originally published on HerAfter.com
A friend came to me with her woes rolled up into her sleeve, hidden in the folds at the elbow and out of her way so her hands could work. She showed discomfort fueled by discontent more than indignation. It’s that “is there something more?” look. She had that feeling we all have from time to time, as if trapped, when the soul longs to stretch outward, to flex and to fly. Nothing is really wrong, everything looks as if taken care of and orderly in our lives: the laundry is done every week, the bills are being paid. Adulthood doesn’t always make enough room for self expression, but when imagination and curiosity become untapped resources, we certainly feel it…
The mind and heart do not want us live that way, in a life without intellectual stimulation and creative experimentation. That’s why we feel uncomfortable and trapped; the heart and mind are getting tired of their cages, and they are rattling the bars inside. Even with safety and stability and respectability in our lives, if the soul cannot be expressed, life will feel a bit lacking. The longer we work silently removed from our own imaginations and creative forces, the harder it becomes to break the spell, until finally we find ourselves as my friend did, and as I have many times:
In need of a change, in lack of the wisdom what.
Don’t Hope for Revolution; Work for Progress
Do you know that feeling? When you have a deep and burning question of whether you life and your mind could be better used? I hope you have, because it means that you’re ready to become an even better and more individual version of yourself, you just don’t know how.
Practicing yoga, riding a bike, playing basketball and expressing your true self all have something in common: they require that first a skill-set is learned, and then practiced again and again. Utilizing the part of your brain that allows you to express yourself artistically is much the same as playing a sport or keeping up a workout routine. When you don’t keep up the habit, it can be hard to get into the flow. The muscles will yearn for the movement when you’re too stagnant, much like your soul will have that feeling of discontent. Twyla Tharp’s incredible book “The Creative Habit” speaks at length on creating a habit for creativity, and fostering a life that fuels and feeds the mind.
Big change in our lives doesn’t always come in sudden storms that transform landscapes. Instead, it often comes as the summation of many small steps, little changes that can make big impacts. Another book on this, One More One Less by Robbie Vorhaus, will help you see how to take one negative aspect out of your life and replace it with one positive so as to incrementally build a happier existence.
You Already Have Everything You Need
I’ve harped on this time and time again, because I – just like my readers, maybe including you – keep going to google in search of the one right answer to any problem. Some answers, like that which makes life fulfilling or what our purpose might be, don’t appear in bold text after a single search. They happen not after buying the right mascara or when you get that promotion or on the day your first child is born. Fulfillment is a journey, one that infinitely unfolds as a great gift from life itself. You don’t want to just find your best life, you want to live it, be active in it, explore it, enjoy it. Those are active states, not stagnant answers. It all happens as a result of not only taking steps forward, but continuing to take steps forward. Not finding a single answer, but continuing to explore and enjoy answers. So you must be active in your own life.
For my friend, that means looking around and seeing what change or what new habit of what little tweak she can make in her life right now to make her life more conducive to being creatively expressed. She doesn’t know how that journey will end, and she doesn’t need to. All she needs to know is that she has everything she needs to take the next step.
I suggest to her going to the library to get books on creativity. I suggest giving up nightly TV shows in favor of writing, drawing, studying. I suggest continuing to talk to me so that we can light each other’s creative fires each day. Neither of us know what the future will hold. But both of us know we have everything we need right now to take the next step toward where we want to be.
Seeing is Believing (and Believing is Seeing!)
I believe so deeply in this principle, that it’s a mantra I use daily. Sharing the practice of this daily affirmation has even inspired many of my readers. I believe that our minds are powerful, and like Tony Robbins said this week on Super Soul Sunday, I also believe we are more than our minds. When we allow our minds to control us, we can easily find ourselves locked in a lifestyle cycle of unhappiness, lack of artistic expression, and routines that don’t feed us spiritually or emotionally, but have the shiny mask of being ‘responsible’, ‘stable’, and ‘appropriate’.
You know what’s much more exciting than that? Being bigger than your mind. So much bigger, in fact, that you control it. You control it by replacing negative thoughts and habits with positive ones. You use the habitual practice – just like doing yoga or playing basketball – of positive affirmations to stay hungry and humble and in line with your ultimate goal of being emotionally fulfilled a priority. And you use your mind like the tool it is.
You take responsibility for your mind like you would a pet: train it, keep it healthy and fed and play outside with it once in a while, and don’t let it run your entire life.