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Side Notes on Uncertainty

December 6, 2015 by  
Filed under blog

Years ago I picked up a habit that has served me well for many years and I still do it to this day. It’s simply this: When I’m reading a book–especially a book with good advice, concepts and life lifting ideas—I write notes of those statements that I find profound and powerful,  those things that I don’t want to ever forget.  I write those gems on the blank pages in the front or back of the book with the page number of the quote.  That helps me tremendously weeks, months or years later when I want to quickly review the high points in that particular book, and I can do so in a matter of a few minutes.  Those quick reviews re-motivate me, remind of many things that I’d forgotten, and help me find and follow good pathways.

Let me show you what I mean. Here are my notes from Pema Chodron’s book Living Beautifully with Uncertainly and Change.

Page 3.  “Our attempts to find lasting pleasure, lasting security, are at odds with the fact that we’re part of a dynamic system in which everything and everyone is in process.”

Page 6.  “Change….when we can completely let go and not struggle against it, when we can embrace the groundlessness of our situation and relax into its dynamic quality, that’s called enlightenment….”

Page 7.  “What a fundamental ambiguity of being human points to is that as much as we want to, we can never say, ‘This is the only true way. This is how it is. End of discussion.’  In an interview Chris Hedges also talked about the pain that ensures when a group or religion insists that its view is the one true view.”

Page 10. Our habitual response to feeling ensues…when we’re hooked, we turn to anything to relieve the discomfort–food, alcohol, sex, shopping, being critical or unkind.”

Page 12. “…emotions like anger that are an automatic response last just ninety seconds from the moment it’s triggered until it runs its course.”

Page 16.   My thought from reading this page is I try to notice when I am trying to escape from the fundamental uncertainly of life!

Page 26.  “We all have our familiar exits: zoning out in front of the TV, compulsively checking e-mail, coming home at night and having three or four or six drinks, overeating, overworking.”  Note to self: I need to become more aware of these escape methods and not do them myself.

Page 29. “Don’t believe everything you think.”

Page 30.  My thoughts from this page are that I need to think about what I’m thinking but then I shouldn’t try to totally repress thoughts I don’t like but I need to work on refraining from doing it again.

Page 50. “Accept yourself as you are right now.”

Page 53.  “Loving kindness for self means making time for meditation and self-reflection, for kindhearted, compassionate, self-honesty.”

Since we all have limited time in our lives (even if you live to be 80, that’s still only 960 months and you know how fast a month flies by!), we all need to be as efficient and productive as we possibly can and that’s why I encourage you to use your time wisely. I really think my habit of capturing the best items of the best books as you read is a great habit to develop for life enhancement and productivity.

I hope you glean as much wisdom as I did from these high points of Pema’s great book. I will post the rest of the notes that I made in the front of her book next week. Right now I need to go to my club and play some more tennis. Yep … we all need to balance our lives to get the most out of the limited time we have here on the planet earth.

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