Do you have the ingredients necessary for living a completely, knock-out-punch meaningful and authentic life?
As a result of practicing the 5 ingredients for a FAB life (more about these ingredients in a minute!), these days, most of the time, my life is richer. It’s filled with increasing amounts of curiosity, creativity, adventure, depth, connection, freedom and most importantly for me - ‘feeling and believing like I am enough!’
I’m thankful to understand what it is to live authentically and from MY heart. I’m still learning. I fail plenty, and I still have to pick myself up from life’s pain and challenges at times, but I continue to take life one day at a time!
Below are 5 key ingredients to craft a life you love. Each will singularly, and collectively, add a great deal of meaning, joy, and ease to your daily experience while at the same time naturally reducing stress, anxiety, depression and many forms of escaping, like alcohol or shopping!
1) Cultivate Deep Connections
So how can you have a life you adore without feeling connected to others? Um, you can’t…
Humans are meant to feel a deep sense of belonging. To engage, feel close, be touched and feel included. Belonging could mean feeling connected to just one person whom you can trust and be open with, and whom will be honest, open and compassionate with you. Or belonging might mean being connected to a close nit group (maybe both!)
Without a real sense of connection, we become increasingly isolated, anxious and depressed, while at the same time, taking an inevitable turn toward escape behaviors. Soon, food addiction, alcohol, shopping, internet, pornography, social media, obsessive thinking and chronic busyness can take the place of the genuine connection and sense of belonging that all humans require and crave.
If you’re missing deep connection with your lover, friends, family or co-workers, begin cultivating it ASAP. I know it’s not always easy, but your happiness and overall life fulfillment depends upon it.
If you’re anything like I used to be, you may need to take off your ‘everything is great’ or ‘I’m just fine’ masks, put down defense mechanisms (like perfectionism, blaming, anger, emotional shut down, etc.), and peel away your emotional armor (anger, blaming, lashing out, resentment, silent treatments, and so on) so you can let people into your heart and so you can breach theirs.
Even if it takes 5 years to seek out your ‘peeps’ and community, or to build strong bonds, don’t give up on this one. And no more excuses like, ‘it’s so hard to meet people in ______ town’- which I literally hear every week! Meetup.com is an excellent resource for meeting people with any and every interest or hobby imaginable!
2) Hocus Pocus, Laser Focus
Laser focus might seem like an odd prerequisite for leading a life you adore, but it is quite necessary. Let me explain.
In the absence of deliberate focus, we don’t set boundaries, create meaningful goals, hold others accountable, or practice value-driven decisions and actions. Instead, we navigate life haphazardly; from one fire-fight to the next.
We are inclined to talk about the ‘ideal values’ we hold, yet practicing them is another thing entirely. We say, ‘my family is the most important thing in the world’, yet can be found too often missing important school events, working nights and weekends, or ignoring a spouse’s wants and needs. This is NOT a judgment or an effort inflict shame, just an illumination of the gap that often exists between ‘words and actions.’
This gap is where discontent, resentment and most of life’s upset lies.
It’s so easy to become swept up in the temptation to ‘keep up with the Jones’s’, or the ‘frantically busy’ lifestyle that America has oddly embraced. A shift toward dedicating life and time to that which we genuinely find deeply and truly useful, meaningful and wonderful IS in order!
A great exercise to reel in your focus and close the damaging gap, and thus add happiness and calm to your overall life is to:
1) Determine the most important categories of your life (ex: spouse, children, health, yoga, travel, play, creative expression, career, etc.) Around 5 categories will suffice- too many will become overwhelming and distract your laser focus!
2) Then add 1-3 weekly actions to each category that when focused and insisted upon, will add richness, calm and joy to all areas of life.
Try the above exercise for each aspect of your life. Remember, the consequences for lazy focus and not practicing value-driven living are various escapes or addictions, divorce, anger and resentment, regret, exhaustion, poor health, and lack of connection with family and friends.
These consequences are sad, AND avoidable in many many cases. So don’t delay if you are living in unfocused ways, begin with the exercise above to get started.
3) A Fun & Fulfilling Career
Crafting a fun and rewarding career likely seems like a no brainer in the grand scheme of building a completely rocking life! BUT oddly, more than 80 percent of Americans are, to some degree, dissatisfied with their career.
Career joy is comprised of several factors: 1) the attitude one chooses toward tasks and people, 2) a chosen daily level of gratitude and appreciation, 3) ones’ given concentration on engagement and interest in developing connections, and 4) the purpose and meaning an individual derives from work.
Because we share vast hours of life with our career, it must be mostly a happy and fulfilling place. If it isn’t a happy, engaging, pleasant and lovely place to be, serve, add value and get equitable reward and compensation, other parts of life WILL suffer.
The whole idea of ‘compartmentalizing’, is a sham. People don’t leave work at work. Some people may be less affected than others, but we all bring work home- the good, the bad and the ugly .But all people have an emotional investment in their career, if for no other reason than how much time they spend there. Thus we are impacted greatly when dissatisfaction, dread or upset is associated.
Work-life fulfillment can shift in may ways.
You can practice more appreciation and engagement, these practices will literally have an immediate impact on work satisfaction. In most cases, we can uncover and develop additional purpose and meaning daily as well.
But, if you cannot find any of the above, I encourage you to change jobs or careers or start a side business and grow it until you can leave your current situation.
Whatever you decide, do not settle for feeling dole drum about your career, as the far reaching consequences are simply too great.
4) Create, Create, Create
People need to EXPRESS creativity to be optimally happy. Creative expression allows people to feel free… beautifully and wonderfully free…
Creativity often becomes non-existent, or shrouded in and smothered by things like perfectionism, comparing, or time constraints.
It is important to carve out weekly chunks of time to dedicate to being creative. If you are saying something like, ‘Shawn, I can’t paint or draw or sing’, to that I say, who cares! I assure you, no one would want to purchase or even display my ‘artsy goods’, but I love doing it anyway!
Creativity can be anything you can dream up. Writing (work related or freestyle), coloring (one of my favs), origami (another favorite of mine), or painting. If you you feel like it, take a photography, singing, painting, sculpting, glass blowing, or pottery class! The important thing is to dedicate the time and have fun with this idea of creative expression.
In my experience, people who add creative time blocks to each week, have less of a desire or craving for escapes (alcohol, shopping, social media, thinking, pornography, etc.). Obviously, adding one or more forms of creative expression to your life may not solve a particular addiction or habits of ‘numbing’, BUT the fuller and more authentically YOU your life becomes, the less people depend upon external habits to ‘check out’ or ‘numb’ pain and boredom.
I’ve saved the best for last!
I often get an array of facial expressions, groans, and ‘oh geez’, when I speak to about vulnerability. But once men and women understand that learning to become vulnerable is not for wussies or wimps, nor will one lose his or her feminism or masculinity, nor will anyone DIE when he or she removes masks to reveal their most authentic self…vulnerability is a beautiful process.
Initially, the most difficult aspect of this bold new practice … is opening the most raw parts of yourself, your heart and your story.
I’ve witnessed over the years, as the most amazing, strong and courageous women hire me for coaching, we nearly always address vulnerability within the first month, though this is not why they hire me initially! And along the way, their husbands (partners) see the gorgeous transformations they make, and they want in on the action too!! What a gift! What a really, really cool cycle that I am so fortunate to be a part of!
Of course, you’ll want to ease into vulnerability to make sure the person or people you’re being vulnerable with are a safe-haven for your heart. Dip a toe in, and then a foot before you throw a full on belly flop!
Embracing vulnerability is tricky and can be quite frightening. We ‘strong’ women usually prefer to pretend to be perfect, to act like everything is perfect, strive for approval, please others, and seek to ‘be the best’. These are all habits that are the opposite of vulnerable or authentic.
There is NO substitute for true and authentic vulnerability. I assure you, it will be hard and you’ll probably prefer to yell, get angry, blame and resent instead. But, take a chance and ease into the lovely raw and real version of YOU!
Crafting the life you love won’t be easy. I know that. But these tips are designed to help you get started down that path. Interested in gaining support along your journey? Be sure to check out my upcoming Freedom From Chaos Telecourse!
The Freedom From Chaos course is a 6-week telecourse designed to help you find freedom from your chaotic life. The course will teach you to find clarity in your hectic life, remove the roadblocks to progress and truly commit to liberated l