I have a confession to make.
I am on this mind-blowing, once-in-a-lifetime journey across the country. I spend my days writing, interviewing some of the most inspiring couples in America, and exploring great new places. I am watching one of my biggest dreams unfold right before my eyes.
…and you know what I keep thinking about?
"There’s so much work to do. I feel so behind. What if this book isn’t any good? I can’t believe I’m so behind on my journal entries. I’m upset at so-and-so. I’m mad at myself. Why can’t I just enjoy this more? What am I going to do when this project is over in December? What if I run out of money? Why am I getting sick? I feel so physically and emotionally drained out.”
These are the thoughts I spend my energy on all too often. It’s so ridiculous, and I’m embarrassed at how little I’ve focused my energy and attention on gratitude, awe, and fun these past few months.
This is one of our greatest addictions, isn’t it?
Talking about our problems.
It is so easy to go into a state of seeing only what we don’t have, how we’re coming up short, the ways in which we or our lives or the people in it just aren’t “enough.”
And you know what happens? One day turns into a week, which turns into a year, which turns into a decade, which then becomes a lifetime.
A lifetime of unnecessary suffering. Of being numb to life. Of disallowing ourselves to truly experience joy. Of disallowing ourselves to truly work through heartache and pain.
We prolong the problems. We ruminate about things that haven’t happened and likely never will. And when good things happen, we’re too busy waiting for “the other shoe to drop” to really experience it.
This is our biggest collective addiction…
So much so that we make up problems we don’t even have, make the problems we do have even bigger, and essentially strip ourselves of the joy of simply being alive.
Days. Weeks. Years. A lifetime goes by.
And we wonder where the time has gone, when our dreams died, why we didn’t make better use of life we had.
I’m in that moment right now. I have a decision to make: will I let the next few months of this incredible experience fly by, with me being merely a passive observer? Or, will I resolve to jump out of bed every day, determined to create 16 hours of pure JOY?
I’ll take the JOY, please.
What does that look like?
It looks like:
- Taking time to write every day.
- Telling the story about what I’m doing with as much love and sincerity as my heart feels for doing it.
- Deeply reflecting on what I’ve learned about love, myself, and the world.
- Diving wholeheartedly into every single interview I get to do with great couples across the country.
- Using my free time to go on the most crazy, random, fun adventures I can get into in each new place we visit.
- Taking time to listen and understand more, and talk less.
- Making sure I learn something great from every single person I have the great privilege of meeting.
- Blogging more consistently about everything I’m experiencing.
- Calling my friends and family every week to check in and remind them of how much I love them.
- Smiling at complete strangers. And when I say smile, I mean INFECTIOUSLY GRIN. From ear to ear.
- Saying a prayer of immense gratitude every single day.
- Having the words that leave my lips and enter into others’ hearts and minds be only words of kindness, utility, love, and positivity.
- Dancing. Daily. For no reason at all, other than to smile and be free.
- Taking time to really look and experience. Not to glaze over this experience, but to fully soak up the true magnitude of awesomeness that is this journey.
- Replacing worry with thoughtful, intentional action.
- Replacing self-imposed guilt, shame, and self-deprecation with kind thoughts, self-care, meditation, and reflection.
- Focusing my energy less on my problems, and more on the joy I can bring to others. There is way more of the latter, anyway.
- Finding the lesson and positive meaning in absolutely every moment.
- Remembering how damn lucky I am to be doing the work I’m doing, and living the life I’m living. There is no where better to be than where I am, and no person better to be than myself.
What’s on your JOY list?
Write it down.
Because you’re going to live the life you decide to have. And really…
JOY > problems
A friend recently posed the question on her Facebook wall,
"What do you wish you could tell your 13-year-old-self?"
Upon reflection, here’s the letter I wish I could’ve sent my 13-year-old self. It is, in many ways, the letter I think my 70-year-old self would want to send to my 27-year-old self.
Dear 13-year-old Melissa,
If there’s any one thing I deeply want you to know, it’s this:
You are immensely worthy of love.
In fact, you are the greatest source of it. You don’t need to seek love from other people—especially men—to validate yourself. You don’t need to scrape it up wherever you can find it, like it is some scarce resource. Start with being extremely loving toward yourself, and then others. Let love pour out of you. Don’t be afraid to give it away. Don’t be afraid of the heartbreak. Don’t be afraid of the disappointment. They are inevitable steps on the journey to self-discovery and true love.
Be in love with the woman you are, and the woman you are becoming. Your mistakes and messiness are just as much a part of you as your greatest talents and likable personality traits. All of those parts of you make up the lovely sum of who you are. All those parts of you are beautiful.
Every single ounce of your soul and inch of your skin is worthy of the deepest kind of love. But, the secret?
That deep love is a gift you give yourself.
Stop waiting for permission. Start learning what it means to truly, deeply, passionately love yourself now. And in turn, what it means to love others. Like a boss.
Because that is the point of living: LOVE.
To understand it, embody it, feel it toward yourself, and give it away to others, only to get more and more back.
The point of life is to learn how to love—and to allow yourself to be loved—starting with how you show it to yourself.
Do that, and truly, everything else will work itself out perfectly and naturally—no big effort or force required.
Your future is so bright. Get excited.
I love you so much,
Your 27-year-old Self
This quote above resonates so much with me.
I am great at making things weigh heavier on my heart than they need to. We all do this about something, don’t we? We insist on being right—even if it comes at the cost of freedom and lightness.
Something about being on the road forces you to reexamine the baggage you carry. It’s simply to heavy to bring with you everywhere. You have to decide what’s most important—what you can let go of, what you don’t need to cling to so tightly.
Life is full of serious things, but it doesn’t have to be so serious all the time.
Sometimes, it is the best thing in the world to be light, to move swiftly, to explore every crevice of the world you can, including your own heart.
We are constantly collecting things, thinking that is the purpose of life: accolades, paychecks, material possessions, tons of acquaintances.
And in the process, we miss the point:
That life is more about letting go than collecting stuff. The only thing we need to collect is great memories and self awareness. Everything else is extra weight. Everything else is less than necessary.
What’s weighing on your heart right now?
What steps will you take to let it go this week?
Hard advice, but all of it so pinpoint accurate and worth learning and living.
If you’re tired of getting your heart broken, stop chasing after people who are going to break it.
Limiting beliefs and self-destructive behavior tend to be triggered something external, like a significant other saying something to us and we process it as “He/she doesn’t love me.” The limiting belief = I’m not worthy of love.
Or, we see someone else’s success and think, “I’ll never be able to create that same result.” Limiting belief = I’m not talented enough/rich enough/charismatic enough to make my career dream happen.
A ton of my own limiting beliefs have been coming up lately. I’m seeing things about myself that aren’t pleasant to admit. Let’s just say I’ve been experiencing cognitive dissonance about the woman I am in a major way.
But, therein lies problem #1: We want progress, but don’t want the pain of changing. The universe, of course, doesn’t work like that. The truth really does set us free—but it’s probably going to piss us off first.
Being pissed off, frustrated, in denial, or in a state of blaming someone else? All perpetuate the limiting beliefs and self-destructive habits—because they don’t fix your issues; they merely suppress them.
If you’re facing a limiting belief or continuing to behave in ways that don’t represent the kind of person you want to be, here’s a set of clarifying and decision-shifting questions that have been helping me:
1. What is true? What are the actual facts?
2. What meaning am I giving to the situation?
3. What limiting beliefs are leading me to give the situation that particular meaning? What is underneath what I’m choosing to focus on?
4. What outcome do I genuinely desire? What exactly do I want to achieve? Why do I want to achieve it?
5. Are the reasons heartfelt? Or, are they based on yet another limiting belief (i.e. “It means I’m a failure/not good enough if I don’t raise a round of capital for my startup idea.”)? If the reasons are heartfelt, recommit to them. If they aren’t, figure out what you TRULY desire.
6. How would I interpret this situation differently if I assumed that the Universe/God and the people around me were my biggest supporters and giving me EXACTLY what I needed to learn to achieve the goals I desire?
7. Assume 5, 10, 15 years from now, you achieve exactly what you want to achieve. What would your future self say to you right now about your circumstance and limiting belief(s)?
These questions will help create understanding and shifting mentality/behavior.
Click here for a great video by Tony Robbins I listened to this morning that helped further solidify the power of shifting your focus and the meaning you assign to things that happen in your life.