Wherever you are in your life journey, you eventually come to the same realization. The outward path of seeking success and what you might call “happiness” is only temporarily fulfilling. Finding joy and fulfillment is an inner journey.
I ask many of my coaching clients to complete the following sentence. Life is……………… How they complete this sentence tells me, and them, how they see their life. Some complete it by saying, “Life is hard, or life is a struggle.” For them that’s the way there life is, and will be, unless they shift their mindset.
I’ve chosen to complete the sentence by declaring, “Life is an adventure,” which has become an empowering affirmation of life’s abundant possibilities. It’s also been a bold challenge, reflective of a philosophy of living cultivated over the years, one in which you know you have the choice to keep smiling and to enjoy life’s amazing journey even with it’s inherent loose ends and uncertainties. And yes there will still be disappointment and heartache. Developing this mindset takes practice and determination that eventually will become a habit if you stick with it. It’s a challenge worthy of your best effort. Try it for a month and see what unfolds.
On this journey, you’ll discover that your enjoyment and appreciation of life is not dependent on what happens, but rather on the meaning you give to what happens. It might take a while to come to this realization, but once you do, you awaken to a rich inner life more fulfilling than you can imagine.
Perhaps some of the following insights and practices can help keep you focused on cultivating this new paradigm.
1.How you start your day sets the tone for the day. If you start the day in a hurry it will be extremely difficult to slow down. A suggestion. After you wake up and before you do anything else, take 10-15 minutes for meditation or reflection. Also take some time to focus on what you’re grateful for. By focusing on what you are grateful for, your focus shifts to how blessed you are, rather than on what’s wrong.
2. Develop the practice of Curiosity. After expressing gratitude, reflect upon your day wondering about what the highlight of your day might be which creates a positive expectation as the day progresses. The key here is that there always is a highlight. You get to decide what that is.
3. Learn how to recognize and know your VOJ. The VOJ is that voice of judgment that drives you nuts. You know it. We all do. You would give anything to silence it even if just for a few minutes. The sooner that you can recognize your VOJ, which in coaching we call your gremlin, the sooner you can become free of its hypnotic spell that can last a lifetime if you don’t do anything about it. But the doing is a different type of doing. It’s just noticing. By just noticing you wake up from its hypnotic spell. This is a lifelong challenge so don’t be discouraged if you don’t notice anything right away.
4. Self-Acceptance. There are certain things we can’t change. We can’t change who are parents are. We can’t change our country of origin. We can’t change all of the injustices in the world, although we might try. But we do have the potential to change how we think about ourselves and how we think about the circumstances of our lives. Even though we are our own worst critics at times, our work is to accept those things we don’t like about ourselves—that dark side often referred to as our “shadow.” Once you do you’ll feel lighter and freer. And isn’t that what it’s all about.
5. Introduce positive self-talk into the conversation. It’s time to listen to a new voice, a voice if honored and cultivated can change how you think about yourself. It’s your VIP, the voice of Inspiration and Praise that we don’t listen to enough. The voice that says, “You did great, good job. You handled that well.” Let it in. Honor it.
6. Make time for the jollies. So here we are again with another new phrase. No I haven’t lost my mind. All of us have faced challenges that at times seem overwhelming. The Jollies is taking the time to do what gives you joy, even if you still have loose ends in your life and your “to do” list keeps getting bigger. Don’t wait for the perfect time to let joy in. There always be “loose ends” and uncertainty.
I hope I’ve given you some insights as to how you can more fully enjoy this adventure called you. It’s the only one you have.
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Mark Susnow knows change. He is an executive-life coach, life-discovery guide and recognized thought leader who inspires others to believe in themselves. He is passionate about life being an exciting journey of discovery. His enthusiastic and inspiring keynotes on change, leadership and connection thoroughly convey this message to his audiences. A former trial attorney for 30 years, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. In his prior career, he was covered by the NY Times, Boston Globe, and Rolling Stone Magazine. He is the author of Dancing on the River:Navigating Life’s Changes and Discover the Leader Within.