“Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and even travel for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessing” – Elizabeth Gilbert.
Boo Yah! Take that self-doubt and circumstance.
I read this quote a few days ago and it stopped me in my tracks, so much so that I have made it my daily affirmation (I replace ‘you’ for ‘I’ and I add a big ‘MY’ before happiness). Not because it was profound, or anything different than what I have read a hundred times before but because of its firmness. I felt like it slam dunked the responsibility of my life’s achievements (and non-achievements) right in my lap and it has incited a fierceness in my spirit to continue the work I do to create my life; exactly-the-way-I-want- it!
I think it’s the ‘participate relentlessly’ that has got me all excited. The word relentless always stirs something in me. It makes me think of the honey badger (which Bernadette Birney wrote a fantastically funny post about) who is tenacious about his pursuit and relentless about his blessings. This guy gives a shit about his happiness….and you should too.
“Participate relentlessly? Live free of relenting. Don’t give up. Become relentless about your happiness – it’s that important. You participate in your life without giving up. Participate. Play, act, engage – be part of the results. Life doesn’t just happen to me – I make it happen.” This has been the conversation, the constant loop, in my head of late.
Until I hit about 28, I felt like I just manifested the shit out of my life, so much so, I was eating blessings for breakfast every morning!! I grew up with such an irrefutable knowing that I would always achieve what I wanted and that anything and everything amazing would happen to me – and it usually did, at least in my view. Things always worked out for me, despite never taking the popular, conventional route to get anywhere.
Until I decided to take the conventional route. Living without a plan and with a ‘follow my whim’ kind of uncertainty got to be exhausting, so I did what every tired dreamer does; I followed the lights and took the path of ‘follow the crowd’ kind of uncertainty. I just decided to stay put and let the ‘conventional system’ do the work for me. I stayed in one town, I stayed in one job – I even stayed with one boyfriend. It was good; safe and conventional. However, I think this is where it all slowed down for me. It wasn’t that amazing things stopped happening for me, I just stopped being relentless in the manifesting of them.
It took a few heartbreaks, bottles of wine, a therapist, a few life changing courses and most significantly; a yoga practice and a life coach, to shake (and wake up)what my mama (and my grandmother )gave me; a sense of wanderlust, enthusiasm and excitement to follow my dreams.
Truth be told, I was dreaming but I wasn’t clear on what dream I wanted to really follow, for a while – I forgot what my dream was. My wants, and needs, changed every day and they created a smoke screen for my true desires. I really just couldn’t identify what my dream was – that’s where my coach came in.
So, how does one participate in life, outside of the usual mundane acts of necessity i.e. work, errands, tasks, to-do lists, exercise etc. to produce results or, blessings ? Because, true happiness – I believe – doesn’t stem from those acts alone, they just create space and make it easier for it to exist.
I put this question out to my Facebook crew and here are some of the responses……………
“Simple. By doing exactly what I want to do all the time with the people who inspire me the most.” Says Aubrey
Elisa says “Constantly picturing myself exactly as I want and where I want to be… And being willing to create that vision on 3 levels 1. Thinking about it 2. Talking about it to anyone and everyone that will listen and 3. Acting only in ways which support its manifestation. Xoxo”
“By accepting where I am meant to be…” Corti
George says “sum it up in one word: Integrity”
My very silly friend Zamdar yells at “bananas and little flying bugs” because they are the only thing stopping him in his life – I might suffice to say he uses humor (might I add ALL. THE. TIME!)
I took a look at some of my own practices, and attitudes, because I wanted to know how I was keeping my own happiness afloat, and cultivating a lot of the blessings that are happening in my life, and they aren’t at all far off from what my friends mentioned.
So, I thought I’d put together, and share, a list of 10 essential practices that, based on conversations with others and my own experiences, seem to always land me face to face with my blessings.
1/ Perspective – I question it from time to time, because it might not actually be making me happy at all. Does it tend to be cynical or judgmental or make me worry? Does it have a lot of blame and guilt? If I can only see a situation or person in a negative way, I find someone to help me actively see a positive side. Besides my friends, my life coach has made a significant difference in the way that I view myself, my opinions and the actions I take. Changing my perspective always yields different results – and feelings.
2/. Words – what am I saying in the world? Even when it’s sarcastic or meant for entertainment, if we’re not being truthful then what are we actually telling people? I work to be careful with words, to be kind in them. I strive to always say what I mean, and mean what I say, and stand behind it all with action (unless I am giving you a time I am going to show up at your party – I’ll likely have no integrity around that ask Aubrey). Like my friend George said “integrity” – it goes a long way (thanks George, see previous sentence). This is always a work in progress for me but I am clear that the results in my life, and how people treat me, is directly related to what I say.
3/. Internal dialogue – I practice really listening to what I am telling myself. I listen to the excuses I have for why I can’t do something, or don’t have something, or didn’t achieve or why I lost. Or the justifications for why I did something that didn’t feel great. And then I question whether it’s true. I write morning pages on a regular basis and until then, I was unaware of how negative I was speaking to myself and how often. I have changed that around to be much kinder – and create possibility. My coach often reminds me of this in regards to the questions that I ask myself. She says “The quality of your life depends on the quality of questions you ask yourself”. So a question that might have been stated as “Why can’t I do that?” is now replaced with “How CAN I do that?” in a quality of tone that sets me up to answer in only productive ways. Affirmations WORK, by the way.
4/. Gratitude. We’re such a damn spoilt society that we seem only grateful for the bigger things in life, and material or occasional gifts. I try to pay attention to someone who smiles at me. I practice being thankful for the everyday things like having a car to drive, and a bed to sleep in, a shirt on my back, I even try to be grateful for the slow driver in front of me – perhaps he is saving me from an accident ahead! I practice being grateful every day, not just for the obvious things like my friends, but for the everyday moments that are woven into my life unconsciously (I’ve even been grateful for the parking lot across the street that has a parking space for me – I was reaching)
Sandra says “By being grateful every day for everything, for my breath, my kids, my family, my friends, my pets, even for the cloudy days or for the jerky driver somewhere on the roads. It is the most powerful attitude. I use gratitude as if it was a muscle the more that I use it the stronger it gets.” I started a daily ritual where I am grateful for the small things and I know it has made a huge difference in my life. Not only do opportunities just show up for me, I am generally just happier and I truly think it is because of this act alone. Who doesn’t want to give things to people who are grateful for them?
5/. People – I ask myself “who are the people in your life and what are they supporting in you? What are they not supporting in you? How are they reflecting back to you who you are? Do they inspire you, and challenge you and make you feel important all at the same time? Are they doing inspiring things?” I have different people in my life, for different reasons but, as my teacher always says “You are the company you keep, so keep good company”. I am reminded time and time again when I am frustrated or hurt or angry or disappointed by someone in my life, that I am doing – or have done – the same thing to someone else somewhere in my life. But, going back to Aubrey’s comment; doing things with people who inspire her – it means there is always a place to go, not someone to compete with – but a place of possibility.
6/. Dream – Every day, am I dreaming? Am I creating big ones, ones that I can see and feel? I write them down and give them so much detail that I have a fire in my belly. I now create little plans to live my dreams, and I revise those dreams when I need new ones. My cousin Rachel reminded me of our grandmother who always said “Darling, your dreams are free” and she added “therefore, dream BIG, Dream every day! AND always follow your Dreams…cause they’re free, they don’t cost anything!!! Hasn’t done me too badly” and how very right she is. She is one of the most successful dream catchers I know.
7/. Connecting – I want to always connect with people, connect with nature, connect with my achievements and the journey that I am on. I have to remind myself to really share with people. I don’t just mean sharing my words (or my libido), or my opinions, but am I listening too? I ask myself all the time “Are you giving people space to open up and be honest? Are you being honest?” Please, don’t think this is so easy for me – I have often been quoted as saying “I am a slut for my own company” – as I have gotten older, it’s easier and easier for me to just do my own thing and not reach out but I know that when I do I feel a part of something bigger than myself. Like Christopher McCandless realized “Happiness only real when shared.”
8/. Compassion – things are never as they seem, not everyone sees the world like you. I am very clear that I never really know what’s going on with someone, even when I know them so well and particularly when they are seemingly ‘offending’ me by their behavior. Wayne Dyer often says that ‘everywhere he goes he meets people who are looking to be offended by others.’ As quick as possible, I work to give up the drama and shut-up sometimes. I find a way to be compassionate to the person who is bothering me the most – I know if I can do that over and over again, I can do anything.
9/. Be active – in my learning, in my body, with my talents, in my healing and health, in my spirituality. Whenever I hold back, whenever I stop writing or practicing yoga or cooking for myself or reading and consuming new information, I always feel like I lose momentum in my life. I feel stagnant. For me, staying active with my body and my mind keeps me actively rolling toward my blessings. I do the work, the emotional and psychological work to keep the quality of my life high – so that I always wake up excited and enthusiastic. Some of us need more guidance than others but, in my experience, the people who I consider the most ‘together’ and happy and achieved are the ones being active in their life – they are doing the work.
10/. Yoga – it has pulled it all together for me. It has taught me about my breath, and the power of transformation through it. It has taught me about the myriad of ways my body can move and strengthen. It has taught me about the power of surrender and of connection. It has taught me the power of meditation and most importantly, I found a sense of self and a community through my yoga practice. Sometimes too it just provides me a good old sweat and a nap at the end – and that’s cool too. It definitely took me a little while to find the practice that met me, but once I did I knew it was for life.
I am happy to report that I am back now in a conventionally unstable part of my life, relentlessly pursuing my dreams and participating in manifesting, once again – the shit out of my life.
I would love to hear how you participate.