Animal. Human as an animal.

Animal

“You’re an animal!!”

Being called an animal is often meant as an insult—a suggestion that we’re not “civilized,” that we don’t have control over our impulses. But there are other ways we can interpret our animal nature. We can take it to mean that we’re in tune with the world around us, that we pay attention to our senses and what they’re telling us, that we’re aware of and comfortable with nature.

Of course, the thing that sets us apart from “other animals” is our brain, which gives us the ability to reason and our sense of self. While it does set us apart, it doesn’t have to draw a hard line between us and other animals. We have lived for so long without the need to pay attention to the world around us that many of us have lost the inclination. We only see the natural elements of our world when we make a concerted effort or in extreme circumstances.

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Grace. Running Cheetahs.

Grace

When you think about the word “graceful,” what comes to mind? Maybe a dancer like Fred Astaire, or an athlete like Joe DiMaggio. DiMaggio’s playing was described as “elegant,” and it was said he “glided” around the outfield with the “grace” of a cat. These are not words that you often find in the sports page, but when people saw DiMaggio play, those were the words that fit.

Where does grace come from? Are people born with it? When you see someone who is clumsy or awkward, do you think they are just like that, or they just aren’t paying attention? For the body, there is two-way communication. Listen to your body and compel your body to listen to you. This comes down to awareness. A simple idea, but one on which few really act.

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Evolve

Evolve

Nobody’s perfect.

Each of us has things we’d like to change about ourselves. We might want to eat less or exercise more. We might want to be more assertive. We might want to read more or become experts in something. We might want to be more adventurous.

How many of our desired changes would fundamentally alter who we are? Are we evolving as people?

Evolution has a lot more nuance than change. Evolution means we are building on what came before. It means that exposure to some events, ideas, or changes in circumstance has resulted in our moving forward in a different way.

Many things can lead to our personal evolution. Examples include an epiphany we’ve had about how to make our lives better, a recognition of some truth that had previously evaded us, a wake-up call we’ve had about our health or our state of mind, or an experience we’ve had that alters our worldview.

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Work. Young woman working in factory

Work

The word “work” often has a negative connotation. We have to wake up every day and do something that we might not necessarily choose to do if we weren’t getting paid for it.

But if we think about our days as a series of moments, each special in its own way, we can transcend many of the negative aspects of working and change our attitude about what we do—from one of working to one of being—making the most out of each moment and realizing that each moment is special.

In our jobs, we may not always have the flexibility to work on the things we care about or enjoy, but we do have control over the person who shows up for the job. We should care about the work we do because we are the ones doing it. We are bringing our presence, intellect, energy, and personality to our jobs. We are giving of ourselves, and that, in and of itself, makes the work we do special.

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Intense. Focused man working.

Intense

Time to get your game face on.

Intensity is one of those qualities that can be hard to characterize. It can be positive or negative, depending on its source and how it manifests, and it can easily be misinterpreted as arrogance or impatience. Being intense can often have an impact on our effectiveness, and it is important to be aware of that. Intensity can be a part of someone’s everyday emotional makeup, or it can be something that comes up occasionally when the situation warrants it. Some people are never intense, while others seem to always be intense.

So what is intensity? To me, it’s a quality that allows us to cut to the chase; we get rid of anything that is not immediately relevant and get right to the heart of the matter. This can be interpreted literally or figuratively—intensity can manifest as actions or as an attitude. Through a sense of urgency, intensity can also result in increased efficiency. Intense people cut out the unnecessary and focus on what is required.

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