There’s a lot of static out there.
It’s really easy to divert a disproportionate amount of attention and energy to things that are — quite honestly — not worthy of our time.
I’ve found it helpful to carry around a simple filter for what can enter my life. I need help organizing things that are meaningful and those that are not.
Back in high school, I was introduced to a wonderful question, “Does it matter profoundly?” It was mentioned as part of a sermon at church. And while it’s a big concept to truly grasp at age 17, the question stuck with me. And now with a little more life context, I find it an incredibly helpful navigation device.
It’s not some high level spiritual question. But rather a very practical and everyday one. It’s a great filter for work, for family, for relationships, for the guy who just took my parking spot that I’ve been patiently waiting for at Costco … Does it matter profoundly?
But here’s the flip side of the coin. Look at how stuck we can get if we let everything slip through our filter and command our attention. We would get sucked into every little conflict, rumor, criticism, daily inconvenience, toxic comment … Our heads would be filled with noise, and we would be blown off course by the slightest breeze.
This is such an important principle for how we train in Aikido. We have a choice in how we want to react to conflict. I can either choose to participate in that conflict or not. It’s totally up to me.
Here’s a simple exercise: Someone grabs your wrist. It’s so easy to have our attention move to the conflict. In this case, the conflict is the exact place on the wrist in which I’m being held. If our mind goes there, it feels like this person has my whole body. I’m stuck, completely absorbed in the conflict, and I can’t move a thing.
But in reality, the only thing that is being held is my wrist. It’s a very small part of the whole. So, I’ve answered the question … does it matter profoundly? No, it doesn’t. I can choose to put my mind somewhere else. And when I do this, I’ve removed the conflict, and not surprisingly, I can move freely.
The really interesting journey here is the change over time in the things that I think are “profound” or important. This filter is incredibly dynamic. What used to grab my attention in the past no longer does now. I’ve been able to let go of a lot more because I set my filter at a level which doesn’t attach meaning to every little thing that can potentially disrupt my world.
Consequently, by removing the static, you begin to notice the new things in your life that are important and meaningful. Does it matter profoundly that I throw a baseball with my son when he asks? Well, yes, it does matter profoundly.
This is not a road to apathy. Rather, it is the ability to choose what has power in your life. And it allows you to focus on the things that are truly important … even profound.
Would love to hear about how you determine life’s static.