01 May 36 Lessons I Live By
Happy Thursday Legends!
Today marks my 36th circle around the sun! And on my birthday over the past few years, I take some time to reflect review and share a little food for thought. You can find the past posts here and here.
But the older I get, the longer these posts get, haha! So, today I am sharing simple mantras that I live by. These are statements, beliefs, philosophies and theories that I remind myself of often and consider my ‘Emotional Emergency Tool-Kit’. Each of these mantras, when actually put into practice, has helped me find alignment, even as I have navigated unexpected and difficult twists and turns that have come my way—creating peace and purpose, even in the midst of pain.
These (and much more!) are the concepts that I work with my Mastermind Members on as we all strive to find find harmony in our internal and external world. We only have a few spaces left for the round beginning later this month if you are interested in joining us! But for now, let’s dig into all the lessons this beautiful life has taught me…
36 Lessons I Live By
1. You are always trading something for another.
There is no wasted time, we are always trading something for another. Trading freedom for security, productivity for exploration, new ways for old ones, etc. Understanding that you are always trading something for another helps make decisions easier and takes some of the weight and pressure off of things.
2. I don’t know what I don’t know, but I don’t need to know.
Nothing is more freeing than giving up the mind’s desire to control. The need to know is a way to have a sense of control, but letting go of that need allows you to simply trust, even if you do not understand. Trusting is a somewhat scary feeling but once you get past the threshold, it feels light, expansive, open and free where control feels limited, restrictive and obsessive.
3. There are two types of discomfort: the discomfort of growth or the discomfort of stagnation. You choose.
It’s equally as uncomfortable to stay still as it is to expand outside of your comfort zone, but one of these discomforts propels you forward whereas the other holds you back… One is temporary, the other will persist. So, when I remember that I am either experiencing short-term discomfort for long-term growth, or I will remain in the discomfort of stagnation, it makes it is a lot easier to do the things that scare me.
4. Be where you are, not where you are not.
It is SO easy to get too far ahead of ourselves. This is the nature of our mind’s desire for control. But there is generally a sense of peace (and massive clarity!) when we can remember to be where we are, not where we are not. You don’t need to know step 16. Your only responsibility to to take the very next step – and yes, you may not know where it will lead, but refer to point 2. 🙂
5. Define what’s doable and desirable, then do it.
We can get so caught up in analysis paralysis, or think we “don’t know what to do” but the only cure for inaction and indecision is to take a step forward, even if you aren’t sure the next step. I always like to think of this in terms of what’s doable and desirable. The more you strengthen this muscle of defining the next doable and desirable step, the stronger it gets and suddenly “I don’t know” goes out the window.
6. When you check your ego at the door, you can always become more than you are.
It is much easier to stay in the comfort of things as they are, or assume you know more than others, especially when things are good! But even great things can get better. So when we start to realize that no matter how great things are, we can always become more than we are, it allows us to become a student of life. To see every opportunity as a way to learn and grow… to never know it all because there is always more you can become. And I believe the more we learn, the more we grow, and the more we grow, the more we can give!
7. You can have a preference for an outcome without an attachment to it.
We all have an idea of how we’d like things to be, and that’s ok! I think it’s only human nature. But where we get into trouble is when things have to be a certain way or happen in a certain time. That’s creating an attachment to things that are actually out of your control… and the more power you give to the things that are out of your control, the more powerless you become. You give up your authority of choosing your experience and begin to be a victim of your circumstances.
8. Mindfulness is not about stopping your thoughts, it’s about managing them.
I always say, that I like to work with rather than against my human nature. I think thinking is part of being human and I want to respect this human experience. Meaning I don’t want to attempt to be superhuman (some people do and that is totally cool!), but I also don’t want to let my mind get the best of me. Thoughts, when not managed, will run wild and to me mindfulness is about learning to pause, notice and appreciate rather than simply react. This is the essence behind The Aligned Life School, an idea I mentioned last year on my birthday and have been working behind the scenes on. I am putting the finishing touches on it and and it will be live in the world very soon, woo hoo!
9. Confusion is not listening to what you already know.
The mind can and will rationalize anything! That’s why you can simultaneously come up with equally strong reasons to do, and not to do, something. Think of a trip you are considering taking… Your mind can come up with reasons to take it (i.e. Life is short, I deserve a break, I don’t really have anything else going on, why not?) and not to (i.e. I want to save up for my deposit, It will exhaust me to travel back to back weekends, There’s things I will miss here). And this can happen at the same time, haha. Which is why need to learn to listen to something other than the mind! Some call this your inner voice, your intuition, your heart. It’s a practice to learn to clear the spastic chatter going on in our heads but when we do, we usually can find a clear sense of knowing, and knowing doesn’t really need rationalizing, right?! It just is!
10. Do what’s right, right now.
This works side by side with point 4. Sometimes we are faced with a myriad of things to figure out. But as long as you look at where you are, not where you are not, and do what’s right, right now, I believe it will not lead you astray.
11. What else could this mean?
It is SO easy to jump to conclusions and assume things about ourselves, the people and the world around us… but pausing to question what else something could mean is incredibly empowering. This, of course, forces us to tap into that trust and not needing to know all the time but when we do, we get a wider perspective which opens up space for compassion—for ourselves and others.
12. Listen to the push versus the pull
I work with so many people who feel really confused or lost, which is ok! I often feel that way as well and think it’s all part of the process! But when we think about listening to the push versus the pull, we start to see things more clearly. What are you being pulled to do, rather than pushing yourself to do? I think the mind is what pushes us (the should’s) whereas the heart is what pulls us (the deeper wants). But be warned, the heart doesn’t always speak the language of logic!
13. The process is progress.
The only thing guaranteeing you will remain exactly where you are is to do nothing. Taking time to do a little inward exploration or walking a non-linear path can seriously cause us some anxiety! But reminding myself that there is progress in the process is always helpful. Forward movement, even if you don’t know where you are going is moving you from where you are. It might not be a perfectly clear path, but there is always progress in the process!
14. If you don’t enjoy hanging out with you, why would other people enjoy hanging out with you.
Needing validation from those around you is a pretty slippery slope, because you have absolutely zero control of what the people around you think or do, and that’s why taking a little time to better understand and appreciate yourself is so important. If you like you, then you don’t necessarily need other people to like you, because you like you! This is not from a place of arrogance, but more-so about not needing to be validated (which is a very reactionary approach) and being able to show up as the person you are proud to be. Which is why we should…
15. Act like the person you are proud to be.
If you can be proud of you, and not always need others to be proud of you, then you get to keep showing up in the world in a way that you are proud of, regardless of how the world responds. I think that when we shift our energy here, it brings us to a place where we get to show up as our authentic selves versus hide behind insecurities in order to please others, and that allows us to share our true gifts with the world.
16. Focus on what you do have, not what you don’t… what you can do, not what you can’t.
There will always be things you can’t do in any given situation. There will always be roadblocks and issues that come up. But you become powerless when all of your energy goes into that which you cannot control or do not have. Even in the worst of times, there are things you can do, and do have. When you bring your focus here, you transition hopeless thoughts into hopeful ones.
17. The worst that can happen is an emotion.
We have all felt pain, fear, doubt, and a myriad of other not-so-great feeling emotions. But at the end of the day, they are just an emotion. And all an emotion is, is energy in motion. No pain is permanent. All feelings are fleeting, as long as you don’t resist them… even the good ones! So, what if the worst that could ever happen was an emotion? And one you have probably already felt? Pretty freeing thought right?! Often times we spend far more time worrying about what could happen and sitting in that not-so-great feeling emotion (worry) than trusting, taking a leap and seeing what’s on the other side. Which is why…
18. Worry doesn’t make it go any faster, it just makes the experience worse.
So let go, be where you are not where you are not, trust in what is and stop worrying. At the very least, the experience will be much more enjoyable.
19. There is beauty in difference.
We often dislike that which is different from what we know. But my gosh, when we start to realize that the beauty actually lies in the difference, we become so much more open, welcoming and accepting of different views on life, different places, different people and different things. If beauty lies in the difference, there is an opportunity in everything that is different than that which we know, right?
20. Seek not to discover, but to explore.
When you don’t need to find an answer, a solution, or an outcome then it creates space. It opens up room to explore and sometimes when we aren’t looking for something specific, it allows us to see so much more.
21. There is no pain without purpose.
Some might argue with this, and it doesn’t mean I attempt to understand how and why horrible things happen. But once again this list is all about creating thoughts that serve you. If you adopt beliefs that allow you to walk through the world with more peace and less anger, then you you get to contribute that to the world around you. I trust that everything that happens does have something on the other side of it. It may not make sense right now, but pain is a guide, a nudge, a signal to do something differently in ways that we might not have on our own.
22. And no pain is permanent.
There are peaks and valleys. I have come to accept and appreciate that this is part of the human experience. And since I am grateful to be here, I am grateful for all that comes with that experience. If I get to experience joy, then I also get to experience pain.
23. The more you understand you, the better you can work with, rather than again your nature.
Self-inquiry is hugely powerful. We are all generally wired the same, which is why I have a fascination with why we do what we do, but we also have have individual tendencies, preferences, etc. And the better you get to know, accept (and like!) you, the better you can work with your nature versus fight against it. This makes things feel less like a fight and a lot more free.
24. Peace is not the absence of problems, it is to have an underlying contentment within them.
Our expectations are huge dictators for how we feel. We experience unhappiness when we think we are supposed to be happy all the time, we create problems when we think we should have no problems. We feel lost when we think we should have it all figured out! Roadblocks or hurdles are never going to go away, but if and when we expect things to go right all the time is when we begin to have problems. Shit can hit the fan, but peace is having that underlying knowing, sense of trust, and/or basic contentment (notice I did not say happiness) even in the midst of them. It doesn’t mean you prefer them, but you do accept them.
25. Keep doing that which you are willing to show up for.
In line with our expectations, a lot of people expect life to be easy. They expect that if they do not have a deep, burning passion, then they are a failure. But I invite you to ease up that expectation and discover that which you are willing to keep showing up for. Stick around as long as you are willing to show up, and if and when you evolve or grow out of that, find the next thing that you are willing to keep showing up for.
26. What do you want to feel and what is available to you right now to create that?
Decisions become much easier when we weigh out how the outcome will make us feel. Will you feel stressed, or at peace? Will you feel overwhelmed or calm? Do you feel excited or drained? Use this as a guide, and then you can dig deeper into the thoughts that create those feelings!
27. If you cannot dream it, you cannot do it.
Don’t be afraid to dream big, even if you don’t know how or when it could ever happen. Because if you don’t allow yourself to dream it, you will never allow yourself to do it.
28. The only things that remain “things you could never do” are those that you never attempt.
You literally never know what you are capable of unless you give it a shot. You may not get it right, you may suck and it may (might I argue WILL) take time but the only things that will continue to be the things you could never do are the ones you never try.
29. Challenge the things that challenge you.
Do you find it hard to accept aspects of other people? Why? Do you find life hard? Why? Do you feel bored or unfulfilled? Why? When we look deeper into the things that challenge us, it allows us to see so much more than if we simply assume truth without inquiry. And often times, we realize that they aren’t things that are destined to challenge us forever. Most of the time, we just need to face something in order to see it clearly.
30. Notice. Pause. Appreciate.
This is the basis of living more mindfully. We first must be able to stop and observe. Because when we do we can enable point 16 and shift our focus…
31. The quality of your life is not a reflection of the things you have or the things you do, it is a reflection of the feelings you feel on a regular basis.
So, pause and notice how you feel. Are you stressed, angry, resentful and bitter all the time? Or do you feel content, even without reason? It’s important to design your days to feel the feelings you want to feel because…
31. You can only give what you have inside.
Which is why it isn’t selfish or entitled to take some time to fill up your own cup. If you are filled with anger, resentment and hate, that is what will spill out of you when things don’t go as planned. If you are filled with understanding, compassion and acceptance, that is what will spill out. There might be a little of the others as well, and that’s ok! We are human after all. 🙂
32. Create meaning in your moments and you will find meaning in your life.
What happens around us is not always in our control, but we always, always, always have the ability to be more mindful and create, discover or find meaning in our moments. And when we find meaning in our moments, those add up to creating meaning in our days, our weeks, our years and our life. This is to be where you are, not where you are not!
33. The one thing that lies between the facts in your life and your feelings about them are your thoughts.
This is why one person can lose their job and see opportunity, the other can lose their job and see failure. The facts are the same (loss of a job) but the thought about that fact dictates the feelings you have…
34. Your thoughts are simply the things you are telling yourself to be true.
Your thoughts alone are not necessarily true, but rather the things you perceive to be true. This is why someone with an eating disorder can literally believe they are overweight, but not be. This is why someone can say “this is the worst thing that has ever happened to me” where someone who experienced the same scenario can say “this is the best thing that ever happened to me. ” Hence developing a way to be more mindful about which thoughts you want to believe and which you want to let go.
35. As long as you develop the skill of listening, you will always live an aligned life.
Not to the voices around you, or the chatter in your mind, but to that deeper knowing within you…
36. Life is so much more fun when you don’t take it too seriously!
So, on that note, off to Bordeaux I go to celebrate the beauty of being given another year to live, to love, to learn, and to grow!
All my best,
P.S. Enrollment for the next round of our Mastermind Accelerator closes on May 15. This program includes 10 weeks of working with me in a small group setting to help you uncover, discover and make progress no matter where you are. In this current round, we are working with people who are: navigating a change, looking for what’s next, launching their passion project, or taking the step to monetize their already existing passion project. Half of the spaces are already sold out, so be sure to grab one of the last 7 spots today!