I have for many years now used the phrase “the kindness of the design” to describe how well we’re made – how beautifully and reliably our feelings guide us back to the sense of comfort and wellbeing that lets us know when we’re resting peacefully in our own true nature. I say this despite the fact that I don’t really know if there is any conscious design to our perfection, any kind of designer behind the scenes, or indeed if my personal conception of “kindness” had anything to do with it.
What I do know is that it seems incredibly kind to me – that we come into the world with a built-in guidance system, helping us to stay in our lane and enjoy the incredible clarity, creativity, and peace of mind that make life a joy to live instead of a struggle to endure.
Lately, I’ve noticed another level to this guidance system. It seems to be a kind of “homing mechanism”, telling me exactly what I need to do to calm my restless thinking, quiet my occasionally jangly nerves, and find my way back home. Interestingly enough, I can see that this homing mechanism has always been working; it’s just that I’ve been misinterpreting it for the past 45 years or so.
By way of example, let me take you through some highlights from a typical day in my life, first as I have normally experienced it, and then again as I see them today:
- Up at 6:30am. Shake off the sweetness of sleep, grab my phone from the bedside table, and head to the bathroom for my morning routine. Have a debate with the gremlin in my head about whether or not to check email – the gremlin wins, as per usual. After quickly reading through the headlines of the day ahead, it occurs to me to put the phone down and read the quiet of my mind. Refreshed and inspired, I make a mental note to argue harder against the gremlin tomorrow morning.
- At my desk at 10am, having finished my second or third coaching call/webinar/interview of the day. About to check Facebook when it occurs to me I haven’t yet seen my wife. Pop upstairs and make a coffee as we chat around the kitchen island. We laugh and connect over the puppies and kittens and politics of her Facebook feed, and when I return to my office half an hour later I feel grounded and reconnected to what matters most. I write in my notebook “Be sure to spend quality time with Nina every day!”
- Lunchtime, and feeling a bit frazzled. I make myself an omelet and debate whether to eat it in front of a recent episode of “Elementary”, today’s Sports Center highlights, this week’s “The Week”, or one of the pile of new business books piling up on my desk. I settle on “Elementary”, but around twenty minutes in I get sleepy and close my eyes. Half an hour later I wake up refreshed, clear headed, and head back downstairs to work on a chapter for the new book. Before I get stuck in, I make another notebook entry along the lines of “I’m never more than one nap away from a whole new experience of being alive.”
- 5:30pm and feeling done for the day. The gremlin and I have another debate, this time about whether I have a drink and begin my evening routine or go workout. Today, working out wins. Feel that heady combination of endorphins from the workout, pride from winning the daily private victory over sloth, and guilt over feeling so proud of myself for essentially moving my legs up and down very quickly in a darkened room full of sweaty office workers.
Am I working out to feed my ego? Should I not do it unless I’m really inspired to? Or do I need to double down and create an accountability system to make sure I work out every evening lest I become an out of shape overweight alcoholic?
As I head back to my car, I realize I’m overthinking things (again) and laugh out loud at my own crazy. On the drive home, I let myself bathe in the bubbliness of my endorphins without the contamination of my habitual thinking, and make a mental note to write down “Don’t think so much” in my notebook when I get home.
- Bedtime. Nina and I drift off watching an episode of Poldark and as I close my eyes a Syd Banks quote about dropping ego comes to mind. The last thought I remember thinking is that I really must find the full quote and print it off to stick on my computer screen as a daily reminder…
Here’s what my notebook looked like an hour into the next morning:
No email for the first hour of the day!
Be sure to spend quality time with Nina
We’re all fundamentally OK – we’re just overthinking things
“This is what we have been learning to do, is dropping ego, in turn is dropping beliefs, in turn is dropping anger, in turn is dropping ignorance, in turn is dropping sickness, and so on and so forth. Itʼs the absolute supreme secret to all problems in the universe.”
Wait a minute… what if I don’t need to write all this stuff down? What if I’m getting real-time instruction from my own innate wisdom on how to stay on track and get back on track when I need to?
This could change everything – if I actually trusted that the intelligence that designed me knows how to live me. If I saw that I don’t need to remember any of these things because the reminders are already built in to the system.
When I needed to drop email and get quiet, I did. When it was a good time for me to hang out with Nina, it occurred to me to go hang out with Nina. When I was tired, I had a nap. When I was overthinking working out, my own consciousness woke me up to how much I was overthinking it. Even the Syd Banks quote came to mind at the perfect time for me.
My wisdom is already unfolding as if by design. There’s nothing I need to remember or to do…
Now, your guess is as good as mine about how this is going to play out over time. Am I ever going to stop carrying around a notebook? Probably not. Am I going to spend less time trying to remember wisdom and more time living it? I sincerely hope so. And since that hope is sincere, I suspect it will come to pass.
Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned on this journey so far, it’s that aiming yourself in the direction of your dreams and taking the next step is all you need to do to travel further than you can imagine.
For today, I invite you to notice where this homing mechanism is at work in your own life – how often just the right thing occurs to you at just the right time for it to occur. What would it be like if you could rely on it to guide you? How much easier would your life be if you didn’t need to be in charge of keeping yourself on track from day to day and from moment to moment?
Here’s one to get you started from one of my clients. She first said it a few years back and it seems to be more and more true as time goes by:
“No matter how little I think there is to do, there’s even less to do.”
With all my love,