I haven’t found much in life that can’t fit along a continuum. A Likert Scale is such a continuum. You’ve seen it before, it’s just a line with 7 increments (sometimes 5), starting at a 0 point up to 7. If I were to ask you how you would like to go skydiving with me, the increment of 0-1 indicates “Not in my wildest dreams!” 4-5 might indicate you’re intrigued by the idea, but that is a real leap of faith to consider actually doing it. If you’re up to 6-7, you just want to know when we’re going and if you can invite a friend!
So it is with most everything in our lives. We can’t help but look at anything and not have some preference about it. For each thing we find worthy of our attention, whether through necessity or choice, we form opinions. We consider how we like what we focus on, or not. Do I want more of that or less of it in my life? I like this aspect of this thing before me, but
I would change that about it in a very specific way.
Arno told me that “In the beginning, all things are good.” In the heat of early lovers’ passion, even significant obstructions are glossed over, given only passing interest. As the heat subsides over time, there’s not enough adrenaline still flowing to get over the obstructions. The hurdles are much higher without the blood rush and intoxication of new love.
As the other’s previously endearing foibles become crazy-making habits, things don’t feel so good anymore. “Be careful what you ask for . . .”, the old adage tells us. Only through experience and depth of focus can we clearly see what it is we don’t want and get an idea of what we really do want. When I know what I don’t want it becomes easier to see what I do want. Contrasting experience is a powerful teacher.
As we’re able to develop reliable means of bringing ourselves back into alignment, the need for great contrast diminishes. I quickly become more able to see the continuum and know which end of it I want to favor. Do I want more of that in my life, or less? If I want less of anything, I have to turn away from the not wanting and focus all my eager attention on what I do want.
How do I figure out what alignment feels like so I can try to move in that direction? You already do! You feel alignment whenever you’re really into the enjoyment of anything. If it’s bringing you joy and satisfaction, you’re in the vicinity of alignment. Our feelings are our guide. If I feel good in the doing, having or being of anything, I am on the right track.
What are the touchstones in your life where merely thinking of them for a moment brings ease? So often we take these good feeling things for granted, but they are the energy source we need. For me, the thought of playing music with my friends lights me up. I rarely take those times for granted and the memory and anticipation of them is always easily available.
How can you find your way to these things even in brief thought? Learn to recognize the moment when you’re feeling that glow. Do it right now for just a moment. What comes to mind? For me it was a short lake trip with two old friends over the weekend and the reconnection we made. I think of the grilled dinner on the deck at sunset and the swim in the great water. I can feel the glow of that experience.
What will anchor these touchstones for quick access? The feel of real friendship, the sunset over the water and the silky quality of the lake when I jumped in all ignite feelings in my body that let me know I am being nurtured by these thoughts. I want to go back to those feelings as often as possible. If I have a choice to feel good or feel bad, I prefer the former.