Today I am joining host Sarah Hawkins of True North Business Management on the Mindful Habits Blog Tour. 13 women, 14 days, 14 ways to bring more mindfulness to the way you do business – and life!
Many moons ago, while working in advertising, I began a journey of self discovery and growth. I’d hit that burnt out stage in my career, doing creative work I actually loved, but not loving the hours, or the commute, or the lack of integrity I felt about marketing products that I didn’t have a personal investment in. I loved the excitement of the work but I didn’t love who I’d become.
And, my home life felt a bit empty. I’d just made this big leap, and gotten divorced, and it was as if I was giving myself this colossal time out. Time out for me, to think, to be, to figure out what was inside. To figure out where my “muchyness” had gone (a quote from Lewis Carol, from Alice). And here’s where I eventually landed … I’d lost my connection to myself.
Choosing Love and Joy Becomes a Mindful Habit
The return to ME was a tender one. It started simply enough, with this one belief that started coming on stronger and stronger: In life, there are really two choices: to follow and make decisions from a place of love, or to follow and make decisions from a place of fear.
This is where I mindfully decided to make a habit of pausing before I was about to make a decision. Instead of answering or acting right away, I’d ask myself “Is this answer coming from a place of love? Or am I doing this from a place of fear?” If love was the answer, then I would do it. If fear came up, then I would say no. And let me be clear on what I mean by fear in this scenario; if the fear of being disliked, ignored, laughed at, unfriended, thought poorly of came up, those are the fears I’d say no to. If the fear of failing, making a fool of myself – say no to those, too. “Fear as a motivator” had a flip side, too, if I feared what would happen if I didn’t do something, then that wasn’t a reason TO do it. If I was thinking from a scarcity mindset, then that tied back to fear, too. All said, I started to train myself to truly be in touch if I wanted to do each thing before I did it.
And after I did this repeatedly, for a month, and then 6 months, and then a year, several things started to emerge.
1. It immediately shed the shoulds. I had a clear reason to make decisions. They were based in intention and always tied back to me. I was no longer living for someone else’s tastes or desires. This was big for me, coming out of a relationship where I really felt I’d lost myself. I’d somehow become the shell of someone who looked like a “proper wife” should. Now, if I asked myself each time – is this coming from a place of love? it would gave me a very clear answer.
2. I saw love building on more love
One of the amazing things about putting the lens of “love vs fear” is that when you start saying yes to love, it starts leading you down a path. Once choice (taking acting classes) would lead to another choice (taking improv classes) led to another (performing in front of an audience). Each step had to be the right one for me to resonate and move to the next. Love built on love, and it started leading to joy.
3. I found my own voice
If you’ve been in a place where you cow-tow to other people’s wishes, or are a people pleaser for long enough, you start to lose site of your own likes and desires. When “shoulds” take over, you lose your voice, and after a while, you might not even truly be in touch with what you want or need or yearn for. By asking yourself if each decision is being made from a place of love, I quickly learned what I wanted, and what made me happy. It was not always easy to stand up for myself in the beginning, but in time it became much easier.
4. I returned to the things I really loved
The pattern that emerged for me was, in many cases, a return to what I loved as a younger person. Acting, hanging out with friends, reading, playing video games, travelling, all of this came back into my life once I started approaching things from a place of love.
5. It made me face my own fears and be honest about what was holding me back
Once the practice of weighing love vs fear became part of my habits, there was no way for me to ignore the things I was fearing or avoiding. Decision by decision, I was asking myself if I was fearing the outcome of any number of decisions. If the answer was yes (that I did fear the thing in question), I naturally gravitated to this place of being curious; WHY did this thing bring up fear? was a stereotype of some sort involved? why did I care what other people thought of me? do other people’s thoughts on my actions matter? do other people’s expectations of me have a role in my day to day living? why was I going along with what other people asked me to do if I didn’t feel good about it?
The list was long. The fears that got dredged up were enormous. I had to get real about my beliefs and my life, and sit with long held beliefs.
6. It led me home
Ultimately, I (re)discovered who I am because of this lens. I still use it daily, with any big decision. I use it now, subconsciously, all the time. Choosing love each time brought me back to being happy. When I reclaimed control of my decisions and knew why I was making them, it truly led me to see and understand what Henri Nouwen meant when he said that “Joy is a choice.” Every moment we are in choice. To read these words, to sit where you are sitting, to speak to the next person you speak to. Each moment, you get to make a decision. When we choose love, it leads to more happiness and more joy.
How to do this in your life:
1. Commit to getting curious about what your motivations are
2. Meditate on the root of choice – and look at the possibility of all choices coming from a place of love or fear
3. Leave yourself time to do the work, and with every decision to make, check in with yourself to see if it’s coming from a place of love or fear
4. Be kind with yourself if you don’t always accomplish what you set out to do
5. Start making changes on past decisions if you need to, to bring all things into alignment with your love based decisions
If this works seems interesting to you, I invite you to follow your heart and the five steps above. Two other ways? I have a free e-course on Finding Balance (sign up below) where you’ll walk through how to let go of “shoulds,” or, I have complimentary coaching consultation sessions that you can sign up for by clicking here.
Learn more about Tour, and meet the 12 other Mindful Habits Tour Guides here.
In case you missed it, you can check out yesterday’s post by Tanja Gardner, Copywriter and Book Editor, in which she outlines how to say “bye bye” to writer’s block, using a personalised multi-sensory writing ritual that will help to shift you into a writing mindstate.
And you can come by tomorrow when the post from Rachele Pojednic, Phd, Professor, and Lifestyle Medicine Practitioner, goes live. She’ll cut through the confusion around what to eat by exploring the science behind truly healthful dietary habits.
How have you chosen joy and love in your life and where has it led you?