Maintaining The Calm Through The Storm

April 2, 2018

As you read this, I’m probably sitting on a beach somewhere near the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. My family and I are in the tail end of an extended vacation of the best kind. We’re spending weeks visiting friends, living in an apartment in a beautiful residential Sydney neighborhood, before taking a vacation in a vacation to Queensland and then enjoying a long layover in Fiji on our way home. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime trip I’m determined to take far more than once in my lifetime.

Before we left, as you might imagine, life was a complete shit-show. Lodging to book. Luggage to pack. Taxes to be filed. Work projects to square away. Dishes to be done. Laundry to fold. Kids to feed. Life doesn’t stop.

How the hell does a person cope? Surrounding yourself with great people is a crucial first step. My lovely wife is a rock who handled most of the trip planning and found great places to stay and fun things to do. And on the work front, I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by a heap of brilliant, dedicated and hard-working teammates who I trust completely — and our clients do, too.

But that’s pretty much just table stakes. When life really gets crazy, you’re still going to need more tools in your sanity toolbox. For me, one relatively recent addition to the toolbox is meditation.

I’m a pretty laid-back person by default. And after being around this business as long as I have, I feel like I’ve seen just about everything at least twice, so it takes a fair amount of madness to actually rattle me. But it happens. I’ve dabbled with meditation on and off for a couple of years, but in the past few months, it’s been more of a consistent habit.

What does it do for me? Meditation makes me slow down. It helps focus my priorities. It makes it easier for me to avoid getting hung up on distractions and day-to-day hecticness. And I suppose to some extent, simply thinking of myself, very superficially, as “a guy who meditates” makes me think and act a little differently. All for the better. As Dan Harris says, it makes me approximately 10 percent happier.

It’s has nothing to do with sitting cross-legged, touching your fingertips to your thumbs and saying “om.” It has everything to do with simply being more aware. Aware of what? Everything. How you think. How you feel. How you can’t stop thinking. What you can’t stop thinking about. What you choose to do about it. What you let occupy your mind and what good that does. Everything.

Wanna give it a try? There’s a website called “The Google” that’s full of endless resources and recommendations. But one that’s perhaps most helpful to someone dipping a toe in for the first time is the aforementioned Dan Harris. In addition to “10% Happier,” he’s also written a book called “Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics.” I haven’t read either yet, but I’ve heard him talk about his story and the experiences that led him to write the books. Dan has a knack for making this spacey-sounding topic very down-to-earth and manageable. And his website, podcast and app are full of guided meditations to help figure out what the hell you’re supposed to be doing – or not doing – when you’re meditating.

Step one: Don’t worry about it. Just give it a try.