Last week I spoke at SRECon about how systems behave when they’re stressed to the point of reaching their limits. Interestingly, I was near my personal limits at this point. Nothing dramatic: just travel, sleep deficit, jet lag, and impatience with a project I’m working on. Even as I spoke about observing systems, I was observing my own behavior and seeing evidence that I needed to ease up a bit.

I noticed myself not being quite at top performance in a few relatively minor ways. The most obvious was when I tried to inject some humor into conversations off-the-cuff, without thinking about it first. This happened at a lunch conversation, where I started to crack a joke involving current events. I did a similar thing while presenting: I started to joke about LinkedIn, realized it wasn’t going anywhere and wasn’t funny, and moved on so as not to distract further from the talk.

These were opportunities for me to notice my behavior and take a step back, just be myself, just be normal. I wasn’t quite being normal, I was trying to be something slightly more than normal. I was being witty to seek attention, and that never works for me. I was able to examine this in meditation, get in touch with what was going on, and let go of it.

It was a good reminder that when I am using all my reserves of energy and sleep, I have no buffer to cope with the small additional things that crop up.

Done! Now Read These:

How I Meditate

A very simple description of my daily meditation practice.

My Four Favorite Meditation Books

Four books that have helped me to know myself more deeply.

Meditation: Captive vs Directed Attention

Meditation practice continues to change my understanding of what meditation is.