Reading self-help/improvement books, articles, and posts can be a job within itself. Everyone is professing their step plans, concepts, and bullet points to follow with feverish dedication. It’s a bit overwhelming, to say the least.
What’s more, and much more important, is the seemingly insurmountable act of putting these principles and tips into action. We love to read about cool stuff to try, but fail to ever reap their suspected reward.
I’m as guilty as any. I love reading about how to improve myself. How to improve my situation, life skills, and gain control over my outcomes. But what does the reality look like? Are we actually putting anything into practice? If we aren’t then what’s all of it good for?
I stumbled upon something well outside of all that literature on self-improvement. It was during the pandemic that I (somehow) naturally and with necessity I felt the need to finally do something to help with self-control without adopting a 10-step process as a part-time job.
I settled upon one word.
I chose to focus on one word. A simple experiment to try out and apply to any situation. A simple way to focus singularly on something without worrying about memorizing mantras, enacting a specific plan, or asking myself which category this or that falls under.
At first, I settled on “patience.”
This would be the one word I focused on around when the pandemic started. As someone who has a bit of a keen observational eye, I chose this word due to the fact that I started to see so many people take to projecting their opinions, spouting misinformation, and just plain becoming irritated.
Patience seeded to be a suitable choice and it was the beginning of my unofficial self-experiment.
As I went on with my days, all I needed to do was keep the word at the forefront of my mind. It was a rather simple task. No book to read, no checklist to mark off, and no quotes to memorize. Just one simple word.
Did it work? I would have to honestly say, yes. I don’t have any data to show or charts to refer to, but I can honestly say that I felt an overall sense of comfort. When external and unexpected stressors would rear their heads, I would simply fall into that word. It was like a suit of armor governing my reaction. It didn’t require any complicated processes.
After a time, I decided it was a good idea to keep this little tactic in motion. I would simply ride it out and see what would happen naturally. Let life guide this little experiment instead of the other way around.
Soon I stumbled upon another word. I didn’t force it, I simply let it happen and let it in.
I came upon “silence.”
Again, this wasn’t forced or researched. In retrospect, I feel like life was providing me with lessons. Lessons that were and still are necessary for the time. With patience firmly in place, I began to experience more noise in my life. Distractions from the internet, TV and other people started to escalate rapidly and it started to get to me. The noise started and never stopped.
I also look back and can see how these words could build upon themselves. With patience came a slower mental pace (in a good way). With the slower pace, I was more open to the world. I was able to listen with greater breadth. I became more aware.
“Silence” was, once again, a natural and organic choice to adopt.
That brings me to the next word I most recently let in.
I haven’t actually taken action on this yet. It came to me just a few days before writing this so things are still new and I’ll need to sit with it for some time to figure out what exactly it means to me.
Again, I really do think these words build on each other. With patience came silence. Those two words provided a shift in perspective and internal motivations. Looking back it seems inevitable that change would eventually slide in.
It’s still in the air about what this means, but one thing is certain, they all bear significant attention and reflection.
Time will tell and I’ll be back here to tell you all about it.
Subscribe for updates: