One of my favorite discoveries this spring has been a feisty little researcher/storyteller from Houston, TX named Brené Brown. She was first introduced to me around nine months ago, but I didn’t pay her any attention at first. I was busy reading books and watching TED talks by people who didn’t call themselves “researcher”. (Come on; I’ve got better things to do than listen to someone refer to her data on the subject of joy.) Problem was her name and her books kept being brought up by the people I did listen to and I finally decided to give her a shot.
Oh man, I’d been missing out. This woman is awesome. She is in fact a researcher of shame, fear and vulnerability, and she’s become quite the expert on how opening yourself up to vulnerability leads to a whole lotta love, joy, gratitude, and human connection. In her second book, The Gifts Of Imperfection, she talks about the need to DIG deep in different aspects of authentic living: get Deliberate, get Inspired, and get Going. I love how good she is with words, and she’s created definitions to practices that I didn’t really know how to explain before. ‘DIG deep’ is one of those things.
I can honestly say the choice to Get Deliberate has been so life-changing for me and it has brought so much joy, calmness, and clarity to my life during the past six months. It’s definitely intertwined with being present in your body and your surroundings, and with being mindful, but it’s not the same thing. While I’ve benefited hugely from introducing stillness to my life and taking time each day to just breathe and be present in the moment, I don’t sit around the house and meditate several hours a day. Being deliberate, however, is something that it’s possible for me to do all day without it taking up time or space.
What it means to me is to bring awareness to whatever it is you’re doing and you do it with purpose. Don’t let your mind go on auto pilot and auto-response. Brené gives a good example in her book: if you should be studying or writing but find yourself mindlessly browsing the internet – spending 30 minutes reading your Facebook news feed, for instance – check in with yourself and acknowledge that your brain needs a break. Instead of telling yourself to “snap out of it” and power through with work, which is probably what most of us would normally do, get off the computer and watch a movie. Your brain is telling you to take a break. So Get Deliberate in how you take a break instead of wasting your precious time.
There’s a lot of different ways to put this idea to use, and most of the time it will require you to check in and watch your own thoughts and behaviors. If you catch yourself having a hard time sitting still, acknowledge it! Don’t force yourself to settle down and sit still. Get up and take a walk. Go for a run. Do some stretching. Your body is telling you it needs to move, so move! If you can’t concentrate while sitting at the computer because you keep stopping to check out this and that music video on Youtube, own it! Forget about work. Take a 30 minute timeout, turn the volume up, and listen to music. It is never a waste of time when you do it deliberately.
This is even a good way to explain how I changed my diet quite drastically in a very short period of time. Whatever the underlying reasons were, I just felt this immense desire to get deliberate in the way I nourish myself. As corny as it may sound to some, I needed to bring mindfulness into my eating habits and cooking habits. To feel a connection with the food I was putting into my body; whether it be because I had made it from scratch in a loving environment and invested my time and my focus, or because it grew organically from the ground I walk on instead of coming from a chicken/meat factory.
You don’t have to feel the same way about it as I do. But I think we can agree that there is a difference between mindlessly putting food in our mouths while watching TV on the couch, and putting nourishing, homemade food in our mouths while sitting by the kitchen table.
I encourage everyone (who hasn’t already) to watch Brené Brown’s TED talk and fall in love with her just like I did. I cannot speak highly enough of this wonderful teacher and how good she is at putting words to emotions we’re all experiencing and sometimes feel alone in. I just love what she stands for – lean into it! Get deliberate! Magic has a tendency to happen when we do 😉