WHY IT’S SO EASY TO GET STUCK

You know when things are fine? Not in the passive-aggressive way when we say things are fine, and they’re clearly not. I mean when things are actually (mostly, almost) good. Like, can’t-complain, everything’s-good-on-paper, everyone’s-employed-and-has-their-health-so-why-are-we-pushing-it fine. Maybe some things could be better, but nothing egregious is wrong. You mostly like your life. Maybe nothing’s amazing, but also nothing’s terrible. You’re not really too excited about anything, but you don’t outright hate anything. You want some things to be different, but you know other people’s lives are much harder, so you feel like you should just accept the shortcomings and be grateful for what you have.

I call this the Chokehold of Mediocrity: the place where things are just good enough that you’re nervous to change them, but not so good because you feel antsy in your own life. The place where things are good enough that you can’t complain, but you still feel like complaining. The place where things could be better, but they could also be worse, so do you really want to risk it?

The thing about mediocrity that no one talks about is that it’s hard work to maintain a life you feel only so-so about. It’s hard for several reasons.

One, it takes energy to wake up every day and work. It takes energy to interact with people all day long, to travel from place to place, to be a parent, to feed yourself and/or other people, to stay positive, and to try to work in a little self-care so you can continue to do all these things. All of this requires a good deal of energy. However, it takes almost the exact same amount of energy to convince yourself you’re okay with all the things you encounter on a daily basis as it does to actually do them.

What? That can’t be right.

And maybe it’s not (even if there were actual math to do here, I would probably get it wrong #whyiwrite). But it’s hard work to pretend you’re grateful to have a job just because it’s a job and so many people don’t have jobs. It’s hard work to spend hours a day on things you used to find interesting, but now bore you.  It’s hard work to do all this and then get in a gym session, or read a few pages of your book, or watch some Netflix because you need to shut off your brain. After all, that brain has been working hard all day, talking you into your life.

It’s hard work to pretend like you care. And that’s something that the DGAF life has given us. It’s not that people actually don’t care, it’s that they care so much more about doing things they want to, rather than what they should do. It’s why self-care is so necessary. We spend so much time separated from ourselves that we need the time to re-connect and put ourselves back together.

If most of your energy is focused on just on maintaining the status quo, and you’re not even that excited about the status quo, that’s a lot. If you want things to change on top of that, that’s even more energy you’ll need to come up with.

It’s okay to be grateful for what you have and still want things to be different. It’s okay to have a perfectly fine job, and still want another job. Sure it’s scary to think about putting yourself in a new environment. What if you do all this work to change and you still don’t like the work? What if you meet all these new people and you still don’t like them? What if you have to make less money? These are all questions you will definitely have to answer.

So, you could do three things:

1. Do Nothing: Stay at the job until you hate it. Stay at the job until you become so bored and annoyed, you get a clearer picture about leaving. Or, stay at the job and continue to feel blasé about it. You don’t have to think. You just roll up to work and get a paycheck. It’s not that hard, and you’re mostly fine with it. Continue to do this because you don’t want or need that kind of stress in your life. Totally fine.

1a. Do Nothing and Hope You Start Liking Your Job More: Stay at your job until you love it. This could happen. It might be a long shot, but it happens. Maybe you’ll get promoted. Maybe you’ll make more money. That’s always great. Stay and see how if these things happen for you.

2. Do Everything: Quit your job. Find a new job. Start a business. Be as radical as possible. Burn it all down.

3. Do Something: Start looking. Ask your friend whose job you’ve always been curious about what their day-to-day is like. Ask them what they wish they had known before they started their job. Ask them how they got their job.

Real talk for a minute: the answer is usually somewhere in number three. Whether it’s creating a new situation for yourself entirely, or shifting your perspective while everything remains the same, doing something other than exactly what you’re doing always seems to shift something.

IT’S OKAY TO BE GRATEFUL FOR WHAT YOU HAVE AND STILL WANT THINGS TO BE DIFFERENT.

For you, it might look like leaving your job exactly at 5pm because it should only get so much of your time and energy. It might mean looking for, or applying to, one job per week to start generating some momentum without totally overwhelming yourself. Maybe start a side hustle with a friend. Create a standing dinner date with your best friend. Enlist some help in moving yourself out of this situation. Remove one thing that depletes you and replace it with something that energizes you. 

The thing to remember is that you are the Decider. It doesn’t even matter what you decide, just make sure you are doing it because you make the decisions, and you made this one. You are the one who decided that this was how your life would be, your life didn’t decided for you by default. If something doesn’t turn out the way you wanted it to, it doesn’t mean you chose wrong. It means you have more information to use for your next decision. Just decide on something. Make the next best decision you can. And trust you can handle whatever comes up.

Originally published here: http://www.ourbodybook.com/why-its-so-easy-to-get-stuck/

CAN CHANGING ONE THING REALLY CHANGE EVERYTHING?

It’s the beginning of March. We are squarely in 2017. The gloss and sheen of the new year and all its shiny resolutions are getting hazy and it becomes easier to say, “Well…there’s always next year.” Things that you might want to change, questions you might want to answer are starting to feel larger and farther away. You might even be asking: ugh, why bother?

Because the way to change yourself is to change one thing. There is a Buddhist saying that goes, “The way you do one thing is the way you do everything.” I always hated it.What does that even mean? It couldn’t be right, could it? How could the way I washed the dishes be the way I drove my car?

We spend a lot of time in January tackling big questions: what kind of person do I want to become? How am I going to make my life better? A new year is your chance to figure it out and make it all right! Which is great. It’s always good to put some big picture things in place so we have framework for tackling the little things. But big picture stuff can be abstract and intimidating. Of course, we want to be healthier, wealthier, and wiser. But the key question  is “how?”

So let’s play along with the Buddhists for a minute. If the way you do one thing really is the way you do everything, then all you have to do is change one tiny thing. Because, by proxy, you’re changing everything. Which seems infinitely more manageable. Making your bed in the morning seems a lot easier promise to keep then hitting the gym 5 days a week and losing 15 lbs. But, if A = C, then maybe, in some crazy way, making my bed every day will help me lose 20 lbs. (Or not. My math skills are really limited. This might not be how that equation works.)

What if we were to start in the place that seems like it would make the least amount of difference? Say, something you would like to change eventually, but is mostly fine for now. A little thing, a tiny annoyance that seems harmless, but might actually be taking up a lot more (possibly physical, maybe emotional) space than you think. Maybe it feels like that black sweater you keep reaching for. The fit is a little off, it’s slightly pilled, but you continue to wear it. You know you need to get a new one, but you’re not totally sure about spending the money. Plus, it’s a basic black sweater that mostly does the trick. So what if you don’t, like, love it?

***

“THE WAY YOU DO ONE THING IS THE WAY YOU DO EVERYTHING.”

***

I call these tolerations. What are tolerations? They are the things that take up the space of things you want. Big or small, if we only have so much time and energy, and all of yours is spoken for with circumstances you are tolerating, there’s no space for anything else to get in. Yes, we all have 24 hours in a day, but if you need 2 hours after you get home to undo the effects of what you’ve been tolerating all day, you’re already starting at a disadvantage. And maybe you don’t know what you would replace your tolerations with yet, but you really won’t if your whole schedule is packed with them.

So, these things that seem mostly harmless and inconsequential are actually anything but. If we think about our lives, our resources of time and energy are finite. What is the annoying thing that is consuming your precious time and energy? Does it really deserve it? Can you get rid of it? Maybe there’s a way to change it or make it better? Really take a look at your time. How much of it is being taken up by minuscule tasks you’re trying to barrel your way through, or just can’t wait to be finished with?

Sure, it would be great if we all meditated for an hour a day, or ate only organic foods, but if that’s not where you are, that’s not where you are. Start by removing one annoying task so an organic carrot can get through. Don’t tell someone you’ll feed their fish when they’re on vacation. That could be your meditation time. Don’t have dinner with those people you kind of like, and have been trying to schedule something with forever. That meal could be your new black sweater. If how we do one thing is how we do everything, that’s all you’ll need to do anyway.

Originally published here: http://www.ourbodybook.com/can-changing-one-thing-really-change-everything/

GUT CHECK | A GUIDE TO FOLLOWING YOUR INSTINCTS

If you’re someone who’s obsessed with self-help books or reading interviews with influential people (my hand is raised too), you’ve probably heard a lot of them say how at some point you have to learn how to follow your instincts. Whether it’s figuring out what you want, or what to do next, most of them mention the importance of learning to go with your gut.

However, they also usually make it seem very simple. Which might be true, but if you’ve never really done it before, or aren’t used to it, it might not feel simple at all. Of course, following our instincts seems like a great plan, but how do we do that exactly?

MANAGING EXPECTATIONS

I had a friend with very strong instincts, but because they sometimes led to a different outcome than the one she was expecting, she thought her instincts must have been wrong and couldn’t be trusted.

This is usually where the disconnect happens.

We assume we know where we should end up. We assume outcomes have a right and wrong, and even more, that we know which is which. We have specific ways we want success to look. If there’s an end result we’re really attached to, it’s easy to second guess something that might be indicating differently. So we doubt, and then spend even more time analyzing because we assume our instincts are no longer reliable and therefore shouldn’t be listened to.

In my book, Just Tell Me What I Want, I talk about being let go from a job (actually I talk about being let go from a couple of jobs). For this one job, I was given six weeks of severance, and at the end of the sixth week, I was handed a job I hadn’t even tried to get. What luck! I hadn’t even had to try. Six weeks of paid vacation that led straight into a job I hadn’t even had to work for. Thanks, Universe.

However, there was a catch. I knew it was wrong after a week, but I stayed for ten months. We have opportunities and instincts, but we also have free will. The universe presented me with an opportunity. I took it. I had the instinct to leave, but I had the free will to stay. The terrible job clearly wasn’t the outcome I had hoped for, but I assumed something that was just handed to me couldn’t be wrong. So I ignored my instincts to leave.

Remember, a gut feeling does not necessarily predict an outcome – it just offers insight about what’s in front of you, or your next right step. You might not understand it, or it might not ultimately pan out how you hoped it would, but that doesn’t mean your instincts were wrong. When we think things need to look a certain way – a promotion, a proposal, a certain income -, we close ourselves off to other possibilities that maybe we haven’t thought of, but might be equally good. Sometimes the Universe has other plans. We assume our instincts mean a safe, happy, predictable outcome that we’ve pre-approved. But that’s not always how it works.

SOMETIMES OUR INSTINCTS LOOK DIFFERENT FROM WHAT SOCIETY WANTS

This can be tricky to navigate. There’s a part of us that is conditioned to function within societal norms. This is the part of us that says “please”, and wants to be liked and maybe to be seen as successful in a specific way through the eyes of a few specific people. What happens when our instincts show up in direct conflict with how society wants us to live or act? What do we do then? Does that mean our instincts are wrong? Or does it just mean what we are being pointed towards be a little uncomfortable for us?

Societal norms would like us to keep jobs for more than a year, maybe go to college, maybe get married – this list goes on. But what if your instincts are leading you away from those things? What will you chose? Instincts will be there. And you can learn how to hear them, but everything you do after that is up to you. It’s still your life, so you can do what you want. Your instincts can act as a guide, but ultimately you always get to choose.

WE ARE A CULTURE THAT PLACES A PREMIUM ON RATIONAL THOUGHT AND THINKING

We are told to stay calm and think things through, for fear we’ll do something stupid. We’re taught to analyze thoroughly, make pro/con lists, and then make responsible choices. So, when you hear someone talking about listening to their gut, it might be easy to think, “Sure, that sounds nice for them, but how does it work for me?”

For the purposes of this article, we’ll define intuition as information that comes from a place other than the rational, or thinking, mind. This could mean physical sensations that show up in the body or a strong sense of knowing that maybe you can’t quite explain. These are all just ways for the brain to get other information from somewhere other than the (reptilian part) of it that’s tasked with keeping us alive. This is a part of the brain that’s totally necessary (and I hope stays there forever), but it’s not everything. It doesn’t know that while looking for a new job, or taking a risk might be scary, it won’t actually kill us. After all, the reptilian brain doesn’t care that we are happy, it cares that we are alive. And when you’re applying for a new job or taking a risk, it might be scary (a trigger for that part of the brain) but it won’t actually kill you.

One place to start testing your instincts could be noticing physical sensations in the body. How do you physically react to certain situations? Do they make you feel freer? Or more drained? Looking to the body for data points can sound very irrational to the thinking mind. But, it might be worth a try.

Also, try to avoid looking for explicit and comprehensive answers about your entire life (wouldn’t that be nice?) Starting looking for small, short  answers about things that are directly around or affecting you. They might also be coupled with physical sensations. Notice how you feel directly after. Intuition doesn’t shout, and it shouldn’t have to. We are very lucky to have it, so remember to say please and thank you (I just like to be polite).

Orignially published here: http://www.ourbodybook.com/gut-check-a-guide-to-following-your-instincts/

We Need You: How to Figure Out Your Place in the World

Have you ever found yourself wondering, “Why does everyone have their life figured out except for me?”Trying to have a constructive conversation, a well-meaning person says to you, “Just follow your bliss.”You immediately want to punch that person in the face. If you knew what your bliss was, you would not be having this conversation. And, yet, bliss is now the gold standard in job satisfaction. As if anything less must be your own fault.

You know you can work hard. In fact, you love to work hard. You’re bored and frustrated so the thought of feeling uncomfortable is actually a welcome one if it means getting out of this rut. There simply has to be more. You would love to follow your dreams, if only you knew where they were.

So what if you actually were born with… something. And what if you’re just looking for it in the wrong place? This is for anyone who thinks they missed their chance. It’s not too late to figure this out and, even better, to do something about it.

Here are three ways to help you figure out something you want when “bliss” is not immediately available:

1 // FOLLOW YOUR JEALOUSY

We are often taught that jealousy is a bad thing. A sin, even. But, what if jealousy was just a super easy way to figure out what you want? What if it was a straight line to identifying something you would like to bring into your life? Jealous of your friend’s job? Maybe you want a similar gig. Wish you had your friend’s boyfriend? Maybe it’s time to elevate your standards in relationships.

Instead of wasting time wishing you weren’t jealous or trying to hide it, use it. Treat your jealousy like a roadmap, showing you exactly where you want to go. We should be grateful for everything we have, and we should also want more. We are often taught these things are mutually exclusive. I am here to tell you they are not.

2 // WHAT ARE YOUR SECRETS?

For a long time, I never told people I wanted to write. So I didn’t write. And then when I started, people were like, “you’re a writer?! That’s so weird.” And then I felt weird and judged because they didn’t immediately get and support it. And to be fair, how could they? People who thought they knew me well and were very close to me had never heard this desire. It was vulnerable for me, but it was also a little hurtful for them. They just wanted to be included.

Looking at your secrets (even the little ones) can be scary, but it’s a fertile area for identifying something you might want. First, it usually means it’s something important because you’re spending time and energy protecting it. And, second, when you want something you, eventually, have to declare it and put it out into the world. That can be scary and hard, but you are brave and resilient. Plus once people know, they tend to be supportive. If not, it’s because they’re jealous (see above).

3 // WHAT DO YOU HATE THE LEAST?

You will not find false cheeriness here. You will not find a constant tickertape reminding you to “stay positive!” We all have feelings and emotions and those emotions are here to teach us things. There are no positive and negative emotions; there are no emotions that are more valuable than others. They are all here to teach us something, and they all get a seat at the table. The darkest parts of ourselves have as much to teach us as the light. So, if you find yourself with a complete absence of positive emotion, please do not worry.

What is the one thing in your life you hate the least? Your best friend? Your new mascara? Your Netflix account? Why does this thing make it to the top of your list? What is the physical sensation that shows up in your body when you think about it? Now, remember that physical sensation and name it something, i.e. “Fluttery chest feeling”, “Gold sparkly feeling”. Look for other areas in your life where anything even resembling those physical feelings show up. Bring as many of those activities, people, things into your life as possible. As you start doing this, notice any shifts that start to take place.

And, just remember, the world cannot run on doctors and lawyers alone. We need all types of people with all types of gifts. Please don’t be a marketing associate when you want to be a science teacher. Please don’t be a science teacher when you want to run a health food store. Please don’t run a health food store when you want to make sure everyone has access to affordable health care. You get the drift.

Maybe you’ve been raised to believe your specific gifts aren’t valuable, but remember this: you can spend you’re whole life trying to be a peach, but if you’re an apple, you will miss how beautiful and tasty and needed you are. We need both peaches and apples. You will think something is wrong with you, and there’s nothing wrong with you. We need passionate people to be all in on who they are, so we can not only benefit from their gifts, but also to set an example for others who might still need permission to also be apples. So please, please, please – be an apple.

Originally published here: http://www.ourbodybook.com/we-need-you-how-to-figure-out-your-place-in-the-world/

Heading into 2017...

If you decided that you actually do want to set some intentions for the upcoming year, it's not too late.

For anyone who feels like they've lost a little bit of shine somewhere along the way this year, let’s take a moment and remember that now is as good a time as any to turn it all around. It’s supposed to be fun. Otherwise, what’s the point? Let’s focus on generating fun and love and baller moments. Because you living a shiny life will help other people to live a shiny life, and then we can all have shiny lives.

While you’re here, let’s harness a little of the New Year’s energy to do some evaluating and set some intentions for the next year. No pressure, but I've really grown to love this ritual.

Here are some questions to ponder if you'd like a little help to help get the ball rolling:

What worked for you? What are three things that worked well this year.

What didn’t? What are three things you can let go of in the coming year.

What’s one thing you didn’t get to try, and still want to on 2017?

What’s one thing you’d like more of? Can you put some time, money, attention, or energy into it to give it a chance to grow this year?

This is totally enough to frame your year. You can always write more and/or create specific goals, but this is a great and impactful place to start. It's a way to remember the things that made you feel good and focus on generating more of that, while letting go of the things that no longer serve you.

Also, this shouldn’t be stressful. Just spend enough time on it to jog your memory a little, get some perspective, and maybe inspire something to focus on in 2017. First answers are always best. And remember, there’s no way to do this wrong.

Now, put your answers where you will see them frequently. In your phone, your planner - maybe type them up, make them pretty, and hang them on your wall. Words have power, so let’s make sure these words have a chance to seep into your consciousness on a regular basis.

So, take some time over the next couple of days and get to reflecting, planning, and writing. You don’t have to share what you wrote with anyone you don’t want to, but declaration can change the energy behind your intentions. You can always message them to me if you want to add a little power to them, but aren’t totally ready to go public.

Happy New Year, everyone! Let’s go be shiny ballers.