Walking Bravely and In Great Happiness

IMG_1197

As you may know, I declared this My Year of Creative Living. So far, I’ve taught myself to play the ukulele; took a tap dance class; spent a weekend dabbling in abstract painting; and, participated in a three-week blogging course.

What I’ve learned so far from these activities: creativity is the core of feeling really alive. I’m never so giddy, conflicted, anxious, thrilled or joyful than when I’m in creative mode. It’s a definite high, folks… I highly recommend it.

My current endeavour is… writing a book (ahh!). I’ve hired an amazing writing coach to guide me through this process and keep me accountable to the task (which is worth its weight in gold), and I feel like I’m diving into my most personal, meaningful creative pursuit yet. Its exhilarating and terrifying at once, which is the very definition of entering “the arena” of vulnerability, as Brené Brown calls it.

I was listening to Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey speak about creativity in their latest meditation challenge podcast, and their explanation of creativity hit me on a whole new level:

“Creativity is the root of our biological existence.”

Our bodies – each and every cell – are constantly evolving and responding to brand new conditions. Chopra defines creative living as bringing freshness and renewal to each day, each circumstance. In this light, it’s easy to see that we are all – by our very biology – creative beings and the tired notion of creativity belonging only to artists and writers swiftly abates.

Creativity lives in our divine freedom to choose our response to any given moment.  The ability, however, to bring the freshness and renewal of creativity to each moment is, you guessed it, a practice.

The practices of letting go of comparison, staying present and cultivating your awareness for what’s true for you in this moment (and not what your long-standing, self-limiting stories tell you) nurture your creative life. And it nurtures what you are likely seeking for yourself: to feel alive, to feel worthwhile and to feel so very you as much as possible in your life.

I invite you to rebrand yourself as a creative being, starting today. I mean, you already are a creative being… and now you have the choice to start seeing yourself this way and living your life from this perspective.

What would it be like to approach your job, your marriage, your parenting and your personal growth as a “creative type”. As an artist, even? As someone who walks “bravely and in great happiness”, as so beautifully said by artist Robert Henri?

It is, after all, in your nature – in your very cells – to do it.

 

The Work/Life Lab, Week #36: Dare Not To Compare

photo

Welcome to The Work/Life Lab: 52 Weeks of Daring Experiments To Shake Things Up and Learn More About Yourself At Work and Life

Experiment #36: Dare Not To Compare

I was watching one of the Daring Way™ videos in which Brené Brown talks about comparison. In the video, she quotes a friend who calls comparison “the thief of happiness.” I couldn’t agree more.

I think we’ve all had the experience – whether it be in our work or personal lives – of happily chugging along with things and feeling pretty good about it. You’re moving things along, all is going tickety-boo and you’re feeling pretty good about your progress. And then you take a moment to look up and around at what everyone else is doing and you have that moment of, “Oh man. Look at where they are. They are so much better/ahead/together than I am. What’s wrong with me? Why do I even bother?.”

Yup. Happiness, thieved.

So much of our society’s thinking is built upon competition, constantly looking over your shoulder to keep tabs on what others are doing. Even if you outwardly reject the culture of competition, it’s easy to fall into unconsciously comparing yourself to the person next to you, sizing him/her up to make sure you’re not too off track.

This all comes out of a culture of scarcity; the sense that there is not enough and that we are not enough. I’m not sure how it is that we all bought into this notion that there is some line to cross, some standard to keep up or some appearance to maintain. But rest assured, the line, standard and appearance are illusions, not reality. It’s our own mental construct and it’s stressing us out!

So here’s this week’s experiment: Dare NOT to compare yourself to others. Here’s how:

Begin by noticing when you are making those mental checklists, and ticking them off:  “She’s already a senior director at 30 years old?” “Her kids are always so well dressed.” “How come the couple next door don’t ever seem to fight?” “Toby got that promotion over me, but he doesn’t have the same family responsibilities I do.” All these are examples of how we compare our lives to others, and it’s all nonsense. There is no right way to live YOUR life. There is no right way to live any life. Who you are, where you are and what you have – right now – are all enough.

So once you’ve caught yourself in comparison-mode, take a breath and make a choice to draw on your self-compassion. Begin with some words of self-kindess (“I put so much care and attention into my work.”) Remind yourself that everyone – including the people you are comparing yourself – have their own struggles, frustrations and self-doubt. Feel the comfort in that shared humanity. And bring yourself to the present moment, reminding yourself that right now you are alive and enough.

To deepen this experiment for yourself, repeat the following mantra – another goody from Dr. Brown – to yourself every morning before you start your day,

“No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.”

Don’t let comparison steal your happiness for another moment!