You try to get out, but [behaviors] keep pulling you back.
In Part 1, we first thought through the act of relieving our own sources of suffering. There is enough pain and challenge in the world. There is no need for us to create more for ourselves.
This week, I’d like to consider behaviors. You might think it juvenile to discuss behavior when we’re all adults, but upon deeper inspection, our behaviors, directly and indirectly, cause problems, problems that can be avoided.
Behavior: noun. “The way in which one acts or conducts oneself, especially toward others.” Hugh would add, “The way in which you choose to act in the world and towards yourself.”
Check out this list of potential behaviors to see if any resonate:
- I’m always in debt because my family farm has always been in debt.
- I like to be first no matter what the cost.
- I snap at anyone who tries to debate my ideas.
- I use ‘put down humor’ every day with my staff.
- I always have to have the biggest and the best.
- I celebrate everything with alcohol.
- I eat whatever I want because it feels good.
- Uncle Jim is the butt of every family gathering’s jokes.
- If she brings up her politics at the dinner table, there’s gonna be a fight.
- I don’t forgive; I make you pay for the rest of your life.
- I don’t need a plan for my business; I like the freedom to wing it.
- We don’t say “I love you” in this family because everyone knows it already.
- I never have enough time, but I don’t want anyone to check the screen time counter on my phone.
- More hours at work is the only answer; my kids will understand when they are older.
Some of the behaviors on this list clearly cause suffering. These behaviors are also avoidable.
This is the New Year’s Resolutions season, and resolutions are nearly ALL about modifying one’s behavior. How different would things be if your list at the end of 2023 looked and sounded like this:
- I pay down my debts and save on interest.
- I strive to be the most excellent in all the ways I use my strengths.
- I listen to my team’s ideas before I formulate plans.
- I build up my staff a little each day.
- I’m content with what I have, but always working on the next big thing.
- I take frequent breaks from alcohol for my health, there are lots of ways to celebrate with the ones I love.
- I eat to fuel my body. Food is fuel for the mind, to build the strength I need to tackle tomorrow.
- I ensure each family member gets to shine at gatherings and break the pattern for Uncle Jim so he feels appreciated.
- If she brings up politics, I validate her right to hold her beliefs, discuss if we can, then move on quickly to common ground and family togetherness.
- I forgive and move on quickly, so I’m not trapped in the past.
- I spend hours planning for our business so I can be be free to deploy our staff and resources to achieve our goals and grow my freedom through success.
- I say the words “I love you” out loud to my kids, my spouse, even my Dad/Mom occasionally, because I do love them and they need to hear it as much as I need to say it.
- I limit my screen time, so I can be present with family, have time to think, and keep my brain sharp.
- I realize that work will never end, so it will be there when I return from family events, kid’s sports, and vacations. I work to live. I don’t live to work.
What if? What if you and I got 3-5 of those right 90% of the time in 2023? What if you got better at 8 out of 10 on your list? Would you experience less suffering in the New Year? I know I would, and I know I won’t get it right every day.
The key is to write the list; write down YOUR list.
What are the key 8-10 behaviors that would decrease your self-induced suffering the most in 2023?
Don’t just think about them; write them down. This is an introspective exercise that is not without pain. The pain comes from taking an honest look at yourself, your behaviors.
If you and I can make it through the temporary pain of introspection, of writing our lists, we’ll be setting intentions and specific actions for making 2023 a better year.
Thanks for reading. Thanks for your kind words all year.
Have the Happiest of New Year’s,