Doing without labeling

We deal with many kinds of events over the course of a given day or week. And, one of our mechanisms for dealing with this diversity is reducing them to simple labels – good, bad, confusing, shocking, etc.

These labels are important in their ability to reduce cognitive load on a daily basis. However, they also take away a lot of the richness of the experience. Most of what happens to us has a lot more texture than what a simple label can describe.

An idea I’ve been exploring over the past weeks is consciously doing without labeling. This has meant resisting any temptation to label my days or answer questions like “how is your day going?”

Aside from the benefit of avoiding an inauthentic/generic answer to the question (I replace it with something more humorous like – “It’s going – hopefully in the right direction” :)), it inspires two powerful outcomes.

First, it gives me more time to sit with my reflections on a day instead of forcing closure with a label. I’ve found myself spending more time soaking lessons out of my experiences versus moving on to a book or some other distraction.

And, second, it has enabled me to live life in a way that is more aligned to my philosophy that “you never know if a good is a good day.” We never really do. All we can do is be thoughtful about the trade-offs we’re making and keep plugging away.

So, here’s to that..