Walking on the beach in Costa Rica, surfboard in hand, after dropping my four kids at surf camp in a state of pure bliss, I feel so fully alive, giddy like a little kid coming out to play on a Saturday morning. I keep pinching myself, wondering, "Is this for real?" I am living the dream that I once thought was impossible to achieve.
Fifteen years ago I was sharing a small cubicle, working 14 hours/day to save a bank money on pencils. I graduated from an elite business school and was hired to a top job in global management consulting. I was making great money and headed down a path of achievement and prestige. There was just one problem -- I was miserable. I could feel my soul being sucked out of me with every line of data I crunched. As the whispers of my soul became screams of anxiety, feeling trapped and empty, I took the first of many leaps and quit my job to travel around the world. I had no plan and, as a lifelong Type A perfectionist, I was terrified that I would never work again, but I leapt into the unknown and trusted that I'd figure it out on the way down.
I wrote out a life plan that included a house full of kids, extensive traveling experiences, deeply transformational and high-impact work, financial freedom, and deep soul connections with loved ones. I put the plan in a drawer and didn't really think about it. Last week, as we moved our four kids to Costa Rica to set off an open-ended journey of travel and exploration, I realized that all those things on my old list have been created. Our days are filled with yoga, surfing, sunsets, nature, learning, creating, and connecting. It's an even better dream than the one I thought I wanted, though.
Instead of focusing on the external conditions of my life, these have all served to take me to a much deeper level of fulfillment. This is the practice of finding the bliss in every moment, of understanding that everything I ever wanted was already within me. I just needed to do the work to shed the layers that were covering the joy and happiness that is available to each of us, no matter our life circumstances.
I still have no idea what the future holds, making it all up as I go. In building my career as a transformational leadership coach and yoga teacher, I have collected many tools to help in this transition, including a number of powerful mantras that have guided me navigate through the dream called life. Here are six of my favourite mantras for living the dream:
- Follow the butterflies. Do one thing a day that scares you. I suffered with chronic anxiety for my entire childhood and early 20s. One day I had an insight that instead of allowing the nerves and knots in my stomach paralyze me, I could use that energy to propel me forward. Now I interpret the butterflies in my stomach as a signal that I'm excited about something. I've found the edge of my comfort zone and that's where all the growth happens in life. I've become "comfortable being uncomfortable" by regularly leaping into the things that scare me most.
As you navigate along your path, open your eyes to the perfection of where you already are. Hopefully these mantras will help you to be even more alive and awake in the dream called life.