Parenthetical Living – Add Structure to Your Life

“We are travelers on a cosmic journey,stardust,swirling and dancing in the eddies and whirlpools of infinity. Life is eternal. We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share. This is a precious moment. It is a little parenthesis in eternity.”

― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

parenthesis in eternity, a picture of brackets on keyboard keys

Use brackets to structure your day

Time, space and energy have a tendency to not stay put.  They are without form and so they tend to ooze and spread and invade other spaces.  Some people, I know, are better at corralling their time, space and energy, but I’m not.

I don’t keep my stuff in the space it should be in and it doesn’t help that I live in an open concept house so the walls, which aren’t there, don’t define and confine the stuff within them.

Likewise with my time and energy.  Perhaps that’s why I’ve been better at being self-employed, so that time and energy can be fluid based on my mood and focus at the time..

But let’s face it, living in a constant environment of fluid time, space and energy is very much like trying to walk purposefully in an ocean.  You can’t.  You get pushed and pulled by the waves and the current and you sometimes don’t make a lot of headway.  And it’s exhausting.

When I and my surroundings are in a state of high fluidity, I get more exhausted more easily and start to feel overwhelmed.  I feel more out of control and stressed.  And my mood starts to sink—just maintaining the same oceanic analogy here.  That’s not good when you’re trying to make headway and get stuff done.  It’s also not good from a Law of Attraction perspective because an open, positive and expectant attitude is essential to allowing.  When your thoughts and feelings are taken over by brown thoughts of doubt, overwhelm, fear, negativity, it  acts as a barrier to the good stuff that could be flowing in.

That’s when it’s nice to create brackets or parentheses.  You can create parentheses in your day by deciding that for a certain period of time, you will think or behave in a certain way. Knowing that it has a start and finish makes it easier to commit.  For example,

You could decide that from 9 to 10 a.m. you are going to work only on a certain project and not play on Facebook or play Solitaire.

You could decide that from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. you are going to just putter around and clean the house without talking on the phone or playing on the computer.

You could decide that from 2 to 3 p.m. you are going to spend time with your dog, walking him and brushing him perhaps, and focusing just on him.

You could choose to not worry about a certain concern from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

You could choose to turn off the tv and just read with quiet music on from 9 to 10 p.m.

The nice thing about bracketing is that by setting a limit, you know that at the end of that time, you can go back to worrying, or goofing off, or vegging or whatever.  When my son was in his late teens he was a competitive cyclist and he would go on 100 km training rides on a highway.  I hated it.  I would be so worried.  Then I started bracketing it.  I would ask him how long he planned to be gone—for a 100 km ride it would be 3 hours.  So I would decide that I wouldn’t worry for 4 hours, leaving him time to get there and back and possibly chat with friends.  After 4 hours, I was free to freak out.

Here’s another way to use brackets and parentheses in your day.  You can intend in brackets.  You can intend that during a bracketed time, all will be well and you can be very specific about what that ‘well’ looks like. So for example, let’s say you are going into a meeting at work, you might begin the bracket by intending like this:

I’m going to go into the meeting and greet everyone with a smile.  My favourite seat will be available and I’ll sit down and make myself comfortable.  I’ll pay attention during the meeting and make good comments at appropriate times.

Or here’s another example.  Imagine that you are going to work on writing your book for an hour of bracketed time.  You might intend for that bracket like this:

At 9 a.m. I’m going to take a coffee and go to my desk.  I’ll read over the chapter I’ve started and then start typing and my thoughts will flow easily onto the page.  I will be very fluent and relaxed during my writing.  At the end of the hour, I’ll print off my work for the day and make a neat pile.   I’ll turn off the computer, get up and push in my chair and I’ll feel very satisfied with my work for the day

I had one client who was trying to complete the Seven Day Mental Diet.  I suggested he set his phone alarm to go off every hour.  At that time, he was to stop and ask himself what he was thinking, because so many of our thoughts are unconsciously negative.  If his thinking was negative, he was to make a conscious choice to think more positive thoughts to turn his feelings around.

Now, obviously I can’t fool you.  This is just an example of visualization and intention which you should be doing anyway.  Of course it is, but it’s so much easier than trying to visualize or intend an entire day—it’s a beginners approach to visualization and intention.  It can be hard to run through an entire day in advance in your head but you can certainly do it for half an hour or an hour.

You can create rituals that represent the beginning and end of the parentheses.  For example, you might choose to have a glass of cold water at the beginning and end, as a physical reminder.  Sometimes I walk the dog as soon as I wake in the morning and just before bed and when I do, I think of it as putting brackets around my day.  Your ritual might be just closing your eyes for a moment and taking a deep breath.

Create a parentheses of calm in your day.  Or a bracket of intense physical exercise..  Or one of focused work.  Create a parenthesis that contains only fun.  Try it for just a day and let me know how it works for you.

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About futurepull

I'm a dreamweaver, a sorcerer, co-creator of this brilliant and exciting adventure of life. We're here for the experience, why not make it fun? Try new things, build castles and live in them, paint your future, become friends with eagles and flamingos and iguanas, make a million and give it away. Your future is limited only by your imagination.
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6 Responses to Parenthetical Living – Add Structure to Your Life

  1. Alan Miles says:

    I really enjoyed this Jacqueline – the content and the metaphor. I detect we’re rather similar. I hate walls too, anything which might constrain my freedom of thought or movement. Others might call it unstructured, but it’s given me a glorious roller-coaster of a career … or actually several careers.

    One of the dangers of a free-spirited career though can be loss of liberty in your personal life. There’s always so much to learn, so much to achieve, and I’m having so much fun with it, that day slips into night and I’m still at my desk without noticing. Which is fine for a while, but can get unhealthy in the long term.

    That’s why I like the idea of brackets. Not permanent walls but temporary structures that we can easily erect, leave in place most of the time, but move aside when necessary. Japanese screens. Seems worth a try.

  2. futurepull says:

    Thanks Alan. Yes it is unhealthy over the long term and I have to admit I’m getting to the burn out stage right now. Been working sooooo hard over the summer so far, partly because it’s too hot to go outside. I have also had a fun career ride, having been self-employed a lot and never keeping a job more than five years and so 6 years ago I decided that it might be wise to get a job and KEEP it till retirement–and a government job seemed perfect for that. So I’m over my 5 years and I need to stay here 10 years in all to get benefits etc. And they just announced that we’re being sold. So on to plan B. Lucky for me I have many options and am pretty expert at changing lanes. So I’m ramping up my business yet again. And putting a lot of effort into it during the hottest summer I’ve ever seen. Geez that’s why I moved up here from Toronto – I can’t take the heat!

  3. How timely for me Jacqueline. I just started a 5 week call to get back into meditating. I’m scheduling 15 minutes a day to start and will probably increase the time as I move forward. It’s become absolutely necessary to take a break every day.

    • futurepull says:

      I can’t think of a better way to put a bracket at the beginning or the end of your day. I need to rejuvenate that habit.

  4. athenabrady1 says:

    Brilliant post Jaqueline, I like the idea’s of brackets. As I hate to be confined in any way, by people, time, relationships, I think it squashes our creativity and uniqueness. I am licky I have a husband who understands my needs, that sometimes I will work through the night, sleep till noon. Many people forget we have the right to chose the way we live our lives, structure is good as long as it does not stifle us. it must have a reason for me an end goal.

  5. futurepull says:

    I go through spells of more and less energy and creativity. Right now I’m full of ideas and energy and having to work in a 9 to 5 job is far more structure than I want. However, it gives me other things that I want and need in my life right now and it’s pleasant and creative work. It’s give and take for me right now.

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