“I get to” versus “I have to”

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julie nariman - fallThis week, a brilliant new book is coming out: Being Here . . . Too: Short Stories of Modern Day Enlightenment.  It’s a compilation of stories from real people’s lives who have experienced Instantaneous Transformation, a modern-day approach to enlightenment developed by Ariel and Shya Kane.   I call their approach the “lazy man’s” way to enlightenment because it doesn’t require any work lists of things to be a “better you.”  It does not require regret or remorse or working on oneself.

As the Kanes have been my leadership consultants for the past four years, I had the privilege of writing the Foreword to the Being Here . . . Too.   I reread the Foreword this morning, as the Kanes are having a book launch this Monday, November 12, and I am inviting friends and family to celebrate the event with me.

Re-reading the Foreword, I saw the impact the Kanes’ consulting seminars have had on my life.  I was reminded of that impact this weekend: I had work to do: preparing presentations for students and teachers, completing reports, writing out schedules.  In the past, I would have felt dread about the work, and a certain sense of victimization: “It’s my weekend, I shouldn’t have to work.  It’s going to be hard.”

Yet this time around, I felt a sense of excitement about the work: I felt that I “get” to do the work, versus “have” to do the work.  This experience is a shift for me.  I used to drag myself to work.  Before the Kanes’ seminars and consulting, I’d always ultimately engage in it yet there was always a gap between the work and my internal conversation about whether I wanted to do the work.

This was true for any kind of work: schoolwork, blogging, doing the dishes.  And yet, this morning, I saw I pile of dishes– and then, did them.  There was no narrative in my mind about when I should do them, or whether I wanted to.  I just did them.

My school recently had a staff trainer come to the school to teach us ways to support students with discipline.  He made this excellent point to teachers: “Wouldn’t it be great if everyone in your class did the work and put their best effort in?”  He pointed out how we as a society put so much effort into making lessons and experiences entertaining for students, yet also teaching students how to be engaged regardless of the circumstances is key.  We are doing students a disfavor if we teach them that others need to make every moment entertaining for them.  The trainer talked about running errands with his parents when he was a child, and the experience simply sitting around, being bored enough to need to figure out how to entertain himself.  He had no phone or games to occupy him, so he had to entertain himself.

The Kanes say that if one fully engages and is truly listening, then even an act as mundane as reading aloud the phonebook can be a fascinating and satisfying experience.  The key is  in experiencing life in every moment as if it’s one’s own idea, not something forced upon oneself.  Being Here . . . Too is full of stories that illustrate this kind of experience beautifully.

Photo credit: Julie Nariman

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