Living Your Best Life (Today)
As I write this, I am sitting in my favorite coffee shop, in my favorite city on planet earth, taking time to work on my favorite project....I'm living my best life today.
I have had conversations with several amazing young people this past week that have big dreams. They talk about what they will do when they achieve financial success, how they want to make the world a better place, and to whom they want to contribute. One of the things I love about talking to young people (okay, I'm still a young person myself) is that they have not been fully [de]conditioned to cynicism. They still believe in possibility. They have not given up on inspiration or aspiration yet. Naivete may still be present, ignorance, myopic vision...but there is so much energy and enthusiasm still reserved for the way things can be. However, these conversations with inspiring young people brings to my mind these questions:
How are we being the presence of what we hope to create today?
How does your beautiful vision for the way things COULD be WHEN ______ affect the way you show up HERE and NOW?
Acknowledging the work you are standing for as a process, how are you EMBODYING your practice today?
Who and how am I being today, and how does that reflect the life I am standing for?
I ask for them, and I ask for you, and I ask for me, too.
I know what it is to have big, inspiring visions, dreams and fantasies around who and how I can be, and yet be completely oblivious to how I am actually showing up in this moment, the ways I am affecting other people, and the gaps between what I say I want to create and what shit I ACTUALLY get done.
Living your best life is a combination of authenticity and alignment, bold actions and conscious creativity. It involves servant leadership, knowing your limits, boring consistency in accomplishing purposeful actions, a spirit of play in all you do, and the willingness to stretch while staying connected to your source of inspiration.
To quote The Teacher in Ecclesiastes: "Whatever take on, do wholeheartedly..."
So what would it look like for us to live wholeheartedly TODAY?
Let's unpack 5 elements of wholehearted living to live your best life TODAY:
- Inspiration & Instigation (Be on the hook for what you care about)
- Know when to Let it Go: (Feelings, fantasies, and frustrations will get you nowhere)
- Slow, Quick-Quick, Slow (Govern your energy and intensity)
- Make it, Print it, Pack it, Ship it (Know where you are in the creative process)
- Happiness Amplified (Celebrate the life you have as you build the life of your dreams)
1) Know your Inspiration and Instigation: Be on the hook for what you care about.
How you are being is not just a reflection of your current circumstances, but of the future you are living into. If you are setting goals or "accomplishing things" you do not care about, you are out of alignment with your inspiration. You may feel resentful or frustrated at the gaps between how you spend your time and what you say you actually care about. Or, if you are deeply inspired, making plans for what matters but aren't actually doing it, you can become someone with lots of talk about your vision but who isn't actually living into it. (I've BEEN THERE!). That thing you want to do? It's great that you love talking about it. How can you get yourself on the hook for it? Buy that race ticket in Mexico or that plane ticket to Europe. Sign yourself up to teach the workshop you've dreamed of doing. Live the dynamic and energizing combination of inspiration and instigation.
2) Know when to Let it GO: Failed goals, feelings, fantasies, and frustrations (etc.)
We screw up sometimes. (Right? That's not just me? Somebody, PLEASE speak up, haha!) We drop the ball. We hurt people. We hurt ourselves. Our goals crash and burn in our faces. We feel overwhelmed by the gap between what we say we want and the life we're actually inhabiting. We lodge the emotions of all this in our bodies. So we HAVE TO LET IT GO IF WE ARE GOING TO MOVE FORWARD. Everyday involves some act of letting go for me. My visual meditation basically comes down to imagining what I am still holding onto and choosing to let it go. While I am holding onto the past or the feelings of failure, I am keeping myself from showing up as I desire. Let that relationship go. Let that resentment go. Forgiveness is FOR YOU, first and foremost. So whatever you're holding onto that is keeping you down or keeping you back, let it go. See what space opens up for you to be and create, NOW!
3) Know and manage your energy. Set the tempo to slow, quick-quick, slow.
Life is not just filling "time," but involves expending and replenishing energy. Life is a marathon, life is a sprint. It can be either or both on a given day. So, designing your work, your play, your meals, your efforting in mind for how you can take care of you and best show up is an important part of living your best life. Sure, maybe you can get "more work done" by skipping your breaks, but what is the quality of work you are doing? Or, maybe you are hitting the day hard from the get-go but you feel gassed by the middle of the day. For me, creating some "slow" structured space in the morning helps me jump into my workout, my run, and my lifework with renewed focus and energy. Building in breaks ("aid stations") into my day and finding different ways to replenish energy and inspiration as the day goes on keeps me living wholeheartedly and not just filling time. Leave it all on the court of your life and be sure you take care of you!
4) Know where you are in the creative process and do the one thing in front of you. Over-thinking and under-preparing are two sides of the same ineffective coin. We can trip ourselves up by overthinking sometimes. We can also reach a fail point by "just doing it" without intention. For creators of every stripe, each project has a flow. While I am in the flow of making, I do not need to be actively worrying about marketing. If I am procrastinating on some aspect of my book, it is because I am afraid. I can escape into dreaming about the book instead of writing it. I can worry about the final product without doing what is necessary to complete it. In terms of the writing process, I know that editing and free-writing are two very different tasks that involve wearing two very different hats, so to speak. So know which hat you need to wear, put it on, and get to play!
5) Know your limits. Under-promise and over-deliver.
At times we can be so energized by our inspiring vision that we sign ourselves up for WAY TOO MANY THINGS. While there can be a "simplicity on the other side of complexity," there is also burnout, under-preparedness, cutting corners and compromise. If you are crafting a week-long seminar that you have never done before, it may not be the best time to also start building a new habit from scratch. The juggle of competing priorities can be extensive enough without the bold actions we are talking about today. Know that things always take longer than you think they will, and when they don't, celebrate the rare occurrence. Build out space and gap times between your scheduled events. A life without limits is also a life without intention. Creating space will allow you room to be spontaneous, and having structure will help you be confident in doing what you commit to.
More could be said, that is for sure. This inquiry into being, living, and loving is ongoing and involves constant practice, play, and learning.
Your mission today, should you choose to accept it, is to live your best life today. Before you get back to it, a couple questions:
What other elements would you add to this list?
What is your one next step in living that best life?
What have you been avoiding, procrastinating on, or afraid to do?
How are you BEING what you dream of DOING today?
To a life well-lived and a love fully expressed,