I’ve recently been reflecting on what has been an extremely challenging year for me, and these words — “Be conscious, mindful, and alive” — managed to leave the tip of my pen for eternal life on the page. I write a lot, but the moments when I actually take myself by surprise by finding the exact words to evoke what’s on my mind happen only rarely, and this was one of them. It’s everything I’m choosing to focus on as I move forward, onward, and upward.

There are two other apt illustrations of the contents of my thoughts lately, both of which continue to resonate with me in a special way and are worth sharing:

I want to live in the world, not inside my head
I want to live in the world, I want to stand and be counted

To open my eyes and wake up alive in the world
To open my eyes and fully arrive in the world

I’ve nothing of value to add to such a piece — only a great big “Yes.”

And earlier this year I was fortunate enough to come across this particular poignant bit of insight among Derek Sivers’ reliably insightful oeuvre. Derek made a conscious decision awhile back to assume in all situations that he is below average:

I’ve stopped thinking others are stupid. I assume most people are smarter than me.

To assume you’re below average is to admit you’re a beginner. It puts you in student mind. It keeps your focus on present practice and future possibilities, and away from any past accomplishments.

Most people are so worried about looking good that they never do anything great.

Most people are so worried about doing something great that they never do anything at all.

The illusory superiority phenomenon is one I’ve battled with, and Derek’s approach is extraordinarily appealing to me. I’m not there yet, but I continue to work on embodying it.

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