David Reynolds, author of Constructive Living and many other books, is fond of slogans. I find them to be powerful tools for immediately shifting my attention and changing my behavior.
In a previous post, I presented five of my favorite slogans. Following are more.
Behavior wags the tail of feelings
This is a way to deal with procrastination. For example, don’t wait to do yoga until you feel like doing it. Waiting probably won’t generate the desire to get moving. Rolling out your mat, and doing one simple stretch might. But even if it doesn’t, you’ll still be doing yoga.
Give and give until you wave goodbye
We might feel tempted to disengage from a relationship long before it ends. Doing so is not necessary, and it can make matters worse.
Another option is to do everything possible to resolve the conflict until it’s clear that leaving is a wise choice. There’s inherent value in acting impeccably in difficult circumstances — and with difficult people. And if we eventually choose to end the relationship, we can do without regrets, knowing that we did our best.
A variation of this slogan: Flounder with full attention.
You are a bundle of different identities. When with your parents, you might revert to a childhood role. At work, you might be competent and assertive. At a party with friends, another version of you emerges. Behavior depends on context.
This is useful to remember when you’re tempted to label someone in your life as “toxic” or “neurotic.” No single behavior or set of behaviors defines a person in an ultimate way. All of us have neurotic moments. Even “toxic” people have moments of clarity and compassion.
Every moment is fresh
Whatever you did just a second ago has already flowed into the stream of the past. The present moment brings a new possibility. Even something that you’ve already done a thousand times can be done in a slightly different way, with greater attention and more precision.
Unpleasant doesn’t mean “bad”
Many difficulties arise from positive intentions. Someone who feels anxiety public speaking wants to perform well. The person with a phobia about air travel wants to stay safe.
Remembering this can help us endure discomfort and temper judgments of people. It can also free up energy for taking constructive action.
Action brings experience; experiential knowledge is dependable
Anxiety and depression can lead to over-thinking and under-acting. We waste time by spinning scenarios in our mind and predicting negative outcomes.
Taking action breaks this cycle. Some ideas can be understood only when implemented.
When reading self-help books, I look for ideas that I can turn into behaviors. I often wonder if the authors have ever done what they’re suggesting that I do.
Testing ideas through our own behavior gives us reliable knowledge about what works for us.