There is nothing that does not become lighter through habit and familiarity. – Shantideva

 

There is nothing that does not become easier through practice.

Wonderful words from the great Shantideva.

There is nothing that does not become easier through practice.

If I start smoking and smoke on a regular basis, it becomes easier for me to smoke.

If I practice self-control, it becomes easier for me to practice self-control.

There is nothing that does not become easier through habit and familiarity.

Nothing.

No thing.

No thing does not become easier through habit and familiarity.

You want to be a better writer? Practice writing.
You want to be a better singer? Practice singing.
You want to be more patient? Practice patience.
You want to be angrier and less content with your life? Practice those.

Wikipedia defines practice as a learning method:

Practice (or practise) is the act of rehearsing a behavior over and over, or engaging in an activity again and again, for the purpose of improving or mastering it, as in the phrase “practise makes perfect”. Sports teams practise to prepare for actual games. Playing a musical instrument well takes a lot of practise. It is a method of learning and of acquiring experience. The word derives from the Greek “πρακτική” (praktike), feminine of “πρακτικός” (praktikos), “fit for or concerned with action, practical”, and that from the verb “πράσσω” (prasso), “to achieve, bring about, effect, accomplish”. In American English, practise is used as both a noun and a verb, but in British English, there is a distinction between practice, used as a noun, and practice, used as a verb.

 

The context

About a month ago, I was on a dad’s night out with my BFF Greg. (Yes, I know, if you have been paying close attention, that I’ve also referred to Larry as my BFF. I have more than one BFF. I’m OK with that.) We went to play pool at Sam’s – an establishment that has been in this neighborhood since before this neighborhood started to get a little hip and trendy.

Actually, Sam’s and a few of the old places might be exactly why this neighborhood became a little precious.  

It was league night, so there were no tables available for us. The bartender lent up two sets of darts and tried our hands at this “sport” that I had become good at in college. However,  conversation didn’t flow; the pace of the back and forth with the darts interfered too much to allow for meaningful chat – and that’s really why we were there. We took our drinks upstairs to watch the pros play at the seven tables that encircled the stairwell in the middle of the room.

We watched other people play. Dyads at each table – no one so good that they could clear the entire table in one go, but they were good enough to make three to five shots in a row.

To me, that’s amazing.

People who were so good at playing pool that they made it look easy.

And, it was easier for me to talk with Greg while watching them play than it was while we were playing darts. To be honest, it was easier to chat watching them than it ever was for us to chat while we played pool.

 

That Man

The rotation of players continued as we waxed philosophically and personally. Greg took a chance and told me something that wasn’t easy for me to hear. But, I’m glad he did. That’s part of why he is my BFF – because, to use what isn’t pool parlance but could be – he is a straight shooter.

Then, came to the table before us a guy whose name I never learned, but I will refer to  as “That Man.”

What set That Man apart wasn’t his looks. That Man was pretty much average height and size. He had a regular haircut.

What set That Man apart was that every time he missed and the balls didn’t do what he wanted them to do, he laughed.

He laughed!

And, often, the people he was playing against (with?) laughed as well.

The second time That Man came around on his tour of the floor, I interrupted him.

“Excuse me… I love that you laugh when things don’t go your way.”

He looked confused for a moment, staring me in the face. Was there was a fault in his brain’s wiring?

I filled the awkward silence adding, “There are plenty of other things that you could do than laugh.”

He smiled, turned back towards his table and said simply, “Thanks.”

He corralled the fifteen balls into the heavy, dark plastic rack and continued on.

 

Practice

There is nothing that does not become easier through habit and familiarity. 

If you want to have more joy in your life, if you want to be the kind of person who laughs when things don’t go the way that you expect them to, there’s only one way to make that happen. It’s by practice.

You must practice having good nature.

It’s in all of us.

We can all laugh.

But do we allow ourselves to?

Have you practiced enough?

 

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