Thursday, July 30, 2015

Wisdom Practice

I love to read, so it is probably not surprising that I keep buying books in search of wisdom.

I am not aging as gracefully as I thought I would. I am too short-tempered and not patient enough. I am overwhelmed by the horribleness in our world sometimes. I get caught up in other people's ideas of success and question my own choices. I get anxious. And so on.

I go looking for books to help me do better, and be the person I want to be. Most recently, I bought The Gifts of Imperfection,by Brene Brown. It was a pretty good book, and I don't regret reading it.

At some point in the book, when it was talking about engaging in a purposeful practice of some sort, I realized that I already have as much wisdom as I need.

I just need to practice it.
One of my kids enjoying life.

When I talk to people about getting better at using their time, I emphasize that there really is no "one cool trick" that will make it easy. It is about looking honestly at what you're doing now, thinking about how you could do better, doing the work to make it happen, and then keeping with it until the new way becomes your habit.  It isn't a quick fix, and it isn't necessarily easy, but it is effective.

And that's what I need to do with the aspects of my life that send me looking for wisdom.

I enjoy reading books about building a better, happier life, so I will probably keep reading them every now and then. But I don't need to read any more books. I've already read enough to know what I need to do to feel better. I need to get my yoga practice established again. I need to get my exercise routines going again. I need to remind myself of both my incredible good fortune and my resilience. I need to pick one thing and make it better. I need to count to four when I'm angry. (OK, that last one came from Daniel Tiger, but hey, take your wisdom where you find it.)

In short, I need to practice the wisdom I already have.

I'm not going to find "one cool trick" that makes this easy. It doesn't work like that. I know that, just as I know- from experience- how much better I feel when I have a strong "wisdom practice." I've been there before, and I can get there again. It is time to stop making excuses for why I'm not doing the things I know make my life better and start working on my wisdom practice. I'll let you know how it goes.


  1. I feel the opposite-- like I'm getting more chill with age. But I think you and I are starting from opposite ends of the outward patience spectrum. Younger me was never able to keep my mouth shut. Younger me always let off steam outwardly. We're both moving towards the middle. Regressing to the mean, as it were.

    Though I will give another plug for CBT for anxiety. Life-changing and more targeted than yoga. (Not one cool trick, but 6 cool tricks that take practice to implement!)

  2. I read a lot of self-help, too much really, and I find myself learning the same lessons repeatedly. I'm trying to fix that with a notebook where I write down the "wisdom" that I really should remember. I review it for a couple of minutes most days. (Also known as "reviewing my notes" or "using affirmations".) I'm doing better at avoiding some of my problematic thinking patterns. One example that has been helpful is "Instead of asking 'what am I doing wrong?', I need to ask 'are these expectations realistic?'". 


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