optimally conditioned in every way for the effort. When I committed to climb the glacier Mt. Baker back in late August of 2017, I spent the whole summer hiking with a backpack filled with books and weights. Even on family vacation, I wore that heavy backpack everywhere we went. Who would ever voluntarily load their backpack with books and weights? Most of us are preoccupied with lightening our loads, not increasing them. But this begs the question: Why?
While I am a big fan of time off and recuperation, I am not a fan of becoming weak of mind and body as a result. To encounter a more conditioned New You in this New Year, consider committing to something in the future that would cause you to be even more intentional about conditioning both your mind and your body today! And then you’ll notice how that added conditioning will serve you every day, in every aspect of your life.
Just as we condition our bodies, consider your daily readings and additions to your gratitude list as weights for training the mind. Life will certainly bring its circumstances, but you can flip the script, and see it as a mental workout rather than a burden. Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind man to summit Everest, believes that what lies within us is stronger than what’s in our way.
Live a life that happens for you, not to you; a life that is providing opportunities to condition you, to develop a better you - and you’ll experience a life all the more rewarding and abundant for you and all those around you.
Make it a great week!