Toward a More Contemplative Lifestyle

and why that can be downright scary

I’ve always wanted to be a great thinker. Unfortunately, I have discovered that it requires me to be more contemplative.

Contemplative

photo credit: Matthew Wiebe/unsplash.com

Spending time raking through my thoughts is not always my idea of a good time. In fact, at the end of a trying day I often just go to bed and flip that big switch marked “I don’t want to think about it any more.” The great thing is that God made our brains to restore and renew themselves so some sorting and other helpful things happen when I’m asleep. I’ve often thought that I am much more intellectually effective when I’m asleep. Was it not for my snoring, I think that others would agree.

I do want to encourage contemplation — both in my self and others. Watching political debates and “person-on-the-streets” interviews during the last few months has convinced me that most of us don’t do enough in terms of contemplation. Instead, we use our most primal instincts — those of fear and satisfaction of our basic desires — to take a position and dedicate our very being to it. Some of those positions go beyond just being. Some of them will require our very souls.

I saw a meme on the internet this morning. It went something like this:

The Case for Contemplation
The dead are unaware that they are dead. Their existence continues. The consequences of their deaths are felt only by those around them. In that way, striking similarities exist between those who have died and those who fail to think.

We all face tough decisions. It will take an effort. But let’s all be more contemplative.

Liars’ Holiday

the problem with talking too much

It’s the holidays. I haven’t been to the office in over three days. I watched a couple of Christmas movies. I read my new book. And I spent an unbelievable amount of time catching up on the political scene. In fact, I spent over an hour yesterday morning just trying to grasp the enormity of “misinformation” that leaks out of people. I knew it was there, but I found myself intrigued by the liars’ indexes that have been gathered.

photo credit: The Telegraph

Much could be made of the fact that the worse offenders seemed to be gathered along one end of the political spectrum. But it’s shocking to see how much falsehood is thrust upon us by all of the candidates — and sitting officials.

Still, I wondered why some of these folks seemed to be so focused on falsity.

‘The lady doth protest too much, methinks.’

I have settled on the idea that is attributed to Queen Gertrude in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. And no, this is not an indictment of the female candidates for president. In fact, both appear in the middle of the list of fabricators. Instead, I’m thinking about the meaning attributed to that statement over the years.

We think of the statement using the modern definition of the word “protest” — a challenge, a defensive move. When Bill Shakespeare wrote, protest meant a vow or commitment. The Queen was saying that the lady in the play she was viewing was trying to promise too much. To which her son, Hamlet (the playwright), said, “Oh, but she’ll keep her word.”

As I reviewed the list of candidates, it occurred to me that placement on the liars’ scale could have a lot to do with promising too much. That’s a common malady of those who talk too much.

Now, for those of you who are offended by my analysis, I am truly sorry. But listen to those statements. Take a close look at the quotes that land these people on the liars’ list. In most cases, their statements would have been valid if they had just stopped early enough.

In the press to win, to overcome, and perhaps, even to lay waste to others, we all go beyond what we’ve thought through. Sometimes we’re lucky and we deliver on our promises. Sometimes, we “protest too much, methinks.”

A healthy pause can be a good thing. And listening to others during the pause could be, too.

Timely Procrastination

Do you suffer from procrastination? Have you ever had something you really needed to do, but you just couldn’t bring yourself to do it? Maybe you’re like me and have a whole list of these tenacious to-dos. What if I told you that I’ve discovered a sure-fire method to conquer these worry-mongers — efficiently and painlessly?

Well, I have two methods for you. The first is the answer to the procrastination problem you’ve heard dozens and dozens of times, but have routinely refused to pursue.  Simply do it.

Now, I know you’re a little upset with me because you wanted something new and exciting — like a new app for your smartphone — that would take each lingering item and line it up for elimination. And, because I have so much experience in this area, I think you probably would also like for this magical solution to include a premium-feature that would take care of these items without you actually having to do anything.

That’s not going to happen.

However, I can give you one more little tip that works every time I use it. Here it is:

Schedule 15 minutes to do something — anything — about the task you are putting off.

Schedule 15 minutes to do something — anything — about it.

Setting a time for your “procrastinable” allows you to set it aside and reduce your anxiety. Simply marking your calendar makes you feel better about yourself and this long-awaited activity.

Even if the item will take you an hour, set aside 15 minutes and show-up for that appointment with yourself. Several important processes will be set in motion.

  • In the moment, you’ll feel relief that you are finally doing something.
  • Forcing yourself to address the challenge allows you to truly assess what needs to be done.
  • Sometimes the effort required to do the task will allow you to decide whether this thing should be done by you — or at all.
  • Often, when we start working on things, the anticipation of fulfillment may push us through to completion. We find that we had more than 15 minutes, after all.

15 minutes. If it’s not worth 15 minutes, then maybe it really shouldn’t be on your list.

Procrastination isn’t a character problem. It’s a priority problem. Whatever is on your list, big or small, just set aside a little time to see what you can do.

Day 4.1 – Serious

As indicated in the previous post, the training of the district security forces, along with a number of other leaders in law enforcement and government agencies, was a tremendous success on Monday and only got better on Tuesday. One thing for certain, the men and women gathered for the training were geared up and ready to receive all they possibly could from the time together with our team. While kind and gracious, our crowd was downright serious about getting as much as they possibly could from this event.

The national coordinator for ALARM Rwanda, Ben, and ALARM’s Director of Peacebuilding and Reconciliation, Cecile, served as our interpreters. I can’t imagine how incredibly difficult that was — and tiring. But they were serious about helping us communicate our message.

During the late morning and early afternoon on Tuesday, a special committee of participants convened during our training to evaluate the sessions and to make recommendations to leaders of the community at the closing session. Their evaluation was amazingly thorough and their primary recommendation was to expand the program to security forces outside the district and across the entire nation. Serious recommendations.

The African people are also serious about ceremony. Our training session ended with an official closing with the major of the district, the executive secretary of the district, and the director of security forces for the district all in attendance to hear the committee’s recommendations, to congratulate the members of the security forces for their excellent participation, and to thank us for coming to share.

And the entire occasion was capped off with a serious photo session and times for goodbyes.

What is apparent is that we have a serious, top-flight training team with Betty, Malcolm, Allison, Robyn, Aaron, and Dan. Seriously.

 

 

6 Days and Counting – Betty

Less than a week to go. In 6 days, Dr. Betty Gilmore will be leading our intrepid band of peacemakers into Africa to teach, to share, and to learn. Leaders get to lead for a variety of reasons. But the best type of leader is the one who people choose to follow. Betty was our choice.

I’m not saying that I wouldn’t have signed on for this adventure had it not been for Betty, but her invitation made it pretty easy. You see, Betty is a phenomenal organizer of programs and educational trips. I knew that I could count on Betty to plan and lead in a way that ensured the success of this venture. And besides all that, Betty is just an extraordinary individual — and a lot of fun.

photo 2Betty is the director for the Center for Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management at Southern Methodist University. A licensed clinical psychologist, she teaches courses in both the dispute resolution and masters in counseling programs. Always searching for ways to introduce her students to the wide world of peacemaking, Betty is constantly alert to opportunities for immersion in rich contextual environments. And so it was that she researched and initiated our trip to Africa.

Betty is the former training program director for the Center for Public Policy Dispute Resolution at the University of Texas School of Law. Her work there provided a variety of alternative dispute resolution services including mediation, training, assessment and consultation to governmental agencies, policymakers and others involved in public disputes. She continues to provide consultation, training and crisis management services to private and governmental entities.

Gilmore is an online-lecturer for the Werner Institute for Negotiation and Dispute Resolution at Creighton University and will be teaching as an adjunct professor at the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at the Pepperdine University School of Law. In addition, she has served as a visiting faculty member at Hiroshima University where she co-taught an international negotiation course. Betty currently serves as  co-chair for the Texas Mediation Trainers Roundtable.

As a licensed clinical psychologist, she has worked in clinical, teaching, training, supervisory and consulting roles in a wide variety of settings including academic, workplace, private practice, community and health care. Her areas of specialization include trauma, crisis management, conflict-resolution and cross-cultural issues.

She is also the author of The Darkest Hour: Shedding light on the impact of isolation and death row.

Gilmore earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Southern Methodist University. In addition, she received her Master’s and Doctoral degrees in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology in Los Angeles, California.  She has received extensive training in dispute resolution through Harvard’s Program on Negotiation, Pepperdine’s Straus Institute, CDR Associates, and the American Institute of Mediation.

photo 5Those are all of the official reasons we would choose Betty to be our leader. But there is so much more. As I have watched the team on our work days in Dallas, I have seen the way that they look up to Betty. Their respect has been earned by Betty’s dedication to people and to their personal development. From an abundance of applications, Betty chose these people to be part of this peace mission.

Here are some of the other reasons we chose Betty . . .

Betty is unbelievably smart. Not in a brainiac sort of way. No, Betty uses her intelligence in a way that builds other people up and brings them along. She honors their gifts and appreciates their intellect. She is the mastermind behind the trainings we have prepared for Africa.

photo 3Betty is inclusive. She sees opportunity in interacting with people in diverse settings and circumstances. She wants to make time for others. From our very first conversation about this trip, Betty shared that one of her intense desires was for the group to have time with refugees — and especially the children.

Betty has a soft heart for little ones and furry creatures. And, you might like to know that extends to tortoises. Betty loves life. She makes certain that all of us recognize the great treasure that life holds. She leads us in celebration of life.

Betty is a detail person. Putting together a trip to Rwanda and Kenya for 7 people is a challenge. Yet she has relentlessly pursued the information necessary and provided counsel on the practical things we need to know. And, she also blessed us by choosing Allison and Robyn who have stepped up with additional tips for travel and their love for language and peace. And she chose Aaron with his extensive experience in motivating groups of people. And Malcolm with his great love for others and his vast experience in training. And Dan with his passion for making the world better, one person at a time.

Betty has our respect. Sure, she is a trusted professional. But she’s also a friend who cares deeply for each one of us. Just in case you read past that too fast – Betty is our friend.

Betty Gilmore. Professor. Mentor. Leader. Trusted professional. Friend.

Who else would we follow?