10 July, 2017

Adult-ing - Part 6

Dorothy girl: delegate!
1.  Delegate.
When it comes to tackling big projects, you can try to do everything yourself and have an aneurysm or…not! Why not? Because you can also choose to reach out and find the right people to help you— sometimes people that are (gasp) even better at certain tasks than you are. The former will raise your blood pressure; the second choice will raise your effectiveness.

Someone else always knows how to help.  Find and engage them.

Example: remember that episode of Golden Girls where the ladies want a fancy new toilet, and decide that the best way forward is to read a giant book on plumbing, then install the toilet themselves? Yeeeeah. Through a series of (hilarious) mishaps, they ultimately end up calling a professional plumber, who has to charge them even more than he would have in the first place, to not only install the toilet, but to clean up their DIY plumbing mess. …This is obviously a fictional example, but, you all know how I love a show about senior citizens, and also, it is an apt metaphor.

I am not a bad business woman, but I’m certainly a better singer than I am at talking about money. That’s… why I have agents and mangers. I delegate the business talk to them so I can do the stuff I am best at! Additionally, if your website is suddenly having glitches with a new web browser, why read a giant book on web design? Delegate. Hire a professional web designer. Just do it. Don't hem and haw, don't worry about the cost. Think of the Golden Girls and their giant plumbing bill.

See every stressful problem as an opportunity to delegate. You’ll get great results, and you won’t grow a tumor. Life is trying to teach you that most long-term, worthy endeavors are team efforts, and if you think about it, so much more palatable when shared with others.  Every unexpected tension in life is a lesson in disguise, especially solvable with the right team of people.

2.  Know your “Myths.” 
There is a popular phrase in contemporary psychology: “TELLING YOURSELF A STORY” or “WRITING A STORY.” What does that mean, exactly? I am not a psychologist, but I personally define this phrase thus: that it is not necessarily what factually happens to us, but how we choose to interpret and psychologically take on what happens to us, that defines our experience of life. “Writing stories” is a term that gives a name to why and how some people with terrible childhoods live forever in victim-hood, and others overcome the mindset and can even end up experiencing extraordinary gratitude for their adversities, if they even view them as adversities at all! It is not the facts, it is the manner in which we approach, interpret, internalize and identify with those facts.

I like this term, but in my own life, and in my teaching, I use an alternative: “Know Your Myths.” Why do I alter this? Firstly, the word myth insinuates instantly that the story is in some way not to be entirely trusted as fact, but is allegorical, and absolutely up for interpretation, like the mythic tales of yore. Second, I like that the term “myth” insinuates something ancient and older-than-humanity— something of great significance to be addressed and not ignored. If you were bullied as a youth, outright ignoring that adversity is not evolved— addressing, processing, and truly moving forward from the adversity, IS.

In her brilliant book Rising Strong, Dr Brené Brown says whole-hearted lives have the goal to “rise from our falls, overcome our mistakes , and face hurt in a way that brings more wisdom and wholeheartedness into our lives.” I shall regurgitate her wisdom here, but only because it is peerless and can’t be bettered so why try? (Now do yourself a favor and go binge-watch her videos and buy her books.)

Brené Brown’s process includes 3 elements:
    •    The Reckoning.  Recognize emotion, and get curious about our feelings and how they connect with the way we think and behave.
    •    The Rumble.  Get honest about the stories we’re making up about our struggle, then challenge these confabulations and assumptions to determine what’s truth, what’s self-protection, and what needs to change if we want to lead more wholehearted lives.
    •    The Revolution.  Write a new ending to our story based on the key learnings from our rumble and use this new, braver story to change how we engage with the world and to ultimately transform the way we live, love, parent and lead.
But knowing your myths is an not only an important part of being a healthy human being, it is an important part of self-identity. In my own personal narrative, for example, I know that my father passing away when I was 18 is a fact, I have long moved into the acceptance phase of the grieving process, but? My myth is that I shall, no matter what, always in some way be an 18-year-old whose father has died. I will always be a fatherless daughter interpreting the world through that specific lens. Okay, that is the truth: I can't change it. Thus, knowing that, without getting all in a wah wah waaaahhhh tizzy victim-mode about it, owning that myth and making space for it is a responsible part of being in the world.

Haven’t you ever walked into a film or play or started reading a book, only to discover that the subject matter was WAY too close to your own life for personal comfort? If you’d known your myths going in, you might approach engaging with that piece differently, all of which can have a positive effect.

Everyone has myths. They must be incorporated in to who we become, not extracted, dissolved, or ignored, Knowing your myths means you can plan around and benefit from them—the way one would with anything else. If you know you are an introvert that prefers quiet holidays to jam-packed adventurous ones, you book a peaceful event-less retreat in the country, not a trip to Tokyo Disney. If you broke your ankle as a kid, and it still gives you a little trouble, you know going in to a day walking around the city to bring your walking shoes. We must know, and work with our myths just like anything and everything else. 

3.  See the world.
There are plenty of things one can gain from exploring different places. When you start exploring new places, you get a better understanding of the people living there including their culture, history and background, but you also get to know yourself— how you specifically fit into a pluralistic worldview, and it can both alter and strengthen your beliefs and values.

Further, studies show that traveling can improve your overall health and enhance your creativity. Therefore, it is recommended that you need to take time out from your daily tasks, office responsibilities, hectic schedule and everyday pressures at least once in a year. You don’t have to actually travel a geographic distance— there are plenty of cultural opportunities in our own backyards— sometimes just across town! Plan a tour with an open schedule and let life present you with the numerous opportunities that are waiting for you.

Travel improves social and communication skills, helps you get original and creative thoughts, boosts up your confidence, provides you with a real-life education, enhances your tolerance for uncertainty, and broadens your horizons.

You’ll realize how little you actually knew about the world, you’ll make new friends,  you’ll appreciate your home more, realize your “home” is much more than the place you grew up, and you might even find a new purpose, and create lifelong memories.

4.  Kindness is the supreme intelligence.
Kindness is one thing we all have the ability to share. It’s free, it feels great, and it’s within our control. Yet it asks a lot of us— it requires us to suspend our own selfishness, our primal instinct to survive over another species, it requires discipline, empathy, compassion, and above all, it requires us to suspend our sociological apathy. Thus, it is precisely this sacrifice of our laziness and judgements that proves kindness is the supreme intelligence. When you are kind, and engage with Kindness as a daily practice (like any other kind of practice from yoga to meditation to baseball), you not only feel the world as a more beautiful place, but you are provided with evidence that it is. Kindness breeds kindness in return. So says Jesus, Martin Luther King, The Buddha, Karma and ya know, PHYSICS. So dig a little deeper, suspend your jerk mode, put away your middle finger and be nice. Give it a try. It certainly can’t hurt.

Countless scientific studies, newspaper articles, religious texts, and self-help books have tried to help us become kinder people, but how often do we really put that advice into actual practice? We've all heard popular sayings like, “Do unto others” and “Do not judge another until you have walked a mile in their shoes.” Here are some actionable tips to take these tropes and sentiments, and literally apply them to our daily lives.

- Open your eyes - notice where Kindness is in need!

- Offer help. Once you’ve kept your eyes open for people in need (or even is not especially for people who are just being jerks because they are frustrated) and say “Can I Help You?” It is amazing what can come from interactions like this. (In fact, the other day I guided a lovely blind man from the D to the E train at the labyrinth that is West 4th Street station, and it made MY day!)

- Smile. So easy.

- Walk a mile in their shoes. There are always people who bother us and situations we try to avoid due to our selfishness. What if we had to do their job? Could we be kinder to them in the future?

- Don’t beat yourself up. Self-kindness is, ya know, also  thing.

- Confront yourself. Um...are you a jerk face? Do you have pedestrian or road rage or react rather than respond? If so, and you don’t like the effect this negativity has on your life— deal with it! What ever you need to do from getting a mantra to getting some rage therapy. Commit to Kindness!

- Kill 'em with kindness. As a woman who has recently dealt with some SERIOUS hospital rigamarole: Let. Me. Tell. You. You throw honey at the poor receptionists who are being yelled at all day? They’ll do anything for you. Even though I was frustrated as hell with the situation, I never lost my temper, and I made certain the people helping me felt appreciated when they finally did help me. Ever since I took that little bit of extra energy to make the hospital staff feel seen and appreciated, they gave me the same back in spades.

- Be kind to Auntie Em - Why do we always seem to neglect the people who we are closest to? Select one special person in your life who you might constantly neglect and do something especially kind for them.

- Pay it forward. “Paying” doesn’t necessarily mean financially, but energetically! That said, if you do have a little cash to spare, is just so easy to add an extra dollar to that tip when the service really is great, or to buy a stranger a coffee. But energetically, it is absolutely free to pay it forward with your heart: to take 3 minutes to speak meaningfully with the homeless man who just wants to talk, or to hold a door, help someone with a heavy suitcase on a stairwell, take a photo for a family of tourists (so they whole family can be in it!), or to compliment an outfit to a stranger on the street. I try to consciously do one of these at least once a day. It has changed my life.

Give these a try. I’d love to know how they go.

5.  Ladies always curtsy.
Trevor Nunn taught me that, so it must be true. I recall so vividly the first time we staged the curtain call of The Woman in White, and I instinctively curtsyed, and he shouted “GOOD GIRL!” from the back of the house. Then, explained later, that ladies always curtsy, and that he was pleased to know I was a natural lady.

6.  Nothing stays in Vegas.
Trust. This is coming from a woman who dated a cirque clown. …Trusssst.

Read More:

Adult-ing - Part 1
Adult-ing - Part 2
Adult-ing - Part 3
Adult-ing - Part 4
Adult-ing - Part 5

Yay Adult-ing!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Al. You are an ever richer source of inspiration!



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