By Codi Shewan
There are so many things we can’t control right now, and for most of us, that makes us anxious. But I want to encourage you with this: In each moment of your life, you have the ability to change yourself and those around you in profound ways.
No matter the time. No matter the day. No matter the circumstance. Even amid moments of uncertainty, like the one we find ourselves in right now.
In moments that seem out of our control, there’s always something that’s within it: our perspective.
I like to say that I’m a Spiritual Pragmatist, which means that while I appreciate believing in a higher power and it’s guidance and influence in our lives, I also believe in action and doing, to bring about success and happiness. It’s about having balance, and part of having that balance means that we have to be conscious and mindful of how we’re showing up and how that influences any given situation, including the one we’re amid right now.
I spent 20 years as a funeral director and embalmer; I like to say that everything I’ve ever learned, I learned from dying. One would think that a career surrounded by death would have taught me a lot about dying, but in fact it taught me so much about life, and gifted to me the most beautiful lessons. Ones that, in moments like this, come through with crystal clarity and enable me to put into action the behaviours that can ground me, even amid all of the uncertainty.
EFFICIENT vs EFFECTIVE
My British, tea-totting grandmother used to say, “Good tea steeps.”
My grandmother knew the difference between efficiency and effectiveness. For her, there was no such thing as an efficient way to make tea; there was only an effective way. Can you make tea by dropping a tea bag into a mug of water and putting it in the microwave for ninety seconds? You can, sure. But, according to her, that’s not going to make a delicious cup of tea.
A drive-through car wash is efficient, but you might enjoy the therapeutic process of washing your car by hand. Ordering takeout is an adequate way to put dinner on the table, but a great satisfaction comes with preparing a meal from scratch yourself.
Sending a friend a text message to see how they’re doing is an economic use of time, but it’s not quite the same as picking up the phone and talking.
As a society, we are consumed by efficiency, collectively racing from one thing to the other and from one person to the next. Being able to make the rush seem effortless is perceived as honorable. Those who work the most are revered, as though the most stressed-out person will be awarded a trophy.
Sometimes you have to choose the efficient way; there’s no denying that. But we could all try a little harder to choose the effective way more often, especially when it comes to our relationships.
How do we do that when we are in the throes of the hustle?
Most of life’s magic happens in moments of pause.
We need to stop and re-centre in order to reach a state of conscious awareness. Pausing helps us to slow down and plan our time more effectively, so that we create more meaning in our lives. The way my grandmother did with her tea.
Normally I would profess the importance of creating the space to do this, and so often, and I’m including myself, we struggle to find the time to do it.
Now, we’re at a place in time where the world has quite literally slowed down. So many of us are sequestered away in our homes, adjusting to a world where physical distancing is common place, and life outside of our homes has come to a grinding halt.
Is there time in your day to create the space to reinvest in something that brings you joy?
It wasn’t that long ago that many of us likely caught ourselves complaining that we didn’t have enough time in a day, or that we were missing out on things in life: missing quality time with our children, missing time for the gym, missing time to just sit and read. There are likely many more things you could add to this list.
While we adjust to this new normal we find ourselves in, try to negotiate some time for you to invest in ‘the pause’, even if that time is spent on an activity like reading a book, or moving your body, meditating or sitting in prayer. Whatever it is that fills your cup, it’s important to realize that in order to be of service to others, we have to spend time investing in ourselves.
We’re all a reflection of those with whom we spend the most time, so the key to being your best self is to be surrounded by those who support and inspire you. I like to call these my “finger snap people.” They’re the ones with whom you feel an instant attraction, as quickly as you can snap your fingers. More often than not, you can’t quite distinguish exactly what it is that draws you to them, but their energy is like a magnet. There’s something about their character that causes you to be perfectly content with who you are, while also inspiring you to seek ways to be a better version of yourself. And when you find these like-minded individuals, hold on to them tightly, because you are much more powerful together than alone.
We might be physically distant from one another right now, but that doesn’t stop us from taking advantage of the incredible technology that helps us stay connected. I would encourage you to reach out to one of your ‘finger snap people’. Make that phone call, send that email, heck, you can even watch a movie together over video chat. Will it be perfect? Maybe not, but you’re connecting to people that matter, at a time when connection matters. I promise that you’ll feel a little better afterwards, because people need people and we’re all in this together.
We don’t have to make grand gestures. The most meaningful moments can happen in the simplest of ways.
Sometimes, allowing someone the space to be seen and heard is the one thing they need the most, as they navigate their new normal right now. If that person is you, your community, your go-to people, are the ones you can rely on, no matter what. Just ask. I suspect they’ll be there, in the snap of a finger.
There’s no question that the world we find ourselves in today, isn’t the world we were in not that long ago. There’s also no question that through it all – the up’s, downs and all-arounds – if we just remember that our perspective can shift everything, we suddenly find ourselves with more control than we might have believed we had.
CODI SHEWAN is the author of Everyday Legacy: Lessons for Living With Purpose, Right Now. As a consultant and speaker, he’s on a mission to redefine “legacy” as something that you personify, each day of your life: you can realize the power of your own positive influence while you’re still here, and galvanize your purpose powerfully.
Everyday Legacy is available through all major booksellers and online via Amazon.