It’s been a while since my last post…and it’s high time we get back in touch!
I want to share an experience with you…but first…
How are you feeling?
Do you feel like you’re living ‘on purpose’, enthused, and at peace in your life?
If so, awesome! That’s such a wonderful state.
If not, I hope maybe I can help you get back to that state – your natural state of joy. Sometimes just shifting our perspective can make all the difference.
I don’t have all the answers to living in joy all the time. In fact I doubt it’s possible. I actually believe there’s great purpose in the periods of struggle, trial, sadness, and darkness we all experience sometimes.
Without the contrast of darkness or sadness would we fully appreciate light and joy?
Also, how would we grow without challenge?
I’m sure there are great benefits to the sun setting and the earth experiencing darkness each day. I think sometimes we get disturbed more than we need to by the normal cycle of high and low feelings we experience. I know I do.
But the fact is it’s perfectly OK and normal to feel happy and sad, high and low.
For some reason it’s so easy to forget when we feel low that it’s going to pass also, just like everything else. We might even convince ourselves there’s something wrong with us when we feel down.
What we seek and what we think in life is guided by our perceptions.
If we think we need to be feeling good all the time no matter what, we may tend to seek out pleasure, or think something’s wrong with us if we don’t feel good.
Sure, it’s ideal to feel good. But we’re probably not benefited by expecting to feel amazing all the time or getting distraught when we don’t.
A truly amazing life includes all the highs as well as the lows and accepts and embraces the whole experience, finding joy, growth, and learning throughout it all.
There’s a common myth about what defines a truly amazing life which I want to address here.
I’ve been confronted with this myth by many people this year and here’s the story:
This past winter I found myself with more free time than ever before in my life, and living in a place with access to some of the most amazing and accessible backcountry skiing anywhere in the world.
I kind of lost myself in long days of quiet solitude hiking up big mountains…
…Followed by over-the-top blissful experiences floating back down those big mountains.
I had so many amazing experiences…over and over each week.
I loved it.
It actually fulfilled many of my long-held visions from past vision boards. For years I had looked at pictures like this of other people, and now I realized I was in the pictures myself.
Yes, I do hear some of you thinking, “Where’s the challenge in that?? Next you’re going to say you have too much money right? Wah! Cry me a river!”
Well, here’s the challenge. I loved it too much I think.
I lost my balance and fell out of consistency with my main purpose in life…serving and contributing to others. It was a ton of fun. It was exhilarating.
But as the winter went on a void in my heart seemed to expand a bit every day.
I received many comments like, “Wow! Your life is truly amazing!” from people seeing so many epic ski pictures from me on social media.
And it actually stung a bit to hear that…
…Because it wasn’t true.
I didn’t agree with that perception.
I did have incredible experiences. But my heart actually felt heavy a lot of the time. I stopped feeling the deep, daily joy that I felt before.
I used to wake up and experience tears of joy nearly every day as I connected with God and with my own heart through the daily habits of affirmation, meditation, inner connection journaling, etc.
Now I found myself missing those rituals, missing the tears of joy, and not doing much to contribute to others. Like my heart was crusting over bit by bit each day.
I still felt relatively happy most of the time…but I was no longer in a state where I could serve or teach, which was painful, because teaching, writing, speaking, and serving were the most fulfilling parts of my life.
Suddenly they became uncomfortable and unnatural feeling and I stopped doing them.
Hence the aforementioned growing heart-void.
Filling the void came feelings of purposelessness, uselessness, and that pesky anxious feeling of realizing I’m wasting a lot of the limited time I’ve been given, squandering my gifts, and not serving others, and yet feeling strangely powerless to change anything because another powder storm would roll in and promptly steal away my attention from the painful inner confrontation to the immediately pleasurable easy path of powder skiing.
A victim of pleasure?
I had fallen out of alignment with who I am and the things that actually make up a truly amazing life for me.
But from the outside I just kept getting comments about how my life looked truly amazing.
When I described my plight of basically “Oh poor me…I can’t stop powder skiing, I have too much free time, and I’m feeling useless and unfulfilled,”…
(Believe me, I know, it sounds ridiculous and I’m sure many people would love to have that challenge, but hear me out)
…That person responded and said in effect, “I guarantee you’re not going to look back at the end of your life and regret all that amazing skiing. You’re living life to the fullest!”
But I had to disagree with him and I told him why.
I already regretted neglecting my greater purpose just to go skiing so much. I didn’t need to wait to the end of my life to feel the regret. And how much deeper would that regret be if the rest of my life consisted of skiing powder all the time and never helping anyone?
Skiing is great. But a truly amazing life is a balanced life. Play is an essential part of life. But all play and no contribution isn’t the best way.
You know what sounds even more strange?
Four years ago this month, when my body began deteriorating and destroying itself from the inside out and I began experiencing the most horrific pain imaginable nearly every single day…
…I often felt then that life was truly amazing!
I had some of the most deeply joy-filled experiences of my entire life during the subsequent 5 month ordeal in which I almost died.
What’s not strange is that when people saw my pictures from the hospital room looking like a skeleton with it’s skin still on, nobody said, “Wow, your life is truly amazing.”
But I deeply felt like life was truly amazing a lot of that time!
Why is that??
Well, I’m not trying to make some weird point that we need to be experiencing pain a lot more and pleasure a lot less. That’s not it.
But here are my thoughts on the matter:
Our natural tendency as humans is to want pleasure and to abhor pain.
People see the pleasurable things out there and tend to classify them as ‘truly amazing’ and seek after them.
But any one of us ‘pleasure seekers’ (and all of us do this in some form) if we are truly honest about it, we have to admit that pleasure is not the root of joy and it’s not the whole picture of what makes life truly amazing.
In fact, if pleasure seeking is all there is to the substance of our life then we’re missing so much of the amazingness of life.
Where is the pleasure seeking in those?
Just as often there’s a lot of pain involved in every one of those things!
Those are the primary things that make life truly amazing from my experience.
Maybe you disagree…I don’t know.
But from someone who has spent plenty of time experiencing indescribably excruciating pains and also some of the most blissful pleasures imaginable…
…I would caution you from adopting the Facebook & Instagram lie that “Epic pleasure is what makes life truly amazing.”
A truly amazing life is a matter the heart and of love.
If you do any of these things on this daily checklist you’ll be taking positive action toward living a truly amazing life today.
Anywhoo…I’m writing you now because, for this moment at least, I remember who I am, and who I am is a giver and a servant. I’m grateful to remember that. I hope those thoughts and experiences serve you somehow.
I promise I’ll be in touch more the rest of the year.
If you’ve struggled to keep living in a state of joy – knowing what to do but not doing it consistently like me sometimes – I’d love to hear from you.
I’d like to know what you think would be most helpful in keeping you on track…feel free to respond and let me know!
Hope all is well.
Make today amazing!