I’d like to open this post with a request.
There are a lot of lists out there, encouraging you to improve your life—“5 qualities that women find irresistible in men, 7 steps to living in super power veganism, 3 strategies for seeing yourself as beautiful every time you look in the mirror," and so on…
This isn’t such a list. The reason?
Seeking “improvement” as the above examples illustrate, is a form of rejection. The implication in those recommendations is that you, right here right now, are simply not good enough. You must improve in order to _____ (fill in the blank).
Now, I read those lists too. I often think they’re great, as long as their content is integrated with a view of the self that is one of acceptance. The world requires less than anything—more conflict, whether that conflict exists within you or without.
So...Let’s begin this list a bit differently.
You are perfect. You aren’t required to “improve.”
Begin this list with your eyes closed and see yourself as such: perfect. Feel the harmony within your body, observe the softness of your breath, and read without judgment.
This list is an ode to stepping fully into the moments of your lives—with a big wide, open heart; the best practices for Living In Joy.
Find a Centering Practice
It can generally be assumed, we don’t go about our days with the awareness of our true nature. We tend to operate within our habits (mostly restrictive), often “beating ourselves up” for not being this or that.
What is our true nature?
That is where the centering practice comes in. I don’t know fully. But I have caught glimpses of something more than what I normally see. And this is key, as when I catch that glimpse, life takes on an entirely different texture.
Meditation is often the modus operandi here. Yet immersing in a true passion can provide the same insight-- anything to allow introspection and cause a break in your “thinking” self. When our identification with thought dissolves, life expands along with our finite self-image.
Leave Your Comfort Zone
One thing not mentioned in the disclaimer at the start of this post is that life is an unending process of transformation. Whether subtle or profound, life changes. The sooner we accept this, the more capable we will be to abandon our overwhelming drive towards security and “stability.”
The “comfort zone” is the place where life doesn’t seem to change all that much. It is dangerous (if spent in for too long), as it inhibits your ability to see life as fluid, and therefore life usually “shocks” you out of complacency.
Take the initiative and do things that scare you from time to time. The goal isn’t self-imposed trauma, it is simply finding the place of learning (I call this the edge) where true growth, self-discovery, and paradigm shifting occurs.
Share Your Gifts
You are required to share little else in this life that isn’t an expression of your innate gifts. Your gifts run deep and are far greater than you’ve probably considered. Share them.
We aren’t meant to do things that don’t nourish. If you find yourself in a situation that feels like the opposite of this statement, get out of your comfort zone immediately and begin connecting with your true passions.
If the question “what are my gifts?” came into your mind while reading this, perhaps some meaningful time in reflection is first required.
Another suggestion: put yourself in a “this is the last moment of my life” feeling situation. Stand literally at the edge of a tall structure, or imagine that car swerving into your lane. Really take yourself to that place of “dying,” and in that moment, discover what emerges for you. As the saying goes—life is short. Live it.
Relationship is what makes the experience of human life so rich. When we connect with others—truly connect—there is, again, an expansion that occurs. Intimacy is about heart-to-heart sharing, and detaching from the personality that we’ve so carefully constructed.
Reflect on those moments in your life that stand out. If they’re anything like mine, they are the moments when there was no façade. Crying, deep late night connections with a romantic partner, friend, or relative, long gazes—these are all moments/expressions of heart-opening vulnerability.
We’ve created a story of the world where self-sufficiency rules and vulnerability is endemic to the weak. It’s time we change the story.
Of course, these are all merely suggestions, and I’d also like to add -- an important question to ask yourself before deciding whether or not to heed this advice is: is this the most beautiful world I can create? If not — if something feels unsettled, unsatisfying -- then this may just be the list for you.