by: Martha Pasternack
(this article first appeared on HuffingtonPost.com)
First and foremost I play golf because I like to learn something new every year. Learning something new, as a lifelong learner, is so satisfying. I believe I will stay young-at-heart with this healthy attitude and I like feeling young.
In the past I have started to learn to speak Spanish. I am still at it. I am still learning how to ride a bike. More accurately, I am still learning how to gracefully fall off my bike. Recently I have learned to do Sudoku and play Mahjong.
I have learned to play the guitar my son gave me for Christmas.
I have learned to juggle, play the Indian flute and how to snowshoe. A few years ago I took piano lessons and learned to play Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor better known as The Moonlight Sonata, albeit, the child's version.
Last year was my year to pick up golf.
Playing golf is something my husband and I can do together. We are good for nine holes and we get real deep belly laughs along the way. It feels like we are dating again after more than 30 years of marriage. It is healing for our relationship. We both like that.
I play golf because the course is beautiful and I love being surrounded by beauty. It is good for my soul. I play golf because it gives me a good excuse to buy new clothes. There's a dress code on the golf course, you know. Not that great for my pocketbook. Also, I can yell at the ball and not hurt it's feelings. That is really good for my temper tantrums, few as they are, of course.
I play golf because no one gets hurt, not even my pride, if I hit the ball to the left or to the right, instead of straight ahead. Hitting a golf ball is an amazing demonstration of physics 101: force, momentum, gravity, velocity, and inertia. I do not have to be particularly bionic if I hit the sweet spot because physics 101 takes over. You can call me a geek if you want but I like that stuff.
When I tense my muscles or my expectations it is impossible to hit the ball straight.
And then there is the lesson of living in the present moment. The golf gurus call this mindset: They say to leave the last shot behind and focus on the one at hand, well at foot really. If I keep thinking about the last boo-boo shot it is virtually inevitable I will flub the next one.
I aspire to the disciplines of the open breath, alert relaxation, and living in the present moment one shot at a time. I believe that living life well is a spiritual practice. I know for sure that, for me, learning to play golf well is also a spiritual practice and a fun one at that.
But wait! There's more!
Golf teaches me foundational concepts about my online coaching business. The game of golf has a long game and a short game. The long game gets the ball from the tee onto the fairway. It teaches me about the set up: Vision, mission and planning.
The aim in the short game is to get the ball from the fairway onto the green. The short game teaches me that my posture and how I set up each shot determines the power in my swing to connect with the ball: How to connect with my clients and offer a service that is meaningful to them. Then there is the ever-important sinking-of- the-putt: The coach/client agreement.
The long game and the short game teach me the importance of follow-through: When I fail to follow through at the end of my swing the power of the contact fizzles. When I fail to follow up with my client, I loose the power in our connection. How is that for a metaphor?
But I don't play golf to be successful in business. I play golf because it's a game, because I can play with my husband, and I enjoy it. I actually love it. Oh, and did I mention I have a good excuse to buy new clothes? I think I did mention that.
I doubt I will ever "go pro." Nope, not in my stars. But one never knows what the future may bring right? In the meantime, I am sticking with learning, how to relax my shoulders, breathe, laugh and stay in the present moment. And how to play golf.
I get better with practice so I keep practicing. I'm good with all that.
What will you learn this year for fun? What can you do that is joyful for you?
Remember to relax, breathe, practice and laugh. They are all good medicine.