Written by Billy Potocnik in 2020
Life can often seem like a rat-race. Our hopes for a “new normal” as we seem to come out of our more quarantined lives, may or may not come to fruition soon. And, while it’s important to be informed about what’s really going on in the world and to take action and stand up for what’s right on a grander societal level, it is all too easy to get caught up in news cycles, social media feeds, and the “do do do” of our daily lives. Getting caught up like this for long enough and consistently enough, can sometimes have us asking questions at the end of the day like . . . “Is this all there is?” “Is this what life is all about?” Limiting self-talk often masquerades as “rational thinking” in hopes to validate our existence.
Before we know it, we have mastered the skill of crushing our inspiration, creativity, and any hopes of manifesting our dreams, rather than cultivating inspiration, creativity, and manifesting our dreams on a daily basis! Our lives become a result of what we spend our time on feeling and thinking and the quality of the questions that we ask ourselves along the way. What option are you going to choose? The first one or the second one? I know, that sounds like a stupid question. But, think about how many times we let ourselves marinate in self-limiting beliefs and negative thinking . . . worst-case scenarios, and what we don’t want to happen to us, our lives, or to the people that we love. This anxious existence can be miserable and crippling!
The challenge and the beauty of all of this, is that it’s up to us to BE AWARE. It’s up to us to make the shifts and create habits that we can practice each day to really ignite our life and create more inspiration, purpose, and meaning. Here are, I feel, some essentials that can lift the spirits, raise the vibe, and create clarity, purpose, passion, meaning, and gratitude in your life.
We hear about meditation so much. It’s like the constant reminder every time we read any personal growth book or article . . . Meditate. In case you are still needing more motivation to plop your procrastinating butt down and be still, healthline.com lists the benefits of meditating as . . . Reducing stress, controlling anxiety, promoting emotional health, enhancing self-awareness, lengthened attention span, potentially reducing age-related memory loss, generating more kindness, and potentially helping fight addictions. That’s a lot of positive stuff! And more and more research seems to be coming out all of the time to further validate this. Whether it’s mindfulness meditation, spiritual meditation, focused meditation, mantra meditation, or transcendental meditation, sit down and do it. Your mind may be busy and relaxing our minds can be like herding cats for all of us sometimes. But, get over it, our minds like to wander, create distractions, and obsess over thoughts. I remember the first meditation I ever learned back in college. I was directed to just sit and listen to every sound that I could hear - every sound - near and far away. In the middle of my stillness, I heard the subtle beauty of the world come alive around me. So much that would normally be taken for granted and go unnoticed - a car door slamming in the distance, birds chirping, a dog barking on the next block, a gentle breeze moving through the trees, a car driving by, people talking, a siren, my own breath moving in and out of my nose . . . Life. As the world bustled and moved around me, my mind slowed down and I found myself - almost surreally - in the moment. Whatever gets you to sit with your breath, observe your thoughts, stop squirming, and be present in the moment, is well worth the five, ten, or more minutes of your life each day.
Move. Groove. Dance. Run. Walk. Jump. Stretch. Shake. Bike. Hike. Play. Get your body going and get that energy moving. Movement can help us create more energy and momentum in our lives as well as burn through the stagnant energy that really holds us back. If, for instance, you feel like you’re in a funk or a little depressed, you have to get your body moving. Sitting and thinking some more isn’t going to pull you out of this low-vibrational state, as our thoughts are what got us into this low-vibrational state to begin with! We have to get moving! Lace up the running shoes and take off. Roll out the yoga mat. Put in the music and start dancing around the house with no inhibitions! We learn so much through our bodies. And when we use our bodies, and breathe a little heavier and deeper, sweat a little more, and get that blood flowing and the muscles flexing, not only are we doing something good for our physical bodies, but our perspective positively changes as well. As Tony Robbins says, “Change your physiology, change your psychology.” Our thoughts have power. And, the healthier our movement habits are, the healthier our thinking habits will be too. Moreover, who doesn’t want the aesthetically pleasing rewards of a perky butt that comes from wind-sprints or kundalini squats anyway?!
Take some time to map out the rest of your life. As I mentioned before, in the busyness of our daily life, it’s easy to lose sight of what we want in our lives. Who do you want to be? What do you want to do? What do you want to have? Where do you want to live? How do you want to feel? Take the time each morning to get clear on the rest of your life and what you want it to look and feel like. This is at once a visualization, creation, and manifestation process. Be aware of the the negative thoughts that masquerade as “realism” and “practicality”. This sort of negative thinking and self-limiting beliefs will ‘poo poo’ your dreams of the future. It’s amazing how many adults I talk to who act as if their best years are behind them, that the ‘glory days’ are over, and that they are a ‘done deal’, and that they have no inspiration or dream as to how they want the rest of their lives to go. Now, they don’t necessarily come out and say it in those exact words, but it is inferred through their energy, the way they talk, and the way they carry themselves. Don’t let that happen to you! And, if you know someone stuck in this place, then shake them out of it! Their dreams are just a new habit, a new thought, a new feeling away! So, hold defiantly to the DREAM for your LIFE . . . What does it feel like? What does it look like? Get clear on it and take some time to picture it, feel it, and write about it. Sit with your emotions and thoughts around your dreams coming true. Embody that feeling and bring that with you into the rest of the day and keep your attitude and vibrations in line with what you want to attract into your life in all of your interactions, how you look at the world, how you look at others, and how you see yourself in the world.
This naturally leads us into the Creation piece. As humans we are meant to create. We are all natural creators. We are all artists giving birth to new ideas, ways of being, seeing, expressing, communicating, and connecting. There is no more important WORK OF ART than the art of our lives and how we live it. Make sure that you are doing something each day that moves you closer to your dreams. These can be real, tangible actions like creating a business plan for your business or non-profit, reading relationship books and taking courses to improve your relationships, starting a separate bank account to put money aside for ‘that big move’. For instance, if you have dreams of living by the Seine, then start studying French every day, and looking online at flats and neighborhoods in Paris letting The Universe know of your intentions for a Parisian life! Big, small, and everything in between . . . Take the time each day to create the rest of your life. When we are thinking, feeling, and creating who we want to be and what we want the rest of our life to look and feel like, we are operating in congruence with our deepest desires and the The Universe wants to grant our deepest desires. When we are living from this place we are moving through the world as our truest, highest, and most inspired self.
I am lucky that I have a career that brings purpose and meaning to my life and serves others. Much of my work doesn’t feel like work. I meet amazing people, and I get to use whatever skills, talents, and gifts I have to help and inspire people. Making a living in this very non-traditional way has not been easy and I have learned so many things about myself and our society, often validating, empowering, and self-affirming, and sometimes - unfortunately and inconveniently - not very pretty at all. As I gain more awareness in my own life, I am always uncovering new blindspots and inadequacies along the way. One of the things that I like to do every day is do something of service. This doesn’t mean that you have to go to the homeless shelter one day, volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club the next, and adopt a dog the next day - though it could - and if so, that’s fantastic! But, rather thinking of others and doing something for them that comes from a place of love and devotion. Examples could be buying someone breakfast, bringing someone a cup of coffee, planting flowers for someone, fixing someone’s broken sink, surprising your child with a little toy or comic book, bringing flowers to your wife, writing an email, letter, or calling someone on the phone and letting them know how much you love them, appreciate them, and enjoy simply hearing the sound of their voice. In today’s current cultural climate, standing up for a cause and standing up for all people and what’s right is a service that we give to others as well as ourselves, and reminds us of the importance of being courageous and standing up for what’s right and just and creates a better future for everyone. All of these things are acts of service that bring purpose and meaning to our lives on micro and also macro levels. These habits make a difference in our every day lives. Service in its’ truest form is fueled with compassion, empathy, vulnerability, bravery, honor, and love. These are all essential qualities in being fully human.
6) LIVING IN GRATITUDE
Lastly, and perhaps - most importantly - in all that we do and however we live and move through our days, we try to do it with a sense of gratitude. On the spiritual path, gratitude is a sort of ‘ground zero’. In easy times and difficult ones, It is always the place that we build from and disintegrate into. Ultimately, we practice gratefulness when we wake up in the morning and are fortunate enough to see a new day - to experience the laughter of our children and their sweet voices, the smell of our partner’s skin, the birds chirping, the fresh smell of rain, the sun shining on our face, and the earthy aroma of fresh coffee. A new day is a gift to us. Even if we are going through the most challenging time of our life, we awaken - literally and figuratively - with the simple idea that, “I am alive. Thank you for this new day. Thank you for giving me the ability to feel what I am feeling and learn what I need to learn.” We can take time in the morning, maybe when we roll out of bed and put our feet on the floor - we can bring our arms up over our heads in that victorious way and feel grateful as we say, “Thank you for this life!”. We can take some time in the morning to reflect on our lives and give thanks for all of the love in our lives, and - even - the challenges that we may be going through. This can be very difficult - especially when we may find ourselves feeling alone in a deep and dark place, but when we find gratitude for the challenges in our lives - for the things that may trigger or hurt us, we are putting ourselves in a position to be served by these things, learn from these things, and ultimately make sense out of these things in ways that move us beyond pain and suffering. Part of practicing gratitude isn’t just ‘counting our blessings’ as important as that is, but taking that gratitude into our day and all of our interactions. Every communication, interaction, and experience we have (even the sucky ones) throughout our day are opportunities to tap into gratitude. Gratitude brings us into a place of humility. Humility and gratitude allow us to be interested in others, present, and appreciative of the moment. This consistent and mindful practice of saying “Thank You” to life elevates our vibration to a place where we experience joy and a sense of “okayness” in the actual process of living our lives in that moment. Importantly, it allows us to ‘see through new eyes’ and appreciate our most intimate relationships and not take them for granted. All the ambitious goals, big dreams, and inspiring visions of the future will turn out to be empty burdens if we can’t live gratefully and joyfully each day. Living in this place of gratitude and presence allows us to see the magic and poetry in our lives . . . meaning and beauty can be seen and felt in moments that we would easily miss if we weren’t aware, present, and paying attention. Gratitude is POWER. The power to live from an authentic place where all of life can be appreciated and investigated with new life-affirming truths and soulful discoveries.
This is our life’s work. Always in process. Always growing and evolving. Always uncovering something new along the way. Curiosities peeked as we peer into the future, make sense of our past, and live in moment. Make no mistake, most of the obstacles we encounter - almost all, in fact - will be of our own doing. We will bump into ourself and be tempted to blame someone else or the world along the way. And, to that, we say, ‘thank you’ and add that lesson to the fuel to launch our dreams and the guts to live in the moment. We remember to look in the mirror, gratefully own our crap, and move on. We move on - changed from what we’ve learned, but undaunted - defiant for the light that is our life and our dreams. When we live each day congruent with our dreams for the future, while living in the moment, we are living in a place of inspiration, meaning, and purpose. In this place, everything is possible. So, wake up, get going, and step into the rest of your life!
“Life is one big road with lots of signs. So, when you’re riding through the rocks, don’t you complicate your mind. Flee from hate, mischief, and jealousy. Don’t bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality - yeah! All together now . . . Wake up and live now . . . “
- Bob Marley, “Wake Up and Live”