Okay, time to get serious about accountability. Where are you out of integrity with your best life, the life you aspire to? And, let’s get to brass tacks here, where are you IN or OUT of authenticity in your relationship?
It might be a little harsh to open this mindfulness and spiritual article with a curse word, but… Well, I also did this.
So there you go, by way of intro…
The 5 Pillars of Life
- Mind – Thought
- Body – Energy
- Spirit – Aspire
- Creative Drive – Joy
- Connection – My Love
Let’s start at the top and work our way through this.
How clear and intentional is your thinking? I know in my past, I have gotten stuck on ruminating on catastrophic futures that worried me. I could not get out of my anxiety and worry loop. I lost days to crushing thoughts. I would label these moments in my life as “depression.” I was unable to break the spiral down into regrets of the past and worries about the future. I was not able to stop my monkey mind. I allowed my racing thoughts, my dark thoughts, my sad thoughts to run the narrative of my life.
It is important to get some secure handles on your own monkey mind. Meditation, prayer, affirmations, and mindful practices can help slow the circular thinking down. If you can observe the thought (I am cycling in sad thoughts about losing my mom. I am thinking sad thoughts.) and label it, *SAD*, you can begin to see them as just thoughts. My mom passed a year ago. I can be sad about it. I can have the pain, feel it, identify it, and then move on. My sad thoughts should not overwhelm my day, my chores, my work responsibilities. (See: mindfulness < a new index of happiness and hope)
We are all energy, electricity, and moods. During the course of a single day, I have highs, I have moments of exhaustion, hunger, boredom, excitement, ambition. And I have been working on my own self-awareness program to pay attention to the needs and hunger of my body. Some days my body is exhausted and hungering for sleep. A nap can be a perfect tonic if that’s an option. If I’m at an office (as it looks like I will soon be again) I’ve got coffee and coffee as my two options if I’m lagging during the stretch of the afternoon. (See: Our Daily Grind about energy and mindful)
How do you connect with your higher power, god, God, spirit, universe? Are you a spiritual person? I know that I would claim to be spiritual but not religious. I’m a God person, I’m a higher power person, and a holy spirit person. But I’m not too much of a church on Sunday person.
In what ways do you find your soul reaching for something higher? Can you feel your appreciation for the good things happening in your life? Can a walk in the woods or a swim in the lake give you a refreshing jolt of “it’s great to be alive?” Find ways that you can pause and say “YES, THIS IS IT.” This moment, if you listen and call for your higher power, is the best moment of your life.
When I’m going through a hard time, I can’t always see the purpose of what I’m going through. And I’m not all that clear in my understanding that “everything happens for a reason” or “everything is exactly where it should be in your life” at these moments of great stress. But, the contradiction to this overwhelm is to pause, breathe, and reset your emotional, physical, and spiritual body. (See: Gratitude Resets Your Attitude – Just Say YES! )
You are a creative person. And your creative energy gives life. And in some spiritual practices, creative work is akin to praying to god. Your creation is a celebration of “his” great work. God takes delight in your expression. And for me, sharing it with others (a song, a poem, a post, a story) is a form of community and connection. I reach out to others with my stories and songs. And even if I’m not there when they experience my creative work, I know it’s going out there. Your creative work feeds others. By giving time and energy to writing a song or a poem, you are offering up a prayer not only to your god, but also to your fellow man.
We all want to be loved. We want to be seen and heard. If one person in our lives (mom when we’re young, sibling when we’re in school, lover when we’re older) really gets us we feel complete. We feel loved. We all want to have someone to tell our stories to (of the day at work, of our lives growing up, of our aspirations as parents or artists or good humans) and we only need them to hold space for us, be present, and listen. We want a lover who can embrace all of us. A lover who reassures us that they will never leave us. A lover who is not afraid (See: Brené Brown’s Vulnerability TED Talk) to be with us as we work through hard things.
And at a higher level, we want to be part of a community of love. We want to have friends and family around us. Church, team sports, al-anon meetings, backyard potlucks, can all be a chance for us to celebrate our community with like-minded people. (See: Friends on the Path) We all seek community in our lives. It’s part of what softens the blows that are inevitable. (Death of a loved one, job loss, financial setbacks, divorce, depression) When we have a supportive community around us, we are stronger and healthier.
I want 100% connection when I’m with people. It’s a bit demanding. When my boss is behaving poorly, I get stressed more about the disconnection that the work at hand. When a lover or friend can’t understand our request for more transparency around a stressful event or behavior, it can be hard to trust and rebuild the connection. We will find our 100-Proof connections. The high school roommate from boarding school who can still provide inspiration and a profound connection is a gift. Hold on to those people you resonate with. People that make your soul happy. Those are your people. (See: Pura Vida: Finding and Sharing Our Eternal Optimism )
The Alive Tribe
15-years ago, I was trying to build something I called the Alive Tribe. It was early in the days of social media. I had an idea that we could build a 100-Proof online network. A community online that would support our creative and spiritual aspirations. I wasn’t able to do it by myself. My then-wife didn’t get it, and didn’t trust my “online presence.” So, the AliveTribe idea did not launch back in 2008. Instead, my marriage broke down because of lies and a selfish exit. At that time, as I was unable to fathom how or why “my god” would allow this travesty to happen to me and my two kids, and even my then-wife.
I lost hope. I lost my aspirational community goal.
I did not lose my internal compass even as I floundered as a newly single dad. I kept the dream alive. I surrounded my two children, 4 and 6, with all the love and energy I could muster. I showed them my best dad, my happiest dad, my most supportive dad. And through the 21-years that I’ve had kids (my son is 21 and my daughter is 19), I have continually given them all of the unwavering love and attention I could generate. And my kids are part of how I found my will to grow and thrive. Many divorced parents get bitter or depressed and never fully recover their loving selves.
Today, I am still working to establish my Alive Tribe. It starts with me. I am 100% responsible for my own actions in the world. When a boss or an ex launches a diatribe, I am better prepared to deflect the harsh energy and maintain my hopeful and positive outlook. I am moving forward in spite of the naysayers. And I will continue to find the positive in my ex-wife’s poor choices, even now, 11-years later. My own peace of mind and happiness will continue to serve me, my kids, and those around me.
How do you find your community? Can you bring more creative energy to your life path? Do you know what things give you aspirational ideas? How can you begin to celebrate and nurture your own Alive Tribe? (See: Friends Along the Path, by Thich Nhat Hanh.