If I dig deep enough – all the way to the very core of my inquiry, a big part of my quest is about making sense of it all.
Searching for the answers I seek, I have a difficult time understanding that not everything in life is logical. Most of it is a mystery and yes, it is with a great sense of gratitude that I respect that there are miracles happening every single moment of my life. However, I am also hardwired to remain cynical about the magic and skeptical about letting go and giving into the mystery of life unfolding as it should be. Letting go of not being able to control more of my life.
It’s pretty damn simple really. It all boils down to how we experience our lives. How alive we are in the moment. How we show up.
How we experience life depends on how conscious we truly are.
The question is, how deeply awake we are as we experience our life. If we were radically honest with ourselves and woke up enough to notice, we’d admit that the majority of us are just sleepwalking children.
Everything we do is so habitual. Well, at least for me.
The God You Would Like to Believe In
Into the sixth week of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and I am actually realizing that what we really want to do is what we are really meant to do and that the notion of striving, sweating, clinging, falling and staying small is just a terrible idea.
The notion that there really isn’t enough time in our days to do the things we want to do is ridiculous. In the “Recovering A Sense of Abundance” practice, Julia has us writing and thinking about the God consciousness that has remained unexamined since our early childhood. A God that will hold back anything from us is absurd. This includes the freedom for us to let go and live the creative lives we were meant to live.
She inspires us to awaken to our creative and generous genius God who wants us to have fulfilling, enjoyable and creative work. We are the ones who deny ourselves the luxury of designing a new life for ourselves. We do that. Not God. Now let’s get out of our way, shall we?
Embracing Great Souls & Wacky Assholes
I give my husband the credit for turning me on to this video from philosopher Tim Freke this morning. I am so glad I remained open (yet stubbornly so) to get back in bed to watch Tim explain how to become more deeply awake to our breautifully complex humanness and to our lives.
Keep it simple. If you want to have a good day, do some good. Take a good nap. Read a good book. Make a good meal. Have a good call. Watch a good movie. Workout Good. Have good sex. Have a good cry. You see all that good adds up.
More stoic wisdom from Ryan Holiday’s The Daily Stoic 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance and the Art of Living.
“If anyone can prove and show to me that I think and act in error, I will gladly change it – for I seek the truth, by which no one has ever been harmed. The one who is harmed is the one who abides in deceit and ignorance.” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 6.21
It is okay to change my mind today. I don’t need (or want) to always be right. Go ahead, prove my thinking wrong. Correct me. When I stand corrected, I change for the better, for resisting may only harm me.
If I am not changing, then I am not growing and isn’t growth the whole point? To slip into a better, bigger version of myself each day. Sometimes this requires a real change of mindset.
This morning I imagined what the 80 year old version of myself would tell me, if I asked her, “What do I do now?” “What should I focus on?”
What wisdom would she have, nearing the end of her life? What would she have focused on today?
She’d tell me to bike more, write more, film everything. Tell everyone I love how much I love them. Hug more, kiss more. Squeeze them tight. Use my creativity to connect with those I love and those I will love in the future. Arms and heart wide open, she would tell me to vulnerably step into the world and be me.
She’d tell me to fuck fear. Let go of the negative thoughts. Skin the skeptic. Look for the beauty in all. There are so many good people to love, sweet creatures to care for and wonderous places to inspire. Find them. Get out today and connect on purpose. Smile, it’s a great heart opener. It’s your super power. Laugh. Enjoy life to the fullest each moment. Find your tribe. Seek out those who inspire you and meet them with open arms. Exercise. Move your body. Play outdoors.
Seek what you want to find. Chase what makes your heart beat. What makes your heart pound out loud. Friends, food, books, music, work. Go out there and get it all.
Be thoughtful and intentional about everything you do. Your writing, your film, your drawing. Do it on purpose and with a purpose.
Think first, but don’t regret anything. Try not to hurt anyone, including yourself. No time for that. Problems will come and go. It always works out in the end. Stop getting so angry and frustrated. Sail through the storms. There is no time to waste.
Life is a banquet. There is so much to choose from. Taste it all.
Visit friends, follow the inspiring, touch and taste everything that draws you in – that pulls you closer. Feed your curiosity.
To be passionate about your dreams is one thing. To realize your dreams and create with purpose is completely another. Oh the danger of being drunk with passion and intoxicated with ideas.
When all we have is passion, we fall prey to being impatient while assuming we will succeed while overcoming our limitations. Limitations are real and something we need to see clearly or we will never make progress. Self-denial about our limitations let us miss where we need to grow and go. We risk the chance of becoming blinded by naive enthusiasm. We promise ourselves more than we can muster. It’s a delusional place to be.
But oh how much fun it can be.
We all know the loop. Take an idea, what seems like a very good idea and become really excited about that idea. Pumped. Stoked. On fire. We are filled with unbridled enthusiasm, perhaps what many people call passion.
That passion you feel, that deep desire to fulfill that dream, it’s the fire that fuels. Passion may very well be what kicks your ass out of bed in the morning and charges you to move forward, to go forth, to get on with it.
But, passion without execution and the ability to fail and endure is a trap.
Turning Passion into Progress
Turning your passion into reality requires something more. It requires progress. Sometimes painful progress. Progression – making headway towards your goals – can and should be measured and tracked with a daily dose of reality. What your passion requires is honesty and clarity.
It might also need a plan. A deliberate disciplined action strategy and of course the discipline to honor that purposeful plan every day. A blueprint of sorts. A guide. A map.
But how do you know if you’re really making progress? Harness the data. Measure the feedback. Track how far you’ve come and how far you need to go before your dream(s) are reality.
Planning the process and producing a bit each day, making progress. This is what transforms passion into progress. What makes those dreams come true.
Passionate activity without purpose is just noise. It might even mean just being busy.
Busy without being productive will keep you spinning your wheels while never making any real progress.
We can ward off that danger of being drunk with passion by being realistic about what we are doing. Staying in the moment, measuring our progress and making corrections to our course each day.
A Critical Look at Our Faults & Failures
The ability to evaluate one’s own ability and progress is an important skill to turning passion into progress. It requires a critical look at what needs to be improved. Including your skills. How good are you right now, really? How much more do you need to improve? to practice? to plan? to execute.
How are you sure that what you are doing is moving you forward?
Ryan Holiday’s Ego is the Enemy should be required reading for everyone, especially those with a dream, a vision and or a passion. I am finding his book to be one of the most grounding pieces of writing I have read in a very long time. Thank you Ryan.
Perhaps stumbling through and failing at life sometimes moves us to lose the deep trust in ourselves that we need to thrive.
That loss of self-trust keeps us down, frozen and afraid to move forward. Perhaps if we raise our “royal minds” and learn again to trust ourselves; no matter how many mistakes we make, as Ralph Waldo Emerson suggests in his essay “Spiritual Laws” we can begin to understand the importance of trusting oneself.
“What a man does, that he has. What has he to do with hope or fear? In himself is his might. Let him regard no good as solid but that which is in his nature and which must grow out of him as long as he exists.”
“What your heart thinks great, is great. The soul’s emphasis is always right.”
Emerson moves me so. If I ever get a dog (which I will one day), I will call him Emerson.
On another random note, after reading Daily Rituals “How Artists Work”, I have added two new rituals to my day – the act of taking an “air bath” – a walk in the cool air to cleanse my mind after a long day as Ben Franklin did every evening and enjoying a “sun downer” – a glass of wine like Carl Jung. So fun.
All the power that we need is within us and will set us free from a life of regret. All unnecessary worry and anguish melts away when we become more self-aware of our strengths and our weaknesses and realize that our greatest moment is the one right in front of us. Our lives become more peaceful and our minds become stronger. Our lives become better when we become more self-aware.
“He who knows that power is inborn, that he is weak because he looked for good out of him and elsewhere, and so perceiving, throws himself unhesitatingly on his thought, instantly rights himself, stands in the erect position, commands his limbs, works miracles; just as a man who stands on his feet is stronger than a man who stands on his head.” Ralph Waldo Emerson “Self-Reliance”
Spend time considering who you are inside. What are your strengths? Your weaknesses? What makes you happiest?
Do you feel stuck? Unmotivated? Confused? I know in the past I have and this is what helped me become more self-aware and in turn happier and a more effective version of myself.
Uncork your truth. Tell someone how you really feel about life. Share your frustrations and pain. If you know someone who is having a difficult time, create the space for them to share their thoughts. Communicate effectively.
Observe yourself. Video yourself explaining who you are and what you stand for and what you value. Then watch, learn and listen to yourself. Examine what rings true and what seems false. What might you change about yourself or think about more deeply. Remove the falseness from your speech and heart.
Ask others. Ask people you respect and trust to share what they think you are great at and what needs improvement. Are they right? Weigh in on the feedback and think about how it will help you grow.
Try stuff. Consider what gets you even slightly excited and try to do more of it. It doesn’t matter what it is – exercise, cooking, writing, drawing, taking photos – if you feel the slightest inclination or curiosity about something, explore it and see where it goes. Self-experiment and do more of what you get lost in and what makes you happiest. Ditch the rest.
Consider the long game. Work backwards in time. Reflect on your future and inevitable death. Discover what you want to leave behind for future generations to come. What do you want to be remembered for?
I’d like to be remembered for inspiring others and would love to discover what you want to leave behind. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Experiencing “clarity” can be an incredibly liberating experience. The origin of the word clarity (latin: clarus) is so hopeful, it has ties to “glory”, “divine” and “splendor”. Having clarity in uncertain times like these is not only beneficial but absolutely necessary to staying sane.
I very much value feeling free of extraneous worry and stress and have recently lost all need to ruminate about problems I can not solve. I take care of what I can, give everything my best shot, try not to hurt anyone and get a good night’s rest. I love this helpful mantra, something to tattoo on your brain –
Do you have a problem in life? No? Then why worry?
Do you have a problem in life? Yes? Can you do something about it? Yes? Then why worry?
Do you have a problem in life? Yes? Can you do something about it? No? Then why worry?
It’s just too damn difficult to allow myself to become overwhelmed by life. Clarity feels way too good to ignore. It feels like the burden of confusion and fog is just lifted from the shoreline of the mind.
Softening a Hardened Heart
I feel light and carefree but at the same time grounded and confident. Clarity certainly has its rewards and I have personally found that it is not something that just came to me, it was something I had (and have) to work towards and struggle with daily. It took a lot of work to defrost my numb emotions and restructure my brain, while also listening to my heart.
This “clearance” came with commitment. A commitment to searching my emotions for triggers and a commitment to trying new ways of doing everything.
I hope this post inspires you to be brave, bold and work hard towards finding clarity for yourself.
New Ways of Seeing Old Problems
It is difficult to find the time during the average day or night to reflect upon one’s life; to check in with your heart and to examine your feelings. But you must. I start early in the morning with a moment of gratitude and stream of consciousness writing.
Clarity from the Inside Out
It is also challenging to only look within for answers because we will inadvertently reinforce old ways of seeing the world and outdated views of ourselves. This is why it pays to open our minds to new mental models.
A detailed plan of action will also help organize messy areas of your life and help to eliminate worry and anxiety about what to do next. Sorting out a solution and writing out a solution plan truly does add clarity.
Stumbling Towards Clarity
To get clear, one must take action. Take one tiny step with enthusiasm, trust your gut and move on and try something else when something is not working.
Regular Mental & Emotional Check Ups
Tracking progress with status updates and wake up calls fuels progress and keeps you on course. One cannot get clearer without measuring efforts.
Eliminating old cognitive biases eliminates making the same mistake over and over. This simple essay per day book has helped me – The Art of Thinking Clearly
Daily meditation will help clear mental clutter and exercise clears the mind with dopamine bursts to the brain.
I have noticed that some recommend supplements, plants and other ways to maintain clarity. This is a pretty good list here from @shiftisnow on Twitter.
I am curious, what do you do to stay focused? Has finding clarity helped you follow your true passions?
“Persistence recognizes genius, acknowledges talent and pays rewardinglyonly after one has refused to quit.” – Napoleon Hill
We will never reach our full potential until we learn to push through the frustration, no matter how difficult our circumstances may be.
Persistence can be fueled by . .
Knowing what you want and shaking the earth to get it. In other words, you must have a definite purpose backed by a blazing desire for its attainment. Demanding no other result but exactly what you desire.
A definite strategy to achieve your goal expressed in continuous action without fear or apology.
The courage to face criticism. A single-mindedness closed tightly against all negativity and discouraging influences, including negative suggestions of relatives, friends and acquaintances.
True encouragement with one or more enthusiastic partners who will support you to follow through with both your plan and purpose.
A great quote for #2 on taking continuous action.
“First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice.”
― Octavia E. Butler, Bloodchild and Other Stories
A Message from The Persistent Blue Jay on My Windowsill This Morning
“You are being reminded that to wear the crown of true mastership requires dedication, responsibility, and committed development in all things physical as well as the spiritual.”