I was thinking the other day about how there are people in this world who make life look not so tough and others who make it seem so much more difficult.

That in turn got me thinking about what the difference might be between these general groups. I realize this is a very broad generalization but hang in there with me for a moment. There are, for sure, many people who are in truly dire circumstances; I’m thinking of those who are fleeing conflict in their country such as Syria. For these people life is hard. Really hard. On the other hand, for the majority of us who were fortunate enough to wake up, after a night in a comfortable bed, we get a choice about how we see things. As someone who is seeking to lead a more balanced, thoughtful life, what we think about in those moments after we open our eyes is completely within our control and here’s the scary part ~ totally shapes how our day goes.

Over the next three months I’m going to look a little more deeply at the mantra/saying/slogan/attitude that has been shaping my days for over 15 years and that I want to share with you. Ready? It’s very simple. The Big Three are: Show Up, Be Present, Learn. You are more than welcome to craft your own Big Three but for now let’s stick to these.

Mantras (and that doesn’t have to refer to meditation by the way) are extraordinary in that over time they have the capacity to shape our brain. We talked about them before but it bears repeating; we believe the stuff we tell ourselves. Our brain, an amazing organ, has the power to steer our actions, decisions and beliefs based on what we tell ourselves.

David Eagleman from Baylor College of Medicine (Texas) says, “when the brain changes, we change. Our personality, decision-making, risk-aversion, the capacity to see colors or name animals – all these can change, in very specific ways, when the brain is altered by tumors, strokes, drugs, disease or trauma.” (The Guardian, April 2012) So, rather than sign up for a trauma of some sort why not change our brains in ways that we choose? Ways that work for us?

So what do I mean when I say, “Show Up?” This is one of those times when it is totally what it sounds like; just plain old show up. Be there. Be where you need to be, where you said you’d be, where you don’t want to be but will regret not having been at some point in the future.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • If it is not me to be there, who will be? Is that OK with me?
  • Where have I said I would be? Is “I just don’t want to do this?” a good enough reason not to be there?
  • Is not going/getting to a place in the long run going to leave you saying, “damn, I am angry with myself for not having made it there!” or thinking it was more important to be at work today?

Now, let’s be wise about this. I’m not talking about missing your kid’s trip to the nurse’s office for a scratch ~ I’m talking about not getting to spelling bee match because you felt it more important to go food shopping.

And let’s not go to extremes. You don’t need to go into debt to get to a wedding for a person you’ve not seen since the first grade.

As the New Year begins how about if you spend the next month working on Showing Up? I hope you do just that! Good luck!