How to Not Miss Life’s Moments

An Invitation to Play

Bill Benson

Bill Benson

As I type away at this month’s newsletter, I happen to glance down from my keyboard to discover several pairs of eyes staring up at me.

Oliver had – one by one – placed his toy animals expectantly at my feet. This process must have taken my little dog several minutes: Preoccupied, I hadn’t noticed his adorable invitations to play.

This caused me to pause: hyper-focused on my own pursuits, I had missed an opportunity to share a moment with someone I deem special:

My dog was teaching me a good lesson about humanity.

Now, I’m not advising we abandon our agendas every time the opportunity to play presents itself – our adulthoods are full of tasks that need accomplishing. I am also not making a case for the other extreme – there is nothing constructive about an inability to focus.

Rather, my plea is about honing our abilities to notice life’s unfolding possibilities.

I sometimes guide my clients through a visualization to illustrate the benefit of this pursuit:

  • Imagine stepping into a rowboat and oaring out into the middle of a river.
  • For thirty seconds, envision your journey as you let the current take you.
  • Now, picture turning the boat around and pointing it against the current.
  • For another thirty seconds, visualize paddling against the current with the goal of getting upstream as quickly as possible.

Now, review your experience by answering the following questions:

  • Did you travel further floating along with the current or rowing against it?
  • Which direction afforded you a broader view of your surroundings?
  • Which path provided a fuller experience?

For most, more distance was earned and deeper perspective gained by going with the water’s flow rather than against it. Once the agenda of rowing upstream was put into play, clients found their bigger picture narrowing and their frustrations building: The moral to this story?

Life assists you if you’re aware enough to work with, not against, its elements.

This month, try engaging in conversations without automatically assuming the outcome of the interaction. Become more conscious of peoples’ body language and demeanor and respond appropriately. Get curious about perceptions and perspectives. Make life a collective experience rather than an exercise in forwarding your personal agenda. Simply put: Show up and work with what’s happening!

Just as Oliver’s toys were there for the taking – had I been aware of his invitation, stay open to all the unfolding possibilities in your life – and then push “play.”

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