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The Covert Aggressives In Your Life

You probably know a few Passive Aggressive people, but do you know what a Covert Aggressive is?

Somewhere between a passive aggressive and an outright aggressive person are countless layers of aggressive behavior. You will interact with each at some point in your life, possibly some at the same time. But if you don’t know how to respond to each in the right way you will be forever caught in and endless cycle without ever being able to live your life in the way you want to live it.

You’ve probably met a Covert Aggressive person at work. You may even have a few in your family without even knowing it. You may have thought they were being passive aggressive, only a bit more active in their actions, leaving you to think you were the crazy one or just being paranoid. Well, you’re not crazy and you’re not paranoid. You probably just ran into a Covert Aggressive.

Covert Aggression is a relatively new term coined by Dr. George Simon. Dr Ssimon was the Supervising Psychologist for the Arkansas Department of Corrections. He just published a book titled In Sheeps Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People, and it’s a must read if you want to find out more about what a CA is and what to do about them.

While working in the Arkansas prison system he noticed a pattern with some prisoners. He noticed the same pattern in the business world as well. He calls it Covert Aggression. A Covert Aggressive is similar to a passive aggressive in that they do not directly confront the target of their aggression, but they actively work behind the scenes to undermine those they think are undermining their power base. They may not consciously act out in this way, but this is how they instinctively deal with those who threaten them whether real or imagined.

They know how to push the buttons we all inherently have, and if you are the target of their ire they will do so until they find the one that you respond to. Sometimes they will even go so far to create a situation that involves the unwitting help of those around you just to see you suffer.

While a Passive Aggressive person hems and haws or uses delay tactics to interrupt activities they don’t want to be a part of, Covert Aggressive people play mind games to get their way. They reach out to your family and friends, getting them to take actions that undermine your efforts while always having an excuse for what they did leaving you to wonder what just happened or if you’re the paranoid crazy one.

I wrote about Covert Aggressives in my 2010 book The Simple Truth. At that time there was no name for that they were doing so I referred to them as someone who learned to work the loopholes of our social conventions in order to get what they wanted. They know that the majority of people are too polite to call them on their cutting comments and actions as long as they didn’t go too far. In the end they got what they wanted without ever crossing the line of the social norm.

They are the people who make a cutting comment followed by an “I’m just kidding,” or take an action followed by an “I thought I was doing you a favor.” They may enlist an unwitting friend to do a task, convincing that person that it is a good thing only to discover it is anything but. The CA knows most people will never challenge them directly because their aggression is so hard to pin down, leaving their tactics to fall somewhere between passive aggression and out and out aggression.

The CA often gets others to do little things that allow them to stay in their comfort zone out of the conflict while undermining your efforts. Even the unwitting perpetrator may wonder why you reacted the way you did, after all, they were doing you a favor, and aren’t favors what good people do? And there-in lies the beauty beneath the CA’s approach. They know we all want to be good people and that we all want to do good things. They have developed their tactics over time, learning what works and what doesn’t, so all a CA really has to do is convince those around you that what they are doing is a good thing. By the time you catch on and bring attention to the actions of a CA they look around in innocence as if you are the bad one while they remain untouched.

Their manipulations and anglings get them what they want while you look like the bad, unappreciative one, reeling confused and in self-doubt. You know what you experienced yet nobody else seems to understand why you are so upset.

If you are like many of my clients you may think you are dealing with a passive-aggressive person with a difference, their aggression is anything but passive. It’s a subtle difference but it’s an important one, because you can’t resolve an issue if you can’t see the issue for what it is.

In his book Dr Simon defines Passive-Aggression as a “pervasive pattern of negativistic attitudes and resistance to demands for adequate performance without confronting that person directly.”

True Passive-Aggression can take the form of noncompliance, such as getting “sidetracked” when asked to leave, never quite making it to the door. Covert Aggression, on the other hand, often takes the form of “lying or manipulation of someone through tactics unseen by others.”

The CA knows enough about human nature to make someone feel like they’re a part of the team when they’re really undermining the team for their own gain. Unlike “passive-aggression” a Covert Aggressive takes a very active role in your life without ever crossing the socially acceptable line.

Keep in mind that people use covert aggressive tactics from time to time. That does not always mean they are a Covert Aggressive, but it does mean you need to be aware of them if you are to maintain your life on your terms with as little effort as possible.

In general, an aggressive person sees life as a competition that they can’t stand to lose. When they feel their powerbase threatened they fall back on the tactics that have always worked for them, whether that means passive, covert or all out physical aggression. Some people cycle through them until they find which works best for their situation with you. The bottom line to their response is to get you to play on their field and with their rules. The moment you respond is the moment you step onto their field and begin to lose losing yourself to their ends.

What follows is paraphrased from Dr. George K. Simon’s new book called In Sheep’s Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People. If you’d like to learn more about covert aggressive people and how to manage them in your life I highly recommend buying a copy.

A covert aggressive person manipulates the world to fit their needs without ever compromising their status. On the light side, they may ask you to decide where to go for dinner. When you pick a place, they will complain that they don’t want to go there. When you suggest another place, they will at best be lukewarm to your suggestion. Recognizing this you may invite them to pick a place at which point they will complain that they’re tired and asked you to decide. It will continue like this leaving you frustrated and unsure of where it’s all going.

A covert aggressive person may not even realize what they are doing. In their mind they are merely responding to the world around them to get what they want. When they feel threatened they respond automatically in the only way they know how – by keeping you off balance and seeking solid ground, which they are only more than happy to provide as long as you ask them nicely.

This example is a tactic many people use without even thinking about it because it makes them feel secure, but regardless of what tactic someone uses the key to stopping them is to not respond and to not follow them into their maze. Instead pull back and ground yourself right where you are. Be honest and call them on their words and actions in a straight-forward manner. Be prepared for them to cajole, plead their innocence, or become angry, this is what they do because these reactions have worked for them in the past.

When they stomped their feet as a child, their parents did whatever it took to calm them. As a teen this same pattern grabbed hold when they wanted a new car or a new freedom. When you see these patterns of manipulation arise, think through your interaction with the person employing them and ask them what’s going on. If they respond in one of the following ways you may be dealing with someone using a Covert Aggressive tactic.

 

Know The Signs

Playing Dumb

When someone who is sharp suddenly plays dumb, acts confused or conveniently forgets, it may just be a tactic designed to make you question your judgment. Don’t question your sanity, question theirs.

Diversion and Distraction

When someone refuses to give a straight answer to a straight question or changes the subject chances are they are trying to manipulate you. Attempts to Distract or Divert your attention are just their efforts to redirect your focus from their behavior to promote their agenda. You may confront your manipulator on a very important issue only to find yourself wondering how you got on the topic you’re talking about. Keep bringing them back to your topic and remind yourself to not get side-tracked again.

Lying by Omission

A covert aggressive does not straight-out lie. They omit or distort key facts. They may become vague or leave out key details that make all the difference. You may think you have all the information only to find yourself wondering how you missed the full picture later on.

Charm and Anger

When cornered a Covert Aggressive may respond with flattery or erupt in anger as if surprised by your accusations. It is an involuntary response from them, emotions they switch on and off without good reason. It’s a stall tactic they use to intimidate and put you on the defensive. Don’t feel the need to respond to either. Instead, smile, raise an eyebrow and just keep quiet as you observe what they do next.

Playing the Victim

Covert Aggressive people often make themselves out to be the victim to gain sympathy and compassion. They know that everyone wants to be a good person, they know that when phrases like “good people”, “sympathy” and “compassion” are properly used they can position themselves as the victim and create allies out of otherwise neutral people.

Good People Rationalization & Minimization

We all want to believe people are “good” and “decent”. We all look for a way to excuse someone’s behavior. This is what it is to be human. It is also how a CA manipulates those around them. The CA uses someone’s natural desire to confirm their goodness to act against you.

This rationalization is the excuse an otherwise neutral person is given for engaging in what they know is inappropriate behavior. The sad part is it works, especially when a CA’s explanation makes just enough sense for any reasonably conscientious person to go along with it.

Minimizing an action is insisting that it’s “not that big a deal” or afterwards that “you’re blowing this out of proportion”, in order to maintain their powerbase. Listen for these critical phrases.  If you hear them, pause and look at the actions beyond the words to find their true intentions.

Guilting and Shaming

To the manipulator direct or indirect shaming is a way to put you down to make you feel inadequate so they can maintain their dominance. The more you feel bad about yourself, the more likely you are to defer to them.

They don’t feel bad, but they know if they send you on a guilt trip, you’ll most likely back away from your accusations, which will return the status quo that they have always enjoyed.

Cutting Jokes

Manipulators relax and feel better when you play their game by their rules. They may create a joke about you which they spread. Perhaps they imply that you will think it’s funny or tell others that it’s not “that big of a deal”.

People may think they’re in on a personal joke when they are actually supporting your aggressor who knows you will never speak out against them or their go-between but will enjoy the suffering it causes you all the same.

Cycling

The Covert Aggressor will often cycle from one tactic to the next, waiting to see which one gets a reaction. No matter which they choose the most effective response is to simply not respond. Not responding is not always realistic but minimizing your contact with that person however you can is better than enduring their actions.

 

What To Do

Now that you have a better idea of what you are up against, here’s what can you do about a CA once they have targeted you as a threat to their dominance.

Know Your Vulnerabilities

When you know your vulnerabilities, you can recognize when they try to push your buttons and stuff your need to respond back into its box. If you need to feel good about yourself, as we all do, if you are easily guilted or shamed into doing something you may not want to do then you need to be aware of that and be ready when someone wants to use that against you. A CA rarely knows what is personal and specific to you. They know that everyone has some kind of guilt and a need to belong, they know everyone wants to be a good person, so they can be general at first as they probe around for you to react to one of their tactics until they sense your weakness before they pounce. It’s how they recruit go-betweens who are unaware of the damage they are doing. It’s just what they do. So be prepared and ready to ignore their probing and prying while smiling and being kind in return.

Prepare

Prepare yourself by knowing what you want from your interaction with them and be prepared for consequences. If CA feels like they’re losing they’ll do almost anything to regain their sense of dominance. You need ask yourself what are you willing to give up and what you are not willing to? Tun through a few basic scenarios without killing yourself over them. Simply try to anticipate their first tier responses to your actions without getting lost in your own head games and know what to expect.

Set Boundaries

First thing you need is some boundaries. What will you no longer tolerate? And what will you do if they violate those boundaries? Go no further until you have concrete answers to those two questions.

Don’t Play Nice

Thinking if you playing nice they will do the same is a misconception. It will not. As Dr. Simon puts it “treating a Bengal tiger like a kitty cat is a good way to get mauled.” Simply put, be polite and don’t respond to their actions. You will want to get even but put that thought of your mind. You never will. You will only get their inner aggressive nature to feed ever more deeply on your emotions.

Stay Open

A CA, like anyone, wants to be loved. Somewhere inside them is a child that feels very alone and needing a hug. You don’t have to give them a physical hug, but don’t shy away from giving them an emotional one.

Support Network

Now is a good time to use your support network. Reach out to those around you so that you have someone to help give you a reality check and some emotional support when your CA senses you’re no longer playing their head games. If you don’t have one now is the time to create one with honesty and authenticity. Don’t play games, just tell your trusted friends what’s going on.

Your Behavior

Understand they will never change. This is who they are and who they will always be. They know you will want to change them and they will use that in their favor. Focus on changing the only thing you have power over – your behavior toward them.

Don’t be afraid of stepping away from them completely. You will may feel screwed. You may want to make them pay or just to say they’re sorry. I doubt either will happen because they do not feel as if they have done anything wrong. They simply felt threatened and responded as they always have in the past. Just understand you cannot make them do anything, least of all apologize. What you can do is to control how your respond to them. Instead now may be the time to update your portfolio of responses:

Accept no excuses

If you are willing to accept an excuse, then they’ll just start throwing excuses at you until one sticks. Don’t respond to verbal rationalizations, instead judge them by their actions, not their intentions.

Make direct requests, only accept direct responses.

Be as matter-of-fact as you can about what you want them to do. Do not give them the wiggle room that they love.

Be specific about what it is you expect or want from the person across from you. Use phrases like: “I want you to xxx ” or “I don’t want you to xxx anymore.” If xxx is specific it will give your manipulator little room to distort or “misunderstand” what you want or expect from them.

A yes-or-no question should be answered with a yes or a no response. If they won’t give it, then they’re already leading you into their next maze. Don’t follow them.

Focus on win-win

Covert Aggressive people will often step up if you have something they want. If they have something to lose, they will make sure you do as well. This is why you will want to propose as many win-win solutions as possible.

Concede

Don’t let your ego get in the way of your life. At times it is okay to step back and concede a minor point that may be what your aggressor sees as a major victory. You might be surprised at how important something you don’t care about may be to the person across from you.

Don’t dive too deep

It’s not your job to cure a Covert Aggressive person. Keep everything light and breezy, stay up in the clouds without threatening them. See if you can work around their roadblocks so that you can eventually avoid interacting with them all together.

 

Phrases to Learn:

What you are attempting to do with each of these phrases is not to confront the person who has become fixated with you as someone to defeat, but to define the borders of their maze so that you can exit it as quickly as possible and get on with your life.

Always smile as you use the following phrases when confronting someone who ha it out for you:

  • Address the big picture: “I’m a little confused, but where do you see this going?” or “What do you hope to gain from this?”
  • Accept no excuses: “I’m less concerned with why you did what you did than that you did it in the first place.”
  • Make direct requests, accept only direct responses with a smile: “That’s alright, I’m fine with a simple yes or no.”
  • Focus on win-win: “It’s okay, why don’t we just jump to what you want out of this so we can both get on the same page.” If they can’t get on the same page then what they want is not something you can deliver or want to. Either way, welcome to their maze.

Discover your delusions & unleash your potential

Q:
When most of your life you think you are someone, but later in life you find out you are not that person, (only the environment you have been exposed to made you like that), how do you accept your new true identity?

A:
We all carry delusions that we invariably lie by with us. You first create those delusions to protect yourself as you begin your life. For example someone in your formative years laughs at you and hurts your feelings because of a trait that you were not even aware of. That hurts your feelings and undermines your unhappiness, so your brain creates a wall, a delusion, that become a part of your underlying character. You may not even be aware of the delusions your brain has created, but you begin to live by those limitations without even knowing you have them. Discovering what those delusions are and what the source of them are is what we call finding your Simple Truth.

If you live your life wisely you will uncover more and more delusions that you once accepted as very real limitations to your life. As some point you will realize these re not real limitations, but limitations of the mind. This is why you begin to realize that you are not the person you once thought you were. It is the environment you were raised in that made you think you were someone that you are not.

Life is about change. If you never change your life becomes a flat-line, and that is a living death. Discover your heart beat and turn your flat-line into a pulse by discovering your delusions and breaking through them.

The difficulty is not in realizing that you are not the person you once were, but in accepting that you are not the person once thought you were. Finding your own Simple Truth is a fairly straight forward process. It begins with seeing yourself for who you truly are and accepting the limitations and opportunities your body, mind and spirit have always presented you with. Begin with the person you are on the physical level. Once you become comfortable with yourself physically then you can begin to explore who you are psychologically and spiritually. This means exploring your social upbringing so that you can discover the delusions that society placed upon you as you matured.

Let’s take a look at me. I was not born with a swimmer’s body. I can swim in the ocean and enjoy myself as I play in the waves, enjoying every minute of it richly and deeply; I can be happy. If I set my goals on winning an Olympic medal at some point I will realize that I simply was not born to be 6’1″ with arms that an stretch like wings and pull me through the water. That is the wall of reality and I will not find happiness with the person I am. It does not mean I cannot be happy in the water, it simply means I have to realize my physical limitations and learn to live with them.

The delusion would be living with an expectation of winning an Olympic medal in swimming, but reality is that I can be happy enjoying the waves and swimming in the ocean. The difference between the two is realizing the delusions I created about who I am and what I want to be.

Once you realize your true capabilities and limitations you can set your sights in a realistic way. You can explore how you came to create the delusions and false expectations that are the source of your unhappiness. You can discover your path and find your way to being the person you were meant to be all along. This is what we call being your authentic self and living in the real world.

Learn more at: Your Authentic Self – The Simple Truth Project

Be well and I hope this helps.

Jeff

Q + A: Is A Living Guru Required?

Q:

Is a Living Guru Required?

A:

Required for what? Before you can find the right answer you need to ask the right question. 😉

If you are asking about finding a shorter or more direct path to your destination, be they spiritual or material, the answer is yes in some ways. But the idea of a “guru” to lead you can distract you to follow false paths if you are not careful. You are the only one who can know what path to follow. Never rely on someone else, even me, to know where you want or need to go.

Always remember a guru can never know your mind. They can only share their experiences with you, but they can never know your thoughts.

It is up to you to select which part of their teachings applies to your situation. It is up to you, and only you, to know when you have learned the lessons you need to learn and when to move on so that you can continue your journey.

I have had many teachers and some gurus in my life. I have learned lessons, but rarely those they wanted to teach me. I have learned from watching the waves as they crashed on a beach, from observing the twists and turns of a mountain stream, and even by watching the stillness of a well worn stone. With each the most important lesson I have ever learned is knowing when to move on.

If you open yourself up to the stirrings of nature you will learn that you are your own best teacher. Just remember to allow yourself to acknowledge the wisdom all things in nature have to share and approach each with an empty cup.

Allow whomever or whatever to fill it free from preconceived notions and ideas.

I hope this helps.

Be well,

Jeff

Q+A: What was the most challenging relationship you have experienced?

Q:

What was the most challenging relationship you have experienced?

A:

My most challenging relationship is the one I have with myself.

Only by having a healthy and honest relationship with myself can I hope to have a healthy and honest relationship with someone else. In the end, your defects and truths will arise no matter what your intentions are. Within a long-term relationship, they will bubble up no matter how hard you try to stuff them down. In fact the more you try to deceive someone the quicker your faults and lies will arise. That is the beauty of companionship and community, your truths will surface no matter what you try to do.

In casual conversation you will slip when you least expect yourself to. You will grow comfortable with those around you and there it is – the truth. You may not blurt out some falsehood as if vomiting up your lunch but it will be there for you and those around you to be aware of. And once it is out there the more you try to cover your tracks, the more entwined and confused will your story become.

That is how your deceit will be noticed, not with the initial lie you told, but through your efforts to cover your tracks. The only way to avoid this is to be honest with yourself, to know yourself, and to make a vow that you will only be honest with yourself an with those around you.

This is not an easy thing to do, but it is essential if you want an honest relationship free from the confusion of half-truths so many try to live with. At first this is a challenge for many. But as time passes you will learn that those challenges fade away as your relationship with yourself comes from a place of honesty, honor, values and virtues.

When  you are completely honest with who you are, you free yourself of the weight that you have carried with you for so long. You can be with anyone in a fully intimate and honest way and feel good about yourself while doing so.

The Truth is Always Beautiful

Truth is often difficult to find. It does not happen quickly or slowly, only inclusively. Only when you peer into every dark corner will Truth appear. Only when you are exhaustive in your search does Truth show itself.

No matter what it is, we all come to Truth from a different perspective. from a different path. Finding Truth requires meditation and contemplation. It requires letting go of our preconceived notions and our own ideas. It requires an empty mind to truly see Truth for what it is.

You may not like what you find. But you will never be disappointed by the journey that brought you to your final destination. But once found you will realize that Truth is always beautiful.

Finding Truth requires perseverance and an unflagging attachment to avoiding lies in all their forms. When you arm yourself with that idea let the winds of lies blow against you and shake the leaves, knowing that soon enough those same winds will shift to your back as they speed you on your way to resolution.

To some the falling leaves of Autumn mark the beginning of a long and dreary winter. To others they are a sign to the end of warm summer days and lingering sunsets. To others still they are a beautiful display. In truth they are all of these and none of these. They are neither good nor bad. They are simply the trees dropping their leaves in anticipation of the weather ahead. Anything beyond that is simply a person’s way of connecting the falling leaves to their own personal history – past, future or present.

Empty your mind and seek the truth in all things, even something as simple as the change of seasons. Know that whatever arises is a window into yourself. It is an invitation to look within and explore where those emotions come from.

That is the Truth you seek. It is not found in the leaves, but within.

 

Be well and I hope this helps.

 

 

Jeff

 

Parallel Paths of Dharma

When you find yourself at an impossible fork in the road where every option seems to be less than ideal, take a break and let the Dharma decide.

You can exchange that word for fate, the winds of time, or destiny, but sometimes the best decision in life is to do nothing and let the decision take care of itself. Yes, you lose what little control you think you have in the process, but you will find that making no decision is often the best way out. It takes your ego out of the process and opens up new opportunities you may have overlooked. What you may even find is that the world moves no matter how hard you fight it. That no matter how badly you want to swim upstream at some point fighting the current will just leave you exhausted and unable to make a clear decision when the critical time to do so arrives.

If the world is falling into a recession, now may not be the time to start a business. If the love of your life has their eyes elsewhere, then pursuing that person may not be the smartest use of your time and energy no matter how badly you want to do so right now. There is often little you can do about the way the world works. But there is a lot you can do about where and when you spend your energy.

Instead of forcing a decision, and then having to work twice as hard to reverse it, sometimes it is better to wait. If a storm is coming, save your energies for when it hits. Do not be afraid to push whatever venture you want to work on to the back burner until the world is ready for you. Now may be the time to narrow your choices down to a few options, and to follow both of those options until they diverge. In time they will. In the meantime be mindful of each. When they move far enough apart go with the option that clearly stands out. Do not worry, one will.

There is an inevitability in this approach that is as old as time itself. One reason you may be having a problem making a decision is that in the end both paths lead to the same outcome. It may be that your intuition is telling you now is not the time to move forward. It may even be telling you that you do not have enough information or skill to proceed.

Listen to it. In time you will learn more about whatever it is you are doing. The winds of the world may shift. New opportunities may open up. The subtle patterns may not be apparent to you, only becoming clearer as you grow more comfortable with your surroundings and yourself. Often the reason you are having such a tough time making a decision is that you are trying to draw a decision out of a non-existent issue, and that is always a mistake. Forcing a decision will inevitably lead you down the wrong path, or cause you to waste so much time and energy that you will be depleted by the time your decision matures.

Instead, let go of your ego and your need to “control” your destiny. Narrow your choices down to two or three that will keep you heading in the right general direction, then follow both paths until they diverge. Be mindful of how alike and unalike they are. Gather your facts along the way. Experience the differences.

In time you will find yourself at a point when the right path becomes so apparent you will wonder why you never saw it in the first place. You will understand. You will also realize that either path will have led you to that point, only now you will be prepared to make the right decision no matter which way you go. Having walked both paths you will gain wisdom and a clearer vision of what you are really walking into.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but by giving yourself up to the Dharma and by taking your time you will be surprised at how well it will guide you toward the right choice. Slow down and breathe. Let go of your ego. Let the Dharma drive for a bit as you take a meditative approach to the big decisions in your life and enjoy the view along the way.

Oh, and if you feel pushed by someone who says “we need a decision right now,” let them make the decision as you let the Dharma make the one that cleans up their mess. Never feel as if you must rush. In today’s world there is always time to make the right decision and less need to listen to let that fight or flight voice ring in your ears.

Following parallel paths as the Dharma works itself out may mean working double-time for a bit, but for the important decisions in your life, that may not be a bad thing. Especially if your fear of making the wrong decision is an issue.

Be well and I hope this helps.

Jeff

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Meditation on Tea & Intentions

This morning has been one of meditation, tea and intentions in my New York apartment studio. I woke to the warmth of this late spring day.  A comfortable reminder that we still have June, July and August to get through before feeling the cooling breeze of summer’s end.

My wife was up early for her flight.  I helped her with her bags and returned to bed, only to wake and have some tea at nine.  There was a time when I would have started to work, losing my focus and my steam as the day passed by me by.  But today I sat in a calm meditation. I closed my eyes, to spend a mindful moment in calm. Thirty minutes later I sipped my tea as the intentions I set came to realization within the tasks of the day ahead.

I knew my day would fill quickly enough, as most days do, with writing and clients, calls and naps of various lengths. I have found balancing my day between work and rest laid out a productive path for me.

There would be moments of meditation and moments of re-calibration as long as I chose to take them.  This moment I was in was one such moment.  Rather than share this morning with clients or friends I chose to be greedy and use it all myself.

I breathed into my tea and enjoyed the rich smoky scent of my Lapsang. The aroma my cup returned to me was deep.  I enjoyed the flavors with every sip. I admired the brownish color and smiled at the quiet calm that settled in. Sight, sound and smell were all focused on just one point.  A point of calm.

“This is what I will do with my day,” I announced to no one in particular.  “I will live it mindfully, and get all of my tasks done with a calm smile and calm pace.  Not hurriedly  or frenetically, but with the balanced calm of accomplishment.”

I checked off my first task and smiled at the progress I had already made.

Why not join me and do the same?