The practice of well-being: teaching, learning, and growing.

I love the idea that sometimes we have to teach in order to learn.  It becomes more clear all the time that when I share my experiences with someone or teach them something new; I learn the most and ultimately…grow the most.  I used to think that we had to be some sort of expert before we could teach something.  Through my growth I have realized that there is no hard and fast rule that we must master a practice of life before we share it with others.  Especially when it comes to the idea of well-being.  After all, the ideas and concepts of hope, gratitude, joy, love, and happiness are all a practice.  As long as we acknowledge there is no absolute method that fits everyone the same, we will teach and learn through all of our interactions each day.  Through practice we learn how to be present and treasure moments that lift us and fill our hearts and then figure out how to let go of the ones that may not be as kind or inspiring.

There is something magical about teaching and sharing ideas that you are passionate about and believe so deeply within your heart. It’s not about getting people to identify or become aware of things the exact same as you, the magic is that they consider what they agree with and what makes sense for who they are.  It’s like a light within them that shouts “Wait a minute, I know myself and I believe this or I believe that.”  It is a glimpse of their inner wisdom and exploration of exactly who they are and have always been. It’s about creating a reference point to consider and navigate your own outlook, perceptions, and intuition.

The other magical thing is what happens for my own self during this process. I am reminded of my the things I value most and my priorities when I speak about concepts like happiness, satisfaction, love, and hope.  It is an amazing moment of rejuvenation that fills my spirit and calls me to pause and simply take it all in as I hear my own reminders of what truly matters.  It is also beautifully human and empowering to admit to a group that I am growing in awareness in things like ‘letting go’, ‘self-compassion’, and ‘growing in hope’ without claiming to be an expert or some perfect model of total calm each day.

The reality is that we all practicing at the level that we are conscious.  To increase our consciousness, we grow in awareness.  And to grow in awareness we sometimes have to be vulnerable and simply acknowledge that we are perfectly imperfect.

This is my intention:  keep growing in awareness through love, understanding, compassion, and kindness.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that those four things spell out LUCK.  After all, luck is defined as “a force that brings good fortune”.  And what’s more powerful than Love, Understanding, Compassion, and Kindness? Whether you believe in LUCK or not; I am incredibly grateful to be able to experience so many opportunities to teach, learn, and grow every single day.

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Letting go

Letting Go

The hardest thing I may never truly master in my life is the art of letting go.  I have this idea that letting go is simple yet when the moment comes, I can be at a total loss. If I wrote out all of the things in my life I have chosen to let go of it would be an incredibly brief list.

I have to laugh at myself because it is kind of ridiculous.  Letting go of things that do not serve purpose in my life should be easy so why is it so damn hard?  I hang on to things that are not helpful, not inspiring, not even rationale at times.  I wonder how long I can hold on to these familiar emotions and continue to let them saturate my heart with sadness and frustration.  I witness other people’s struggles and can easily identify the things they could let go…and often think “why do they continue to have the same struggle within themselves, can’t they see it gets them nowhere?”  Yet, I often fail to remember or maybe even comprehend the same magnitude of power for my own struggles.

I know that I only need to let go of things that have no value for me.  When I’m sitting in the car stuck in traffic, I can let go of my frustration or I can sit there and hold it in and express it through various explicit salutations and exasperation.  When a family member demonstrates their inability to consider an alternative viewpoint I can choose to let go of my expectation that they will gain a new perspective or stay stuck in that place of irritation and disgust that their values conflict with my own.  Yes, I can choose to let go of these things yet I often choose to stay in that space of anxiety or pain.

The problem with letting go is that if I let something go there is this fear of “what will fill that space?”  I am only now realizing that when I let things go that have no importance in my life, it is quickly filled with something much more powerful and amazing.  It is replaced with hope.  Because then I am hopeful that the space that was holding on to all of that useless emotion and energy will be replaced with inspiration and love and even acceptance.  And let’s face it, those things simply feel better than anger, frustration, worry, and stress.   Through letting go, I can release this need to control things/events and how people respond to me.  Don’t get me wrong, I like control.  Control makes me feel safe.  Control makes me feel powerful.  The problem with all that control is that it takes up way too much time trying organize things, maintain order, and such.  In turn, when I am holding on to things I am unable to be in the present moment for what it is.  When I let go I am actually being more thoughtful and present in my life than any other time I choose to ‘stay stuck’ in all that negative space. I am able to see the beauty in something or open my heart to an experience that would have otherwise been shut down.

I value being present in my life, I value experiencing hope and love, and I value seeing the good in people.  Next time I find myself wrapped up in an inner struggle that I could choose to let go, I will simply remind myself of what it is I value and let anything that doesn’t match up with those values simply go.  The best thing that I can remember, and anyone for that matter, is that letting go is a practice.  And sometimes our practice will be awesome and sometimes our practice will have lots of room for improvement.  I do believe that as long as we are willing to engage in a practice, we will grow no matter how difficult it may feel or awkward it may be.  As long as I’m growing, regardless of the pace, all will be okay.  In retrospect, maybe this isn’t something that I need to master after all; I simply need to practice and keep practicing until the art of letting go no longer feels like a struggle and instead feels like an amazing opportunity for peace within myself.

This thing we call stress

stress

stress (Photo credit: bottled_void)

What is the stress in your life?  The actual definition of stress is an emotional strain on the body.  However, I think we tend to use the word like it’s a living thing instead of simply a reaction of our own thinking.  The reality is that we can’t bottle stress up and give it away, we can’t take it from someone or leave it on the kitchen table.  Stress is the result of what we feel after experiencing stressful thoughts.  In those terms, if we limit or reduce the stressful thinking; we reduce the experience of stress.  Simple, right?  Ha!  Even as I write that statement I realize how difficult it is to let that sit.  Stress is real.  I feel it, I experience it.

The problem is that I don’t often take the time to think through to the source of stress. It’s easier to say, “yeah, work is stressing me out’ than it is to actually process what is happening and what I could reasonably do about it.  Oh wait, that’s part of the problem.  Because when I feel stressed out, I start thinking about the fact that I may not be able to do anything about it.  And of course, the other twisted part of this whole stress reaction is its kissing cousin, worry.  Worry is also a source of thoughts that typically involve anxiety or concern about a real or imagined situation. I mean, has there ever been a time in your life when worrying about something helped the situation?  Or made you feel better?

Hmm, I’m sensing some themes here. So if we think stressful thoughts and worry about things that may or may not happen we essentially cause our own emotional and mental strain on our bodies. Now, I’m not going all crazy and suggesting that we never experience stress or worry.  But maybe if we realize that when the stressful thoughts occur or the worry happens, we simply acknowledge it and spin it into a less stressful thought that includes a solution, support, or strength.  For instance instead of thinking “all this work is stressing me out” could be “how can I take better care of myself and organize my work to make it feel more manageable?”  Granted, it may be tough to find a positive spin or proactive approach for each situation, but it’s a lot easier to think about actions I can take to change a situation or simply cope rather than get caught up in the relentless space of fear, worry, and stress.  Yes, if I have to choose, I will always choose a space of hope versus stress or worry.  Now I just have to practice making that conscious choice instead of falling into the habit of an automatic way of thinking.  🙂