I recently took the Buddhist refuge vow. That’s right. I am officially a Buddhist. My Cuban Catholic mother is puzzled but supportive nonetheless.

Anyhow, one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned thus far on the path is about habitual patterns. Humans love them. And often the habitual patterns each of us follows (they are unique to each one of us) traps us in unhappiness and disappointment. My teacher calls these habits cocoons. They feel good in the moment, but often keep us trapped and unfulfilled. Here’s an example:

The other day I treated myself to a massage. Instead of being present on the table enjoying the soothing treatment, smelling the fragrant candle and tuning into the calming music, my mind kept racing to other things I was looking forward to — salmon for dinner, a business trip to San Francisco, a coffee date with a friend…

By distracting my brain from the present moment, I was distracting myself from one of the most pleasurable activities ever.

Our mind’s tendency to race  from one thing to the next is a habitual pattern.

Once you start thinking about these patterns, you see them crop up everywhere. Is that dessert a lovely treat or a cocoon? Is calling my parents every day to chat a considerate thought or is it a cocoon? Is keeping myself so busy that I don’t have much downtime to step back and reflect on my life ambitious or is it a cocoon?

Fundraisers have to face this habitual pattern conundrum in our work world’s too. What strategies and tactics do we do simply because we’ve always done them this way? What other ideas could we implement outside of our cocoon if we only tried ?

It’s a cosmic question — but one worth pondering, no?