The Space Behind the Waterfall — 7 Takeaways No. 114

Behind the Waterfall

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1. “Mindfulness is the space behind the waterfall.”

10% Happier Revised Edition – Dan Harris – (ebook/audiobook)

The full quote:

The Buddhists had a helpful analogy here. Picture the mind like a waterfall, they said: the water is the torrent of thoughts and emotions; mindfulness is the space behind the waterfall.

I’ve been meditating for 15 years now, and of course paying attention to concepts like mindfulness along the way. This was a new way of looking at it that really resonated.

This is another book I’m thoroughly enjoying. Lots of good story telling leading to and supporting the premise that meditation is valuable (and need not carry with it all the religious/woo baggage).

Do this: Be mindful.

2. ‘”If it bleeds, it leads,” minus the fact-checking’

Tell Good Stories – Rahul Rana – (Not Boring newsletter)

Rana makes an interesting case for the importance of aspirational storytelling, particularly as Science Fiction, to give us a more hopeful view of the future. He also discusses what he refers to “spectacles”, such as World’s Fairs, as another venue for optimistic future hope.

We should return to the days of celebrating big achievements as they elicit feelings of pride in the public towards doing impactful things

His analysis of the 1939 New York World’s Fair — “World of Tomorrow” — is fascinating, as is the newsreel he links to covering the event.

Do this: Hope. Aspire.

3. “No one really cares what we’re doing with our life”

Who’s in charge around here? – Oliver Burkeman – (The Imperfectionist newsletter)

It’s not that what you’re doing doesn’t matter, it does. As Burkeman clarifies:

if you’re waiting for some outside authority to give their stamp of approval to what you’re doing with your life – if you’re telling yourself things will only be truly OK once they’ve done so – then you’ll be waiting a long time.

Couple that with the realization that:

your life now isn’t a dress rehearsal for some later, better, realer time

While it can be stressful, it’s also liberating. Ultimately, we are all our own OTB: One, True, Boss.

Do this: Take charge.

4. “Learned loneliness”

Scientists Warn of A “Friendship Recession” — I’m Part of It – Addie Page – (Medium)

I’ve highlighted post-pandemic isolation and friendship issues before. This is another good overview of the situation, how amazingly common it seems to be, and some steps that might be required to move past it. It certainly feels like entering the pandemic as an introvert, while it helped during, is a distinct disadvantage as we emerge.

most friendships need face-to-face contact to survive

While I think introverts might require less contact overall, less is certainly not none.

Do this: Get together with friends.

5. “Break people free of muscle memory”

Why Do We Fall for Hackers? Blame Our Brains – Anthony Vance and C. Brock Kirwan – (Wall Street Journal)

This was almost a “more links” item to be added below, but then I got engaged reading it. It’s an overview of how our brains are often trained to completely ignore warnings, and warning signs, that we see every day.

mobile-phone users receive an average of 218 notifications a day,

It applies to what I do because I often admonish people to read what’s on the screen in front of them. (So much so, it’s an Ask Leo! Tip of the Day.) And yet there are clear research-backed reasons we do not. Unfortunately, many of the things that might work (ever-changing notification presentations) seem like a completely different annoyance.

Do this: Do your best to pay attention, anyway.

6. “Showing love sometimes means shutting up”

Listening with Silence – Rob Walker – (The Art of Noticing newsletter)

Not talking is SO HARD. Not when you’re alone, of course, (well, for most of us), but whenever you’re with others, in conversation silence can be excruciating. There’s an implied requirement we will fill all available time with meaningful words. Unfortunately, the result is often less than meaningful, and frequently prevents more deliberate and well-thought-out conversation.

The article discusses some lengthy “don’t talk” exercises, but more practical might be:

If a full day seems daunting, try staying silent during a single conversation. Don’t say anything unless asked a question. See what happens.

Do this: Listen.

7. “We never know who’s watching”

Are You Ready to Be a Torch Bearer? – Julia Hubbel – (Lifeshiift)

Hubbel touches on a topic I think about from time to time: inspiration, but in both “directions”.

Who inspires us? How do we find inspirational people or role models? It’s related, in a way, to the “you are the average of the 5 people you hang out with most”, but it’s also more intentional as we seek other role models to learn from as well.

Who do we inspire? Would we be proud of being seen as inspirational?

If you and I surround ourselves with inspired people, we are more likely to be moved to live an inspired life, what ever that means on our unique terms.

Is it your time to be inspired, to inspire? We never know who’s watching, and whose life we may change when we choose to bear a torch.

Do this: Be inspired. Be inspiring.

More links & thoughts

What I’m Reading

In progress:


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