Today’s post is in the form of a vlog, or video blog.  View the video and refer to my notes below.

Notes from Video

  • Thought Exercise 1: Bring to mind two people you know well: one who seems to be successful, relaxed and at ease, with bright eyes and a half smile, and another person, who may be successful, but who is visibly stressed, the burden of their day evident in their expression and posture.
    • Is the first person simply better at life? Are they more resilient, organized, or skilled than the other person? Not necessarily. Are they just born with a better temperamental disposition? Maybe. But maybe this is the wrong question to ask. I’ll share with you another way of framing this and asking a different question.
    • The key to unlocking the mystery of why one person flourishes and another doesn’t is found partly in that considering that word “Life.” I spoke about one person being better than another at “life.” But life in this sense should not be used in the singular. We each live different lives. The plural form here is crucial to unlocking the mystery of success.
    • Perhaps the person at greater ease is simply more aligned with the life they lead in comparison to the second person. Maybe that relaxed successful person was luckier or perhaps, they chose and/or developed a life they are more aligned with.
  • Thought Exercise 2: Imagine that stretching before you is a space, a 4-dimensional space-time landscape of possibility. Wherever you are in your here-and-now, you have before you many, many possible life paths to choose from as you move through time, through the moments and places of your life.
    • I think the way to flourish is to choose the path – one of many possible ones – that aligns what that path through the world asks of you and what you have to give to flourish on that path, that is, all your strengths, desires, your personality traits, what you find meaningful. After all, you will be spending a lot of your time and energy moving along that path.
  • Thought Exercise 3: This brings me to a different way to understand personality. We normally think of personality as a grouping of certain traits that affect our mood and emotional reactions, our way of thinking, and our behaviors, including the ways we relate to others. This is a perfectly fine way of formulating personality, but I think it’s more useful to add another dimension to our understanding of personality: it’s the way we naturally move through the world, through the moments of our lives, through our 4-dimensional space of possibility. The concept of personality should include this sense of movement, of navigating through the world.
    • Given this, certain ways of being in or of moving through the world will be more closely aligned to the personality traits we each have and values we hold, while other ways of moving through the world will not be as closely aligned.
    • When our path through life is not aligned with our personality traits, life is experienced as stressful, a burden and struggle to steel ourselves through. When we choose (and develop) a path that aligns with our most comfortable and meaningful way of moving through the world, then life seems more effortless, more like an adventure. Of course, everyone experiences failures, heartbreaks, betrayals, and losses. But the person on the path that aligns with their natural way of being sees these unavoidable and unpleasant experiences as part of a positive whole.
  • Allow me to use myself as an example.
    • My internal life may be of little interest to you, but I’m using it as an example of how each of us has a preferred way of being in and moving through our environment moment by moment.
    • I’m more of an introvert than an extrovert. When I’m surrounded by too many people for too long of a time, I feel drained. I then need to get away, either cocoon at home or go hiking alone. Thus, the photo at the top of Volcan Mountain.
    • Also, I like to think about ideas, especially when I’m hiking.  I don’t thrive when I end up “mired” in too many operational business details. I focus on them anyway because they are important and I’m good at them, but I have to limit myself. Thankfully, here at API we have a great team of people led by our Executive Vice President, Karen Barry, and this team shoulders a large part of the operational burden.
    • I’m obsessive; not like in OCD, but obsessive nonetheless. I can’t stop thinking and often tire myself out from a head full of thoughts. So, my hobby is writing songs (lyrics and melodies) in my head. If I can’t stop thinking, I might as well think about something other than some form of ruminative worry.
    • The way a person moves through the world comfortably is often very particular. My wife and I are continually amazed at our diametrically opposed feelings regarding open doors and windows. I want the door to our bedroom closed so I can feel “safer” and I want my window open, so I can be more in touch with the out of doors. My wife has the exact opposite feelings and behaviors that result from those feelings. No worries though, we still love each other.
  • My advice
    • If you are stressed, it’s a good sign that there is a misalignment between you and your world. Do you need to change anything about yourself? Perhaps. I work on becoming more flexible and resilient. But I strongly believe the more important changes are the ones you make to change your world, that is, the path you choose and develop as you move through the world.
    • I understand you have certain (many) obligations and I’m not advocating dropping it all and starting a new life. But day-by-day begin to make decisions while consciously considering what path those decisions will take you on. Will that choice align you more closely with your comfortable and meaningful path or not?

Until next time,

Dr. Jack

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