In the past seven days, I showed up at three different social events posted on meetup.com so that I could write about the challenge of showing up and why that challenge was so essential to my sense of well-being.
The first event was Social Club, which is an opportunity to engage in open, honest communication. Each person shares a bit about what’s going on in their life. If it’s something they’re struggling with, they can request feedback.
In everyday conversation, since I have a writer’s mind, I have a tendency to listen until I know what the topic is, sort through my mental file cabinet of opinions on that topic until I have a response, and then wait, often impatiently, to express that opinion. In order to “show up” for social club, I have to turn off my internal response composer.
I also find it challenging to share my “struggles” because a good part of my work these days involves writing exercises to teach people to handle struggles on their own. While this group gives me insight into what others struggle with, it’s sometimes a struggle for me to see things as a struggle.
The following day, I cobbled together the essay “How to Tap Into Our Hard-Wired Happiness” based on ideas from Srikumar S. Rao’s Are You Ready to Succeed? Unconventional strategies for achieving personal mastery in business and life, and headed over to my “writing critique” group.
Since I’m much more comfortable offering up my writing for feedback than my struggles, the challenge here had to do with other people showing up. At the time I headed out for the meetup, only one other person had RSVP’d. Two of the regulars had left comments that they would not be coming.
I appreciated the irony. The gist of the essay had to do with giving up fixed notions about outcomes and focusing exclusively on intentions. My intention was to run these words by the group to get their response. I had no control over the outcome of even one other person showing up.
As it turned out, three others showed up, they all found the discussion topic useful. One of the participants, a psychotherapist, took a couple notes on ideas she could use with her clients. I got another real-world data point about the benefits of focusing on intentions instead of outcomes.
I didn’t sleep well the night before my third social event of the week, “mindfulness meditation and discussion.” The challenge of showing up involved dragging my butt out of bed and staying awake to time the sitting and walking meditation.
I didn’t have the energy to think about the outcome, but my intention for the essay was to spark an interesting discussion that would resonate with whoever else showed up. In addition to the semi-regular attendees, three first-timers arrived having found the group through meetup.com and the discussion flowed quite freely with no additional prompting on my part.
Showing up for the three events gave me practice at coping with the normal stresses of life (focusing on the intention and not the outcome), gave me some indication that my work had been fruitful (several people had found some value in the ideas I’d cobbled together) and the combination of their showing up and my showing up gave me an ability to make a contribution to my community. All of the above are factors that help one achieve a state of well-being.