A couple of years ago I asked myself why I was still a performer. It’s not an easy life: no steady income, no sick pay, lots of driving, constantly having to appear as if everything is showbiz.
But I love it. I got into it decades ago because I liked showing off the skills. But I have come to realise that entertainment is an essential part of human life. When someone is truly entertained something profound happens, they experience some sort of freedom for a few moments. That is why I carry on.
Find Your Why
What is your “Why?”
Simon Sinek talks about the importance of “Finding Your Why.” Stephen Covey exhorts us to “Begin with the end in mind.”
What is motivating you? What do you want to achieve? How will you know when you have got there? Once you have these things sorted out in your head then it will be much easier to motivate yourself day-to-day because you will know what you are aiming for and what you are on the way to achieving.
Reflection should be hard-baked into our lives, we should make it a habit so that we don’t forget to do it. I recommend reflecting in the moment, daily and periodically.
Reflecting in the moment is so easy to miss out and yet doing it can completely transform your life experience.
Richard Rohr cites recent neuroscience which tells us that when we experience something negative it gets lodged into our memory immediately. This is so that we learn to avoid hazards when we see them coming, ie, a hangover from trying to avoid tigers stalking us in the long grass! And this is still useful for us in the modern world.
However, when we have a positive experience it doesn’t lodge in our memory unless we dwell on it for a little while. Apparently we need to focus on a positive thing for 15 seconds for it to last in our memory. So, next time you see a beautiful sunset, a child smiling or an amusing poster, focus on it for at least 15 seconds so that you have a positive memory stored away.
Get a Habit like a Monk
Reflecting daily is hugely valuable. Ignatius of Loyola, a Jesuit monk, recommended a daily examen . The idea is that, each day, you go through the previous day’s events in your mind and note how each one makes you feel. In his terms, did they bring you “consolation” or “desolation”? Journallling is a popular was of fitting this into a busy routine. Even a bullet-point journal can help you to reflect on what is and isn important in life and help you to identify whether you are putting your energy where you really want to.
Retreat to Advance
Reflecting periodically is the one that is easiest to miss out, but also the one that can be the most valuable. My wife is an Anglican priest and she finds it essential to go away on retreat by herself a couple of times a year. This enables her to get her priorities straight and discern what she should be doing for the next few months.
Put aside time a couple of times a year to ask yourself the big questions about your “Why” and to work out what you should and should not be doing. It is immensely valuable and can change the course of your life.
Get into the habit of reflection.