Sacred Vows

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I’ve been thinking about how, when people get married, they exchange some bighearted and weighty vows with each other. Things like, “I will take you to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better and for worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health.” And when these words are spoken, we really, really mean them. After all, so many of us grow up being taught how special it is to find someone to love for the rest of our lives, and then we spend years trying to find “the one” to whom we can commit so fully.

Without taking one inch of meaning and importance away from the commitments we make to our partners, I’ve been thinking that it’s too bad we don’t take part in a similar ceremony early in our lives, where we get to publicly announce a deliberate and earnest commitment to ourselves.

Imagine standing in front of friends, families and loved ones, stating out loud your undying commitment to have and hold yourself from this day forward. That no matter what happens – when things are good or bad, when you’re doing well or struggling, when you’re in sickness or in health – you will stand by your own side, fully committed to taking care of, loving and being kind to yourself.

If we all took a vow like this, perhaps instead of spending years trying to find “the one”, we’d spend the same amount of time and energy trying to find ourselves, what makes us tick and what gives us the most joy. We’d commit to our personal growth, our health and our mental well-being for our own sake, not for others.

Imagine the amount of trust you would have in yourself to step into the unknown, live big and be seen. You would step into your “arena,” knowing full well that if you fall, you will be there to catch and comfort yourself.

Imagine the friends you would choose for yourself; the boundaries you would set; and, the care with which you would enter into relationships. After all, if your first commitment is to you, then you’d be responsible for choosing only the friendships and relationships that truly serve you.

If your commitment was first to you, imagine the freedom from judgement you would experience. Imagine the forgiveness you would show yourself for making mistakes. Imagine the lightheartedness you’d feel about your own imperfections… all because you’d know that the commitment you made to yourself way back when meant that your self-love and self-compassion were limitless.

Imagine the life you would rely on yourself to build, if your prime commitment was to you. And imagine how deep our connections, compassion and generosity to others would be, because we’d be living in a world where everyone around us had also taken a commitment to have and hold themselves, for better or worse. We’d know what was our business and what was their business, letting go of any need for external affirmation of our worthiness.

And we’d know that by taking care of ourselves, we’d then be complete and resourced and in the very best position to take care of others.

I’ve painted a pretty lofty picture here, but in the spirit of Mother’s Day – a day when I think about the way I’m raising my kids and what I’d like them to learn from me – I’m sticking with it. It’s my wish for them – and the world – that we all declare a sacred vow to self: a commitment to our own well-being, personal growth and self-care for life.

 

What I’ve Learned About Surrendering

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I wrote about my Surrender Experiment back at the beginning of November, and here’s what I’m learning as I practice letting go of control, embracing what shows up and honouring each moment as sacred:

Surrendering is hard.

At least at the beginning it is. I cannot tell you the number of times (each day) I catch myself with eyebrows furrowed, planning and playing out scenarios, all in an attempt to control the direction of any given thing in my life. Big and small things alike, my mind is kept very busy in future-focused mode.

And, like everything worth doing, surrendering is a practice. So now it’s coming more easily to me to release the worrying, the planning, the playing-out of every possible scenario to find the “best” way forward, and choosing instead to let go and see what happens. I have moments, mind you, where the conversation in my head is something like, “Are you crazy? You can’t just let things go. What if this-and-this happens? Or that-and that?” Anxiety creeps in, and that brings me to my next lesson…

Trust is surrender’s best friend.

Turns out that an experiment in surrendering is also a big experiment in trust. And I don’t mean trust in the sense of “trusting everything will work out just fine”. No, I mean trust in myself. Surrendering control means I must be willing and able to trust in myself, that I will be “enough” – smart enough, strong enough, grounded enough, resourceful enough – to manage, deal and otherwise live with whatever happens, good or bad.

This is a big one for me. A big gremlin message for me is, “are you sure you can handle it?” The thinking behind this is: If I’m not prepared, if I haven’t thought through every possible scenario, if I haven’t set up all my ducks in a row, then when the shit hits the fan, I’m going down. There is so much fear pooled around this thinking that my chest feels heavy just writing about it.

So, letting go of control and surrendering to whatever shows up in my life is really about self-trust. And choosing to trust in myself rather than giving in to the anxiety of not being in control is also huge act of self-compassion. The moment I treat my anxiety with a message like, “trust that you are enough” or “you’re going to be ok” or “you can handle whatever comes”, a huge sense of peace and ease comes over me, and I am brought right into the present moment. Which brings me to my next lesson…

Possibility lives in every moment.

In any moment of surrender, another cool thing happens: it levels the playing field of all my life experiences. There are no moments more important than others. Whatever is here is what life is offering up, and who am I to say that this moment is any more or less valuable than the next?

It’s like this: when you surrender control and choose to embrace whatever shows up, then “whatever” is full of possibility. Surrendering makes me pay attention to everything I’m doing, because there could be magic in this moment (and, turns out, there is magic in every moment if I choose to pay attention to it). So walking the dog isn’t a chore that I have to get through just to get on to more important things. It’s the only thing that needs to be done at that moment, and so why shouldn’t I be fully present and attentive to the magic of it? There is no wasted time, no chasing time, no losing time. Each moment matters.

Nobody knows like the body knows.

One thing I couldn’t make sense of when I started out this experiment was, when does surrender turn into boundary-less, aimless drifting? If I surrender to everything, won’t people walk all over me? Won’t I be overwhelmed or run down by saying yes to everything? Won’t I just be going from one thing to another, saying yes to everything without any sense of direction?

Then, of course, I was reminded by my body that it knows better than my brain when it comes to these matters. It’s pretty simple, actually: When I’m in struggle, when I feel the tension in my gut and my eyebrow furrows and my head tilts forward in serious thought, it’s time to surrender. Feeling tense? Time to let go. Replaying thoughts in my head? Time to let go. Feeling my shoulders hunch up? Time to let go.

On the other hand, when I find a sense of positive energy and aliveness bubble up over something I see, hear or think about, then it’s time to embrace. Feeling peace and ease? Embrace. Feeling tickled pink? Embrace. Feeling hopeful and giddy? Embrace.

And luckily, because my body is always living in the present moment, attuned to what’s here now, I can trust what it tells me (if I just take the time to quiet down and listen, of course).

 

In a nutshell, I will say this: surrendering is an exercise in mindfulness that has the incredible power to bring instant peace and ease to my life. My word for 2015 was ease, and this has been an amazing experiment with which to end my year of choosing ease.

I’m excited for the holidays ahead of us, and will take a break from blogging until the new year. I’ve decided on a new two-fold focus for my blog in 2016: exploring and unpacking the Physics of Vulnerability, which is a foundational piece of Brené Brown’s latest book, Rising Strong AND exploring my own vulnerability through creative expression (inspired by my other BFF, Elizabeth Gilbert and her Big Magic). That’s right: I’m challenging myself to a Year of Creative Expression where I will take on a new artistic medium every month and write about my experiences in pushing boundaries and being vulnerable in the arena of creativity. My first stab at this will be… wait for it… TAP DANCING! Nothing like starting off a year of vulnerability with a bang (and a tap)!

Happy holidays, dear readers. I wish each and every one of you love, light, peace, ease and big magic!

 

 

 

Meditations On True Refuge

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I am overcome with the stillness, the beauty, the connection, the aliveness. I am all these things. They live inside me. And they crackle and come alive in recognizing themselves in this place.

In this moment – in every moment – there is ease and peace and stillness. It belongs to me, always. It belongs to each of us, always. It’s where we meet and are connected. It’s love.

How can the universe be so kind? So compassionate? What did I do to deserve this? Nothing. It’s mine simply because I am.

I send this peace, this love, this bliss to the world, to all my brothers and sisters, each one of us with breath in our lungs, feet on this earth, sky above our heads. We are all ocean; let’s make peace and be playful in our waves.

The universe is perfect. The universe takes care of me. I am a child in its care, protected and loved and cherished and celebrated. Nothing to fear. Nothing to fear. Stay still and listen. Or just be. Stay open and surrender. Let the ocean carry me.

 

I spent last weekend at Kripalu Centre for Yoga and Health, quieting down for five days of meditation, yoga  and stillness. The highlight was a three-day program led by the incredible Tara Brach, who took us through guided meditations, gentle talks and interactive exercises based on the teachings in her book, True Refuge.

The passages above were the thoughts swirling through my head on my last morning there, as I sat in Kripalu’s Meditation Garden. This post is a bit of a departure from what I normally write, but I wanted to share what I wrote that morning because a) it had just spilled out of me without much thought and so it occurs to me that it’s the most raw, unedited thing I’ve ever shared on my blog, and b) the thought of sharing something so raw and unedited makes me feel nervous and vulnerable (and alive), so I’m daring myself to publish it here.

Sending love and light,

Sabrina

 

 

I Care About This Suffering

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In my last post, I pointed to the reasons we default to messages of self-hatred over self-compassion when our vulnerabilities, fear and shame are triggered. It’s helpful to understand, as a first step to breaking the cycle of negative self-talk, that our brains are naturally wired to look for the bad and to sort for differences as methods of survival. We can stop beating ourselves up for beating ourselves up, and that’s a good thing. But then what?

Often we hear about replacing negative self-talk with positive self-talk as the best path to self-compassion. We should focus on the positive and talk to ourselves the way we’d talk to our best friend. I think this advice is solid, and an important way to create new neural pathways in our brain that normally default to self-criticism. But I also think there is an important step missing here. What’s missing is the healing.

When we talk badly to ourselves and say words like, “I’m such an idiot! Why do I keep doing these stupid things? When will I ever learn? What was I thinking?”, we are wounding ourselves. Then, if we quickly switch to positive thoughts as the antidote, it’s like we’ve slapped on a Band-aid without any regard for the proper healing the wound. We just put the Band-aid on with fingers crossed that the wound will magically heal without any care or attention.

What I’m suggesting is that it’s important to tend to that wound and ensure its proper healing, even though focusing on the wound sometimes means prolonging the pain. This is a true act of self-compassion. Think of it like this:

Your child comes running to you after falling off a bike and scraping a knee. Without taking a close look at the wound or stopping to console the child, you quickly head for the cupboard, take out a large Band-aid and put it on the wound. You pat your child on the head and say, “Cheer up! All better! Now go back to riding your bike!” and push your kid out the door thinking, “I got this self-compassion thing DOWN!”

What’s missing from this is the tenderness most of us would naturally want to show this child. And even though we know it might prolong the pain the child is feeling, we take time to examine the wound, clean and disinfect it properly, gauge the right kind of dressing to put on the wound, and console the child with the gentle message, “I care about this suffering.”

This is the same kind of care we should take when we realize we’ve been engaging in negative self-talk. Instead of instantly pivoting to positive self-talk, we need to hold our pain a little and let ourselves know that we care about the suffering.

Tara Brach has a beautiful mindfulness practice that she writes about in Radical Acceptance, and I invite you to try it the next time you catch yourself inflicting pain through self-criticism:

  • Pay attention to your body and where the tension, pain or discomfort sits from the emotional wound you’ve inflicted on yourself through the negative self-talk. Is it a tightness in your gut? Is it a tingling heat on your face? Is it a discomfort in your shoulders or neck?
  • Place your hands on that spot where you feel the sensation from the emotional wound. Close your eyes and breathe. It will not be comfortable to be in this place because you will be deeply feeling the pain, discomfort and tension. Just be with the pain and breathe into it. Don’t talk yourself out of it; just stay present to it.
  • Then say the words, “I care about this suffering.” Repeat this as many times as you need to in order to really feel your self-compassion.

You may find that your discomfort, pain or tension dissipates as you hold your hand to your body and repeat the words, “I care about this suffering”. Or you may not, which is likely a sign that this wound has been there a long, long time and hasn’t had a chance to heal yet. Keep going with the practice every time you catch yourself in self-criticism and see how your body and emotions respond over time.

This is a radical act of self-compassion: allowing yourself to be with the pain, holding yourself as you would a child, showing tenderness for the suffering and tending to the wound so that proper healing can take place.

You need this, and the world needs you to do this. On my next Dose of Daring call on April 24th, we’re going to talk more about self-compassion and how it’s the furthest thing from self-indulgence: it’s what you need to do in order to truly serve and contribute to the world in an authentic way. I hope you will join the conversation!

 

 

The Work/Life Lab, Week #47: Month-end Mindfulness – Practicing The Law Of Least Effort

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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 #47, Month-end Mindfulness: Practicing The Law Of Least Effort

“When you struggle against this moment, you struggle against the entire universe.”

Deepak Chopra

I was listening to a guided meditation by Deepak Chopra earlier this week and in it, he was speaking about the Law of Least Effort. His words hit me like a cosmic ton of bricks. Chopra says,  “when our body-mind is in concert with the universe, everything becomes spontaneous and effortless.”

Effortless? Boy, I could use me some of that. I don’t know about you, but everything for me these days has been feeling hard and stressful, as if resistance is rising up to meet my every move.

Chopra goes on to say that when you struggle against this moment, you struggle against the entire universe. And while you might want change in your life, accepting your life as it is, right now, puts you in the best position to achieve your goals.

What? This very notion goes against everything I ever believed about creating a life I want. Don’t I have to struggle? Isn’t it supposed to be hard?

I was listening to this at exactly the time I needed to hear it: I had just suffered through my third night of insomnia (something I’ve been dealing with for months, and is REALLY getting me down), and my whole body was aching. To make matters worse, my brain was racing from one little stressful thought to another… about my work, my kids, my house, my marriage, my body, my parents. I was UPTIGHT! I was pitted in struggle against almost every part of my life.

So, at that moment, I decided to let go. Let go of the struggle, and release each and every little stressor I was facing. What I did is what I’m going to ask you to do in this week’s Work/Life Lab. This is a mindfulness exercise at its best: coming right into the present moment and releasing your brain’s grip over every little thought about what has gone wrong or what could go wrong, and to just be with what is, right now.

So here’s what I did:

I got out my journal and wrote “Let go of…” and wrote a list of every little thing that felt like a source of stress. I went through all aspects of my life and whenever I noticed my chest get tight or my stomach start to ache thinking about it, I wrote it down under “Let go of…”. It looked something like this:

Let go of…

  • worrying about how my kids are doing at school
  • not doing enough for my business
  • anxiety over Friday’s workshop
  • feeling overbooked
  • worrying about my family’s perception of me
  • not getting things done
  • comparing myself to others
  • feeling like I can’t handle all this
  • mourning the days when my health was better
  • feeling like I “should” do yoga
  • pressure to sleep well (or at all)
  • the need to hang more pictures on the walls in my house
  • feeling bad about missing my dentist appointment

You get the idea. My list was LONG! Every tiny thing that caused stress to rise up went on that list.

Then, I wrote down, “And accept…” and wrote down what it was I chose to accept in my life. It looked something like this:

And accept…

  • it’s ok to be happy
  • everything is as it should be
  • there is no judge and jury
  • things will get done
  • things will not get done
  • there is no finish line
  • people want to help me
  • all is good, and so am I
  • I am responsible for myself, but I don’t have to blame myself
  • there is no right way to do things or live life
  • love is everywhere

 

I am not kidding when I tell you that this is the most powerful thing I’ve done in a long, long time. I felt my body loosen and lighten with every bullet point I wrote down. The pain in my body started to feel more distant the more I wrote. It was like the pain was still there but I was no longer buying into the bigger story around it (e.g. “I shouldn’t be feeling this pain at 45 years old; why can’t I get control of my health?; Am I ever going to feel normal again?”). I felt a kind of peace I haven’t felt for a long time.

So, this is what I’d like you to do: sit down with your journal or a piece of paper, and write at the top “Let go of…” and start listing all of the things that feel like a struggle in your life. Big and small. And as you write these, commit to actually letting them go. Release them and do it the name of the Law of Least Effort. Give up the struggle and let go. Think of it as a decision to stop swimming upstream against all the things that aren’t “right” in your life, turning over and letting the river just take you downstream instead.

Then when you’ve finished your list, flip the page and write at the top “And accept…” and write down some of the deeper truths that you hold. If you can’t think of anything, then just write down this: “Everything is as it should be. All is good and so am I.” (and believe it!)

The trick of course is to truly let each thing go. It’s not enough to write it down; you have to make the commitment to actually release yourself of these struggles and accept your life as it is, right now. That said, you must absolutely write it down, because that’s how you will make this a deliberate act of letting go.

Do this, and see what happens. At the very least, you won’t feel the stress and negative energy in your body anymore, and that’s worth its weight in gold. At most, you might find that everything in your life becomes spontaneous and effortless, as Chopra described. Ahhhh…bliss!

 

 

 

The Work/Life Lab, Week #34 – Month-end Mindfulness: A New BFF In 7 Days

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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 #34 – Month-end Mindfulness: A New BFF In 7 Days

The more I facilitate The Daring Way™ program with those brave women and men looking to live more wholeheartedly in their lives, the more I understand how much this one thing seems to be so lacking for each of us: self-kindness.

Practicing self-compassion is a key path to living wholeheartedly. Brené Brown’s definition of wholehearted living is to engage in life from a place of worthiness, knowing that while we are imperfect and vulnerable and afraid, we are at the same time courageous beings who are worthy of love and belonging. Kristen Neff, a leading researcher on the topic of self-compassion, identifies three components of self compassion: self-kindness, common humanity and mindfulness. Of these three components, it is self-kindness that seems to stump most people. When people try to show themselves gestures and thoughts of genuine, life-affirming kindness (as opposed to superficial affirmations or self-comforting actions that spill over into numbing behaviours), there is a real struggle. It’s amazing that we can’t treat ourselves with the same tenderness, warmth and love that we so easily give to our spouses, children, family members or friends. When it comes time to give ourselves a little kindness, it feels fake. It feels indulgent or egotistical. Mostly, it feels undeserved.

This week’s Work/Life Lab, in celebration of Month-end Mindfulness, is all about giving yourself a nice, healthy daily dose of self-kindness. This is a mindfulness practice because it requires some self-centering and some real attention to your being. Neff explains that self-kindness involves “being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flagellating ourselves with self-criticism.”

So here’s what I want you to do: this week, pay attention to those times you fall into the default of self-criticism. Notice when thoughts of “How could I be so stupid?” or “What was I thinking?” or “Why am I so tired?” or “Why can’t I just get over this?”… anything that’s harsh and adds another layer of blame, frustration or stress to an already painful situation. When you notice you are going there, take a breath and soften. Soften, soften, soften. And then tell yourself something that is absolutely comforting and kind. My stand-by is, naturally, from Brené Brown’s work: “I am enough.” Or maybe try, “All is well, and so am I.”

This is a practice; not something you just do once and assume you’re good to go. You may not even be aware of just how many negative “mental tapes” you have playing day-to-day. So take notice, take a breath, and then give yourself some kindness. Keep it up, and by the end of seven days, you might even find that you are your own new BFF.

P.S. Curious to know just how self-compassionate you are? Take Kristen Neff’s Self-Compassion Test to find out!

 

The Work/Life Lab, Week #33: We’re All In This Together

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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 #33:  We Are All In This Together

I am sitting here, on Monday morning, trying to write this blog post. I want it published by noon today, so that it’s swiftly delivered to all those on my mail list. But I’m stumped. My brain is full. I’m not sure how to put what is in my heart into words.

It’s something about the fact that there has been (or continues to be) so much going on in the world that perpetuates the insidious “us versus them” mentality in our society. As in: there are “those suffering from a mental illness” and then there is “us”. There are “those who are <insert race/religion/culture>” and then there is “us”. There are “those who are uneducated and ignorant” and then there is “us”.

I’m stuck because there is nothing I could say with any more eloquence or wisdom that hasn’t already been said. But here’s what I know: “us versus them” thinking is borne from a place of fear and shame. We think that by separating ourselves from the factors that cause others to be different, we will be safe and loved and connected. This is a delusion. We are all vulnerable to being the “other”. So why not drop the fear and move to a courageous space that recognizes our shared humanity instead?  That is my challenge to you for this week.

For this week’s Work/Life Lab, I want you to practice the mindset of “We are all in this together.” By all means, make this your mantra for the week. Here’s what I want you to do: Whenever you find yourself…

  • Blaming (“My boss is making my life hell!”)
  • Gossiping (“Can you believe she’s wearing that?”), or
  • Judging (“I would never make that choice!”)

… simply stop, take a breath and say to yourself mentally, “We are all in this together”. I guarantee you will instantly feel it in your body. Just by letting go of the stress that comes with blaming, gossiping or judging, your body will give you an immediate reward of feeling lighter and at peace. But then comes the greater reward: your next thought, word or action will come from a place of love, not fear. And that will set in motion a whole wave of love, connection and feeling safe, for yourself and the world.

Make no mistake about it: we are all in this together. And it is your personal responsibility to make this a ride of peace and ease for all who surround you. Enjoy your week, everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

The Work Life Lab, Week #24 – Fall In Love With Your Job (Again)

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

Experiment # 24 – Fall In Love With Your Job (Again)

Unhappy at your job? You are, unfortunately, among the majority: according to a 2013 article in Forbes, across the globe, there are twice as many unhappy people at their jobs than those who are “actively engaged” in their work.

For those of you who are among the “actively disengaged” and unhappy at work, quitting your job for a new one or leaping into entrepreneurship may seem like an obvious solution. However, for many of you, leaving your job may not be a realistic option (for now, at least). So what to do?

Well, one option is to accept your fate and continue dragging yourself to work, groaning at every new project or meeting that comes up, and repeatedly daydreaming about your ultimate “I QUIT!” moment.

Another option is  to try to fall in love with your job. Or, at the very least, fall in very strong “amicable toleration” with your job.

If you are one of the unhappy majority, this week’s experiment is for you. Remember, the Work Life Lab is all about shaking things up and trying to learn more about yourself at work… so even if you kinda, sorta like your job but are feeling a bit disgruntled or bored at work, you can try this experiment too.

This week, you will follow the example of marriage counsellors the world over who try to help couples fall in love with each other again: you are going to nurture fondness and admiration for your job and your workplace. Why? Because fondness and admiration are antidotes to contempt (borrowed words of marital wisdom written by Dr. John Gottman that I think are beautifully transferable to the relationship we have with our jobs).

Here’s what I want you to do to nurture that fondness and admiration: I want you to think back to the original reason(s) you accepted the job you have now. You must have had some really good reasons for taking your job in the first place. Maybe it was the organization’s reputation or mission statement, which so closely aligned with your values and how you wanted to contribute to the world. Maybe it was the increase in responsibility and you wanted to challenge yourself in new ways. Maybe it was working for a particular person or with a particular group of people, who seemed to inspire you and make you feel connected and productive. Maybe it was the raise in pay, which meant you could afford more for your family. Maybe it was the location, because it meant a shorter commute and more time at home. Maybe it was your childhood dream to do the kind of work you were hired to do, or to work in this field or for this company.

Whatever the reason or reasons, I want you to get really clear on what it was that made you say yes to this job, because chances are, there was a point in time (however brief) when you were excited, happy or even just relieved to start the job you have. Try to recall those memories vividly and revel in the emotional response you have to this memory. Just as recalling the early happy memories of  romantic relationships can help us soften into our current day realities, remembering the reasons we accepted our jobs can help spark positive emotions for our work now.

Here’s the second step: I want you to pick out all of the things in your job that you appreciate. For some of you, this list might be long and easy to fill. For others, you may have some digging to do in order to come up with just two or three things you appreciate. No matter what, come up with a list of at least five things you appreciate in your job and write them down. Maybe you appreciate the overall goal of the organization: the problem it is trying to solve and the people it is trying to serve. Maybe you appreciate a particular coworker with whom you can share your joys and frustrations, and even a good laugh now and then. Maybe you appreciate the resources available to you to do your job: a good computer, a nice pen and comfy seat. Maybe you appreciate the holiday party they throw every year, which includes a nice dinner and glass of wine. Reach far and wide and deep to find all of those things to appreciate in your job, and DON’T get caught up in disqualifying any of these by saying things like, “I appreciate the flexibility to schedule my own hours but that’s the least they can do considering how much time I give this company.” That’s not the way to nurture fondness and admiration; that’s a quick slide into contempt.

Just doing these two things – looking at the original reasons you took your job and listing all of things there are to appreciate at your work – should increase your fondness and admiration quotient significantly. Write these things down and keep them handy for those times you are feeling contempt for your job. Keep them to remind you of the bigger picture when it comes to your work life: it can’t all be positive and passionate and rewarding all the time. But you can make the choice to cultivate some love (o,r at least, amicable tolerance) in your job by reminding yourself of the good times and good qualities of your work.

 

 

 

You Can Love Your Job, The Final Truth

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The third and final fundamental truth* I want to share with you is this:

3.   You Create Your Own Life

Of the three fundamental truths (see Truth #1 and Truth #2), this is the one that really rocks my world. And it’s the one that can be the hardest to truly accept. 

Basically, when it comes to your life, you are in charge.

It’s easy not to feel this way a lot of the time. But remember, this is a fundamental truth, not a “nice to have”.

You create your own life by the perspectives/attitudes you take and by the choices you make.

Sometimes it’s easier to settle into the place of ‘stuck’, feeling like responsibilities, external pressures and social influences leave us no choice. We work at jobs we hate because we have family depending on us, or we were obliged to follow in the professional footsteps of a parent, or the media and our consumer culture promised us that money = happiness.

At the end of the day, though, the truth is you are at choice. In all of the unhappy scenarios above, there is a choice being made, and that choice might very well be ‘stuck’.

Each of us has this incredible gift of imagination that allows us to see how things could be and then to make what we imagine into reality, to be the creators of our most fulfilling life. This is not a gift to be wasted! In fact, I would argue that if you use your core values as your guideposts and your imagination as your drawing board, you will begin the holy and sacred work of exploring how you are meant to serve the world.

So what does this mean for creating a work life you love?

It means that finding a job you love, or learning to love the job you already have, begins with a choice to make that happen. It means taking a long, reflective look at your past and getting honest about what lessons you’ve learned along the way about yourself. It means igniting your imagination to dream up every single possibility of work you love and are meant to be doing, and then taking the courageous steps to create it. It means you are in charge.

So, to review… I know you can love your job because I believe in three fundamental truths:

  • You are unique
  • Life is organic
  • You create your own life

The point where these three intersect is where the magic happens. I’ll even go a step further here and add another fundamental truth to this mix, lending an important sense of urgency to my point:

  • You only have this one life to live

So, you can love your job. And what are you waiting for?

I would love to hear your thoughts on these fundamental truths. Which one resonates the most with you or gives you the biggest kick in the pants? Write your reply below!

 

* These truths are borrowed from Sir Ken Robinson who wrote The Element and Finding Your Element. He describes these as principles that apply to each of us and make it possible for us all to find the sweet spot of where natural aptitude meets personal passion.

 

You Can Love Your Job, Part 2

step off a stump

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Ok, we already covered the first fundamental truth* that tells me you can, indeed, love your job: you are unique (yay you!)

Here’s the second:

2.   Life is organic 

What does that mean? Well, it means life is not linear. It means life is unpredictable and ever changing. It means that you can’t possibly know today what your life will look like in one, five or ten years from now, even if you try your hardest to plan it down to the most diminutive detail.

From where you are standing right now, it might be easy to look back over your career path and see how one decision led to the next, giving you the impression that you were following a logical, linear master plan for your career. But don’t be fooled. If you’re really honest, you had no idea at the starting point how your first career decision would turn out and that it would lead you, step by step, to where you are now.

Similarly, you can’t possibly know today how your decisions and choices will unfold in the future. Your career – and your life in general – is a “constant process of improvisation between…interests and personality on the one hand and circumstances and opportunities on the other”, as Sir Ken Robinson states so perfectly in Finding Your Element.

We often seem to think we know how our decisions are going to play out, for better or worse. The thing is, you don’t know. You cannot possibly know for sure how your decisions will play out, because life is always full of surprise opportunities and setbacks.

So what does this mean for creating a work life you love?

It means that if you are open to the uncertainty of life, open to exploring new opportunities and experiences, and can let go of the need to know how everything is going to turn out, you will then find the courage to take the first step, however small, toward figuring out what you want to do with the rest of your life. You don’t need to have it all figured out before starting. To quote Martin Luther King, Jr., “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

So now what?

Try this: take a moment to think about what values are important to you in your worklife. Which of these values are NOT being honoured in your current job? Maybe you value creativity but spend the day entering data into a computer. Maybe you value connection but work alone from a home office. Maybe you value flexibility but have to punch a timecard just to have a bathroom break.

Now, think about just one thing you can do – just one small change you can make – that will bring you more aligned with this value, and do it. It may not be the full and far-reaching change you truly want in your career, but you have to start somewhere. And you never know what that one change will bring you… because life is organic.

 

Coming up in my next blog post: Truth #3 – You create your life 

* These truths are borrowed from Sir Ken Robinson who wrote The Element and Finding Your Element. He describes these as principles that apply to each of us and make it possible for us all to find the sweet spot of where natural aptitude meets personal passion.