Day #5: What is the right mix of positive and negative for you?
Much of the current day mindfulness practice I see around today - particularly in organisations - focuses on 'concentration' training. However, we attribute mindfulness practice to the Contemplative Traditions and I believe we need to work harder to honour and capitalise on the value of being contemplative.
Don't get me wrong, concentration training is incredibly important - particularly because our attention spans are now shorter than that of a goldfish. We have gotten very used to skimming content. As a result, I think we get very used to skim thinking...
Side Note: I position 'contemplation' as the 2nd of 3 key mindfulness competencies. For those interested, I promote Concentration, Contemplation, and Cultivation when learning about and practising mindfulness as I believe this brings greater value to our performance, wellbeing, and relationships.
"Get to the point, Adrian... Why is this important?"
Ok, I strongly encourage you to read the rest of this post mindfully - really taking some time to contemplate the words, message and meaning. Not as much my words, but the William James passage I share below...
William James was a rare thinker and absolute superstar in my eyes. He was trained as a physician but is better known for his phenomenal work in psychology and philosophy. He valued the subjective more highly than the objective and his work on Consciousness, Will, and Attention has inspired my ongoing work in the mindfulness, performance psychology, and wellbeing area. I have chosen to share one of my favorite passages of his writing in this post.
In my view, it is only by investing contemplative attention when reading a bit of William James that we can begin to unpack, understand and maybe even embody some of the epic message shared way back in 1902.
"Get on with it, Adrian..."
Ok - here it is...
"Some men and women, indeed, there are who can live on smiles and the word 'yes' forever. But for others (indeed for most), this is too tepid and relaxed a moral climate. Passive happiness is slack and insipid, and soon grows mawkish and intolerable. Some austerity and wintry negativity, some roughness, danger, stringency, and effort, some 'no! no!' be mixed in, to produce the sense of an existence with character and texture and power. The range of individual differences in this respect is enormous; but whatever the mixture of yeses and noes may be, the person is infallibly aware when he has struck it in the right proportion for him. This, he feels, is my proper vocation, this is the optimum, the law, the life for me to live. Here I find the degree of equilibrium, safety calm, and leisure which I need, or here I find the challenge, passion, fight, and hardship without which my soul's energy expires."
William James (1902) The Varieties of Religious Experience.
I look forward to any comments you have as a result of your contemplation on the passage :)