Life can easily become a struggle but that’s because you let it. If you start buying into the idea that there’re no alternatives to strife that’s when you can lose faith and courage. But the good news is that there’re always different ways of doing things so that life doesn’t become a struggle. Give yourself permission to choose the fun way of doing things, to choose to do things that make you happy and to spend time with people who make you laugh instead of cultivating relationships that drag you and them down.
Giving yourself permission is the kindest thing you can ever do to yourself and to your loved ones. If you weren’t you but a little child, would you tell him/her that they could never do the fun stuff but had to drudge on? Do you tell yourself that you’ll get to the fun stuff once you’ve finished all the rest and then find out that you never finished the rest and so never got to the fun?
It needn’t be difficult, but you can make it so. This happens if you’ve got what Carol Dweck calls a fixed mindset. This means that you’ve cultivated the idea that there’s only one way of doing things and that’s yours.
The fixed mindset also makes you believe that there’re things you MUST do before others. It can make you choose to do our duty all the time, get on with the chores, the obligations and the rut. Maybe you think that if you don’t get everything done today, the world will come apart? But many of the things you tell yourself you MUST do can in fact wait. What’s more, nobody ever got all the things done. Once you’ve done the most pressing things, there’re more waiting! Nobody but you can set yourself standards, so don’t set yourself impossible ones that nobody can live up to, not even you.
Here’s a challenge for you:
Choose a moment where you’ve got several of what you think are pressing issues to deal with. Then choose not to do them! Gasp. Choose instead to pamper yourself, to do something that makes your heart sing. Perform a loving act towards yourself! I can hear you say: “But I can’t just go to lunch with my friend when I’ve got a business meeting coming up!” Why not? Ask yourself what you’d do if you were prevented from going to that meeting and had to cancel. What if you were stuck in an airport and couldn’t get there? What if your mum was taken ill and you had to go and care for her? Think of it. There’re so many things that COULD happen, that could prevent you from doing your duty. Why not let a moment of pure bliss prevent you from doing it? Why is catastrophe always a more valid reason for not complying with your schedule than the desire to live a moment of joy and pleasure?
Going where joy leads you will take you where duty cannot: to your zone of excellence. Have you ever met with a great artist who achieved excellence out of duty? Think of your favourite work of art: do you think it was created through duty? Fulfilling an obligation is not as heart-warming as a deliciously stolen moment of absence from duty can be, and it is when you tune into the joy, thrill and happiness that you do your best work.
Maybe you’re confusing “joy” with “easy”. That’s not my point. We derive pleasure from using our skills and talents for all manner of things. We actually get more pleasure out of doing something if it’s a little bit difficult for us. If it’s too easy, we don’t use our skills and what we do becomes automated. In other words, we become robots.
And what do you use robots for? For doing the things that nobody wants to do, the mindboggling boring stuff that is part of life. We invented computers to help with intellectual tasks and machines to do the physical tasks. So please don’t confuse your life with that of a robot, always fulfilling your duty, mechanically, automatically. Don’t switch onto autopilot, leaving joy and laughter out, only to concentrate on getting the stuff done, so that at the end of the day you can say: “I fulfilled my duty”. Because you’ll also be saying: “ I didn’t get to connect with my loved ones. I settled for less than my best.”
Having only the idea of fulfilling your duty is a very short-sighted objective. Imagine years of fulfilling those duties. What will you have contributed? What will your mark on the world be? Will you have loved enough? Will you have laughed enough? And who’ll be at your side to enjoy your doing your “duty”? Think of the consequences of never choosing joy or choosing it on Sunday afternoons only. At the end of the day, there’s no medal or prize for having fulfilled the most duties.
So ask yourself: where is my joy?
Think of a parent: a parent who dutifully puts the food on the table every day. Was that your mum? Your dad? Who dutifully took you to your piano lessons and birthday parties? Did you feel that they were not fully present? Did you feel that you were missing out on something because they were never happy? What would you have thought if they’d suddenly chucked it, not taking you to your piano lesson, but instead hit the road to eat ice-cream at the waterfront? Wouldn’t you have loved it? Wouldn’t you have savoured that ice-cream roughly 1.251.388 times more than your weekly piano lesson?
We cannot be as present in duty as we can in joy. I mean mindfully present. It is in the moment that happiness happens and that we can connect to our parents, children, spouses, co-workers. If you’re focused on duty, you’re leaving out the joy and with it a chance to connect on an authentic level with people who’re important to you.
So give yourself permission to
- Laugh out loud
- Wear clothes that YOU like but your mother doesn’t
- Be yourself
- Have fun
- Splash out on a weekend trip
- Try out scuba diving
- Eat ice-cream for breakfast
Give yourself permission to savour the moments that will never come back. You’ll thank yourself that you did it! At the end of the day, you don’t so much regret the things you did as the ones you didn’t.
About the author:
Katrine Horn is a speaker and life coach who guides women to create the life of their dreams, to recognize their intrinsic value and release the illusion that life is a struggle. Katrine teaches women how to manage their emotions leaving them free to embrace opportunity when it comes their way. She helps them enter their Zone of Excellence where there are able to step aside to allow their highest good to find them.
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