joy

follow your curiosities to your dream life

Following_Curiosities.jpg

Our society is consumed by the constricting construct of the ideal life: get a degree, start a career, make money, and climb the corporate ladder. We are taught from a young age that we pick what we want to be when we grow up, and later on we pursue said career through school and training. 

But how sound is this reason? 

I have been lucky enough to meet people in my life who knew at a young age what they wanted to be when they grew up. They had a burning inclination starting in their youth which gave them a clear, coherent vision for the future. 

These individuals followed this drive into college, got a degree, and started doing that one thing that they had always dreamed of. A doctor, biologist, teacher. 

My husband is one of these lucky few. He discovered in college what his true passion was, and has pursued it with vigor ever since. Now, his path has had twists and turns, and I anticipate many more through life, you can never really know what is coming next. But he knows, without a doubt in his mind that each day he is working towards deeper mastering his true passion for life. For a long time, I envied this. 

But for the majority of us, we are unsettled when it comes to finding our one thing, or our calling as some may say. For most of us, since society says we must, we pursue a college degree that falls into one of two categories: 

1. A degree in something either practical, sensical, or will pay the big bucks
2. Or something that doesn't completely bore us to death. 

I personally chose the later. 

Considering how much a college education costs these days, neither of these reasonings seem to stand on sound grounding. But in the hopes that we may fall into something we enjoy, we press o heroically. 

There is little support or empathy for those who do not yet know what they want to be when they grow up. College is a process of growing and finding ones deeper sense of self - which can at times end in the pursuit of a new passion, or it can leave you more lost then ever, knowing all of the choices you have for the road ahead of you. 

So how do we beat this restricting philosophy that society places on our souls? 

I can not say that I have the answer just yet. But I have some thoughts that may shed some light on the issue, and give some individuals out there some peace, knowing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. 

For years, I myself spent a great deal of time looking for my one thing. Said one thing, led me down a path of pursing art in college, since nothing else seemed appealing at the time. So, I graduated without any inclination of what I wanted to be when I grew up. 

I so deeply wish now that there had been a class, helping lost souls navigate their way through their likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses. Maybe then I would have landed on solid ground sooner. 

After floating from one thing to the next after leaving college, it took quite some time for me to settle my unease with a simple thought. 

Maybe it was ok if I didn't have one thing. 

Maybe it was ok to live a life in constant pursuit of the things I love; chasing curiosity after curiosity, and simply seeing where I landed each time.

In my recent reading of Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, she brought to light some interesting ramblings on the idea of curiosity: 

It's a clue. It might seem like nothing, but it's a clue. Follow that clue. Trust it. See where curiosity will lead you next. Then follow the next clue, and the next clue, and the next. Remember it doesn't have to be a voice in the desert; it's just a harmless little scavenger hunt. Following that scavenger hunt of curiosity can lead you to your passion - albeit through a strange, untraceable passageway of back alleys, underground caves, and secret doors. Or it may lead you nowhere. You might spend your whole life following your curiosity and have nothing to show for it at the end - except one thing. You will have the satisfaction of knowing that you passed your entire existence in devotion to the humble human virtue of inquisitiveness. And that should be more than enough for anyone to say that they lived a rich and splendid life. 

This concept of simply following your interests, your gut, your intuition, your curiosities, to some may seem ungrounded. 

But how often do you see individuals living life as they are supposed to; get a degree, get a job, make money, make more money, buy things, and live a simply empty existence, always seeking out the next thing

Our gauge of success has been skewed by commercialism and consumerism. This default mode of living life, pulls at me from somewhere deep. It breaks my heart, my soul, to watch people living their lives this way. Beyond basic needs of providing for our families, having food on the table, and a roof over our heads, why do we trade our daily joy to ride away at a job that brings up little fulfillment, simple to have more stuff, and success

This idea of following curiosities really resonated with how I had begun living my life. After starting and running my own successful graphic design business, something was missing. There was something else I was being pulled to do. Unsure at first, I followed my urges. 

There is nothing that says this way of life will be easy. Like Liz says, you may have nothing physical to show for your efforts in the end. But wouldn't you rather have less things, and instead live a life well lived? Knowing that you followed every inclination that you ever had? 

One of my personal goals, and a goal I hope to accomplish partly through this writing, is just as I say in bio:

One day, when I am at the end of my life, I hope to feel both full and empty at the same time. Full of all the experiences, knowledge, and love that I have acquired throughout my life; but empty, knowing that there is nothing left for me to do. Nothing left undone, undiscovered. 

To accomplish this means breaking through the social constructs that tell us how we must live our lives, and instead beginning to in face live our lives. 

I know money and security are always issues when discussing topics like this. But the reality is that we never have security. Life giveth and taketh away. We can loose our jobs, our homes, our money, at any time. And I truly believe that through pursuing your greatest desires and curiosities, that both money and security will come in time. 

My hope is that one day, societal demands will break down to accommodate this more free-flowing way of living. What a beautiful world it would be if we all sought to follow our greatest curiosities and passions. 

Curiosity may lead you to a great passion. Don't ignore that bring instinct of your intuition. It may just lead you to the life of your dreams. 

do you have a calling?

DoingvsPracticing_2.jpg

 

This question is one I get often. If you had asked me this just a few years earlier, I would have shrugged my shoulders and brushed off the question. For a long time I think I was searching for just that: a calling. 

A singular thing. That ONE BIG idea that I was put here to complete. A reason to get up in the morning, a purpose that transcends just keeping myself alive day to day. I was constantly search for something, but could never pin point quite what is was. 

Then one day the lights went on. 

It wasn't an exact moment, it developed over time. As if I had just woken up from a long car ride, and had that feeling of "how the heck did we get here?" 

I am still unsure of the idea of a calling. Perhaps because of it's religious context, it feels limiting to everyone at times. But I do believe we have things that we are put here to accomplish. Whether planned in advance, or found along the way. 

We all have a unique personality, strengths and weaknesses. Difference that separate us from anyone else on this planet today, before us, and after we leave this earth. There is only one of you

Because of that, we all have the ability, drive, and passion to do certain things that others may not. 

For me, it started with art. TO be honest, art was the only thing I cared enough about to pay for a college degree in. And at the time, society was telling me that I needed a college degree. 

But after years of missing something, all of a sudden, it just clicked. I felt a drive to change the way we look at life. A desire to help every person I come in contact with live a fuller, freer, more meaningful existence. 

Maybe one day I will have a word for it. That is part of all of this. Understanding how I was on of the lucky few who got to this point. 

But the reality is, we all have those moments. We all have the moments when we have a really good idea, a deep pull to do something. And it is our choice to listen to that deep desire, or let is pass us by. 

I have recently been making my way through Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic. A life changing book if you have the time to read it. Here was her view on ideas: 

"I believe that our planet is inhabited not only by animals and plants and bacteria and viruses, but also by ideas. Ideas are a disembodied, energetic life-form. They are completely separate from us, but capable of interacting with us - albeit strangely. Ideas have no material body, but they do have consciousness, and they most certainly have will. Ideas are driven buy a single impulse: to be made manifest. And the only way an idea can be made manifest in our world is through collaboration with a human partner. It is only through a human's efforts that an idea can be escorted out of the ether and into the realm of the actual" 

At first read, I thought Liz had lost it. Ideas floating around like butterflies, looking for the perfect victim to land on. Seemed a little too woo-woo crazy, even for me. 

But when I was able to think on the idea further, I began to wonder if this is why I struggle with the idea of a calling. 

A calling insinuates that we have one thing. One specific thing that we were put here to do. But I have a hard time with that. I have always been a flighty creative soul, floating from one project, one idea, to the next. So I have a hard time grasping this concept of a singular calling. 

That is why I was lost for so long. I was looking for only one thing, not realizing that there could be so many things that I could accomplish in a lifetime. 

When putting Liz's idea into perspective in this way, it was enlightening. Throughout out lifetime, we may be taken by several ideas. We may shift what we are doing - even if only slightly, like a ship captain adjusting to unexpected winds. 

We all have those moments of genius. Of clarity. Of an idea that we just know is BIG. But too often we let it go, assuming it is trivial, or impractical. Could we be missing out on our calling at that time? 

We will all have several of these moments throughout our life. So don't feel that it is ever too late to be that which you are meant to become. 

If you missed your first chance, or your second, or your tenth, the good news is that you will have many more chances. If you live to be 80 years old, that is over 29,000 days of living. That is a lot of chances to start over, being something new, pick yourself up after a failure, and to truly live you life to it's absolute fullest. 

We all may have several moments of calling throughout our lives. Our job is to quiet our fear long enough to listen. 

And above all else, JUMP. You only get to live today once. Make it count. 

 

isn't this all temporary anyways?

temporary_nonperenence.jpg

 

The issue of fear comes up more than anything else in my life. Both personally, and with those I interact with. The fear of doing. The fear of starting something new. The feat of taking a leap, of chasing a vision, or reaching a goal. We are consumed by constant fear. 

For me, I think it is this sense of "well if I do that, can I go back?" As if every leap we choose to take is a completely permanent outcome, that can never be erased or reversed. 

To some degree, yes, you can never go back in time. If you make a decision, that decision will stand in that very moment, forever. But that doesn't mean you can't change the course of things once you have started. 

Once you start a new adventure, just like a captain of a ship, you have to make slight adjustments as you go to deal with factors outside of your control. No one who ever tried something new had a perfect road map. 

But the reality of this permanent mindset seems to be a bit foolish. We all know that our time here on earth is limited. I don't mean this in a morbid sense, it's just the way it is. So if we are essentially temporary beings in the grander scheme of life, aren't all of our decisions temporary as well? 

At first, this notion may be unsettling. But at the same time, I find it completely freeing. I head a quote the other day that in 150 years not a single living human on the planet will still be alive. 

This thought is quite striking. I think 150 may be slightly bold, but with modern day science, who knows, today's babies may just live to be 150. 

That means that in 150 years, no one is going to care that you quit your job, to start a business, that ended up being a flop. 

When you think about it for a while, it can really start to free your fears. When you start to adopt that "Oh what the hell, it's now of never" attitude, big things start to happen. Or at least have the chance of happening. You can't fail (or succeed) at something until you in fact start. 

Once we remove our expectations of certain outcomes, and our fear of permanence, and remember that everything in life is fleetingly temporary, it frees us to just live

So you hate your job? You want to quit and start your dream business? Why the hell not, there is no time like the present. You have a dream of going back to school? Or traveling the world? Or starting a family? What are you waiting for? 

Like I always say, you only get to live today once. So LIVE. Live like it's all just a big temporary beautiful disaster. If you fail, pick yourself up ad trying something else crazy. 

Life is too short to be scared. To be scared of failing. To be scared of what those around you think. To be scared of not being able to go back, to hit rewind, to have regret. 

I don't know about you, but I don't want to live my life in a constant loop of fearing doing, and therefore not actually doing  anything with my life. I am going to live. I am going to follow my impulses, my big ideas, my gut instincts, my intuition. 

I may not have the most money in the world. I may not make everyone around me happy. People may think I'm absolutely crazy, But by doing what I'm doing, I could have a huge impact, even just on a few people. Isn't that worth putting everything on the line? 

You only get one shot at this. And remember, it's all just a temporary roller coaster. So buck up beautiful, and find your inner lion. All you need is just the slightest inclination of bravery to get started. 

how positivity cultivates resilience

positivity_resillience.jpg

 

I was reading Positivity the other day, by Positive Psychologist from UNC Chapel Hill, Barbara Fredrickson. Barbara has dedicated her life's work to the study of positivity. For so long, psychology was dominated by the study of negativity. Seeking to find cause and cure to the ever increasing depression that plagues our society. 

Not long ago, Barbara and other brilliant psychologists decided to turn the tables not his idea, and start studying the other side of the spectrum: positivity. Positive Psychology was born. 

In her book Positivity, Barbara talks about how cultivating more positivity can make us more resilient. It is proven that naturally positive people carry higher resilience than their not so positive counterparts. 

Resilience helps us to better react and recover from tough life situations that may come our way. Positive people are better suited to handle themselves in tough situations and bounce back after an event much quicker. 

A section of her book really hit me...

"...resilient people are highly attuned to the ever-changing circumstances in which they find themselves. They are emotionally nimble. They react to what is happening now, not to what-ifs. They don't spend time worrying about the future. Instead, perhaps appreciating that they can cope with whatever comes their way, they adopt a wait-and-see attitude. They're also quick to tell the difference between good and bad - they don't overgeneralize or overreact. They minimize their angst by cutting out advanced worry and afterglow obsessions, focusing instead on reality of the present moment." 

I feel like this is something so many of us struggle with. It is so easy to get wrapped up in the what-ifs of tomorrow. Spending hours ruminating about what could happen or should happen. But we really have minimal control over events that cross our path. We simply can control our thoughts and reactions to those moments. 

How different would things be if you too adopted this wait-and-see attitude? Choosing to live life in a much more intuitive, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of mindset. How refreshing would it be to just focus on now, and not worry about tomorrow? 

There are times where thinking about the future is very beneficial. When we are visualizing our goals and dreams. This visualization can help us work through our thoughts, and form a clear vision and path moving forward. 

But when we start thinking through the negatives. the what-ifs of what could happen or what could go wrong, this visualization is no longer beneficial, but rather severely detrimental. A good question to ask yourself is simply: 

Is this useful? 

A certain amount of worry can be good, to safeguard us against danger, and to keep us alert, and in the here and now. But once you pass the point of a thought serving a purpose or bringing useful, it is better to discard the notion. 

Worry less about things out of your control. Think less about possible outcomes that do not match up with reality. Wait and see what happens before sending out the bat signal of despair. 

This week, try out being emotionally nimble. Let things roll off your shoulder. If you feel something getting under your skin, take a breath.

Know that a thought is simply a thought. And by increasing our positive outlook on life, we are setting ourselves up for greater resilience to safeguard against whatever life may throw our way.