resilience

living on purpose with urgency

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"And you have treasures hidden within you - extraordinary treasures - and so do I, and so does everyone around us. And bringing those treasures to light takes work and faith and focus and courage and hours of devotion, and the clock is ticking, and the world is spinning, and we simply do not have time anymore to think small."  - Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

Cue the goose bumps. 

Living on purpose needs to have a sense of urgency. When thinking about living a life of our dreams, most of us adopt the same patters as we do with a new diet plan. "I'll start on Monday." As if Monday holds some magical power of motivation for us all. 

But without some sense of urgency, our fear will continually take over, and we will keep pushing out dreams off until tomorrow. Until there is no longer a tomorrow to wait for. 

One of the exercises that I do with myself and those I work with, is to weight our fears. With is scarier: Starting on a path to living your dream? Or getting to the end of your life, and knowing that you let a life truly well lived slip through your fingers? 

There will never be a perfect time to start. Too often we wait for the circumstances to be just right. Until we have more money. More time. Less demands from family. Less obligations at work. If you are waiting for the perfect time, you will alway find something to hold you back. 

You must assert your dreams with a sense of urgency. You only get to live today once. You will never be able to rewind, and relive a day of your life. So why wait? Why wait another second longer? There shouldn't be anything scarier than not living to your full potential. 

Getting over the fear of starting is by far the biggest issue individuals have when thinking about changing careers, chasing that BIG idea, going back to school, or traveling the world. And I don't blame anyone, I have the same problem with each new idea, endeavor, and adventure. 

Over the past few years, I have found a simple trick which I am sure many other have fun before me. The best way to get over fear, is to simply start. And not just start in a panic. But start without any expectations of a specific outcome. 

Out outcome based fears can be go one of two ways, and the later may surprise you. First, we fear failure. Failure is a huge blocker when looking at pursing a dream you have. What if is doesn't work? What if you can't support yourself? What is no one cares? (the last one is my biggie)

But the second fear can be ever more debilitating than the first. The fear of succeeding and having no idea what to do with that success. If find that it is almost 50/50 whether people are truly scared of failure or success. 

Once you have you moment of calling. That "ah ha!" moment when the lights get flipped on, and you have a clear vision for your future - I find that success is actually the dominant fear. With so much energy and certainty for your future, how could you fail? Bur also, what if you don't? 

Fail or succeed, you won't know until you get going. Sometimes we fall flat on our faces, but that teaches us resilience. Other times, we are a breakout success, and that teaches us confidence, and humility. 

My biggest fear for the future now, is in the quote you read at the beginning of this post. We all have truly unique gifts inside of us. Maybe that is a calling, if you will, of some kind. Something that digs at us deep within. A desire to create, learn and serve. A desire to do something that terrifies us beyond all measure. 

But if we all give into that fear, are we not denying ourselves, and all of man kind, from living the life are here to live? The clock is ticking. We will never get back today. But too many of us push off our dreams to tomorrow, and the tomorrow after that, and the tomorrow after that, until we run out of tomorrow's. 

Think of what our world would look like if everyone was able to realize their potential. To realize their strengths, their dreams, and their unique human greatness. 

Fear is only an emotion. And all emotions are temporary. But putting off your dreams until tomorrow can become a reality learned too late. 

Try today to set aside your fear, even just for a moment. Imagine what your life could look like. And with a sense of urgency - because there will never be another today - just take a small step toward your goal. Think of a name for that business, look into schooling options, talk to someone in the field you are thinking about heading into. Do so without any expectations of an outcome. Simply do it, for the pleasure of doing it. For the sake of a little good old fashioned curiosity. 

Beacause you never know where a little curiosity may lead you...

how positivity cultivates resilience

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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.