Occasionally, someone tells a story that changes your life.
I can’t quit thinking about this book, not only because of the harrowing adventures it took to discover the lost Mayan Civilization and the brave and brilliant Stevens and Catherwood that made it their calling, but because the vastness of a “universe,” I had been only remotely aware of, has expanded my own. Jungle of Stone.
Confronted by these two noble, gifted, driven, and humble explorers, I am inspired and humbled by my lack of knowledge, scope, tenacity, and awareness. Thanks, William Carlsen, for excavating the story for me and forcing me out of my own “backyard.”
Even if you have no interest in ancient history or archeology, the life-stories of John Lloyd Stevens and Frederick Catherwood will enlarge your existence.
I do not like discipline, exercise, the gym, running, or yoga, yet within the last two years I have never missed a day doing stretches, sit-ups, and push-ups only because, if I don’t, my back will “go out” unexpectedly and predictably 3-4 times a year. A few minutes of exercises saves me the pain of weeks of immobility.
I love coffee and cokes but do not drink them only because if I don’t I spare myself the pain of migraine headaches.
Likewise, I avoid the pain of depression by enduring the daily discipline of finding my center before life throws me mercilessly against the wall of the centrifuge.
“Conversation is a dialog not a monologue. That’s why there are so few good conversations.” – Truman Capote
Capote went on to imply the problem was the scarcity of intelligent talkers. I think it is more about the scarcity of intelligent listeners.
Hindrances to good dialog:
- Assuming you are the only one who has something to say
- Assuming what you say is more truthful or valuable than what someone else may say
- Thinking you are more interesting than you are
- A lack of interest in others
- Pretending to listen because you are thinking about what you are going to do next
- Tolerating the sounds coming out of another’s mouth until it is your time to talk
Here is a guarantee:
Smart people have more real dialog.
In my classes, I ask attendees to close their eyes and think of the most boring person they know. After the images are crystal clear, we make a list of the qualities that make these people boring. Here are the most common qualities:
- Talks too much
- Doesn’t talk at all
- Doesn’t listen to or notice others
- Tries to sell you something
- Stuck in a rut
- Doesn’t care about improving
- Not truthful
- Worries about everything
- Is always right
The next step in the exercise is to admit that we can find ourselves in the list.
Once we see ourselves as others experience us…we have more incentive to make today a make-over day.
Today I’m seeing instead of looking.
I’m feeling instead of touching.
I’m noticing instead of judging.
I’m contemplating instead of criticizing.
I’m winning instead of whining.
I’m listening instead of talking.
I’m resonating instead of resisting.
I’m asking instead of telling.
I’m appreciating instead of dismissing.
I’m praising instead of protecting.
I’m accepting instead of fretting.
I’m gliding instead of walking.
I’m soaring instead of settling.
The view is better up here…
According to experts, the average brain thinks sixty-thousand thoughts a day. But for most people, about ninety percent of those thoughts are the same thoughts they had the day before!
This is certainly the path to, at worst, mental illness and at best, complete personal stagnation!
Generally, I am alerted to this danger when I hear myself talking about stuff and notice I am boring others to tears.
I can keep that from happening by asking and addressing these simple questions:
1) What am I thinking about? Am I stuck in a rut?
2) What am I tossing and turning about while trying to sleep? Are they noble ideas or petty concerns?
3) What am I talking about? Am I contributing to or just consuming the air space?
Solution: daily self-improvement