For the last several years, I have been settling on a personal mantra which guides the way I live my life over the next year. I find each of these mantras become a part of who I am and stays with me long after the year has passed. As a result, I’ve learned to be careful about the words I settle on each year. I am using the word settle and settled and not choose or chosen to describe the process of arriving at my personal mantra.
Let’s kick this off with a look back at my 2020 mantra:
Fearless, while not being careless.
It turns out this mantra served me well in 2020, as the Covid-19 pandemic hit shortly after the year began. It guided me as I stayed out on the road working longer than many people. I did so fearlessly; but with an abundance of caution (a phrase I later grew to not like very much). It also served me well when we had to pivot our business from in-person to online when we added apparel production.
This mantra continued to guide me as I began to travel again in late May and then throughout the balance of the year. I believe it was really important to settle on the “while not being careless” portion of the mantra. It would have been easy for me to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic in a fearless “while being stupid” way too had I not had my mantra to fall back on. For a guy like me, that would have likely turned out very badly.
Why do I settle on a mantra and not choose it?
The short answer to this is that I try to live in harmony with the flow of the universe. For me that means that I don’t force the world to be the way I want it to be. Instead, I strive to accept the world as it is. That does not mean I have to like the world as it is. I just have to accept that’s how it is. That distinction is huge for me.
These mantras seem to find me – not the other way around. I spend a good deal of time these days in what many might call a spiritual pursuit. This isn’t about religion for me; but my own search for meaning in my life so I can be a decent human being. I’m not great at this – probably not even good – but I’m trying and getting better each year (or so I hope).
In the course of that spiritual pursuit, I read a great deal and interact with like-minded people engaged in a similar pursuit. Through the combination of these two inputs and with the willingness to occasionally sit quietly and do what some might call meditate, lots of concepts and ideas flow through my brain. Certain key words and phases will catch my attention. Some of those words and phrases will stick for days or weeks and others for months. Eventually as I end each calendar year, the right combination of words just becomes clear to me.
What is my 2021 mantra?
Walk through chaos with peace.
Today, I’m not 100 percent sure what that combination of words is going to mean to me in 2021. I just know at a gut level that this is my 2021 mantra and that it will serve me as well as the previous mantras have. In some ways, it’s a combination of the 2019 mantra, “Peace Over Balance,” and the 2020 mantra. In 2020, it became clear to me that there is seldom balance in the external universe; but inner peace can be achieved anytime I choose it and take the right actions to find it.
When I find my self at inner peace and the whole world goes sideways on some random Tuesday afternoon, I face the challenges better. I face them with the courage to do what is right. I can take the next right action and just get on with my life while leaving all the self pity on the side of the road. The flip side of that is not so pretty. When the same thing happens and I’m not at peace, then the pity party starts and everything is everyone’s else’s fault. I take no personal responsibility and take all the wrong actions. I prefer the former to the latter, and so this mantra should serve me well as a reminder of how to face the everyday chaos that always seems to pop up.
I’d love to hear if you have a personal mantra and how you arrive at it if you do. Drop me a note in the comments and I promise to respond if you ask me to.